"Trust the system."
Right away, this episode felt different to me. The opening sequence, in which Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the rest of his team rescue an Agent Shaw from an underground base in Siberia in order to retrieve whatever information Shaw has managed to steal, felt to me like an episode of "Alias," and that's high praise if we're talking about spy TV. I like starting shows like this in media res. I'm not sure about those dodgy hover-sled effects, but I like the energy and the ambition of the way this episode kicked off.
Saffron Burrows is introduced this week as Agent Victoria Hand in a major classified base called The Hub. We haven't had many looks so far at the larger infrastructure of S.H.I.E.L.D., and for Skye, this is her first look at it as well. I like how Simmons references the Triskelion in passing, and there are a few other passing nods to the larger world that feel like they would have actually happened instead of just being fanservice. That's hard to pull off, but they're getting better at it. Bonus points for even getting the hair coloring right on Hand. Longtime comic fans are going to be pleased to see that sort of detail included.
"Trust the system."
What do we call these Marvel mini-series events that have been announced?
They're not movies, of course, but they're not conventional TV projects, either. They're small and self-contained and also part of a larger plan that builds to a brand-new group for Marvel, the Defenders. Netflix is planning to release them, and I assume that means we'll get each of the programs in a batch so we can binge-watch if we want. It should make for a very different type of conversation than we're having week to week about "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." I'm sure they want these to land in a very different way, and a big part of that is going to be what sort of talent they attach to each of the shows.
Sign #1 that they're doing it right: Drew Goddard will be writing "Daredevil," set to run for thirteen episodes. They're looking to do series of the same length starring Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones, and then they'll do a cross-over event with all four of them together. It sounds like all of the shows will be set in the same corner of the Marvel Universe, New York's Hell's Kitchen, and I like the idea of painting in some of the grittier details of what's happening in this world using these characters.
One of the great partnerships of modern film comedy is between Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, and getting a chance to watch the two of them as they work is a treat, no matter how many other comedy sets I've been on over the years.
Ferrell and McKay shouldn't even technically count as two people, since they appear to share one brain. One very strange and hilarious brain, I might add. There's an amazing chemistry that happens between them, and while I've had a few opportunities to observe it in progress, it's one of those things that you always say yes to if an invitation is extended.
In this case, I was asked to attend one of the final days of production on "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" in San Diego, where they were using Sea World for a scene that comes near the start of the film. In particular, they were using several of the dolphins, since Ron Burgundy's rock bottom turns out to be a gig announcing for the dolphin show at the park.
Gary Ross is going to end up being the Chris Columbus of the "Hunger Games" franchise, the guy who set up a solid template before stepping aside for a director who brought a much stronger sense of style to the series. I think the first "Hunger Games" film is a much better movie overall than the first two "Harry Potter" films were, but I think the weakest link in what Ross did with the first film was his visual plan. I liked that he seemed unconcerned with spectacle, but there could definitely have been a richer sense of world-building in someone else's hands.
What Ross got completely right, though, was casting, and he got really lovely performances out of his entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence may have seemed like a gamble when she got the role, but now Ross looks positively prescient. It's one thing to cast one person correctly, but Ross built a very odd ensemble that doesn't make completely sense on paper, but that seems to perfectly embody the world that Suzanne Collins created. With this second film, new director Francis Lawrence takes that solid ensemble, adds some important new pieces to that group, and then expands the world in a way that doesn't throw out Ross's film, but that uses it as a way to get to something even better.
As "Man Of Steel" arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week, it will be greeted by another three weeks of articles written by people willfully mis-interpreting much of what happens in the film, and I will spend those three weeks resisting the urge to get into a million pointless flame wars about the film.
What is apparent to me at this point is that the "complaints" that drive me most crazy are the ones that people simply aren't willing to debate, not even when they hear or read something that contradicts the point they think they're making. You can have the director and the writer specifically discuss what happened in the film, and people will still insist that they saw something else entirely happen.
I'm not talking about "I liked it" or "I didn't like it," either. I'm talking about looking at one scene and seeing two totally different things. I don't know that I've ever seen it happen to quite the extent that it happened with this film, but it amazes me. I'm doubly curious to see what happens with the sequel with this level of division in the audience.
Who is The Collector, and what the hell is he doing in the middle of the credits of "Thor: The Dark World"?
That question, or some variation on it, has been hammering my e-mail inbox all weekend long, and I was asked it by my kids as soon as the movie ended as well. I've seen a fair number of people complaining that the scene is "pointless." While most of the Phase One post-credits tags were concerned with laying groundwork leading to "The Avengers," Marvel's playing a different game this time around, and one that's not as easy for mainstream audiences to get immediately.
After all, it's easy to understand what it means when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up and asks each of the Marvel characters to join something called The Avenger Initiative. Makes sense, and even if you're not sure what the Avenger Initiative is, you get that there's a program and Sam Jackson's the man in charge and he needs a bunch of superheroes.
Considering how little we've seen of Marvel's cosmic side on film so far, it's not surprising people are unsure what to make of the scene that appears about a minute and a half into the credits for "Thor: The Dark World." From this point on, we're going to be talking in very explicit spoilers with some speculation factored in.
If this is what rock bottom looks like, Kenny Powers may never learn his lesson.
Last week's episode concluded with a brutally ugly implosion between Kenny and April, and I wrote at that point that I can't imagine how this marriage is fixed after something that awful. This week made it clear that while Kenny expects there to be a magic reset button, that does not appear to be the case. April wants out of the marriage, and she wants to try to wrap things up without causing each other any more pain. Kenny, on the other hand, reminds me of a Randy Newman song with the way he's behaving this week.
"I ran out on my children / And I ran out on my wife / Gonna run out on you too, baby / I done it all my life / Everybody cried the night I left / Well, almost everybody did / My little boy just hung his head / And I put my arm, put my arm around his little shoulder / And this is what I said: / 'Sonny, I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do'"
It's not unusual these days for websites that cover comic books to have a fair amount of movie-related material that they generate, but it's less common for gaming sites. I guess we're going to have to get used to that, though, as more and more of the big giant gaming properties start to get adapted and studios try to handle publicity in different ways. I don't mind going to Comic-Con to cover movie news for you guys, but for the next few years, are we also going to have to adapt to going to BlizzCon as well?
Over at Kotaku, one of my favorite gaming blogs, they were covering BlizzCon anyway, and they ended up putting together a pretty great overview of what we might expect from "Warcraft" when Legendary Pictures and Universal release the film in 2015.
Duncan Jones is directing the movie, and I'm eager to see him working on a big canvass. He's a smart director with a strong visual sensibility and an FX-oriented background, and more importantly, he's someone who genuinely loves gaming and that culture and who seems to want to do right by the property he's adapting. At this point, you can't really ask more.
"Out Of The Furnace" opens with an act of casual brutality that is shocking, and it establishes Woody Harrelson as a great white shark, just swimming along, poised for carnage as soon as he smells blood, and there is plenty of blood just waiting to be spilled in this film.
Brad Ingelsby went from insurance sales to working writer when he had a massive spec sale in 2008 for what was then called "The Low Dweller." Ridley Scott was immediately set to direct the film, and Leonardo DiCaprio was the first person attached to star in the film. And while both Scott Free and Appian Way are still listed as production companies on what is now called "Out Of The Furnace," this is something that Relativity Media and Ryan Kavanaugh are personally deeply invested in. Forget the life-changing amount of money they paid to Ingelsby for the spec in the first place, or the bet they're making that Scott Cooper is going to follow up "Crazy Heart" with another awards contender… this is one of those movies that you can tell a company would like to have define what they are and what they'll make.
In just a few minutes of screentime, Adam Driver positively crushes it playing a small role in "Inside Llewyn Davis," and I can't wait to see the film again in no small part because I want to see that sequence again. Driver's been a busy man lately, and I suspect that it's just a matter of time until most audiences have seen him in at least one thing.
"Girls" may be a big hit in terms of coverage, but it has been written about far more than it has actually been watched. More than anything, I'm guessing "Girls" has helped put him on the radar of other filmmakers, and now we're going to start seeing much more of him. He's one of the stars of "This Is Where I Leave You," the ensemble comedy by Shawn Levy adapting Jonathan Tropper's novel, and he was in both "The F Word" and "Tracks" at this year's Toronto Film Festival. He was also seen recently in both "Lincoln" and "Frances Ha," all of which indicates that both major commercial filmmakers and respected indie voices are paying attention to Driver's work.