Thursday, 30 August 2012

Film 4 - Iron Man

Tony Stark; billionaire, playboy and genius. After giving a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan, Tony is kidnapped and forced to make his latest weapon for his kidnapper. However after he has escaped, Tony decides to quit making weapons and start on something completely afresh: the Iron Man suit.

Superhero conventions present in this film:
  • Special item - Tony Stark is an intelligent man and gets straight down with his newest project, redesigning and creating the iron man suit.
  • A moral code - at the start of the film, we see that Tony Stark is irresponsible (missing one his award ceremonies to play poker and also tinkering around with his cars meaning that he is three hours late for his plane journey). But towards the end of the film, we see Tony realise what he has done and how he wants to change the world for a better place (even if some of his peers don't agree with him).
  • A secret identity - at first Tony keeps the project to himself, but as difficult circumstances arise, his closest friends including Pepper find out. After a showdown with Obadiah, Tony reveals his secret during a press conference, unusual to what a normal superhero would do.
  • Finical support - Tony Stark is the son of a billionaire, and originally used to sell weapons for millions of pounds. This of course gives him enough money to fund making his new 'super' suit .
  • Archilles Heel - Tony is unhinged at two points of the film, firstly when he is kidnapped in Afghanistan and secondly, when Obadiah steals his electromagnet out of his chest. 
  • Rogues gallery - In the first half of the film, Tony has to fight his way out of the cave against a load of Afghan soldiers, who all work for Obadiah.
  • Costume features - Tony has made a red and gold trademark suit out of titanium alloy. It is light enough enabling for him to fly. Also he can shoot laser bolts out of the palms of his hands, as well as sending flares from his shoulder blades.
It was the first film installment of the Marvel Universe and it was aimed at mainly the male between the ages of 12-40 (this would include a diverse range from young teenagers to middle aged comic book nerds). 

The binary opposition is shown is the whole Arab/American military war as we see a lot of the on the news where the Americans are the 'heroes' trying to fight in a war against the 'evil' Arabs which is reinforced in this film as you see Tony Stark being taken hostage by the 'brutal' Arabs. The military are then flown in to try and rescue Tony however it takes a interesting plot twist when Tony defeats them all by himself.

Again, Iron Man is yet another superhero where it reinforces the gender stereotypes as Tony Stark is the typical male lead. and although he is seen flirting with a lot of women (hence the playboy status), we see Virginia "Pepper" Potts being introduced as Tony's love interest. Near the end of the film, Tony makes sure Pepper is protected by six agents, whilst he fights Obadiah by himself. 

Iron Man seeks to entertain it's audience by using special effects to bring the Iron Man suit to life. It also uses the special effects to create the fast paced battle between Iron Man and Obadiah at the end of the film as well as the weapons that Stark Industries has created. In Iron Man, they also go to the desert to shoot some of the scenes such as the revealing of the Jericho missile and the kidnap. Finally the banter between Tony Stark and some of the other characters, such as Rhodes and Pepper, increase the humour in the film, making it more entertaining to the audience.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Film 3 - Captain America

First in a series of the world's greatest heroes, Captain America is the world's first super soldier who was injected super serum in the hope that he would be able to do an army's work with the strength of just one man. Unfortunately, plans for more super soldiers were  thrown out of the window when the man responsible for the formula was murdered. Yet Captain America and his rag tag team of combat soldiers were able to defeat the German 'Hydra' group but with dire consequences as Captain America was forced to land the plane in the middle of the ocean due to a large unexploded bomb onboard. He was then found frozen seventy years later by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Falling into the superhero film category, it has to several conventions including:
  •  Having special powers - after being injected with the super serum, Steve Rodgers (aka Captain America) develops exceptional strength and enhanced ability which doubled with an indestructible shield, makes Rodgers a very formidable man.
  • A moral code - in the film, Steve Rodgers has a very strong sense of good and wrong, constantly being beaten up but still standing up for what he believes in. Later on in the boot camp, he shows complete loyalty after trying to protect everyone for a fake grenade which then leads on for him to be chosen to be the first test subject to subjected to the super serum. 
  • A secret identity - like every classic superhero Steve Rodgers superhero alias is Captain America, but even though the public of America doesn't know who he is, only a small group of people do, "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn".
  • Supporting characters - in this film, we see that Steve develops a love interest for Peggy but that devastatingly ends once he is forced to crash the plane into the ocean. Also one of Steve's other close friends was Bucky, who remained loyal until the very end.
  • Motif - Being Captain America, he bears the America flag in a very unusual style, a silver star with blue, white and red stripes, which can be seen on his shield.
  • Backstory - Steve would constantly fail to get into the Army because he was too small and light to be able to help fight alongside other soldiers, and he was constantly getting beaten up due to the fact he was stubborn and loyal to his country (such as the incidence with the film at the start of the movie).
  • Rogues gallery - in the movie, the Nazi group Hydra, have got their hands on the tesseract (which has transformed their leaders appearance, hence giving him the name the Red Devil) and Captain America and his team mates are forced to break into their headquarters to try and stop them.
  • Costume features - Captain America sports a blue uniform with a silver star on his chest and a silver A on his head. His costume covers over
the top half of his face, to help protect his identity. Another significant feature is his shield, which he uses to distinguish himself from the other soldiers and as extra protection.

The target audience for this film is "male (64%), mostly over 25 (58%)" according to due to the fact it is the first film in the Marvel Universe (timeline wise), meaning that diehard comic book fans would be wanting to watch the movie adaptation in the cinemas to see one of their favourite heroes.

The binary oppositions present is firstly the second world war (Germans vs America in this case in the movie) so you get a sense it is a battle between good/evil, in the sense that  when taking the tesseract, the Red Devil has turned "insane", creating weapons that atomise a person (in which he plans on using during the war). However thanks to Captain America, these weapons never make it out into the world. Another binary opposition is the weak/strong, as at the start of the movie Steve Rodgers is a 'weakling', seen as unfit to serve in the army, an image which the Americans don't want to associate with their army. However when Steve has been subjected to the superserum, he is suddenly put in the spotlight now that he is seen as 'strong'.

Captain America does reinforce gender stereotypes because it is set in World War Two where women have yet to have an equal role in society (at the end of the war there was great social change), so throughout the film, it is only the men that do the physical fighting and hardly any women make any appearances. Peggy, the strongest women role in the film, however she is one of the most important officers of the American Army. Although she doesn't need to be rescued, she is often on the sidelines rather than in the middle of the fighting action.

Finally, the film seeks to entertain it's audience by firstly creating a hero for the audience to root for, as at the beginning of the film, we see Steve being brutally beaten but refusing to stand down from the fight. Also we get to see the transformation of Steve into Captain America, via the super serum. This has the audience on the edge of their seats as they don't know if it is going to work, and for a heart crunching moment, when they consider calling the experiment off. Another heart in the mouth moment was when Captain America and his comrades were on the train in the middle of the snow locked mountains; however not worrying for Steve, but when one of his friends fall off of the train, plunging to his death below. This moment is lifechanging for Steve as he realises that he will now sacrifice himself for the greater good of the war. 

From zero to hero.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Film 2 - The Amazing Spiderman

This epic reinvented tale of Spiderman tells the story of how Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, after visiting Dr Connors who he goes for answers after finding on of his fathers old pieces of work. Upon discovering his new found powers, Peter witnesses the shocking murder of his uncle and begins tracking down his killer. However in the process Dr Connors has made what he thinks is the cure to regrowing his missing arms. But instead he mutates into a massive rampaging lizard which Peter (aka Spiderman) has to stop once and for all.

In this film, it clearly defines the classic superhero conventions including:
  • Having special powers - after being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter suddenly finds he can shoot ultrastrong webs from his wrists, climb buildings as easily as blinking and having highly developed senses.
  • A moral code - at first Peter seeks vengeance on the man who murdered his uncle but after his first fight with the Lizard on the bridge, he realises that there is more to just getting revenge.
  • A secret identity - Peter hides his powers from the world at first but then tells Gwen and is accidently revealed to both her dad and Dr Connors. It is also implied at the end of the movie that his Aunt May knows that he is Spiderman too.
  • Motif - Peter uses the spider as he motif to clearly define who he is.

  • Backstory - in the Amazing Spiderman, the backstory is very important to future event that unravel in the main plot. We learn that Peter's parents were fleeing from something when Peter was only a young boy, but Peter still has no idea where they were going.
  • Archilles Heel - Peter feels very strongly for his family and becomes temporary unhinged upon witnessing the death of his uncle. Further on in the film, Peter then becomes worried about the Lizard attacking Gwen while she is making the antidote.
  • Costume features - In this film, we see Peter at first inspired to make a mask so his enemies couldn't recognise who he was, however it became impractical so Peter is forced to re-adapt his designs to the signature blue and red look, which has become the most defining feature about Spiderman.
The film is rated a 12a, which shows that the film is targeted at mainly teenagers of both the male and female gender due to the fast paced action and the social awkwardness which many teenagers can relate too. It is slightly dark in content and the fact the Marvel have casted Andrew Garfield to play Spiderman and he has become a teen sensation suggest that it is for a teenage audience.

The binary oppositions which are present is the animal imagery of the lizard vs the spider (lizards are known to eat insects) where you can see the stealth and agility of Spiderman  compared to the strength and stamina of the Lizard. Another binary opposition is the superhero/police as although both try to fight the Lizard, neither of them are successful by themselves. The police are under the impression that Spiderman is out to spite them, where as Spiderman believes that they are more of a hinderage than help. 

However in this film, it does reinforce gender stereotypes; as you have the handsome male superhero who is the lead character and develops a love interest for a beautiful young woman. Also the antagonist is impaired in some way in which is one of his main focuses to try and change for what he thinks is the greater good. The gender stereotype is reinforced further as we see Spiderman rushing to the rescue once he realises that Gwen is in danger from being killed by the Lizard and when she is saved, she is forced out of the action making it an all male showdown.

Even though the Amazing Spiderman does greatly reinforce gender stereotypes, it is still a thrilling film which leaves the audience on the edge of their seats due to firstly the vast scale on which it is film. It takes place in New York City and although a lot of CGI is used to make up for the majority of shots (such as the ones that take place on top of buildings), when following Spiderman's journey through the city, it leaves the audience wanting to see more of the city through Spiderman's eyes. Another way in which the Amazing Spiderman seeks to entertain it's audience is the fantastic chemistry between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The most riveting scene between the two is when Peter reveals his secret identity to her on the top of their apartment which Gwen remarks "I'm in trouble". Finally Peter's humour is often very amusing, especially with the audience as they see him play Bubble Pop whilst waiting for the Lizard to appear. Another instance is when the car robber bares his knife out at Spiderman, which he sarcastically remarks "You've found my weakness, it's small knives", before shooting the car robber with web.  

Monday, 6 August 2012

Film 1 - Avengers Assemble

After a wild underground chase, the tesseract is stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D by the powerhungry Loki, who then in turn converts some of S.H.I.E.L.D's most loyal agents into his own bidding servants. Provoked and angry, Nick Fury begins his most daunting mission to date; assembling the worlds most mighty band of warriors! However it proves difficult as the Avengers have trouble working together at first but after a major blow to the S.H.I.E.L.D airship, the Avenger realise that they have to stop bantering with each other and start battering the enemy.

Interestingly enough, although it revolves around six superheros instead of just the one main character; Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and the Black Widow. All of them possess either a special power (such as the Super Serum which was injected into Captain America and the Hulk, and Thor's unearthly strength and power) and skill (Iron Man's unrivaled intelligence, Hawkeye's smooth grace with a bow and arrow to the Widow's incredible elasticated body moves). 
Each Avenger has their own moral code although each very similar; to protect the Earth from Loki and the Chitauri, for slightly different reasons (from Thor still trying to believe that Loki can be convinced otherwise to Bruce Banner who initially only came to join to help find the Tesseract but then was angered by Loki for letting him destroy part of the airship).
Each Avenger has their own secret identity, such as Bruce Banner is the Incredible Hulk. Yet however Thor is the exception to this convention as he doesn't reside on Earth, as an Asgardian God he can travel between worlds, so he doesn't need to create a secret alias for himself.
The motif is for them collectively, S.H.I.E.L.D's logo is an eagle encased in a circle.

At the start of the film, S.H.I.E.L.D's headquarters are destroyed by Loki, so Nick Fury uses an airship to be the base of his operations as it is unusual and more dynamic in the search for the Tesseract.
Although the Avengers have their own backstories, Marvel doesn't include these in this movie due to the fact that they all have their own premovie. However the exception to this rule is Hawkeye and the Black Widow as they have only appeared in small parts of the other films. But in the Avengers movie, small snippets of their past are slyly revealed. "You and I remember Budapest", Hawkeye refers to a possible battle where he and the Black Widow were both on different sides before she joined S.H.I.E.L.D as an agent.
Another one of the strong characters we see in the Avengers, is the clumsy yet fiercely loyal Phil Coulsen who ultimately becomes the archilles heel, as the Avengers are temporary unhinged as Loki murders Coulsen. Yet this backfires on Loki as Nick Fury uses this to his advantage to give the Avengers a final 'push' in working together.
Finally the Avengers each have their unique costume, in which they don for different purposes. For instance, Tony Stark has invented his own fascinating "iron" armor which has multiple function including; shooting 'bolts' of electricity out of his hand, the ability to fly, shoot missiles, send off flares, increased strength and also the ability for him to go underwater and into space still breathing!   

The film in itself is rated a 12a which you would think means that Marvel has aimed it's target audience for male teens, due to the fact that it contains the typical fight scenes, awe inspiring stunts and witty humour . Yet this film appealed to all ages, from the comic books buffs to secondary school teenagers, the kind of people who themselves "fangirls" and "fanboys" whether they are new to the franchise or spent several years obsessing over the Marvel comics. The thing they have in common is that they have spare time to sit down and read/watch any fictional character franchise (as opposed to soap operas which are more realistic like Eastenders).

There are many binary oppositions present in the trailer for this film. The most obvious one would be the fight between 'good' and 'evil' which can be symbolised as the team of Avengers fighting against Loki and the Chitauri. 

This film does reinforce gender stereotypes, with five out of the six main characters being male. However Natasha Romanoff  (the Black Widow) does challenge the gender stereotype as females of usual superhero films are seen as sweet, caring, and generally on the whole weak. Natasha does well to challenge this; she's sly, manipulative and cunning. Although she has no superpower as such (compared to Thor or Captain America), she's incredibly skilled as espionage agent earning her nickname "the Black Widow". 

This film seeks to entertain it's audience by firstly creating complex battle sequences to wow the audience (the big fight in New York). It also uses CGI to create a visual scene meaning that the audience can imagine the scene better for themselves (again especially with the New York battle scene to create a more realistic and indepth feel). Finally Marvel uses humour, especially from Tony Stark, to make the movie more memorable to the audience.