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Square Enix Announces Marvel Partnership

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Behold! Marvel have finally grown some balls and are now grabbing them to get serious about producing AAA games.

Square Enix has announced a multi-game partnership with Marvel. To top it off, Crystal Dynamics will be working in collaboration with Eidos Montreal to produce ‘The Avengers Project’ which is the working title for the first game to be born out of this newly announced partnership.

Square Enix are highly known for the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchise, Crystal Dynamics brought us Tomb Raider and Edios Montreal gave us Deus Ex so, it’s a very good place to be at.

Marvel had made some attempts in the past to create console games but they never really did hit the bar, so they moved their focus to mobile gaming. But now with Marvel Studios dominating the silver screens and TellTale Games producing a Guardians of the Galaxy game, it really is about time Marvel stepped up to the plate and give us gamers what we really want.

All details are very vague at this point, but it’s been announced… let’s celebrate!

 

 

He’s more than just a Shield – Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

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It’s been 3 years since Captain America had his own stand alone film, but 2 years since we last saw him at full flight action in New York. Still trying to adjust to the modern day lifestyle (he’s getting there) He’s back for another round of thrilling fight sequences with his metal boomerang-like/Frisbee of death. Teaming up with Nick Fury, Black Widow, and newbie the Falcon, Steve Rogers is indirectly signed up for another mission to save the world. The only question is who can he trust?

The First Avenger was more of a WWII flick, being based around the serge of Hydra, Red Skull and a sort of Nazi cult. This time around, The Winter Soldier lies more in the political thriller genre. Captain America is on a mission to find the ins and outs of a corrupted S.H.I.E.L.D and to get to the core of what’s going on with this secretive and shadowy organisation. On the other hand, a new villain has popped out of no where that seems to have a grudge with the Capt. and is determined to destroy each of the targets set for him. This guy goes by the name of The Winter Soldier.

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The Winter Soldier is one to enjoy. He’s like the Terminator combined with the T-1000, a very interesting character. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s everything Steve Rogers is except his determination to kill is outrageous and he won’t stop coming for you. Nothing can get in his way. Adding insult to injury and by injury it’s more like destruction, his bionic arm is unstoppable. This is where one could say that Captain America has met his match. There’s just no one on the planet (at this moment in time) like him.

Unlike the first, Captain America gets a right beating in this one. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo really threw him in the deep end with this more mature feature. What’s great about it is that we get to see the Capt. fight without the shield constantly being there. Even though his shield is awesome yet deadly (and there’s a lot of scenes where it comes in very handy) Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Sebastian Stan plus the stunt men, give us very entertaining, edge of your seat, nail biting hand to hand combat sequences where the punches are felt and the ground shakes when their bodies connect with the ground (or a vehicle). It’s fantastic! They’re quick yet lengthy and will give you the feeling that you want to duck and dodge with them, especially in 3D.

Still charming, with his old school mannerisms, Chris Evans has definitely put his mark on Captain America, the same sort of way Robert Downey Jr did with Iron Man. He may be the dreamy, hunky, blonde-hair-blue-eyed super soldier (his physique and physical fitness is outstanding), but under it all, he’s still the little guy with a huge heart. There’s always that constant reminder that he’s not just the guy with a shield prancing around with stars and stripes. He’s still Steve Rogers from Brooklyn that got beat up in that alley. If you didn’t fall in love with him in The First Avenger, there’s no doubt you will this time around, oh yes.

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As a perfect partner-in-crime and “bud”, The Falcon plays a great helping hand. Anthony Mackie was the perfect selection for this very likable character. He’s strong, smart, witty, stealing most of the funny lines and sarcasm is one of the first things to leave his lips. Speaking of sarcasm, Black Widow is awesome. Scarlett Johansson brings the feisty Natasha Romanoff that we all love back to our screens, with more screen time. Her relationship with Rogers is brilliant. At times you may want it to get romantic but really they work better as a brother and sister combo (as Evans and Johansson kind of are). There’s also that little itch that this could be the time to give Widow her own film, possibly. Both the Falcon and Black Widow do work well in harmony with the captain, which makes it even better!

Other than the suit, this film does connect very well with The First Avenger. So it’s perfectly fine to watch The First Avenger, then Avengers Assemble and now The Winter Soldier. Against the other films from phase 1 and 2, this holds its ground, firmly. The story is amazing, the fight scenes are steady, and everything pitched in together has made a brilliant film. The only question raised is, bearing in mind this is the Marvel universe, and all of this happens in Washington D.C, didn’t Tony Stark hear anything about this? Stark Industries plays quite a big part in the plot, so… where’s Tony? The most you get out of it is a glimpse of the Stark Tower.

To end this awesome film off, the post credit scene is definitely one to look out for (and the other post credit scene literally after ALL of the credits) setting up the fire for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Captain America is easily one of the most intriguing characters from the Avengers, but if you weren’t sold from The First Avenger, I kid you not; this will make you want to be his sidekick.

4.5 Stars out of 5

A Different, But Worthy Take on Iron Man 3

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After the huge hype for Marvel Studios’ last instalment, The Avengers, which definitely lived up to the hype and more, it was time to start phase 2 of the comic book series. Living up to The Avengers was possibly going to be the most difficult thing to do ever in terms of sequels etc as Joss Whedon had spoilt us with his perfection. Iron Man 3 is Marvel’s first attempt.

The story of Iron Man 3 continues with the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, aka Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and life after New York (The Avengers). Unlike his other battles from the previous Iron Man films, this time, the battle of New York had really taken a toll on Stark, forcing him to suffer from panic attacks just from anyone mentioning New York. Struggling with the reality, his concrete place in the super hero community and lack of sleep, his main priority is in his obsessive tinkering with new suits rather than the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). His excuse to her is that he needs to protect her in everyway possible. Mentally scarred, Stark then has to deal with a new villain on the scene going by the name of The Manderin (Ben Kingsley), a mysterious terrorist targeting the citizens of the US and Iron Man. With a few hiccups on the path of being the hero for the fourth (ok maybe three and a half, or three and a sixth… have it your way) time round, Stark is forced to face his fears and prove that without the suit, he’s still the Iron Man.

 With the absence of Jon Favreau in the directorial department, Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Last Kiss Goodnight) takes a stab at wearing the big old boots Favreau had been in for the past two instalments. To be totally honest, he didn’t do a bad job either! From the opening credits, you could tell straight away, it was a different director. Black’s repertoire usually consists of Christmas time and partnership and he definitely brought this to Iron Man 3, which was very different to its predecessors.

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Although there wasn’t much of a reason for why the Avengers were not helping out when Stark was getting a right beating, except for the mere fact that it was an “American Thing”, his buddy and now sidekick War Machine, now known as the “Iron Patriot” (Don Cheadle) had more of a helping hand this time around, building on his own character. (Especially with the rumours that he will be in the next Avengers flick) So there was definitely some partner, bromance action involved which was very entertaining indeed. If you thought the “Iron Patriot” was a bit too much, wait ‘til you hear his username and password. But there were many references to the Avengers and what happened in New York; it was quite weird and confusing to why there was not even one person involved, especially because the films are supposed to be connecting. We know it’s an individual film, but it just didn’t add up right.

The great thing that Black did with this feature was that he kept the sarcasm, one liners and the superbly cocky personality of Stark where it belonged, however, we got to see another side to Stark. It had a more personal, realistic and serious angle to it. Involving a terrorist and highlighting the theme of patriotism that realistically the US are very serious about, gave Iron Man 3 a bit more of an edge to it rather than just accepting the fact that it’s a comic book adaptation. With Tony Stark, he usually has everything handed to him on a silver platter because of celebrity status, now he really had to work for it. Watching Stark work without his suit most of the time (even in some of the key battles) was very pleasing. We already know how the suit works and what is achievable with it from the past two films. Saying that, Mark 42 was hands down his best suit. Here, we get to see it in action, working not only as a full suit, but with the ability to work different parts without wearing the full gear. The audience will have a lot of fun with that suit, as much as Stark did.

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Speaking of suits, if you’re a big fan of the Iron Man suits, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll enjoy all the Marks coming together to help out in the grand finale. The suits do get more screen time than ever before, even though they are not on Stark himself.

As said before, the Iron Patriot gets a lot more screen time too. His armour bares a similar resemblance to Captain America’s suit, so it felt like the US always needed a patriot as a symbol to look up to, quite like Captain America, but for the present. And this is what the Manderin had signed up for, to be merely a symbol.

In terms of villains, it was quite refreshing watching Stark fight against villains that didn’t have any metal on them. Ben Kingsley brought a barrel of laughs with his version of the Manderin. Don’t be too fooled by his criminal, dark exterior. They also threw in Guy Pierce into the mix as a geeky, yet determined vermin Aldrich Killian, with tendencies quite like Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

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Like the others, Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan also got quite a bit more screen time than usual. Potts was awesome, getting her groove on in the suit, and then turning into a crazy blonde version of Dr Jean Grey’s Phoenix. Although Favreau wasn’t directing, he did lend his hand at being an executive producer and building on his character/ body guard Hogan (with a mullet).

Built with loads of laughs, crazy action and awesome CGI/visual effects, Iron Man 3 was not a disappointment at all (though The Avengers is still number one). It’s also worth a 3D viewing.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Joss Whedon has left more than a Hulk Smash dent with The Avengers

Raking in over $1 billion so far (and is on the road to maybe, just maybe beating James Cameron’s Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time), simply stating that The Avengers Assemble is “Awesome” is just too much of an understatement. To be honest, there are literally just no words to describe how much Marvel Studios got this one spot on.

Picking up where they left off, The Avengers Assemble moves forward, bringing together the spoilt, pretty boy billionaire, a war veteran who’s spent 70 years of his life asleep yet still manages to look dashingly handsome, a scientist who has extreme anger issues which can lead to dramatic physical changes, a Demi-God who’ll kick up a stink if his huge hammer isn’t by his side and two assassins, (one who could shoot a pimple off your face without any damage and the other, the only female of the group who is able to keep her emotions a side and use her crazy acrobatics to kick ass) to work with S.H.E.I.L.D  and save the world from Loki and his army’s destruction, with the help of that blasted Cosmic Cube. Have you run out of breath yet?

With the likes of Iron man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), it obviously doesn’t become the party where pass the parcel and musical chairs are the highlight of the evening. Egos do clash, big time. It’s bound to happen, especially with Tony Stark (son of Howard Stark) and Steve Rogers being from two completely different times, even though they have so much in common. But it’s safe to say, that after the banter, disagreements and hand to hand combat, the group does end up getting along with each other like a house on fire to display an epic showdown saving the planet.

This isn’t just any old super hero film. Director Joss Whedon took The Avengers to new heights. Each character had enough screen time and each had a very important role to play. They were the forefront of the film. No one was left behind to have a small role. The biggest surprises were the characters of the Hulk and Loki, but let’s look at Loki first. Loki, hands down was one of the best villains portrayed on screen from a comic book. What Tom Hiddleston did with Loki is similar to what Heath Ledger did with the Joker. He brought him to life by giving him this Shakespearean etiquette, yet humorous and evil personality, controlled by his devious, power hungry soul. As a stand alone super villain in a film where there are six main super heroes, Loki held his ground, and became one of the most memorable villains of all time.

The Hulk on the other hand was always going to be a tricky one. From the moment Mark Ruffalo was cast as Bruce Banner, he was already being judged without filming a single frame. If you’re a super fan of The Hulk, you will not be disappointed. What was done with The Hulk was what we had all been waiting for. From his physical construction, including the CG work to really make The Hulk look like Ruffalo and the use of motion capture for personalisation and movement, to the emotional, sympathetic personality of Bruce Banner/The Hulk. You can really see how much went into getting The Hulk right this time, especially with the pressure of having so much success with the other characters.

Although it was said in The Incredible Hulk, the “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line had totally disappeared from his vocabulary. However the line “That’s my secret, I’m always angry” seemed to have taken over as the new quote.  The Hulk never disappointed with his Hulk smashing for sure.

Hawkeye and Black Widow were the only ones who didn’t have a stand alone film before The Avengers, so we didn’t get to know that much about their beginnings, but during The Avengers, we do get an interesting glimpse into their past without going into too much detail to stray away from the film. Agent Phil Coulson (Clarke Gregg) finally receives more of a leading role in this one compared to his smaller roles in four of the previous films and has a bunch of jokes up his sleeve. New girl and Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) second in command, Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) was also a great addition to the group and sat in her place very well.

With so much going on, the balance between the emotions of the film was genius. A bit of everything wasn’t just thrown in randomly, but was really thought through and put in exactly the right places for the perfect reaction. Mostly being surrounded by humour, it was super hilarious, from the one liners, to the innocent stupidity, to the crazy yet painful punches each character received, it was definitely a laugh out loud, and comedic experience Whedon brought to the screen.

As it was in 3D, it’s one of those films that you’ll enjoy in any format. The 3D was actually quite good, compared to their recent attempts. It wasn’t too much to get your eyes dazzling all over the room for over 2 hours. It was very clear and gave mostly the feel of distance between the characters. There was actually one scene in the epic showdown where everyone was doing their own thing and the way the scene was shot, moving from the ground to up in the air, at different angles, was the best 3D moment. It really drew you into that scene, like you were actually there.

Setting the bar (a very high one) for not only the summer releases, but for Marvel Studios in general, The Avengers Assemble is the mash-up we had all been waiting for. Living up to it’s hype over the past decade and containing a special concoction, it truly has something for everyone, whether you’re a comic book fan or not.­ Sit back and enjoy 142 minutes of pure genius as this is the one that must not be missed. And please, it should be clear by now after so many films, stay behind for the post credit scene. A new character for the sequel is revealed.

As Iron Man rightly said, “Guys, I’m bringing the party to you”, The Avengers have finally assembled! [Enter ‘Live to Rise’ by Sound Garden]