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Joss Whedon

Avengers: Age Of Ultron – Joss Whedon (2015)

So I have been looking into this “Marvel Cinematic Universe” a little. It seems that not all Marvel productions ‘tap’ into the ‘bigger story’. There is this “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” which appears to have all new characters for example. Other movies that I recently saw seem to be ‘stand alone’ as well. There are different “phases” in the movies/larger story. Some of these “phases” are linked, others not. In any case, it does not seem to be like that all movies together tell one, big story. There are just references to other films, but basically each film has its own story.

So trying to figure out which one I could watch next, I skipped the earlier two “Iron Man” films (2010, 2013) as the first one seemed to have little to do with the “MCU”. I ‘should’ have rewatched both “Thor” films perhaps. But I chose the second “Avengers”. Here at least different ‘super heroes’ get together, so it has to refer to their separate and connecting stories.

We again see Tony Stark / Iron Man making a bad decision for the world. His -by now- friends have to rescue the world twice. Both times “Loki’s Scepter” has to be recovered from the enemy. It was that scepter with which Stark unintentionally unleashed an AI way more advanced than his own Jarvis. This “Ultron” soon sets out to bring peace to the world, but in ‘machine logic’. This is a bit of a weak part of the film as “Ultron” is an AI, but he operates mostly inside an Iron Man type robot. Destroy the robot, destroy AI? Strange thought.

Anyway, a romance rises between Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and the Black Widow. The Hulk again can sometimes control his powers, but usually not. Thor again fights at the sides of the other heroes which we know from the previous “Avengers”, Captain America and Hawkeye (the only character that seems to have had no film of its own).

There is the usual brutal action. Also there are more jokes than in the previous “Avengers”, so this one is more like the first “Iron Man”. With regards the “MCU” the only thing I noticed of the ‘big story’ is that all the way towards the end, Thor tells about the six “Infinity Stones”. One of them, the “Soul Stone” is housed in the Tesseract that we encountered in earlier movies. Loki’s Scepter has one (“Mind Stone”). From there is went to Ultron. In trying to overcome Ultron it appears that also Ultron’s adversary “Vision” has the “Mind Stone”. Nothing much about all that in Thor’s story though, but he does say that the six stone came into existence during the big bang. There are a few references to Vibranium and Wakanda as well, including an amusing reference that man used Vibranium only to make a discus (Captain America’s shield) while it has much more possibilities (just see what the Wakandians do with it).

The whole “MCU” is quite a maze. This Wiki helps a little. I wonder how people have figured it all out. Be that as it may, “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is another amusing Marvel, but I would like to see a film in which the larger story is more ‘condensed’ and explained rather than vaguely referred to.

The Avengers – Joss Whedon (2012)

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After “Black Widow” I decided to watch the first “Avengers” film for context. Here we have a story in which people try to gather “super heroes” from the Marvel franchise to form a super team. So here you get “Captain America” (is Captain America not the Black Widow’s father?), Tony Stark is I think “Iron Man”, Bruce Banner is “The Hulk” (who strangely sometimes has no control over his ‘hulkness’ and sometimes he does).

The club is gathered because “Loki” (from both Thor films) has plans with the “Tesseract”. “Thor” (both actors are the same as in the Thor films) comes down to try to save humanity and the Tesseract apppears to be an object of Odin.

In any case, there is a lot of fighting, fairly brutal action. An odd mix of mythology and science fiction, but I guess that is just the ‘Marvelverse’. Even more than in “Black Widows” there are references to other Marvel films.

Serenity * Joss Whedon (2005)

When I writing my review of the Firefly series, I checked IMDb to see what other productions some actors might be in. I noticed the title “Serenity”, the title of the ship in the series. That is odd. When I clicked on the title the film proved to be a scifi and I soon noticed that other actors of the series are in the film as well. Somehow, a few years after the withdrawal of the series (14 episodes have been filmed, 11 broadcasted and the DVD box has a sudden end, so episode 14 might not have been the planned last one) a film was made. With a bigger budget too it seems. Perhaps because of the success of “Buffy” that Whedon made in the meantime?

All major characters/actors of the series are in the film. The ship Serenity got a make-over, the Western elements are skipped and the title song replaced, but for the rest the film is mostly an episode of the series. More even, when the viewer does not know the series, (s)he might be puzzled by some characters and situations in the movie. The film watches like an episode after the last one (or perhaps the pre-last one?) of the series. Perhaps the director got the means to wrap up the story that he actually wanted to tell with his series? This is not entirely true either, because the film has a very open end.

The story then. It starts with a flashback explaining the story about River. That thread, which is not that ‘red’ in the series, makes up the basis for the film. We also learn more about “The Alliance” and some new twists are added to the story. The film is largely like the series. The relationships between the different characters, the sense of humour, it even has references to things that happened in the series.

I find both the series and the film a bit overrated on IMDb, but both make amusing views. The film is of the same ‘level’ as the series and might just as well have been added to it as an extended episode.

Firefly (series) * Joss Whedon (2002/3)

A science fiction series with a country song as soundtrack. That sounds like something different, not? I found these series on IMDb’s highest rated series list. 9.1 and a 12th place of 50. Just one season, so I gave it a try. “Firefly” sure is not a 9.1, but it is an amusing watch nonetheless. There is a strange story to the series too by the way.

The series in this box just stop like it was not finished. It appears that this is indeed the case. 14 Episodes have been filmed, 11 of them have been broadcasted. I supposed more were planned. Oddly enough the order in the box is very different from the order that IMDb has the episodes listed; probably the order in which they were broadcasted. What is strange too is that the series seem not to have had the success that was intended, a few years later, a full length film was made of it.

The series then.
A few centuries ahead a galaxial war is fought which is won by “the alliance”. Resistence veterans Mal(colm) and Zoë get themselves a spaceship (a “Firefly”) to make their living outside regular chanels. They smuggle and steal, but Mal and his crew are portrayed as good crooks. The crew is a varried bunch. A few episodes shed some light on the background of characters and how they got to work for Mal. For the rest there is little character development in the series, even though it watches a bit like a soap.

All planets and moons that spaceship “Serenity” flies to, look a lot like our own earth. Besides the inside of the ship and some cheap-looking space shots, there is not all that much scifi about the series. Often the crew just finds itself in some American looking desert with horses and cows. Hence the country music soundtrack I suppose and the description “Sci-fi Western” that you may find here and there.

There is not really a red thread through the series. The episodes stand more or less on their own, but there are episodes that give the viewer some background information. The episodes themselves can be amusing or somewhat standard, but most have some witty dialogues that are amusing. There are also some pretty ladies and good findings.

“Firefly” makes alright series. Not a waste of time, but not really a must-see either.