Assassin’s Creed II – This Time it’s Personal!

MINUS FIVE-HUNDRED MILLION POINTS FROM UBISOFT FOR THIS —

“Itsa Me! Mario!!!”

…Really? Really, Ubisoft Montreal? You’re reading my review of Assassin’s Creed II.

Basically this is going to play out much like my last AC review (which if you haven’t read yet YOU ARE WRONG!!!).  I want to break it down into the basic elements, expound upon each, and then wrap it all up at the end.  I can already say that I really enjoyed the game and I am psyched about the third installment, but the game definitely still has issues.  The good news is that they fixed a lot of stuff from Number 1.  However, that made way for brand new problems to arise. But enough teasing exposition!  Lets get into it:

  • Story
  • Gameplay
  • Christian Element
  • Overall Judgement

Story:

I get to switch it up from the last review and start with the stuff that didn’t work very well, which is sad, because I really had high hopes for this game and I wanted so badly for it to work.  But alas, Story fell rather flat in Assassin’s Creed II.

The plot and motives of this game are a bit worse than number 1.  Assassin’s Creed had an decent linear plot (in fact it was too linear) whereas this one has a very confusing and weak structure.  The first game was involved a complicated plan by the Templars to rule the world, with very little confusion as to what I was supposed to do.  It’s a little harder to follow the second game as it is all over the place – the revenge story of Ezio, the meta of Desmond, and the Meta-meta of Subject 16’s glyphs.  I liked the new avenues the series was heading in but it just got too hard to stay up with what exactly was going on in the story.

In case you didn’t know, the story follows Desmond who is busted out of Abstergo by Lucy (who is a kick-a Assassin now). They go to a warehouse and plug him into an new Animus, intending that the bleeding effect  help him become an assassin quickly (another interesting bit of pseudo-science). From there how you drop into the life of a different ancestor – Ezio Alditore in Italy during the Renaissance.  Ezio (pronounced “Et-see-o”) discovers his father was an Assassin…after Papa and baby brother get executed by the corrupt government.  The rest of the story involves you running around, enacting revenge on those who have ruined your life. Oh and there is a bit of Desmond in there…WHICH IS A PROBLEM!!!!

They STILL haven’t figured out that this is Desmond’s STORY!!!!!  We get more interaction and development of his character, and of the world outside of the Animus, but ultimately the focus is still on the world of the past.  I just wish they would get around to explaining the future through more direct characterization rather than relying on the events of the past to give light to the whole narrative.  It’s hard to look back when I don’t know what defines where I am.

As for motives:  In the first game you killed wicked men bent on world domination as part of a self-discovery journey that lead to humility and wisdom.  THAT’S AWESOME!!! Simple yet engaging and interesting, despite being about murder and control.  ACII seems to just be about a punk 20-something seeking revenge on semi-wicked men.  He helps theives overthrow a government that was oppressing the city, which I thought was an interesting blend of moral correctness and amoral action. He works a lot with….not so upstanding ladies.  And he goes around murdering people because they have “ties” to his family’s execution.  Not exactly as clear cut ethically as I would hope for.  I honestly don’t know why I was killing people other than because my character was a blood-thirsty revenge junkie.  Not a good premise for an ethically charged game.

One last point – another disappointing ending.  You get a bleepload of backstory (-ish) and then it throws you out into real world and you feel exactly like what Desmond’s last line before the credits is – “WTF?!?”   The “during-credits” stuff was cool but I can already tell that the trend is to end it all on cliff-hangers and in the middle of plot points.  I don’t want to ruin it but suffice to say the franchise takes a MAJOR genre shift at the end of Assassin’s Creed II.

Ultimately I found the plot hard to follow and really convoluted, marred by unethical motives and general disdain for the actual plot of the story.  Hate to say it but it just didn’t show up. I am interested enough to get the next game but it is going to have a lot of ground to make up before I feel satisfied.

Story Rating:  5//10

Gameplay:

Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, we can get to what really rocked about this game. Ubisoft Montreal really stepped up their game in the sequel and fixed a lot of the problems from the original Assassin’s Creed.  They made a game that was fun to play, fun to explore and fun to come back to, which is really all we can ask!

Something I was worried about before I started playing was how the introduction of skills was going to go.  In the first game they start you with nothing and you work your way up from there.  I was afraid that this would be the case in the sequel, but I quickly found that they understood this and took care of it.  They reward those of us who are playing the series by starting us with what we had from the previous game and they let it grow from there.  In essence the abilities stacked so I knew much of what to do already, and the game focused on teaching me a second set of skills on top of that.  Very well done on the developers’ side.

The controls were very good and I was so glad to see that the had FINALLY made combat interesting! The hidden blades are now really handy!  And on top of that you can customize you weapons and learn to fight in different styles, making for unique gameplay for each player. The fighting is fun and the advancements in the weapons system actually makes it more interesting to play.  Also the development of little helps like the wall jump when you’re climbing fill the gaps from the first game and make the world so fun to explore and discover.

On that note, the environments were fantastic – nice and open, yet pointed and full of things to do. I loved exploring Venice and the streets of Florence, as well as work with vehicles and FINALLY be able to SWIM!!!!  It appear that in the thousand years between AC 1 and 2, the Assassin’s developed an antidote for their allergy to water! 🙂  In seriousness though, the worlds were well constructed and fun. My only critic is that in order to switch weapons or armor, you have to go back to your home base; you can’t just swap out anywhere.  I lost the best sword in the game during a fight and I had to go all the way home to re-equip it.  Other than that little hiccup it was great – I loved having my own town and getting to deal with money (another issue I had with the past game).

I saved the biggest plus for last – the side quests are actually fun and end in bonuses for the player! Looking for Codex pages, glyphs, and the Assassin’s Tombs was actually interesting and rewarding. The Feathers….meh.  But it is nice to really want to go find that stuff.  And with rewards like Altair’s armor, money, achievements, and…oh…just a little thing like….STORY ADVANCEMENT, going after the sidequests is both fun and reasonable – one of the biggest problems from the first game.

Overall, the gameplay is awesome!  I am still enjoying playing around in the world, trying to find the last of the glyphs and such, and it is just amazing.  1000% growth from the original game makes Assassin’s Creed II a joy to play, then and now.

Gameplay Rating:  9//10

Christian Element:

This game is a lot less heavy on the religious side than AC1.  Honestly there is very little mention of Christianity in the game other than the Latin Epitaph Ezio gives to all his victims and a plot mention of the Papacy at the end (and by then we know to hate the character, not the institution).  You do move around and by a lot of churches in each town but again they really don’t make as big a deal of the Christian element as they do in game one.

Now they do deal with more ethics issues broadly.  As mentioned before, the motives of Ezio are rather….questionable.  He spend a lot of time (and money) on employing…”lady’s of the evening” to distract guards and provide assistance.  Some sexual jokes occur but all are PG rated at most.  There are a couple of PG-13 scenes but ultimately nothing that lasts too long or is overly raunchy.

Basically you just need to be ready for what you are getting into.  There is truth that can be found in the story but Assassin’s Creed II definitely has less moral upstanding than the first game. Murder and Revenge as narrative drive are just not as good as the Road to Humility journey of Altair.

Overall, I definitely would caution new players to be careful here as the sandbox formula can let you do some bad stuff (murder innocents, etc). However, I think with a basic understanding that the ends don’t justify the means and being careful not to get carried away, anyone can really enjoy a good game with an interesting premise and storyline.

Overall:

Though the motives were severely lacking and the plot convoluted and hard to follow fully, I have to say that I really enjoyed Assassin’s Creed II.  The open world style was fun to explore and gave me a lot to do.  Combat was much better than the AC1 and the customization of styles of fighting created a unique gameplay for me.  And ultimately I think it serves a good exposition to the REAL STORY, which I am looking forward to getting in the third game.

I say have fun with it, go throw some money at people, have a good time, and get what you need from the plot so we can move on to the good stuff.  This is Better – I look forward to Best.

Overall Rating:  8//10

Well there you go!  I am very excited for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, which I do now plan to play (whenever I can get the chance).  I don’t know if I will be able to beat it before the release of Revelations but I will certainly try. 🙂  I am discovering a real love of video games and what makes them work, so if I am able I hope to get a few more reviews out on classic PS3 franchises.

On a similar note of what is to come, my next review will be…..interesting, shall we say…  As part of the Summer Film Challenge (which I am still trying to finish) I had the….pleasure(?) of watching Being John Malkovich…  Yeah.  So that is my next review.  Also, if you haven’t already, check out my review of the Melancholia trailer on Art of the Trailer.

Yup!  So thanks for sticking around, check back soon for the BJM review and maybe someday in the near future I will be able to complete the Trilogy of Assassin’s Creed. 🙂  Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget the best advice in the game:

Press Circle to Gentle Push!

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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Finally! Better late than never, here is my triumphant return with a review of the Maltese Falcon. Expect the Art of the Trailer schedule to recommence in about a week, and I have some more good stuff on the way pronto. Enjoy 🙂

**Summer Film Challenge 2011**
Film:  Maltese Falcon
My Rating:  8/10

This film is blunt so I will strive to be also:  it is the epitome of Film Noir.  The “fight for my own cause” detective, the femme fatale, the mysterious gangsters and the more mysterious treasure.  I can fully see why it has sealed the title of the Perfect Noir film but I have a few issues with it.

First and foremost, let me start off by offending most of you: I have a new famous actor  to add to my “Can’t act” list – HUMPHREY BOGART.  He shows no emotion during any of his scenes.  He has the exact opposite problem of Daniel Radcliffe – I can tell he is processing the emotions of the characters but it is too buried in his eyes.  You can see that it is there but only just.  Maybe I should say that he can only act as one character, which isn’t much of an upgrade (Nicholas Cage, Keanu Reeves, etc).  It is the same roles and same non-emotional response we see in Sam Spade as is found in Rick Blaine of Casablanca.  You stop seeing the roles because you can’t stop seeing Humphrey Bogart, “that wonderful, classic actor”.  It really made it hard to enjoy the film. [In case you are wondering the other major figure of that list is the GREAT AND MIGHTY Orson Welles]

The second thing is the blistering pace of Film Noir.  It both makes the film work and can make it not work at all. In this case it did a little of both.  I enjoyed that the film kept moving and shifting, never giving you time to stop and figure it all out.  However, I did get a little lost towards the end.  Basically it is a trade-off that if you want that action pace you have to deal with some people losing the plot for a bit.  I am sure that a second viewing would help me understand it better.

And on that note I must clarify that I knew how it ended before I saw the film (Thanks AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes!) BUT it was still fun to get there.  I did enjoy watching Spade delve deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Falcon and the hunt for it.  It was fun to watch him get to the place of being in the thick of it all.

My only other note is that while Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet give excellent performances, Mary Astor never acted the way her character really was. Is she the coldhearted player she seemed to actually be or was she in reality the sweat girl caught up in it all?  Just like Bogart, I can tell that she (Astor) knows the answer but her performance doesn’t give me (the audience) any answers.  Really disappointing there.

Ultimately I would say that it was a good story that was marred by some rather mediocre acting.  The good performances balanced it out however so I will gladly give it an 8 out of 10. Glad to cross that of the list of movies to see.

Whelp! Thanks for sticking around. I know it took me forever to get this out and I thank you for my patience.  I just got really busy – my mom and I drove across country, I have been moving into my junior year of college, and I found this really weird device….from the future?  I don’t really know.  I will have to compile all of my notes and put them up on the blog soon…so be expecting that.  I also just finished Assassin’s Creed II!  So that review will be up very soon as well!  Finally the Art of the Trailer will return this Friday with my review of the teaser for the Hunger Games film!  Yeah!  Thanks all and check back soon for new content!

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Seriously! What the Frak!?

This is part of the Summer Film Challenge…..sort of.  Ryan challenged me to watch the show Battlestar Galactica, one of his fav’s right now, and so I did.  And it has been…interesting.  It has ups and downs like other shows and I want to explore those found in the first two seasons of the recently deceased Sci-fi show. BEGIN!!!

Season 1:

Long story short it started very, VERY slow but it ended rather well.  I really struggled in the first few episodes to find a character I could relate to or care about because I didn’t know enough about any of them.  I was supposed to care about the last remnants of the human race but all the plot seemed to be about was the Cylons.

Gaius Baltar, the neurotic science officer, was the most interesting character of the entire show. He is the only character who gets any sort of arc really (at least human character; Sharon seems to get a lot of attention). His psychosis is fascinating – both because it is awkwardly disturbing and because it hints at a great development in his character in the future (Getting to that in a bit).

I guess that is my major issue with the show – it starts in so hot and heavy that it is hard for me to get into it.  Two-thirds of the season were focused almost solely on the cylons (at least as far as interesting arcs go). We flash between the Galactica running from the Cylons and trying to find the sleeper-Cylons in there ranks to Helo fleeing the Clyons on Caprica in the company of #8 – “Sharon”.  Oh yeah, there’s also politics….yeah.  It just isn’t interesting stuff to watch other than for the visuals.  At least it has solid character who don’t have ridiculous 180 turns (like….say…glee!).

It was only in the last couple of episodes that I really got into it.  It was about Ep. 13 “Colonial Day” – that it picked up. The only interesting character is finally pushed into an interesting position, and Helo FINALLY gets a hint of what’s really going on. While it was a politics episode, which always frustrates me (end of the world – Smack a bleep and stop playing government), it does go as far as to develop several plot arcs to the breaking point which is what I was waiting for the whole time.

I was surprised that they found Kobol so quickly. At first I wasn’t crazy about it but when I saw how slow they were taking it I thought it was a good move.  The stakes are raised without ruining one of your good, major plot points. By far the best episode I have seen thus far was the two part Season 1 finale. It did exactly what it was supposed to do:

  • Advance the plot arcs (Helo and #8, Boomer, Starbuck and Apollo)
  • Creates new plot arcs for the next season (Baltair and Chief crashing on Kobol, the Fleet jumping away, Boomer’s revelation, Adama being shot)
  • Leaves me wondering “What’s going to happen?”

I was screaming “WHAT!?!?!?!” at the tv when Boomer shot Adama – they really did a great job of juking me. There was a lot set up that really drew me in and I think I watched the Season 2 pilot immediately after it ended, I was so enthralled.  Great job ending on a good note.

Speaking of notes, one final one:  I like how the show emphasizes sex instead of love in the semi-post-apocalyptic world.  It often feels odd that romance occurs in other end of the world films (such as Blade Runner, The Island, V for Vendetta, Waterworld).  I like that they focus on the fact that, in the world after, emotions are high and people aren’t seeking relational security as much as sheer physical contact to remind them they are alive.  It is very guteral and very human – and it makes for great drama 🙂

Overall Rating:  6/10

Season 2:

Okay. What the Frak?  What happened!?  It was going so well and then it totally lost sight of where it was going. I think this season fell into the same problem that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 1 had – it felt disconnected and vignette-y. It also adopts a problem that Glee has in that the character have 180 degree shifts that don’t make any sense.  Really a rough Season because it had some incredibly good moments but was marred by some equally bad ones.

I’ll start with what I liked.
I liked that they developed Commander Tigh’s character – he has potential for some fantastic arcs.
I liked that Gaius’s madness progresses and began to have purpose and point (more on this later).
I liked that they played the “Power struggle with new element” card (ie – Pegasus arc).
I liked the Blackbird.

…That’s about it.  Honestly I don’t know what happened during this season, if there was a writer’s strike or what, but the season really fell apart at the halfway point.  I created the graph below which, to me, best describes the quality of the Season:

Made on an Apple Stickie

The show started off well enough and got really good at about episode 5 “The Farm”.  It brought a new urgency and, forgive me using this word again, guttural creepiness to the Cylons that reminded me that they are the enemy and I should care about the humans. Of course the return of Captain Adama to the helm was phenomenal and moving, and I loved how they showed that he was broken inside by his imploring the dead Sharon “why?”.  It was a great episode that introduced a new Humanoid-Cylon and upped the stakes quite a bit.

From there it only got better. The haphazard rescue mission to Kobol (Home, parts I & II)was great and it allowed for Chief’s character to be developed to the place it should be, as well as giving Gaius a dirty little secret. “Final Cut” (haha. film joke.) again gave us a new Human-Cylon to worry about as well as gave us a great insight into the characters we already know and love. It was a bit vignette, but the new info revealed made it worthwhile.

I loved “Flight of the Phoenix” just because it played on my favorite quote from that film:  “I think a man only needs one thing in life. He just needs someone to love. If you can’t give him that, then give him something to hope for. And if you can’t give him that, just give him something to do.”  Chief gets a great arc there and the make the absolute beauty of a ship – the Blackbird.  I was so excited to see where that would go…….yeah…

Finally, the introduction of the Pegasus and of Admiral Cain was a fantastic plot device!  I fell into exactly what they wanted me to feel – that it was a good thing at first, but then I realized that it was going to go bad really quickly. “Pegasus” and both parts of “Resurrection Ship” were the best parts of the entire Season. It got so intense and so engaging, creating several amazing arcs that were headed towards not just an engaging Season, but an awesome show.  I loved every second of those episodes. But then “Epiphanies” happened…

I think it pertinent to bring up my vignette issue again. I loved the creation of the Blackbird, but the killed it almost instantly after it was created. Same with the Pegasus and same with ANY of that Battlestar’s command.  While each episode was interesting, they all ended up not doing much to advance the plot.  I mentioned earlier about “Final Cut”, it gave us new insight into the characters but then it doesn’t go any further.  “Black Market”, “Scar”, “Captain’s Hand” – all have no ultimate bearing on anything.

I think the true case in point is the vast lineage of commanders of the Pegasus.  They had a great arc going with the power struggle between Adama, Cain, and Roslin. When Cain was killed, I was ecstatic! They had taken that about as far as it could (maybe a bit more) and now they were handing it over to a new guy.  I thought it would go well but the arc completely fell apart when a black market guy (wtf?) has him killed.  The next 8 commanders of the Pegasus don’t really work out either.  Totally killed a perfectly good line.

And then “Epiphanies” happened…
Basically they discovered fake Cylon blood cures cancer….WHAT THE FRAK!?!?!?!  Deus Ex Machina, anyone? I was glad to see Roslin stay on but not in that manner.  The episode was total malarky and as the graph shows started the period of absolute SUCK of the Season.

I’m going on a lot about this, so I’ll cut it short a bit.  “Downloaded” was great because we got to see a bit of Cylon thought (for how much the focused on them, they never developed them really”.  Plus discovering the planet was a cool plot device….until the Season Finale. I honestly have no idea what happened in the 2 part “Lay Down Your Burdens” because a whole season goes by in an episode.  They skip over years of history and leave us wondering what the frak happened!  I understand their was a webseries that covered that time but WHY NOT MAKE THAT IN THE BLEEPING SHOW!!!!!  A terrible ending to a moderately terrible Season.

It had the potential to be a 10, but I just can even begin to give it that.  The characters change every episode, the episodes go no where, and the arcs are shot out an airlock somewhere. And did that one priest lady return from the GRAVE as the Sagitarion Councilor???

Overall Rating:  5/10

Sorry to be such a Debbie-downer but Season 2 really sucked.  I got so into it and it just fell totally flat.  Sorry.

Quick note:  We have identified at this point the following about the Cylons posing as humans:

1   –
2   –
3   – Female Reporter (red hair & aussi)
4   –
5   – Male Reporter (Guy from beginning, Suicide bomber)
6   – Blonde (Gaius’ delusion)
7   –
8   – “Sharron” / Boomer
9   –
10 –
11 –
12 –
Unaccounted For
**Doctor guy from Farm (African American)
**Junky Guy from beginning of Season 1
**Priest Guy from season 2 end

Just a thought.  Another thought is that apparently they are starting a spinoff show called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome which will be about Young William Adama and the first Cylon war.  Can’t wait for that….might be better than the show thus far.  Let me know what you think of BSG Seasons 1 & 2 (no spoilers please). I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Thanks for sticking with me and be looking forward to my trailer analysis on Art of the Trailer.  It’s going to be late….obviously, but it will be good so please check that out as well as all my previous stuff.  Thanks!

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Not so much “With Avengence”

This will actually be a double review and it will contain spoilers for both.  You have been warned….

In the past week I have had the pleasure (or misfortune) of seeing the final two films leading up to the big Avengers movie:

THOR  &  Captain America

I was really looking forward to both films quite a lot.  The deep mythology of Thor drew me to his film but they did a very poor job conveying a believable hero.  And when I heard they were making a war film that happened to have Captain America in it….well, that was just too great to miss!  But when I got far more hero than war, I was just as let down as I had been with the other Avenger movie.

In a nutshell, here is what went wrong:
“Both films were treated as set-up movies – necessary exposition standing between Marvel Enterprises and larges piles of mone….I mean a well-crafted franchise – rather than their being made for the great stories that they are in of themselves.”

I will take them one at a time and show exactly what I mean, starting with The God of Thunder and then discuss the third (I mean First) Avenger. Let’s go!

THOR

In case you haven’t figured this out about me, I like to know a little bit about everything – just enough knowledge to make intelligent conversation while not spoiling the magic of discovering it.  This trait of mine can be particularly seen in my understanding of the Comic Book Universes.  I knew about the base of Thor’s mythology being founded in actual Norse legends. I thought this was a fantastic way to build a backstory – take that which is already half-believed and add just a little extra fiction. Stir and bake at 350 for twenty minutes and you’ve got a great way to start a superhero tale.

Having said that, I went into the movie hoping that they would show that vast mythology behind him, show his character develop, and show why I should be worried about an oversized carpenter 🙂

What I got was a film poorly made in nearly every aspect.  The CG was terribly fake and the makeup of the Ice Giants reminded me of the Devil from Tenacious D.  For the character who mattered, it was not believable at all and ultimately this did more to set up the coming film than to make this one stand out of the crowd.

My major issue with the film is that it is called Thor, it stars Thor, is about Thor, yet Thor is the least logical and least interesting character in the film.  He is an arrogant, spoiled…murderous child at the beginning. I liked the banishment scene, but after that he makes a complete 180 in the course of, like, 3 days on earth!  He is a jerk, his friends arrive and the Destroyer tags along, then “Thor Good!”  It leaves you and me wondering “why we should suddenly root for a guy who has only shown himself to be a jerk?”  Not what we should be thinking about your protagonist…

Three good notes to mention:
First, they did have a great introduction with Odin explaining the backstory.  I thought it worked well and it gave me just enough to understand the plot.  I wish they had developed it a bit more but to be honest they gave us what we needed.

Second, the blending in and performance of the Shakespearian-esque dialogue was good. Branagh really did do it justice there. It fit in very well with the regular English.  To be honest I only noticed it when the movie was half over.  Really top notch work.

Third, and most importantly, I want to give a HUGE shoot-out to Tom Hiddleston for his incredible portrayal of Loki!!!  He took a very hard role and in my opinion gave something close to an Oscar-worthy performance. I was honestly fooled by his acting within acting as he lied to Thor about their father.  Loki is known as basically the father of misdirection – he is the embodiment of mischief and distraction – and Hiddleston really captured that so well. Truly a show stealer!

However, despite all of those positives, I just can’t get over how unlikeable Thor is.  He is worse than Stark if you ask me.  Also, the ending left me wondering “Wait.  What was the problem again?”  It was so anticlimactic and really made me question why I’d come to see it at all.  Poor story structure that fulfilled the job it meant to do – tell me just enough about Thor to know who he is in the Avengers.

Ultimately, not worth my money.  It was Pre-Avengers part I.  The only positives I can claim from seeing it was that I saw it with a friend, who generously paid for my ticket, and that he only paid $1.50 for it 🙂  FINAL ASSESSMENT:  5/10

Captain America

Again, I really went into this excited.  What I knew pre-screening was that the Capt was created in the midst of WWII, that his enemy was Redskull, that he was Batman-esque in that he has no super powers, and that he was frozen in the arctic and was rediscovered in modern day. What I was looking for in this film was the artistic push for the War Film feel – something like Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan.  While I can appreciate it as a hero film, I was still very let down by how little war factored into it.

Basically all of the focus of the film was on the creation of the Captain which, I grant, is important. However I would say than nearly 60 of the 124 minutes were spend on building him from lowly Steve Rogers (what kind of a Captain’s name is “Steve” anyway?) to the pop-icon (Mr. Rogers to you) to his full embodiment as Captain America.  You don’t need to spend that much time on the appetizer if it means sacrificing part of the meat and potatoes of the thing.

I want to make it clear:  I do like the story of how he becomes Captain America.  What I don’t like is that the reason the focus was there was because the film’s purpose is to set audiences up for who he is in the Avengers.  Instead of getting some truly great battles and fighting when people begin to follow him, we get a bare-boned montage to advance us from A to B.

And please, don’t EVEN get me started on the ending.  I loved that he woke up in a falsified environment, that he bust out and ran amuck in downtown NYC. That was great.

What wasn’t great was EVERYTHING ELSE!!!  There is not musical ramp, which leads to no emotional ramp.  The Nick Fury monologue has no power – no punch.  It comes down to a really bleeping one-liner that your grandmother might think is “cute”, but it is so lacking of anything cathartic, spectacular or engaging. The ending was such a letdown and it truly ruined that which I had liked about the film (the exposition) because it didn’t go anywhere.
Pre-Avengers part II.  FINAL ASSESSMENT:  5/10

That is…it doesn’t go anywhere OTHER than straight into:

Unlike Ironman which was made for its own story, Thor and Captain America were made to get us to this film.  Instead of 3 A+ movies that would lead up to a great junction film, we get an A & two C’s that will lead to a horrible pile of crap. Here is why:

How is The Avengers supposed to be a good movie when you are tying 4 major characters (1 well-defined, 3 poorly so), multiple minor characters (not defined at all), and all of their villains into one two-&-a-half hour movie?  You don’t. At least not well.

Thus far we have Downey doing his thing, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth stepping in, and OH YEAH! Mark Ruffalo out of nowhere in as the Hulk.  Besides the challenge of bringing them all together under one leadership, there is the well known and rather important power struggle between Stark and Rogers. How is Joss going to bring them all together under one roof?

Btw: Hawkeye and Black Widow are supposed to be in it….yeah….  Sorry Scarlett and Renner, but you are going to become Deus Ex Machina for the real stars. Yup. (Pardon while I wipe the sarcasm off my brow)

I do have one positive note. The only confirmed villain is Loki from the Thor series.  Good call because Red Skull is dead as are the biggest and best Ironman villains, and Loki is not just a great villain but a great character in general.  I look forward to seeing more Hiddleston, and I applaud Marvel or whomever made the decision to set up Loki as The Villain for the Avengers (at least the first one….uggg).

There has been a recent news break that there will be some short films released leading up to the Avengers, presumably setting up Hawkeye and Black Widow.  Personally I think they should have done more of that stuff.  Really they should have gone with something like an HBO miniseries about the forming of the group – taking there time to really set up the situation well.  Then you could let the movie focus on the epic battle rather than petty squabblings of a newly formed super-Glee club.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I really don’t expect much from the Avengers movie.  It has too much that needs to happen and far too little time to develop it properly.  All I can say is “Good Luck, Joss” and “Enjoy your swimming pools of money, Marvel.”

Thanks guys!  Hope you enjoyed the review. Please let me know what you think in the comments below – particularly what you expect from the upcoming Avengers movie.  So, until next time, stay thirsty my friends. 🙂

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