Oct. 10th, 2012

innocent_man: (rorshach)
The Avengers, in case you've been under a rock for a while, is the most amazing superhero movie of all time.

Yes. I'm a fan. I know that some joyless people that hate fun managed to find quibbles with this movie, but seriously.

Basically, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo rather than Edward Norton, but it works out fine), Black Widow and Thor, plus Hawkeye, team up under the leadership (sort of) of Nick Fury and save the world from Loki, whose big plan is to lead an alien invasion and take over the world...maybe (there's an online theory that what he really wants is to get back to Asgard, so he won, in fact. I find that compelling).

It's a superhero movie, sure, and it's basically what all of the Marvel Cinematic movies to this point have been leading up to. And it does have some issues. Well, really, it has one: Black Widow. There are probably other female Avengers, some with actual superpowers, that could have been used...but see, none of that is the fault of this movie. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was introduced in Iron Man 2, and leaving her out of the Avengers when she's established as an agent of SHIELD would be silly. Yes, they could have added in Scarlet Witch or someone, but adding in a character like that with no lead-up would have been awkward, because the movie is already so busy. So I think it was the right call. I also point out that, although Widow doesn't get cool, bigass weapons like the boys (much has been made of her using two little pistols), she doesn't get saved, she doesn't get fridged, she doesn't get sexually threatened. The closest we come to that is Loki calling her a "mewling quim," which is unpleasant, but I think she's pretty much in control of that interaction.

The superhero genre is historically not kind to women, and Avengers isn't perfect in that regard, but it's a fuck of a lot better than most other movies that preceded it. But that's seriously my only complaint.

Really. Avengers manages to take eight superpowered or superskilled characters (Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Fury and Loki) and give them all screen time to be awesome, give them all awesome lines, make the movie into a true ensemble piece, stay true to their portrayals in their own movies, and it doesn't fuck with us by trying to pretend that Iron Man dies at the end (I interpret Hulk's "health scream" as "get the fuck up, everyone knows you're not dying"). And, yes, it's sad that Clark Gregg's Coulson died, but he went out like a badass, and everyone fully acknowledges what he was able to do in death.

The movie is as meta as you'd expect from Whedon, is amazingly well-scripted for something that Disney undoubtedly had a heavy hand in, and the effects and fucking amazing. I cannot wait for Iron Man 3 this May.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Cabin in the Woods
innocent_man: (ptc)
Monday night was the end of the second story in my Promethean chronicle, The 7th Angel. Let's get to it?

Last time, the characters had decided to watch the serial adventures of Brick Bradford, and then let Trent McKean, the local sheriff, take them to the military base. I found the first episode of Brick Bradford on Youtube (here), so we watched a bit, just to show the players what we were looking at. They were surprised to learn that I hadn't just made the whole thing up.

So they watched it, and then left weapons (and Fluffy) behind and got in Trent's truck. They got there, and the characters felt Azoth call to Azoth - another Promethean was near.

They drove to a garage-looking building, and soldiers in black hazmats and gas masks came out with guns. They ordered Trent out, and then the characters. Everything was going more or less OK until the characters realized they were going to be cuffed. And Feather refused.

Grimm was already cuffed at this point, but when the soldier stepped forward to cuff Feather, she turned on Might and fought back. That was enough to convince the others to follow her lead (which earned her a milestone: Make a Decision that the Throng Follows). They fought, and the soldiers, well-trained, called "Code Bradford", and fell back to cover the characters with their weapons. They eventually calmed things down and herded the characters willing to be cuffed over to the side, but Enoch, after being ordered around without being told why, refused to cooperate and stood with Feather. One of the soldiers tossed a flashbang, and it stunned them both long enough for the soldiers to cuff them.

Feather, thinking quickly, activated Autonomic Control and played dead. The others were taken down in an elevator (Avalon chattering the whole way) and locked in individual cells. Feather, supposedly dead, was taken to a medical bay.

Two doctors there discussed whether to dissect her or burn her. They jokingly talked about using a de-fib unit on her, but their tone made it clear they knew that it would heal her. One of them leaned over to cut off her clothes, but moved her head and said to his colleague, "Hey, come here and look at this."

She opened her eyes and used Fixed Stare. She then grabbed him and took them both hostage, knocking them out with the de-fib (and healing herself). Now free, she noted that the boy - the one they'd seen around town - was here, hooked up to machinery. He was in a vegetative state, and the machinery was breathing for him.

Feather crept out, and found a staircase going up and an elevator. The elevator went down, but it required a key card. Feather went up, and saw guards - she needed a diversion.

In the cells, the unseen controllers used intercoms to talk with Avalon and Enoch. They asked Avalon to identify the others; she refused. Instead she started drawing, just to screw with them.

Enoch, meanwhile, found the slot in the wall that probably allowed them to put food into the room, and used Procrustean Shape to slither into the walls. Skip, meanwhile, activated Might and started punching his way through the door, while Grimm did the same and punched a hole in the ceiling.

Matt, meantime, was drawing angelic script on the walls. The angel - the boy - appeared to him, and he told it that he would do as it asked, if it would give him a mission. It told him to find Trent and draw a symbol on his hand, and then walked through the door.

At this point, Skip succeeded in punching through the door. The alarms went off, and Feather used this as her distraction. She pulled a key card off one of the doctors and went downstairs. Enoch, slipping through the vents, was headed that way, too.

In the hallway with the cells, Skip, now free, engaged the soldiers. One of the soldiers, dazed, opened Matt's cell, and another opened Avalon's. She used Suggestion on him and got an exceptional success, and told him to open all the cells. He did, and now Trent was free as well.

Grim dropped down through the ceiling and disarmed a soldier, took away his machine gun, and shot him (fulfilling the milestone of Fire an Automatic Weapon). Matt, seeing Trent, grabbed his hand and drew the symbol.

At this point, the angel reappeared, six wings folding out of its back. Its head split in two, and the two heads because dog heads, and it stood there, a Seraph, the Living Creature. It told the characters to bring Trent to the prisoner, and Trent's hand flared up in flame. The guards stood dumbstruck, and Skip rounded up their guns and tossed them in a cell, and the characters headed downstairs to the medical wing.

Meanwhile, downstairs, two guards pointed guns at Feather...but didn't see Enoch slip up next to them until his glove was already off and his hand on the guard's neck (milestone: Ambush an enemy). They found a Promethean there, strapped to the wall with metal bars. They freed him, and he picked himself up. He told them his name was Brick Bradford, and that the soldiers had given him that name...in 1947. They took him back to the elevator and headed up.

In the medical bay, the characters had paused to enjoy the de-fib, and found the comatose boy. And then the argument started. Opinions differed on what to do with him. Grimm, since he had some medical knowledge, realized the boy was done for, and recommended leaving him. Skip recommended disconnecting him, but Avalon was adamant that they return for him. The others knew this was impractical, but the argument strayed from that and focused on Grimm vs. Avalon and how they communicated. About then, Enoch and Feather appeared with Brick, and Trent realized that he now possessed the power to take one person away from here. Based on what the angel said, it was probably meant to be Brick.

The characters told him that's what he should do, so they shook hands, and vanished in a flash of light. Feather told the others to go, and she'd catch up (Matt stayed behind to help her with equipment). She pumped the kid full of enough morphine to kill him (and made another milestone: Kill a human being). She caught up with the others, and they left through the chaos, took the truck back to town, got their stuff, got their van, and headed out.

They stopped for gas somewhere out of town, and the attendant, a familiar light in his eye, asked Feather: "What are the angels?" She responded, "They're what we have to do. Our missions."
He appeared to accept this, smiled, and the light faded.

The throng headed away from Corona, and toward Truth or Consequences. But that's the next story, and we're taking a break to play a supers game for a while.
innocent_man: (beast)
The Cabin in the Woods is a horror movie co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and directed by Goddard, and it's kind of a backhanded dig at the whole genre.

The movie is ostensibly about a group of college kids that go to the woods to see Curt's (Chris Hemsworth) cousin's cabin, have sex, get slaughtered. Ah, but not really. The movie actually opens with two technicians (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) preparing for some big operation. Turns out that the kids getting killed is the operation, and it's a larger ritual to sacrifice them to ancient, sleeping gods, lest the whole world be destroyed.

The kids call up some pain-worshipping zombies, but that's only because Dana (Kristen Connolly) reads from the right book. The basement of the cabin is filled with artifacts, each connected to a creature of legend and nightmare. It's fun to imagine how different the movie would have been had they called up Fornicus, the Hell-lord. Or the giant snake. Or the witches. Or the sexy witches.

In the end, Dana and her friend Marty (Fran Kranz) escape into the underground facility and turn loose the monsters on the staff. And given the choice between dying with the world and dying for it, they choose "fuck it," watch as the Director (Sigourney Weaver in an amazing cameo) dies in a fire, and then light up a joint as the Ancient Ones rise. It's kind of a "fuck you" to the audience, and to every horror film - "you were gonna kill us, right?" it seems to say. "Well, no. This time, we kill you."

Cabin is exactly my kind of nerdy, because it's meta, and it gives me lots of little connections to find and tidbits to observe. And through it all, none of the characters are flat or boring. It's exciting, if not scary (but movies don't scare me often anyway). I really looked forward to owning this one.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


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