Property review: The Avengers (2012)

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Avengers assemble into a satisfying package

When GI first heard there was going to be an Avengers film made, we scoffed. “Seriously, who didn’t see that coming? And who’s going to be in it?” is literally what we proffered when we were told the news. We were initially skeptical in that we’d seen the offerings from the Marvel camp with regard to Spider-Man 3 and we weren’t buying. No way, no how. But slowly, things changed. The surrounding films were introduced and received warm reviews. The devil was in the details, as they say, and it seems the casting made the movies. Well, as luck would have it, The Avengers turned out pretty nicely. So nice, in fact, that we regret our early pronouncement and embraced the film with open arms. We even paid good money to see it twice.

Our love affair with the good folks at Marvel starts within the first five minutes as Samuel L. Jackson practically chews scenery with every move and line of dialogue. It doesn’t hurt that we are huge fans of Jackson, and thought he was the only choice for Ultimate Nick Fury. Throw in the subtlety that is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and the glorious deviousness that is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and we would have been satisfied with everything that had transpired in that first few minutes.

But then, just as we thought we couldn’t be more amazed than Captain America stepping onto the deck of the S.H.E.I.L.D. Hellicarrier, in stepped the rest of the cast: Scarlett Johansson literally steaming up with the screen; Mark Ruffalo showing the tortured and vulnerable side of the Hulk and Bruce Banner; Chris Evans’ duty to his men, country and self as Captain America; Chris Hemsworth’s pained fight as Thor to redeem or stop Loki at any costs; and finally Robert Downey Jr.’s scene-stealing billionaire philanthropist playboy act as Iron Man. The parts, in this case, were strong on their own, but when combined hit every note and played every beat to perfection.

Of particular note were Ruffalo and Downey. It would take an entire review to point out the subtleties and nuance of Ruffalo’s portrayal of the Hulk, who had the character down to a fine science. Watching the two interact was like watching good poetry on screen. Though Downey has now had two movies to showcase his great timing and wit, it was on display here in all its glory and it was clear that he was the star from the beginning. We especially liked how both characters were dialed up when necessary but dialed down enough to share the space with everyone else. That’s a challenge for writers and directors, and Joss Whedon — who deserves just as much praise as the cast — made it work brilliantly.

Also that which deserves mention is the special effects. The Hulk looked believable, and it was accepted that Hawkeye lived up to his name. All of the characters looked and acted in character with their surroundings. Someone at Marvel must have taken notes from the Spider-Man 3 debacle, because the effects were outstanding.

If you’re among the three people on Earth that hasn’t seen The Avengers, it’s time to rectify the situation. Great casting, believable plot threads and superlative attention to detail and character history? You get that and more with The Avengers. Assemble some time to see one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Plot: 10

Like the comics?: 10

Casting: 10

Total: 30 out of 30 or 10

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Strip Talk #12: Superman does have real enemies

Superman does have real enemies

Lyndsey Hicks Mosley, editor-in-chief

For many years in my life, I have been a comic book fan. I like to think of myself as objective and impartial when it comes to my likes and dislikes, with the love I have for the paper fantasies of ink, crime fighting and justice split evenly between DC and Marvel. But there comes a time when you have to choose your favorites. The Caped Crusader is easily on my list of favorite characters, and the X-Men are tops any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But, so help me, if I had kryptonite I’d wipe Superman and his ilk off the face of comicdom.

I know it’s not popular not to have even the smallest modicum of respect for the Man of Steel. Heck, I can even think of a few people who’d revoke my comic knowledge badge of authority for making such a statement. But the entire time that I’ve known of the son of Krypton, I never have been able to get behind him as a viable candidate in the race for my comic character love.

What bothers me the most about Superman is this notion that he is literally unstoppable. I think about it this way: If you have Superman around, why would you need anyone else? Superman obviously has all of the bases covered.

Outside of the basic question of neediness regarding him, I have always had too many questions about his day-to-day interactions with the rest of his universe. Where does he sleep and does he even really have a need for sleeping, eating or other human functions? Are people really so dumb in the DC universe that they can’t tell Clark Kent is Superman? For Lois Lane to have been such an intrepid, hard-nosed reporter, she sure isn’t too bright if she can’t tell that the man she kisses who saves her life on a routine basis is the same man that she works with everyday and all he’s done is change his hairstyle and throw on a pair of glasses. The same goes for the rest of the universe, barring Ma and Pa Kent.

And then we get to the sorry excuse for a villain that is Lex Luthor. The question that I’ve been begging to ask for the majority of my comic-loving life is this: Why doesn’t Superman just kill Luthor? He’s done enough to be impeached as president of the United States, he’s maimed and stolen more times than anyone can count in his existence. He’s outright tried to kill Superman numerous times. What else does Superman need to pull off the prime directive in regard to Luthor? Maybe malevolent Joker-level shenanigans (Editor’s note: This is opposed to prankster Joker shenanigans. There is a difference), because I can’t understand why he’s allowed to keep running amok in Metropolis and getting away with the things he does.

I believe Kal-El is a little too nice sometimes. With my tolerance at an all-time low for stupid superheroes that lack logic behind their actions, Superman’s about to get the short end of the kryptonite.

Lyndsey Hicks Mosley is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #11: Mezzo Vol. 1

Mezzo combines gunplay, teamwork in mystery-drama

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Hello, my fellow otaku, welcome back to Otaku Cinema. This is the section of Otaku Corner where GI brings you the best anime this side of the rising sun. In a previous issue, I presented the classic anime series Robotech. Don’t worry, good otaku, I will do another review of this masterpiece in a future issue. Right now, I’m reviewing a “new classic” series where you can get “Kill Bill” plus your favorite PI TV all rolled into good anime. The result of this concoction: Mezzo: Danger Service Agency from the good folks at ADV films.

In this mystery/adventure series, Mikura Suzuki, Kenichi Kurokawa and Tomohisa Harada are a team known as the Danger Service Agency, an investigative agency known to take up any job, no matter how dangerous. And, in the first volume of Mezzo, the DSA delivered no-holds barred action in the first five episodes ranging from stopping a vengeful lover to uncovering Mikura’s past life. The DSA gets though unscathed all the while busting a few heads and getting paid in the process.

As far as action goes, I’m impressed by the

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

perfect mix of martial arts, arsenal of guns and bullets and the references to classic mob movies provided by the Mezzo project team under the direction of Yasuomi Umetsu. I also liked that in each Mezzo episode, you can get to know more about the team. Mikura is the combat/expert marks woman of the team who is VERY trigger happy and will deal a healthy amount of fear into those who cross her. She also has a unique ability to see into the future in brief glimpses. Kurokawa is an ex-police detective who is a pasta fanatic with contacts in setting up the team’s assignments, inside knowledge of the criminal underground and getting much-needed ammo, making him top banana.

Finally, Harada is the team IT guy/inventor who’s a genius in robotic tech and whose love for useful gadgets has pulled DSA out of many a scrap. ADV has added good stuff to the first volume of Mezzo such as clean opening/closing animation scenes, previews of future ADV releases and sketches of each episode from person to object. Also, what I really like about this DVD is that the English and Japanese recordings were processed in Dolby Digital Sound. Finally, the ADV cast of voice professionals really sealed the deal for me. Luci Christian, Andy McAvin and Jason Douglas performed the English dub perfectly. I would really be a complete idiot if I did not include Vic Mignogna, whose performance of the villainous barber Mugiyama was enough to make me want to background check my own barber.

Fellow otaku, Mezzo is a series that is ESSENTIAL to your collection. Unfortunately, at press time, ADV is not in business, and Mezzo’s owners has not authorized a reissue of the series stateside. But, if you do see a copy, pick it up, get comfortable and enjoy it. Or, Mikura and company will employ ways to ensure that you don’t live long enough to eat dinner.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. Contact him by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Top 5 on The Strip: Quotes from the Avengers

1. Tony Stark: You should come by Stark Tower sometime. Top 10 floors all R&D, you’d love it … it’s candyland.

Bruce Banner: Thanks, but the last time I was in New York I kind of broke … Harlem.

 

2. Tony Stark: That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn’t notice. But we did.

*later in scene, a quick cut to an employee playing Galaga is shown.*

 

3. [Captain America puts on a parachute to go follow after Thor, Loki and Iron Man]

Natasha Romanoff: I’d sit this one out, Cap.

Steve Rogers: I don’t see how I can.

Natasha Romanoff: These guys come from legend, Captain. They’re basically gods.

Steve Rogers: There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.

[Captain America leaps out of the Quinjet]

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Tony Stark: [toThor] No hard feelings, Point Break; you’ve got a mean swing.

5. Steve Rogers: Doctor Banner, I think now might be a good time for you to get angry.

Bruce Banner: That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.

[Banner hulks out and punches the Leviathan]

Marvel character highlight #11: The Incredible Hulk

Name: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner

Affiliation: Incredible Hulks, the Avengers, Worthy, Warbound, Defenders, New Hulkbusters, Pantheon, Titans Three, The Order, Hulkbusters of Counter-Earth, New Fantastic Four, Secret Defenders, Horsemen of Apocalypse

Special abilities: Radically altered molecular structure through gamma radiation exposure allows for Banner to transform into a hulking beast of virtually infinite strength when stressed, angered or massive amounts of adrenalin are released in his body. Originally, the transformations were limited to nightfall, and he returned to normal at dawn. Also, his intelligence and memories as Bruce Banner, of meta-genius-level intellect, were reduced or gone completely until Banner learned to control it. The Hulk is immune to all Earth-based diseases, has a regenerative healing factor far beyond Wolverine’s greatest level, omega-level mutant durability, stamina, speed and self-sustenance.

Background: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner was raised by his aunt after his severely abusive father, Dr. Brian Banner, killed his mother and was institutionalized. Because Brian Banner had been exposed to gamma radiation during work as a nuclear physicist, Bruce Banner was born mutated. The mutation did not show up until Bruce was caught in a gamma radiation bomb while attempting to save Rick Jones. Banner then began changing into the Hulk. In the beginning, Banner attempted to control his transformations using a Gamma Ray Force Projector; however, this didn’t sit well with the Hulk side of him, and he eventually had to explore other avenues to control the Hulk. Banner, as the Hulk, began working with The Avengers though in-fighting and mistrust led the Hulk to quit the group.

When not on the run from worldwide military forces, the Hulk has since worked with the X-Men and other individual superheroes, though he prefers to remain neutral in most fights.

Relationships: Dr. Brian Banner, father; Rebecca Banner, mother (deceased); Susan Drake-Banner, paternal aunt (possibly deceased); Elaine Banner-Walters, paternal aunt (deceased); Morris Walters, uncle; Thaddeus Ross (Red Hulk), father-in-law; Karen Lee, mother-in-law (deceased); Betty Ross (Red She-Hulk), first wife (estranged); Jarella, second wife (deceased); Caiera, third wife (deceased); Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk), cousin; Carmilla Black (Scorpion), possible daughter; Skaar, son; Hiro-Kala, son; Lyra (She-Hulk), daughter from alternate reality; Behemoth, clone

First Versus game appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media: The Marvel Super Heroes (animated); The Incredible Hulk (television); The Incredible Hulk (animated); Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (animated); Fantastic Four (animated); Iron Man (animated); The Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk (animated); Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (animated); Wolverine and the X-Men (animated); Iron Man Armored: Adventures (animated); The Super Hero Squad Show (animated); The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (animated); Ultimate Spider-Man (animated); Hulk (film); The Incredible Hulk (film); The Avengers (film), Ultimate Avengers (animated film); Ultimate Avengers 2 (animated film); The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (animated film); Hulk Vs. (animated film); Planet Hulk (animated film); Questprobe featuring The Hulk (video game); The Incredible Hulk (video game); The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga (video game); Hulk (video game); and The Incredible Hulk (video game, Game Boy Advance); The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (video game, SNES); Marvel Super Heroes (video game, PSOne, Arcade); Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (video game, multiplatform); Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (video game, multiplatform); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (video game, multiplatform); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (video game, PC); Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat (video game, multiplatform)