Favorites of the Year 2014: Movies, TV Series & Books

Every year I make a list of favorite things. It’s fun to review what I watched, listened to, and read all year long… 2014 was a great year of movies and TV series, but not so much with books (although I still managed to come up with a Top 10 list of favorites!)

Here they are, my Favorites of the Year list!

Movies

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Scene from a Movie

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I want you back, Baby Groot!

Also: Tom Hiddleston’s Adam licking blood on a stick; the Society of Crossed Keys helping out M. Gustive; the White Council storming Dol-Guldur in the most BAMF way; and all the way Tom Cruise lives, dies and repeats.

TV Series

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Fargo was the best because watching this limited series of 10 episodes in which the people in it – with the exception of very few – do some incredibly stupid things, every single time, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my TV watching activity this year. The cast is absolutely stellar (Allison Tolman pretty much wins 2014), not just in reputation but also in performance, and I can barely think of a murder mystery that is so finely done as this one.

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Ripper Street‘s return after its ‘cancellation’ is also exciting. Sorry, Mr. Holmes, but this year I think I like my detectives broody, in awesome hats, and named Bennet Drake, Edmund Reid and Homer Jackson. Plus, this show has Long Susan. That wins the contest from every angle.

AlsoThe Musketeers for all the men and Peter Capaldi in costumes; Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for Director Coulson; The Strain because it’s from one of my favorite book trilogies; The Fall S2 because Stella Gibson and Paul Spector bring on the creepy all the time; 24: Live Another Day because of the stellar ensemble cast and the addictive feeling it brings; Jane The Virgin for all the hilarity (and the narrator); How To Get Away With Murder because Viola Davis is a goddess; and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey for all the SCIENCE!

Books

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(Bonus point for anyone who can spot the two M/M novels in this list!)

Talent Interview

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Interviewing Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman and James Gunn made my year. Three incredibly talented people who inspired me so much this year. They deserve all of our respect and admiration… I am so proud to call myself their fan.

Marvel Studios announces Phase 3 films up to 2019

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Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 finally begins. After the launch of Avengers: Age Of Ultron teaser trailer last week (another one, containing new scenes, will be released again later today), Marvel Studios announce their full Phase 3 plan, including release dates for said films. Age Of Ultron is confirmed for next year and will close Phase 2, meanwhile Ant-Man has already been announced at San Diego Comic-Con this year, so these two movies don’t play a large part in the announcements.

Perhaps the most exciting part is the announcement of The Black Panther movie. Chadwick Boseman is playing T’Challa and he will have a cameo in the next Captain America movie, which was initially announced as ‘Serpent Society’ (later on, this was proven to be a red herring and Marvel officially announced that it would be a Civil War movie.) Boseman appeared on stage at the Marvel event where the announcement was made, together with Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans.

Without further ado, here they are in all of their glory.

2016

Captain America: Civil War (6 May)
Doctor Strange (4 November)

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2017

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (5 May)

Thor: Ragnarok (28 July).

Black Panther (3 November)

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2018-2019

Avengers: Infinity War – Part I (4 May 2018)

Captain Marvel (6 July 2018)

Inhumans (2 November 2018)

Avengers: Infinity War – Part II (3 May 2019)

 

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Black Panther Concept Art

Marvel also released the following concept art for the Black Panther. (This is so exciting!)

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Marvel’s Avengers Age Of Ultron First Look

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After yesterday’s panel of Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron debuted (descriptions here), I looked at the film stills released by Marvel on Entertainment Weekly.

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The first picture should be the scene where they were hanging out and trying to lift Mjolnir. There’s Mjolnir right there. Also, even just by looking at the picture, I can sense the strong ‘brofeel’. (And it is good to see Don Cheadle there. I was hoping he’d be in the panel yesterday…)

I can’t even fathom what the second picture indicates, but the third picture makes me happy. I really like seeing them in costume because somehow Joss Whedon and Marvel always make them work in the story. That they are not just characters who dress differently because they’re unique and powerful, but because there’s a story behind their getup. Cap is back to his colorful star and stripes too, and I appreciate that. Although, I’m hoping Thor’s armor gets a little less summer-y… he probably just wants to show off his arms but I like it better when the armor has long sleeves.

The third one, though? I am not going to lie but at the moment I will say that Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is still better. His hair, for one, is a lot nicer to look at than Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s hair in this one. The bit available in the Captain America: The Winter Soldier after-credit scene was intriguing but it’s not like we get to see him being Pietro Maximoff in entirety… it’s really hard or me to expect anything without seeing more. And the X-Men: DOFP version of Quicksilver was a real highlight in any summer movie I’ve seen this year so it will be very hard to top that.

From the way everyone talks about, the one thing that really makes me curious is the Hulkbuster armor. Hopefully soon we will get to see that. Of course, we will all appreciate the first look of James Spader’s Ultron.

A side note on fan expectations and differences of the MCU films from the comic books… I don’t get it. I see vitriol poured by some fans over the announcement of the cast and characters of Ant-Man and I am baffled.

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Marvel Studios panel at Hall H, SDCC ’14

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Marvel Studios bring out their big guns to Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, holding panels for their 2015 films: Ant-Man and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. As usual, Kevin Feige is there to lead A-listers in the panel with Chris Hardwick conducting.

During the Ant-Man panel, Peyton Reed shows up “to polite applause”. I guess people are still not to keen on him being the director of Ant-Man after Edgar Wright left. He establishes his own Ant-Man geek cred though; apparently “he’s a huge fan and drew himself as Ant-Man on a flyer for his punk band, Johnny Quest.” He’s still not Edgar Wright but I think I’m ready to move on now.

A few announcements are made for Ant-Man. Casting-wise, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are called “Ant-Men”, playing Scott Lang and Hank Pym respectively. Corey Stoll is cast as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. Evangeline Lilly is cast as Hope Van Dyne, Janet’s daughter. Filming of Ant-Man begins on 18 August 2014.

Despite not having filmed yet, there’s a footage show. As usual, the description was live-bloged by Comingsoon.net‘s Silas Lesnick earlier:

The footage begins as a shot moves through a lab.

We see beakers filled with colored liquids.

A glass cage with an anthill inside

We hear Rudd and Douglas talking

Pym tells Lang that he wants him to be Ant-Man because he’s a regular guy

It sounds like he has no love lost for The Avengers

Rudd is terrified

“Geez Lang,” says Pym, “You’d think someone only shrunk your balls.”

It cuts to a rooftop. Ant-Man is there, tiny

It looks like he’s being pursued by full-size people

An Ant lands and Lang climbs on his back, still terrified

Pym talks to Lang through the helmet, guiding him

It looks like the helmet is damaged and Lang is having some trouble

It looks like he’s inside a computer maybe

Pym tells him to run and he jumps off a huge ledge

A flying Ant catches him as he falls and the logo comes up!

Next up is Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Which is a riot. Because the cast is huge (I think there were more people on this panel than in The Hobbit panel) although Joss Whedon and Scarlett Johansson are not there. Whedon is laid up in London due to knee injury, meanwhile Johansson is due to give birth anytime now. So there were ‘only’ Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen.

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There were reportedly a lot of shenanigans during the panel but I’d rather not focus on that. The video is bound to show up soon and I believe we can all watch it for ourselves. More importantly, there’s a footage from Age Of Ultron that is described by so many people.

Here’s Silas Lesnick’s version:

It’s the Avengers, hanging out together.

They’re out of costumes and all trying to lift Thor’s hammer

Tony can’t do it

He tries again with an Iron Man hand

He still can’t

Even with War Machine’s help, he can’t

Neither can Banner

Cap moves it a little!

Silas Lesnick: A big noise distracts them

It’s an old suit, moving like a zombie, entering the room… It’s Ultron!

“There’s only one path to peace,” he says, “Your extinction!”

A montage of scenes. Black Widow in her new suit with blue lining

Banner in a straightjacket?

Tanks fighting in the snow

“It’s the end,” says Stark. “The end of the path I started us on.”

“Nothing lasts forever,” says Widow

Hulkbuster armor!

Going toe-to-toe with the Hulk!

“Look,” says Ultron, seemingly in his finished form, “No string on me”

Tony in what looks like a wasteland. All the Avengers are lying, bruised and beaten before him

And Empire Magazine has this description on Twitter:

Five highlights of the Avengers footage…

5. The gang all trying to lift Mjolnir at a party. Thor laughs until Cap manages to wobble it.

4. Ultron, having just built himself, crashes that party and declares war on mankind. Spader’s voice is menacing – perfect.

3. Hulk vs Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armour. Hulk throws a car at Stark. What could have happened to make the Science Bros so angry?

2. The final shot: Stark staring at Cap’s shield, which has been broken in half. Pull back to reveal: the Avengers, destroyed? Maybe…

1. And the final reveal of Ultron, declaring there “are no strings on me”. He’s going to be a formidable opponent, a robot with personality.

Full story here.)

After the footage, Thanos himself came on stage… Josh Brolin came with the Infinity Gauntlet (and ate a purple flower).

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The panel was closed by a video greeting from James Gunn and Chris Pratt in London. Gunn announces that Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 is happening. The release date is 28 July 2017.

Excitement all around thanks to these announcements. It makes being sleep-deprived worth it.

I have some more photos for you…

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Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron Concept Arts from SDCC ’14

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San Diego Comic-Con 2014 is on and, as expected, there’s an absolutely massive deluge of information coming from just about every single fandom you could possibly think of.

As usual, I’m following SDCC from the comforts of my own home, via the Interweb, and already I’m feeling kind of tired from the oversaturation of geek. However, these Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron concept art posters by Ryan Meinerding (Captain America, Iron Man) and Andy Park (Black Widow, Scarlet Witch) are just too good to NOT to be reported.

Without further ado, here they are.

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Vision:

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[UPDATED] The final 2 concept artworks for Hulk and Thor have been revealed (look up). And this is the full picture, which looks TOTALLY EPIC.

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Also, check out Andy Park’s Ant-Man concept art that was released before.

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[UPDATED] Entertainment Weekly posted this on their website:

The good guys are tired, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been destroyed, and there’s no one else for the planet to turn to when menace looms on the horizon. Everyone wants a break—and that’s exactly how they’re about to be broken. There’s no abdicating heroism.

“What you said about abdication is apt, but I think it’s also about recognizing limitations,” Robert Downey Jr. says. “The downside of self-sacrifice is that if you make it back, you’ve been out there on the spit and you’ve been turned a couple times and you feel a little burned and traumatized.”

For better or worse (trust us, it’s worse), his Tony Stark has devised a plan that won’t require him to put on the Iron Man suit anymore, and should allow Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to get some much needed R&R as well. His solution is Ultron, self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.

The only problem? Ultron (played by James Spader through performance-capture technology) lacks the human touch, and his superior intellect quickly determines that life on Earth would go a lot smoother if he just got rid of Public Enemy No. 1: Human beings. “Ultron sees the big picture and he goes, ‘Okay, we need radical change, which will be violent and appalling, in order to make everything better’; he’s not just going ‘Muhaha, soon I’ll rule!’” Whedon says, rubbing his hands together.

Completely sinister. We’ll know more from the panel later.

Norman Reedus wants Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead graphic novel

Here’s one of the results of my Singapore The Walking Dead trip: an interview with Norman Reedus. Full coverage will be available in Total Film Indonesia Issue #52 (out this weekend) consisting of a 2-page Norman Reedus interview and a 6-page Andrew Lincoln feature. Earlier today I wrote an introductory piece to those magazine articles for totalfilmindonesia.com (Norman Reedus Ingin Tokohnya Di Serial TV THE WALKING DEAD Masuk Komik). And here’s the English translation of that piece.

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Norman Reedus wants Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead graphic novel

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All The Walking Dead TV fans know that their favorite series comes from Robert T. Kirkman’s popular graphic novels, making this AMC show highly popular and a lot of people’s favorites. But not all the comic book characters are 100% the same to the TV series and vice versa. And one of those characters that exist in the TV series only but not in the comic books in Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon.

Daryl, who made his TWD debut as Michael Rooker’s Merle’s brother, was one of the most interesting characters in Season 1. He started out as somewhat of an antagonist, parroting his big brother who was a real piece of work) but is now Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) trusted lieutenant.

Total Film Indonesia caught up with Reedus in Singapore last month and we talked about Daryl’s transformation in the past four seasons.

I think once… I think he was going to be Merle. I think he was going to grow up being Merle and once Merle was sort of out of the picture, it sort of allowed him to not be sort of embarrassed to who he was going to become and slowly… and the situation that they’re all in [allows him to say] ‘it’s okay to be you’. I think he sort of learned that late in life and I think he sort of found a family in a lot of ways for the first time.

But he doesn’t think Daryl is in any way ‘softening up’.  “So I think that’s his way of softening up. But he’ll still stab you if look at him wrong,” Reedus said.

Also, don’t call him a ‘douchebag’. (Another reporter conveyed a fan question to Reedus that used this word. Reedus’ reaction was incredulous and perhaps a little annoyed.)  “Douchebag? DOUCHEBAG?That’s a bit harsh! Give me that guy’s address!” he quipped with a little shake of his head.

The most important question on the table, though, is this: is Robert T. Kirkman, the graphic novelist who is also involved as a writer and producer in the TV series, going to put Daryl in the comic book? Does Reedus know anything about the status of Daryl’s graphic novel existence?

You know, I’ve offered to wash Robert Kirkman’s car, I’ve offered to sleep with him, whatever it takes… but, God, I don’t know. I mean I would love to be in the graphic novel.  I would love to but that’s a Robert decision. The only thing he’s said to me is “STOP ASKING ME ABOUT IT.”

We reckon that all the fans who want Kirkman to put Daryl in The Walking Dead comic book should stop asking and just offer the author a huge favor… anybody up for washing those cars?

More on Norman Reedus and his The Walking Dead character can be found in Total Film Indonesia #52 (coming out this weekend). TWD is playing on Fox Movies Premium in Asia. New episodes are broadcast every Monday morning at 10.30 AM (Indonesia time) and replayed on the same day at 19.10.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Official Trailer & Intros

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Are you hooked on this feeling yet? Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy is proving to be a serious summer blockbuster contender!

I’ve been waiting to see what Marvel and director James Gunn are doing with this particular Marvel property… the comic is obscure enough to feel like a novelty in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but the story of the comic book (that is, the 2008 version) is quite good so that people who’ve read it like it enough to get excited about it and promote it. Personally, I think this team have a great set of characters just from the looks of them (I mean, a tree and a talking gun-wielding raccon? Those are already winners in my book!) and I think they are totally different from other MCU titles so people are going to be curious to see what the Guardians are all about.

There’s a good chance that this seemingly out-of-left-field film will trump others in the summer movies race. If nothing else, this already looks better than last year’s slew of failed sci-fi movies. Also, it has a very attractive cast led by Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana… with gorgeous Lee Pace playing the villain (if The Hobbit‘s Thranduil is anything to go by, Pace’s Ronan The Accuser is going to be even more evil/bitchy/intimidating). Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper and action man Vin Diesel will also draw big and GOTG will probably pull in other genre fans to the cinema (Whovians for Karen Gillan, wrestling/sports fans for Dave Bautista, comedy fans for John C. Reilly, etc.)

Marvel also seems to be doing quite a lot to familiarize us with the characters and the movie’s concept months ahead of the release in August. They released the official trailer yesterday and have just now released 5 intro clips introducing the GOTG crew members. We get to hear Rocket Raccoon’s voice by Bradley Cooper (no Cockney accent here and I like it) as he and the rest of the cast introduce their characters in the movie. This way, we have an idea of who they are and what they’re going to look like, if not really completely aware of the whole story just yet.

I admit to liking very much how Marvel builds up the hype for James Gunn’s comic book flick – it doesn’t have that overly smug feel of TASM2‘s major promo and the confusing way Bryan Singer is promoting X-Men: Days Of Future Past (I mean, I love X-Men, but honestly… announcing Apocalypse even before DOFP is out strikes me as an attention-seeking move. But that’s probably just me.) Now we’ll just have to see how Marvel Studios will treat this movie at Comic-Con!

Anyway. Enjoy the videos below, right after the poster.

Guardians Of The Galaxy - Marvel's "you're welcome"

Guardians Of The Galaxy – Marvel’s “you’re welcome”

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The Walking Dead – Press Day in Singapore

Yesterday I was in Singapore for a 2-day The Walking Dead junket trip. It was such an excitement to be there because the talents who came to Singapore are the show’s biggest stars, namely Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes). I’m quite amazed that they came to Asia, let alone Singapore, which is very close to Indonesia. But they told me that Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Reedus also felt privileged to be able to come to our side of the world.

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Funnily enough, about half of the journalists who came to the press day are fans of the show as well. I’m a fan of the comic book and the show so naturally I asked for their signatures on my copy of The Walking Dead comic book (by Robert T. Kirkman, whom Reedus and Lincoln mentioned a few times during our Q&A). Also, my chief editor asked me to ask Lincoln to sign a copy of his Love, Actually Blu-ray box.

The Walking Dead‘s popularity as a show is undisputed. I would be hard pressed to find any other show that is still able to maintain their game at this very intense level on their fourth or fifth season. The Walking Dead is visceral and cerebral at the same time, supplying us with gore and violence that are paired perfectly with human drama and psychology. This is a show where a character banishment can hurt a lot more than a character death; but when they do kill someone, they make those characters earn it. There’s no gratuitous killing – when someone dies, the impact is very much felt and absorbed.

As you may recall, this show didn’t even make it to the Top 10 of my Favorites Of The Year 2013 list. But I did explain that that decision was a personal one because I still couldn’t get over the death of one of the characters I really like. It’s funny how I can deal with Game Of Thrones deaths but not The Walking Dead – “The Red Wedding” episode provided as much angst as TWD‘s last episode did. But the difference is, I didn’t care much for Robb Stark. TWD‘s death felt more similar to Sean Bean’s character’s death in the first season of GoT.

Anyway, Lincoln and Reedus promised us an amazing last half of season 4. I can’t wait for this show to be back on TV. Fox Movies Premium will air this series only mere hours after the US; there is no longer a week-long gap between US air date and Asian air date. Forget those lo-res Torrents… this is one show worth seeing on HD TV!

Marvel Studios Hall H Comic-Con 2013 Panel: Thor 2, Captain America 2, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Avengers 2

Silas Lesnick from Comingsoon.net live-blogged descriptions of each footage shown at the Marvel Studios panel at Hall H, San Diego Comic-Con 2013.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Footage Description

WOW! It looks like the most epic Game of Thrones battle you can imagine

Very, very practical-looking

The footage begins in the middle of a battlefield. The Warriors Three are among those fighting.

The rainbow bridge appears and Mjolnir comes through first.

It hits one of the opponent soldiers and Thor is right behind it.

He slams it against the Earth and soldiers go flying.

Sif saves Thor from a spear at the last second.

Over the hill a giant monster who looks like he’s made of clay approaches.

He’s huge and angry. Nearly 20 feet.

“I accept your surrender,” Thor grins.

The beast refuses and Thor smashes him to pieces with the hammmer.

“Anyone else?” Thor asks.

The Marvel logo comes up and we’re in London. Jane Foster is there and Thor arrives via the bridge.

“I gave you my word I would return for you,” he says.

We see Jane in Asgard, exploring the wonder of it all

There’s a brief, “Holy s–t” line from Kat Dennings as Thor and Jane vanish via the bridge.

Something is wrong in Asgard. There’s some sort of invisible bridge that has been discovered nearby.

Thor goes to Loki. He’s get in a prison cell with a big glass panel in front.

“After all this time, you come before me, brother?” says Loki, “Why? To mock?”

Thor says he needs Loki’s help.

We see a hand reach for a broken mask, I believe it’s Malekith.

“Your bravery will not relieve your pain,” a voice (I think Eccleston) says. “Your family and your world will be extinguished.”

Loki sets off with Thor, Jane, Sif and the Warriors Three for a mission.

Jane looks at a monitor and says something about the fabric of reality being torn apart.

Sif tells Loki that if he betrays Thor, she’ll kill him.

Jane marches right up and slaps Loki in the face.

“That was for New York!” she says.

“I like her,” Loki grins.

There’s a final shot of Thor on the ground, hurt, with Loki standing over him.

He kicks Thor directly in the face.

Thor reaches for his hammer, but Loki kicks his hand away.

The logo comes up. It looks amazing!

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Footage Description

We open in an elevator. Cap is inside, looking out the glass window. I think we’re in DC.

We see him from behind. He’s got the shield on his back like a backpack.

He turns as more people (Frank Grillo among them) get on.

His uniform is new. It looks a lot like the US Agent costume.

The music is moody, like The Hunt For Red October.

Cap looks Grillo up and down. He senses something isn’t right.

More people get on. Cap keeps looking at them. He notices many of them are armed.

More and more get on with each floor. The elevator is packed.

Cap takes another look at their guns.

Before we get started,” he says, “Does anyone want to get out?”

Grillo says something about it “not being personal” and a fight breaks out.

It’s a massive fight, mostly shot from above, in the confined space. Cap takes out every single guy.

He kicks his shield, flipping it into his hand as he exits.

The Marvel logo comes up. We see Robert Redford in an office.

He saying that he joined SHIELD to protect the world.

“To build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down,” he says. “And that makes enemies.”

We see the Helicarrier flying. Lots of Black Widow action.

Fury shaking hands with Redford.

Fury is talking to Cap.

“I thought the punishment usually came after the crime,” Cap tells him.

We see Mackie running from a futuristic helicopter. He leaps off a building and we see the Falcon wings come out!

Cap on his motorcycle, fighting the helicopter.

The helicarrier falling out of the sky in flames.

The final shot is Cap’s shield on the ground, A metal hand reaches down to pick it up, revealing the Winter Soldier.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Footage Description

Star-Lord gets arrested, disappointed they don’t know his name.

We see him being booked on a prison ship and John C. Reilly reading off the passenger manifest.

Drax, all practical

Gamora (Zoe looks AMAZING), also practical.

She’s described as “Thanos’ adopted daughter by Reilly”

Rocket Racoon, just called “Rocket”

No word on the voice. But he’s feisty. He spits as his name gets read.

Groot, who is all CGI and has to lean down for his mug shot.

Reilly calls him a “personal houseplant slash muscle”

I AM GROOT

Then Star Lord, who very slowly does a jack-in-the-box flipping off Reilly.

When he finishes, he mocks surprise. “Oh,” he says ,”I’m sorry. I didn’t know how that machine worked.”

As he’s getting booked, he’s very angry about a guard taking his headphones and listening to them.

“They call themselves the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’,” Reilly says, rolling his eyes.

“What a bunch of a-holes,” says the guard behind Reilly.

The logo comes up with “Hooked on a Feeling” playing over it.

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THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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This is revealed to be the title for the sequel of Marvel’s The Avengers by Joss Whedon.

Dredd 3D (2012): Film Review

After pining for it for about a week, I got to see Dredd, the Pete Travis-directed and Alex Garland-penned movie based on the character from the comic book 2000 AD. If you’re like me, who’s a fan of Karl Urban and geeky enough to follow Comic-Con news, then you know the hype has been around for some time… and you’d have heard of the enthusiastic response it got from this year’s SDCC. So with that kind of prelude for the movie prior to its release, naturally I had high expectations.

And it did not disappoint.

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