R.I.P. Patrick Macnee 1922-2015

Well, June has not been a good month for my childhood heroes. First, we lost the last great horror actor, Christopher Lee, and now time has done what no number of outlandish Avengers enemies could – taken John Steed away. Both actors lived to a wonderful age of 93 but no amount of time is enough.

Patrick Macnee

Patrick Macnee had 167 roles on imdb and while many of them were memorable, he will always be remembered as John Steed in The Avengers. Not just that but while he had many partners, he will always be linked with Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel.

The Avengers ran from 1961 to 1969 and starred Ian Hendry with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed as the sidekick. It really hit its stride when Ian Hendry left to become a movie star (rookie mistake, right David Caruso?) and Steed became the central character with several very capable female partners. First, Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger) as Catherine Gale, then Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, and finally Linda Thorson as Tara King.

John Steed and Patrick Macnee were brought back in 1976-77 for The New Avengers. Here John Steed leads a team consisting of Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Gareth Hunt as Gambit. It tries but doesn’t have the wonderful sense of style that the original did. Macnee also has a voiceover in the dreadful The Avengers movie with Ralph Fiennes as John Steed.

The Avengers

 

Sadly, Netflix doesn’t even recognize Macnee in their actor database so go buy Season 5 of The Avengers on Amazon. It is easily the best of the series and features all of the color episodes featuring Diana Rigg.

Rest in peace, Patrick Macnee, you will be missed.

Superheroes – The Tick Returns!

Every year on September 11th, I take the day off and watch superhero movies and eat pizza. I usually post a tribute here to my dear departed friend, Patrick Grady. He always loved superhero movies but died before some of the best ones (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Avengers) came out. The last thing he was able to eat was my beloved father-in-law’s pizza hence my commemoration of him with pizza (also a nod to Poppa, whose name was indeed John, but whose pizza was vastly superior to that chain but I digress) and superhero movies.

Arrow

Patrick would have been thrilled with the current state of superhero movies over the past few years. This year marks a major shift to television. The success of Arrow has spawned The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine so, at least for a small period of time, there will be four DC comics television series and one Marvel (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Marvel also has/had plans to develop Agent Carter.

The Tick

The big news to me though is that Amazon is bringing back The Tick! Writer Ben Edlund is on board as is Patrick Warburton (who simply is The Tick). No word yet on Arthur, Captain Liberty, or Bat-Manuel. Amazon is ordering a pilot and, as usual, will invite folks to vote on whether to fund this series. The original series is currently on Netflix and is only nine episodes long so why aren’t you watching it.

Captain America Winter Soldier

My plan for today is to watch Captain America, The Avengers (currently on Netflix), and Captain America: Winter Soldier which just came out on Tuesday. It was a good comic book year with X-Men: Days of Future Past, The (not so) Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and The Guardians of the Galaxy but, for my money, Winter Soldier was the best of the lot.

Thor Marathon at Regal Cinemas

Thor: The Dark World

 

I am very much looking forward to seeing Thor: The Dark World. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the wonderful marathon due to a prior commitment. On November 7th, select Regal Cinemas will be playing Thor in 3D at 3 p.m., The Avengers in 3D at 5:15 p.m., and at 8 p.m., the main event Thor: The Dark World in 3D. Participating theaters can be found here. Tickets are $20 and RCC members get the usual combo offer for $5.

AMC Theaters is also showing a Thor marathon at the same date and times. The participating theaters can be found here. Their marathon is $25 ($30 at dine-in theaters) but includes a collectible lanyard and a full-sized one sheet.

End of Summer – Time for a Report Card – My Favorites

Well we are fast approaching Labor Day aka The End of Summer. I have been blessed this year to have been able to see most of the summer films. Here are my favorites:

The Avengers: The Avengers is absolutely the best of the summer movies.The heroes are all wonderful (even if Hulk gets all the big laughs), the villain is quite heinous, the action is constant and for comic book fans, there are tons of character beats and plenty of hero face-offs before the big finale.

The Dark Knight Rises: How do you follow-up the best Batman movie? Christopher Nolan did it by making an even better Batman movie. That was The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight Rises is wonderful but flawed. The themes are marvelous and the plot intricate but some of Bane’s dialogue remains unintelligible, a key scene between Bruce and Alfred is thrown away, and a few things just don’t gel right.

Prometheus: I really wanted to love this film and I did. That does not mean that I’m ignorant of the glaring faults contained within. I really enjoyed Charlize Theron’s ice cold executive but it is Michael Fassbender’s performance that commands every scene.

The Amazing Spider-Man: I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this, especially as I thought Sam Raimi and his cast had done two definitive Spider-Man movies with all the definitive roles perfectly cast. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are wonderful here and they are the reason the movie is so good.

The Hunger Games: Okay not technically a summer movie but I only just caught this one at a second-run theater. I found The Hunger Games to be quite good though necessarily skimming through the book. The funny thing is that the action scenes are terrible – the usual over-reliance on shaky-cam to give the impression of urgency. The rest of the movie is really good as are the performances, particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

The Avengers – Great Superhero Movie or Greatest Superhero Movie

The above picture is for my youngest daughter. She even named her cat Loki (after the Norse god though – not the comic book character).

I am a sucker for comic book movies. I see every comic book movie I can and I enjoy myself whether they are good (The Avengers), bad (Green Lantern), or even downright ugly (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – worst movie I’ve seen at the theater this year but thanks to Netflix not the worst movie of the year). My wife and I went to see The Avengers again last night and I’ll probably see it a third time because my older daughter has yet to catch it.

I loved comic books as a pre-teen (my favorite was Tomb of Dracula) and then rediscovered them when I went away to college (and then stopped for a couple decades and now pick up the occasional graphic novel). It was in college that I discovered that it wasn’t so much the character but the writer that made the difference. This applies to movies as well – when I was a child, I looked forward to any movie starring my favorite actors. As an adult, I look forward to movies from my favorite directors much more than actors.

If you haven’t yet caught The Avengers, it is just as awesome as most people say it is. All of the wonderful Marvel movies have paid off in a great magnum opus. Comic book fans will delight in seeing their favorite heroes square off against one another before tackling the villains.

The only review point I disagree with is that they finally got the Hulk right. I thought Edward Norton’s Hulk/Banner was great. It is just that in The Avengers, the best laughs are from the Hulk. Also being an ensemble cast, the Hulk is not overused.

I hope The Avengers finally gives Joss Whedon the carte blanche that fanboys know he already deserves. As usual Joss’ strength is with ensemble casts and he is great at giving each character a unique voice. I dearly hope that he is onboard for the already greenlit sequel.

I am very much looking forward to The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises later this summer. The first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man looked awful but the latest trailer looks much better. I will miss Sam Raimi though.

I have no doubt that The Dark Knight Rises will be a good film. Christopher Nolan has not made a bad movie yet and they range from interesting (Batman Begins, Inception, Insomnia) to masterpieces (The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige).