Daily Streaming Guide: March 23rd Edition

Today’s Daily Streaming Guide brings us a must watch for horror fans who like a little comedy and irreverence spliced in!

2012’s The Cabin in the Woods is streaming on Hulu. What begins as a seemingly run-of-the-mill scary pic about college students being terrorized in a cabin takes all kinds of unexpected and often humorous turns. The film is cowritten by Joss Whedon and a month after its release, he struck box office gold with the first Avengers. This is directed by his colleague Drew Goddard (making his debut) with a cast includes Thor himself Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford doing sublime work, and genre legend Sigourney Weaver in a small yet pivotal role.

Cabin wasn’t a big hit at the multiplexes, but it’s deservedly achieved cult status since. I find it to be one of the wildly entertaining flicks of its kind in recent times.

That’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron moves the Marvel Cinematic Universe onwards while answering the questions we’ve been pondering for years. How is the romantic relationship going between Hulk and Black Widow? What’s going on with Hawkeye’s wife and children out on their family farm?

Wait, what?

These two out of nowhere subplots are emblematic of a pervasive problem with the sequel to the 2012 mega blockbuster. When Joss Whedon made the original three years ago, it was hard to imagine him combining Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye into a cohesive and satisfactory experience. Did he ever though and it resulted in one of the greatest superhero tales to reach the screen. With Ultron, many of the fears that were assuaged the first time are present. Here, the struggle is real and Whedon can’t manage to recapture the magic the second time around.

The pic dives headfirst into Avengers action in Eastern Europe with our protagonists obtaining Loki’s old scepter and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) discovering its artificial intelligence capabilities. This results in the creation of Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a robotic monster hell bent on ending the world… you know, like all MCU villains. We’re also introduced to Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), characters played by different actors in last year’s in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Incidentally, Quicksilver was used much more effectively in the latter.

Of course, we have most of the Marvel crew back. Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow, who’s turned into one of the more interesting characters even though her aforementioned romance with Dr. Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) seems to be a forced concoction to earn them more screen time. Same goes for Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who isn’t one of the more interesting players and his previously unseen family history doesn’t help. And there’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’s Captain America, both coming off sequels that improved upon their predecessors. Not the case here. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Don Cheadle’s War Machine and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon appear in more limited fashion. The girlfriends of Iron Man and Thor (Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman, respectively) are missing.

Where Ultron serviceably succeeds is its action sequences, including a humdinger battle between Hulk and Iron Man. The Marvel team obviously know how to make these glorious battle sequences and they acquit themselves fine here, though nothing matches the brilliance of the 2012 edition’s breathtaking climactic sequence. The issues I had are several and not just the needless subplots. Ultron is not an especially compelling villain. Many of the humorous quips fall flatter than normal. Even Downey Jr. (truly an example of the perfect actor in the perfect role) isn’t as fun this time around.

In a way, I found Age of Ultron comparable to the third Hunger Games entry, Mockingjay – Part 1. It’s necessary to view it so we can move on to the rest. With the MCU, that includes two more Avengers pics and forthcoming Thor and Captain America threequels. Ultron is “must see” viewing for that reason and that reason alone. Yet I hope what comes next elevates beyond the material we are given this time.

**1/2 (out of four)

Avengers: Age of Ultron Box Office Prediction

The 2015 Summer Movie Season kicks off in grand fashion as Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts and looks to Hulk smash records. The mystery surrounding how it performs in its opening is centered on one question: will it have the biggest domestic debut in movie history? In order to do so, it’ll need to top the record currently held by its 2012 predecessor. That magic number is $207.4 million.

All the favorites are back, including director Joss Whedon with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and more returning. Newbies include James Spader voicing the title character villain and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. There are two more Avengers features already planned for 2018 and 2019. While a number of reviews say it doesn’t quite match the original, its 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating is solid.

There is little doubt that Ultron is highly primed to become summer’s largest grosser. Whether or not it reaches the $623M eventual mark of The Avengers remains to be seen (that’s good for the 3rd biggest hit ever behind Avatar and Titanic).

Some prognosticators are estimating it may not quite reach the heights of 2012 in its opening. The floor would seem to be in the $180M range, which would be just fine but still $25M under the first. While that’s certainly possible, I do believe Ultron will debut with around the same number of its predecessor… and a bit higher. That means I’m predicting Ultron will set a new benchmark in the category of all-time record openings and Disney and Marvel will be popping the champagne corks come next weekend.

Avengers: Age of Ultron opening weekend prediction: $212.7 million

Todd’s 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies: Nos. 5-1

We’ve arrived at my top five most anticipated 2015 Summer Movies, set to start rolling out in about three weeks through the end of August. If you missed my first two posts covering numbers 15-6, have no fear, just click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/04/09/todds-15-most-anticipated-2015-summer-movies-nos-15-11/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/04/10/todds-15-most-anticipated-2015-summer-movies-nos-10-6/

This brings us to the heavy hitters on my list of must-see flicks for the season.

And away we go:

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

Release Date: May 15

As mentioned in my first post, this July’s Terminator: Genisys didn’t make my top 15 cut because of what I consider its blah trailer. Mad Max: Fury Road represents the opposite. It looks flat out awesome as director George Miller reboots the series some 35 years after the first Mad Max with Mel Gibson. Tom Hardy steps into the title role with Charlize Theron costarring.

4. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Release Date: July 31

Pushed up from its original December release date, Tom Cruise’s fifth Mission pic brings in his Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie. Series regulars Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg are back and joined by Alec Baldwin. 2011’s Ghost Protocol was a high point for the franchise and let’s hope this keeps it going.

3. Jurassic World

Release Date: June 12

The famed dino franchise begun by Spielberg gets a reboot with director Colin Trevorrow taking over and Star Lord himself Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard headlining. The trailer has me ready to return to that dastardly park immediately.

2. Tomorrowland

Release Date: May 22

Disney has enlisted their Incredibles director Brad Bird (he also directed the aforementioned Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) for this live-action tale featuring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, and Hugh Laurie. The plot is being kept under wraps, but the trailer suggests a visual feast. With Bird behind the camera, expect something special.

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1

The first picture of the summer is my most awaited and is certainly poised to be the season’s highest earner. Three years after teaming Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and more – Joss Whedon is back again directing Marvel’s superhero team in the breathlessly awaited sequel to the second highest grossing domestic earner of all time. James Spader voices the title character villain. Don’t be surprised if this has the largest opening weekend in box office history – beating out, yes, The Avengers.

And that’ll do it, friends! I hope my list assists you with your popcorn viewing pleasure coming very soon…

The Superhero Movie Onslaught

From the release of Guardians of the Galaxy in August until the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015, there will be nine months that pass between superhero/comic book based pictures. Starting next year and especially in 2016 and beyond, that’s going to change.

It’s almost hard to believe, but there are currently 30 – yes, 30 – superhero pics scheduled to debut between 2015 and 2020. Some – though likely not many at all – could fall to the wayside. And certainly more could be added to the calendar over the next six years.

Today, Marvel Studios announced “Phase 3” of their slate of films scheduled to be released until 2019 – culminating with the third and fourth Avengers pictures. Besides the Disney/Marvel releases, Warner Bros. and Fox have their own ambitious slates.

The 21st century has been absolutely dominated by the comic book adaptation in movie world. It started in 2000 with X-Men and has continued with the Dark Knight franchise, The Avengers, Guardians, two Superman reboots, two Spider-Man franchises, and various stand-alone features and their sequels and reboots focused on Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Daredevil, Hellboy, and others. And it’s only accelerating.

This is going to be tough to keep all these Iron Men, Guardians, Caped Crusaders, and newbies like Ant-Man, Wonder Woman, and Doctor Strange straight, so this movie blogger is providing you a handy guide for all of them coming out over the next few years – in order of currently scheduled release.

Here we go:

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1, 2015

Joss Whedon returns to direct as Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow all return in the sequel to the #3 highest grossing film of all time. This will almost surely set a new record for all-time opening weekend, therefore defeating its predecessor.

Ant-Man

Release Date: July 17, 2015

Paul Rudd takes on the role of the title character with Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly costarring. Expect Ant-Man to find his way into later Disney/Marvel projects, possibly including later Avengers sequels.

The Fantastic Four

Released Date: August 7, 2015

After two successful but critically panned Fantastic Four pics earlier this century, director Josh Trank (Chronicle) takes over the reins of a budding new franchise for 20th Century Fox. The cast includes Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman, Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, and Jamie Bell as The Thing.

Deadpool

Release Date: February 12, 2016

A spinoff of the X-Men series, Ryan Reynolds is likely to play the character (he played him in the poorly received original 2009 Wolverine stand-alone flick).

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Released Date: March 25, 2016

Man of Steel director Zack Snyder returns with Henry Cavill’s Superman battling Ben Affleck’s Batman. Gal Gadot will make her debut as Wonder Woman before a later stand-alone pic and Jesse Eisenberg joins the mix as Lex Luthor.

Captain America: Civil War

Release Date: May 6, 2016

The third America flick will feature a prominent role for Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man with The Winter Soldier‘s Anthony and Joe Russo returning to direct.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Release Date: May 27, 2016

Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer is back (he also directed the first two installments of the original trilogy) as is the cast from 2011’s First Class, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence.

Suicide Squad

Release Date: August 5, 2016

This team of DC villains will be incorporated in the Warner Bros. movie universe that will eventually lead to the Justice League pics. Jesse Eisenberg is rumored to appear in this as well in his Lex Luthor role. David Ayer, director of Fury, is behind the camera.

Doctor Strange

Release Date: November 4, 2016

Sinister director Scott Derickson helms the adaptation of the Marvel comic with Benedict Cumberbatch just having signed to play the title character after negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix stalled.

Sinister Six

Release Date: November 11, 2016

A spin-off of the current Spider-Man franchise, this will focus on supervillains in the Spidey universe, reportedly including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Rhino. Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard is on board.

Venom

Release Date: 2017

A stand-alone pic for the Spidey villain, it’s uncertain at this point whether Sony Pictures ends up going forward with this one.

Untitled Wolverine Picture

Release Date: March 3, 2017

The third stand-alone Wolverine flick will have Hugh Jackman clawing his way on screen and James Mangold, who directed 2013’s The Wolverine, returning.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Release Date: May 5, 2017

Star Lord and company are back with James Gunn back in the director’s chair. The original from this summer grossed an astonishing $752 million worldwide (at press time).

Wonder Woman

Release Date: June 23, 2017

It’s about time a woman headlined one of these things! Gal Gadot will star after appearing as the title character in Batman v. Superman. No director attached at press time.

The Fantastic Four 2

Release Date: July 14, 2017

Fox is confident as they’ve scheduled this to follow-up summer 2015’s release.

Thor: Ragnorak

Release Date: July 28, 2017

The third entry in the franchise, Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role in between Avengers filming duties. No director attached yet.

Black Panther

Release Date: November 3, 2017

Disney/Marvel gives their first headlining feature to an African-American superhero. 42 and Get On Up star Chadwick Boseman was cast as the Panther today. The character will reportedly first appear in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

Justice League Part One

Release Date: November 17, 2017

Essentially Warner Bros. version of Avengers, expect to see Cavill’s Superman, Affleck’s Batman, Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and likely Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg in the mix. Zack Snyder will direct.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

Release Date: 2018

No specific release date yet, other than sometime in 2018 and you have to wonder. Each Spidey flick has grossed less than its predecessor and this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a commercial and critical letdown. It’s not known for sure yet, but Andrew Garfield is likely to return as the title character.

The Flash

Release Date: March 23, 2018

After a probable debut in Justice League, The Flash gets his own stand-alone pic with Ezra Miller in the title role.

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1

Release Date: May 4, 2018

This is where the Marvel universe is likely to go bananas – with rumors of your typical Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk) possibly mixing it up with Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, among others. This is gonna be huge.

Captain Marvel

Release Date: July 6, 2018

Details are scarce, but this will be Disney/Marvel Studios first stand-alone featuring a title character who is a female. Expect an A list actress to join at some point.

Untitled Fox Marvel Movie

Release Date: July 13, 2018

Once again – details are very scarce. However, there are rumors that this could be Fox’s “Avengers” type pic, incorporating the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Deadpool.

Aquaman

Release Date: July 27, 2018

After an expected debut in Justice League, “Games of Thrones” star Jason Momoa will portray the title character.

Inhumans

Release Date: November 2, 2018

Marvel/Disney will attempt and almost assuredly succeed with this development of a new Guardians/Avengers type franchise. Director/actor announcements will come later.

Shazam

Release Date: April 5, 2019

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will play the title character in this DC Comic adaptation.

Avengers: Infinity Wars, Part 2

Release Date: May 3, 2019

The continuation of the previous summer’s Marvel blowout – don’t be surprised if this marks the final appearances of Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’s Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. This will be the end of Phase 3 for Disney/Marvel and we’ll have to wait and see what Phase 4 brings.

Justice League, Part 2

Release Date: June 13, 2019

The Batman/Superman/Green Lantern/Flash/Wonder Woman/Aquaman saga rolls on…

Cyborg

Release Date: April 3, 2020

Originating from DC, Warner Bros. will adapt this character with Ray Fisher in the title role. It’s rumored he’ll begin his appearances beginning with 2016’s Batman v. Superman and later Justice League flicks.

Green Lantern

Release Date: June 19, 2020

There was a badly received version starring Ryan Reynolds in 2011. Expect Warner Bros. to ignore that flick while reintroducing the character in Justice League prior to this stand-alone.

And there you have it – that’s a whole lotta superhero action scheduled to come your way over the rest of this decade.