Thursday, 30 April 2015

Philosopher's Corner: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

© Marvel Studios | Source: Collider

 USA; 141 min.; action, adventure, sci-fi, superhero
Director: Joss Whedon
Writing: Joss Whedon, based on the comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Elizabeth Olson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Claudia Kim, Andy Serkis, Julie Delpy, Thomas Kretschmann

In this post, two events the world has waited for impatiently fall together. First, the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron and, second, the release of our very first BSP Podcast. So, if you've always wondered whether watching the newest Marvel adventure is a good idea or whether our voices are as wonderful as our written texts, look no further. You're about to find out. 

Nata Lie:   



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Audio clips from Avengers: Age of Ultron:
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Avengers Special: A Timeline of Marvel's Cinematic Universe

© Marvel|  Source: denofgeek
We BSPeeps are huuuge fans of Marvel’s superheroes and the cinematic universe Marvel has created around them. So you can imagine our impatience and excitement as we waited - since the first Avenger movie in 2012 - to finally watch its sequel. And now, after what felt like an eternity, it’s there. Therefore, to set the right mood for the grand premiere, we decided to dedicate this whole week to the Avengers .

As I already mentioned, Marvel created an entire universe consisting of many different movies, TV shows and one shots that flow seamlessly into one another. So, as not to miss any of the subtle or not so subtle hints and references in The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, you might want to watch the movies preceding it. Or those of you who are hardcore enough might even aspire to dedicate roughly 27+ hours of their lives (which would be well invested in my opinion) to watching the ultimate Marvel Marathon, comprising 11 movies and, if you are really dedicated, also 5 one shots and 2 TV shows. Quite a challenge, huh? To make sure you get the order right, I put my Microsoft Paint skills to use to create a timeline that gives you the chronology of events happening in the Marvel Universe.


The images used belong to Marvel and can be found on Timeline by yours truly.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Features: Manic Monday - Avengers Family Feud

Source: YouTube screenshot

I know, I know. Today's Manic Monday is hardly as bad as all the previous ones because you either

       a) already watched Avengers: Age of Ultron last week; or 
       b) you live in one of the countries in which Avengers: Age of Ultron will hit cinemas this week.

Whatever your answer may be, the key to happiness in either case is Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is why we strongly doubt that, in the light of the cinematic event of the year, the Monday Blues could ever creep into your disposition. Still, in order to maximise your joy for Marvel's long-awaited superhero flick, we'd like you to have a look at how the Avengers have to fight each other before they can tackle Ultron. See them duke it out on Jimmy Kimmel's Avengers edition of Family Feud.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Film Review: The Avengers (2012)

©Showbiz*411 | Marvel

USA; 143 min.; action, adventure, sci-fi, superhero
Director: Joss Whedon
Writing: Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, based on the comics by Stan Lee und Jack Kirby
Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow

Superheroes? In New York? Give me a break! - Stan Lee

Disclaimer: This review was written completely voluntarily. It was not a task/punishment given to me by my fellow BSP-bloggers to ensure we could hold our next staff meeting at the movies watching Avengers: Age of Ultron. No! Since the dawn of time – well since 2012 when the movie came out anyways– it’s been my deepest desire to review this class reunion of Marvel’s big guys, but to do so I actually had to watch the movie. I always planned on doing that, honestly, but in preparation I wanted to have seen every superhero movie of the individual Avengers, and that never happened. I just never got around to it.  So now it’s 2015, what feels like 50 Marvel comic adaptations later, and I still never watched The Avengers. I always felt underprepared for it and wanted to be able to appreciate this masterpiece everybody has been talking about for three years to its fullest capacity. All that changed this morning when I finally sat down to indulge myself in the Marvel-verse.

So how about those Avengers, eh? In 2012, when geekiness reached its peak of coolness, geek-god director Joss Whedon finally took the chance to step out onto the big stage as writer and director of Marvel’s mega blockbuster The Avengers. And he stepped out in a big way! For starters: What decent superhero movie can go wrong in starting with a failed scientific experiment/ lab accident and a multi-vehicle chase with multiple explosions? Answer: None. The Avengers takes the established superhero format of catastrophe >> savior >> struggling hero >> victory, and delivers. Along the way it just surpasses its predecessors in budget, number of superheroes, and special effects. No wonder the movie turned out to be 2 hours and 20 minutes long…

Yet those 2 hours and 20 minutes sure didn’t feel that long. A storyline that reintroduces 6 extraordinary individuals, stepping up to save planet Earth, plus a villain out for revenge, plus a shady agency who cannot be trusted, as well as an extraterrestrial conspiracy, needs some time to unfold. But let’s recapitulate: Loki of Asgar (Tom Hiddleston), comes to Earth to rule over humanity, seek vengeance on his brother Thor, and to recover the Tesseract, an unlimited power source currently in the possession of S.H.I.E.L.D.. S.H.I.E.L.D. is an international (not inter-planetary) peace keeping organization that wants to utilize the Tesseract to provide the planet with unlimited, sustainable power. But the agency also has ulterior motives (duh, what a shocker) and plans on using the energy to develop a nuclear weapon against attacks from space. Well, let’s just say they are a little bit behind schedule, when Loki uses the Tesseract as a portal and drops by for a visit. Things escalate quickly and S.H.I.E.L.D. calls in the big guns in the form of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner; ok, technically he’s on the wrong side of things for ¾ of the movie, but hey – who’s keeping score). All these individually awesome guys struggle to work together as a team. Only when they realize they have been given false information by S.H.I.E.L.D. and when Loki calls upon his army to conquer Earth do they get over their egos and collectively save the day.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, obviously. As you would expect from an action-packed picture of this scale the message isn’t all too deep, but shows us that even super-humans need to work together to live together happily. It’s funny really how humans long for and strive towards the supernatural and god-like all the time. When it comes down to it though, we need it to be that one human element that saves the day. The ability to empathize, the notion of a group being stronger than any individual, or that one human spark of resistance like the old German man in Stuttgart, who stands up to face Loki, despite having to fear serious repercussions. I don’t know if it is necessary to look for deeper meanings and truths in The Avengers. What you see without looking for meanings at every corner is special enough for me.

There are many impressive fight and flight scenes within the movie that for some would serve as more than enough entertainment on their own. The super cool gadgets and outfits are sort of a dream come true for anyone who ever dressed up as a superhero as a kid or who is constantly improving their outfit for the next comic con. Fair enough. What I really didn’t expect to find were the witty dialogues. Granted, this is a Joss Whedon movie and I should have given the man some credit, but it still caught me off guard. The fact that these individuals come from different places and times gives their interactions a highly entertaining friction, and side-references to the tale of Jonah or Shakespeare in the Park are clever as well as sarcastic, which is exactly my kind of humor. 

The source of humor and entertainment in this picture are, as they should be, the Avengers themselves. Their very different characters and back stories transform the movie into a mix of action, sci-fi, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and historical and military drama. The performances of the lead actors completely complement their super-human alter-egos. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth play their characters ‘out of place and time-ness’ in an estranged but admirable way. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is a force and doesn’t let herself be pushed into a cliché – despite her Russian descent and provocative outfit. I always appreciate Downey Jr.’s sarcastic way of portraying the bored genius-billionaire Tony Stark, but the performance that I enjoyed most was that of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/ Hulk. The subtle restraint of his character was palpable every second of his screen time, and when he finally unleashed the beast for that final battle, the ease of his transformation produced an eerie fascination. Only Jeremy Renner, like his character Hawkeye, pales a bit next to his very prominent company.

So now it’s done: Another big item checked off my To Watch list. Like with any movie of its genre The Avengers is not free of superficiality and easy thrills, but I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hours and 20 minutes I spent watching it. Characters and plot said enough to get me interested, but little enough for me to want more – especially since the movie ended with some doubt by authorities within the Marvel-verse of what these guys might be capable of. So there’s trouble ahead for sure for the Avengers, and now I can’t wait to see what they get up to next, in Avengers: Age of Ultron.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Data Base: Rome (2005 - 2007)

© HBO  |  Source: YouTube screenshot

Series Premiere 28 August 2005
Series Finale 25 March 2007
Genre history, period, drama
Country of Origin UK, USA
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 22
Running Time ca. 50 min.
Channel HBO
Website ---
Developed by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, Bruno Heller
Starring Coral Amiga, Lee Boardman, Kerry Condon, Kenneth Cranham, Lindsay Duncan, Anna Fausta Primiano, Guy Henry, Ciarán Hinds, Allen Leech, Lyndsey Marshal, Kevin McKidd, Ian McNeice, Tobias Menzies, Max Pirkis, James Purefoy, Ray Stevenson, Indira Varma, Polly Walker, Simon Woods


Set in Ancient Rome, this HBO historical drama tells the story of the two common soldiers Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) who find their destinies intertwined with the great and powerful people of the city. The series covers Julius Caesar's (Ciarán Hinds) rise and consequent downfall as well as Emperor Augustus' youth (Max Pirkis/Simon Woods) and later quarrel with military leader and influential politician Marc Antony (James Purefoy).

Yay or Nay?

Before there was Game of Thrones or Spartacus, Rome was already brimming with sex, violence and an epic set design. But, much more than that, it managed to build an intriguing narrative around well-known historical events, create a whole bunch of memorable as well as loveable characters and put a question mark behind our all too established understanding of historical facts. Fans of Ancient Rome and magnificent costume drama will love this. Historical fiction has never been better.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Trailer Check: Batman v Superman (2016)

©Comic Planet Culture For Life | WB

So now it’s out. The first teaser trailer for the long awaited showdown between DC’s major protagonists Batman and Superman landed on this planet – not unexpectedly but for sure prematurely  –  two days ago and my fan-heart soared. With Marvel dishing out one superhero movie after the other, those of us in favor of non-mutant saviors were beginning to feel a bit neglected. 

For the second time after Man of Steel (2013) Henry Cavill dons the red cape, but as with its predecessor, this movie’s Superman is not the Technicolor version of the past. In line with the Dark Knight trilogy of Christopher Nolan, who is executive producer for this motion picture, director Zack Snyder envisioned a darker, more realist version of the DC- universe.

While there are – of course – still many fantastic elements to Batman v Superman the themes and questions that arise in the trailer might just as well be posed in our real world.

Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy?

This question posed on black screen is what sets the tone for our very first glimpse at DC’s next masterpiece. We are left to wonder if is this our very human idol, that is known to live life on the wild side from time to time, or our extraterrestrial savior, who normally can do no wrong, who is talked about. Well, in realist fashion, things are not that simple. Who is good and who is bad? And why are DC’s two ultimate heroes facing off in the first place?

From the first glimpse we get, it seems Kal-El is the one not welcome on planet Earth any more. While in Man of Steel we saw Superman as the cherished helper against an alien force for us “Earthians”, now he seems to have turned into the unwelcome alien force himself. The trailer invokes a sense of paranoia against the unknown and foreign, seemingly despite previous good deeds. This unfounded fear is posed against a culture where everything is in question and caution should be exercised at all times. There is also much talk about the weakness of humans to irrationally follow strong leaders. Nothing is inherently good or evil any more. To attest to this fact a number of religious images is evoked. Superman is propagated as the “False God” and we learn that devils don’t come from beneath the earth, but “they come from the sky”. Ability and purpose/task are under scrutiny.

In all this we can’t help but wonder whether there’s a much darker side to our Superman or if the movie’s plot is one big scheme by our favorite bald villain, Lex Luthor, to discredit his arch enemy. And where does Batman come into this? We see a weathered looking Ben Affleck staring sternly at his Batsuit, while Jeremy Irons’ Alfred forsees:

That’s how it starts, the fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel…

Is he talking about irrational hysteria here or is there an actual threat to be tackled? Will Batman be sent to face Superman as the only human possibly capable of this larger than life task? Or will he be the only one brave and smart enough to see the plot at play behind the uprising against Superman? Will these two heroes in the end go into battle against each other as the last scene of the teaser trailer makes us believe (side note: how awesome is Ben Affleck’s Batman voice?!) or will they unite forces against a much larger evil as we might conclude from the super cool joint Batman and Superman sign?

The first teaser trailer makes us believe in a dark and epic face-off of the – for me personally – two best super heroes of all time. But, like a good trailer should, it poses many more questions than it gives answers. As a sort of sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel this movie seems to fill out the corners in plot and back-story that its predecessor left blank with another major DC player added to the fray as a bonus. After that first glimpse the time until its release in May 2016 just got a whole lot longer!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Features: Manic Monday - A Dinner with Jon Snow

© HBO | Source: Forbes

Have you ever fantasised about what it would be like to meet your favourite fictional characters in real life? Some encounters are easy to imagine but when it comes to more extravagant characters anything could happen.

So just imagine now, you’re having dinner with a couple of friends. You take a seat, already beyond famished, but since one of your friends is still missing you (more or less voluntarily) decide to still wait for his arrival before you start eating. Ten minutes later there’s finally a ring at the door and your friend arrives, apologising for his retard. He says that he met someone and was so intrigued by this person that he decided to bring him along. It’s only then that you notice that there’s someone else at the door, no other than Game of Thrones' JON SNOW!

He’s clad in his original, multi-layered Night’s Watch attire and you feel like you’ve been catapulted right into the middle of a bad crossover fanfiction. What's going to happen next? Is Jon Snow the charming and fascinating kind of dinner guest to swoon over or will his medieval table manners and archaic thinking turn the party into an appalling experience?

Watch this video of Late Night with Seth Meyers for the answer.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Film Review: Felony (2013)

© Roadshow Films  |  Source: We Got This Covered

Australia, USA; 105 min.; crime, cop drama, detective, thriller
Director: Matthew Saville
Writing: Joel Edgerton
Cinematography: Mark Wareham
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson, Jai Courtney, Melissa George, Sarah Roberts

“See, we’re in a band, right? Like a musical band. Can you imagine that? And when somebody in the band writes a song, like it or hate it, we fucking sing it. And if someone in the band happens to write a fucking shitty song that nobody likes, we keep our opinions to ourselves, and we sing it anyway.”  -- Carl Summer 

Everything about Felony says 'Hey, I'm your run-off-the-mill cop drama.' I mean, the whole thing's called Felony, for Pete's sake. So what I expected were corrupt policemen, blatant moral dilemmas, a useless love story in between and, since the film poster indicated a men-driven run-off-the-mill cop drama, female characters that, well, sucked. In the end, I kind of got all that, but also a tad more, which turned Felony into quite a pleasant viewing experience after all.

The film is mostly an Australian production and based on the second feature-length screenplay written by Joel Edgerton. Since I have a thing for everything Aussie, and Edgerton is one of my favourite actors working today, I had to give the whole thing a try. The story sounds rather basic on paper: When respected Sidney detective Mal (Joel Edgerton) causes a young immigrant boy to fall into a coma after having hit him with his car, old friend and fellow detective Carl (Tom Wilkinson) does not hesitate to cover up Mal's DUI crime. Carl's colleague, young and idealist Jim (Jai Courtney), however, makes it his mission to bring the person responsible for the accident to justice, and Mal looks very suspicious to him.

Yeah, I know. Pretty run-off-the-mill, right? But, I guess, it's director Matthew Saville's quiet and simplistic mise-en-scène and the complexity of the characters that draws me into the whole thing. There's no action-packed showdown, no thrilling chases, no explosions or blazes of gunfire. The main characters aren't all blatantly good or all blatantly bad. They're refreshingly human in a film that, in general, focuses more on a realistic approach rather than on cheap thrills. The result is a quiet, complex and rather effective tale of moral struggle.

The performances are noteworthy. Edgerton shines with subtle regret, and has us see how guilt is slowly eating away at him without ever appearing melodramatic or over-the-top. Wilkinson has the tendency to become a scene stealer in many of his films. This one is no exception. His Carl is funny, stubborn, sneaky and old-school, walking on a thin line between likability and aversion. His speeches on morality are delivered with ease and don't seem like mere lines read from a script. Courtney, in a role far off all the action flick characters Hollywood usually bestows on him, delivers a solid performance as a naive start-up detective who judges everything through a black-and-white lens.

So, what's with the ladies then? In this story of male dilemma, there's hardly any room for them. Mal's wife, played by Melissa George, is caring for and protective of her family, and not much else. Ankhila, the comatose boy's mother, played by Sarah Roberts, appears fragile and helpless when really I want her to be a lioness ready to fight for justice for her child. But, no, the women in this film are merely designed to serve as vehicles for the men's character development. Mal's struggle is fuelled by thoughts of his lovely family, Jim's drive to do the right thing is supported by his amorous feelings for Ankhila – there you have this film's useless love story, by the way. So, yes, the female characters are a sore sight. It really annoys me that Edgerton didn’t manage to muster up some better writing in this case.

Felony convinces with ambiguous main characters. Additionally, it has a realist feel to it, which makes it stand out among the company of other cop films, and the three leading men deliver fitting performances. It is the all too stereotypical use of female characters as well as a couple of forced, heavy-handed  plot twists towards the end of the film which make me enjoy it a little less than I actually could have. Still, I won't give up hoping that, next time, Edgerton will indeed write better. 


Monday, 6 April 2015

Features: Manic Monday - The Rock Obama

©HitFix | SNL

Hey BSPeeps!

Hope you all had a nice Easter weekend and didn't get into too many family feuds caused by food coma. If you have any problems starting your week and you ask nicely, this guy might help you ;)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Data Base: Bloodline (2015 - )

©OHSOGRAY | Netflix

Series Premiere March 20, 2015
Series Finale ---
Genre Drama, Thriller, Family Drama
Country of Origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Running Time 60 minutes
Channel Netflix
Developed by Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Starring Linda Cardellini, Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Enrique Murciano, Norbert Leo Butz, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard
Guest Stars Worth Mentioning


When their brother Danny, the black sheep of the family, returns for the 45th anniversary of the family’s tropical resort, the other grown-up siblings have to face their past. Set in the Florida Keys, Bloodline reveals the dark sins and secrets of the Rayburns, the supposed model family of their community.

Yay or nay?

If you are not looking for an action-packed hour of excitement, but are rather a fan of more subtle suspense, this one is for you. In one hour installments this show focuses on the psychological games the Rayburns play to fool themselves and others. Each member of the family gets the time to develop their characters as the plot graduately unfolds and the full extent of the drama becomes apparent. The show is particularly good at blurring the lines between upstanding citizen with the moral high-ground and low-life criminal at the outskirts of society. As this is a Netflix show, it is released as a season and you get to devour all episodes at any time of your liking. However, the slowly developing plot, length and psychological tension don’t make for the best binge-watching experience (in my opinion).

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Data Base: Gotham (2014 --)

© Fox | Source: nypost

Series Premiere September 22, 2014
Series Finale ---
Genre Crime, Action, Drama, Comic Adaptation
Country of Origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 18
Running Time 44-49 minutes
Channel Fox
Developed by Bruno Heller
Starring Camren Bicondova, Victoria Cartagena, John Doman, Zabryna Guevara, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Ben McKenzie, Sean Pertwee, Erin Richards, Cory Michael Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Robin Lord Taylor
Guest Stars Worth Mentioning


DC’s Gotham City is widely known through the Batman comics, TV shows and movies, but Fox’s new show Gotham explores the past of the city, before Batman appeared and it was still the job of regular policemen to deal with Gotham’s criminal underworld. James Gordon starts his career as a new recruit in the Gotham City Police department. In the course of an investigation he meets the young orphan Bruce, whose parents Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered by an unknown criminal - an event that disturbs the fragile balance between good and evil in Gotham City.  

Yay or nay?

This series is a must-see for fans of the DC-Universe. We see Batman before he becomes the Dark Knight, before he even knows that he will one day become a force that will protect all that is good about Gotham City. If you know a thing or two about Batman and especially his long list of adversaries, watching Gotham will be all the more entertaining, because you can make a guessing game of who-is-who? Furthermore, the series promises to shed light on the past of Gotham’s various major criminals such as Catwoman, the Joker, the Penguin and many others.