Avengers Assemble! Epix edition

Okay I was going to do this post closer to next Friday when The Avengers opens but Epix has a special deal right now. This weekend they will be showing three (Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2 but not The Incredible Hulk or the first Iron Man) of the five canon films leading up to the Avengers.

April 27-29 is Marvel Heroes Weekend on Epix. If you have a Roku box then Marvel Heroes Weekend is FREE (even if you have used up the FREE trial). Epix can also be viewed on the Xbox 360 or your home computer. If you have never signed up for Epix, a two-week FREE trial is available at www.epixhd.com

Thor (2011) – PG-13

“When the god of thunder angers his father, he is cast out of the fantastical realm of Asgard and banished to a life among the lowly humans on Earth. (Wait, should we be offended?) But Thor soon discovers the 21st century is pretty fantastical, too, from first loves to Facebook. As his newfound home is threatened by Asgard’s most ominous villain, Thor must use his courage – and his mighty hammer – to become the noble warrior he’s destined to be.”

Thor is a lot of fun. Chris Hemsworth is fantastically cut as the title character and is ably supported by Natalie Portman, Stellan Skargard, and especially Kat Dennings on Earth and by Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Com Feore, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson in Asgard. The Asgard segments are more serious than the Earth segments but I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor of the Earth segments more.

Look for a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye (setting up his role in The Avengers) and don’t forget the after-credit sequence (again setting up The Avengers).

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13

“If 2008’s Iron Man rocked your socks off, get ready – because the sequel just might melt your fillings. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons mogul now committed to maintaining world peace as his own mechanically enhanced alter ego. But our hero is definitely up against it this time around: not only does the U.S. government want control of his super suit, but he’ll also go toe to toe with Scarlett Johansson and (gulp) Mickey Rourke. This is rock’em sock’em popcorn fare at its finest.”

Iron Man 2 is not as much fun and nowhere near as tight the first Iron Man but it is still a blast. Black Widow/Natalie/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) gets a fair amount of screen time to set up her role in The Avengers.

Robert Downey Jr. swaggers his way through this one – he makes a great Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau return as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan but Terence Howard is replaced by Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. It’s a shame but both are fine actors.

Don’t forget the after credits scene that sets up Thor.

Captain America (2011) – Rated PG-13

“Patriotic but frail young man Steve Rogers wants nothing more than to serve his country, so he volunteers for a top-secret experimental military program. One hearty dose of Super Soldier Serum later, and Captain America is born. With his indestructible red-white-and-blue shield and rippling man muscles (wowsa!), Marvel Comics’ first Avenger springs into action to take on the deadly terrorist organization HYDRA, led by evil mastermind Red Skull.”

Captain America is NOT available until Sunday (8 pm I believe) but is a part of Marvel Heroes Weekend. Captain America is a bit slower paced than the other two movies but is still quite enjoyable. Strangely while the thing I most looked forward to in Captain America was Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull, he turned out to be not very impressive. Hugo Weaving was fantastic in The Matrix series, The Lord of the Rings series, and V for Vendetta but his German accent here is very jarring and undercuts his normally powerful delivery. On the other hand, Chris Evans was a lot better than I expected and Captain America’s earnestness is not played tongue-in-cheek.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2012)

“With Great Power explores the life of Stan Lee from the early days of his Depression era upbringing through the Marvel age of comics! The film uncovers original transcripts, illustrations, photographs and stories of Lee’s journey from his early years at Timely Comics, his military service, the comic book industry’s censorship battle of the 1950’s, the dawn of Marvel Comics and the legendary characters Stan co-created, to his current company POW! Entertainment.”

I have not seen this but look forward to catching it sometime this weekend.

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