Mark Ruffalo

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 1

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Regular readers of Taking The Short View can hardly have missed my many mentions of how far behind I have fallen in my viewing ot the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. For the record, those are the 22 movies to date that have been produced by Marvel Studios in-house since 2008, as opposed to those made under license by other companies such as Sony’s Spider-Man entries and Fox’s X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four films.

After falling off the MCU wagon very early on, I was never quite able to catch up and climb back on. I always intended to do so when I had the time, but the longer it went on the bigger the task became and the more I put it off – especially when the films accelerated from at most a couple per year to the current three or four in rapid succession. The latest, Avengers: Endgame came out just six weeks after Captain Marvel while its predecessor was still in the UK Box Office top three.

Locked out of the main continuity I limited myself to watching those films such as Guardians of the Galaxy that didn’t connect directly into the overarching MCU narrative. But they became few and far between, and when I finally totted up which of the MCU films I had seen, the situation was even worse than I had realised: of those 22 films, I had seen … Four. Ouch. Or epic fail, you might say. Clearly something had to be done! So the last few weeks I’ve been trying to address the situation, viewing an MCU film on average every other week with the aim being to get through the first six films which between them comprise what is currently referred to as Phase 1 of Marvel’s remarkable franchise.

And now I’m here to send dispatches from the front line of that ongoing catch-up campaign. I should add that there are spoilers, but given that these films are so old that they are practically historical texts I dare say that this won’t trouble any up-to-date reader. Read the rest of this entry »

Now You See Me (2013) [Blu-ray]

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This summer, one of the big blockbuster films that had been expected to do impressive business was Will Smith’s After Earth; when that rather emphatically died a death at the box office, it left a hole in the cinemagoers’ calendar that allowed a rather different film to pop up from under the radar and replace it, attracting an audience and ultimately doing the sort of business that has Hollywood executives asking “What the hell just happened, and how do we copy it?”

The film in question was the heist/con movie Now You See Me, which while far from being any sort of low-budget art-house flick was also not expected to be one of the bigger films of the year; a solid midfield performer, if you like. A lot of people (critics especially) were rather sniffy about it, but it pulled in the audience because it was just a likeable, fun flick with few expectations pre-heaped on it. Being quite a fan of heist/con movies (Ocean’s 11 is one of my favourite films) I was keen to see this one to see if it would deliver or disappoint; the fact that the con is mixed with magic and illusion was undoubtedly a double lure for me. (Full disclosure: my uncle is a professional magician working in the US, which makes me very susceptible to falling under the spell of a magic performance.)

While I’m certainly not going to make any claims for this film being a great piece of cinema or anything other than a glitzy piece of shiny nonsense, the fact is that I liked it. Okay, loved it. And not just a little – I had a smile plastered on my face for almost the entire two-hour running time. I can’t remember the last time that I watched a film that I simply enjoyed for the pure pleasure and fun of it nearly as much as I did this one. Possibly not since the aforementioned Ocean’s 11, in fact. Read the rest of this entry »