Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review: A Marvel Showcase

World of Blackout Film Review

...Marvel Showcase!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier / Marvel Showcase

Not really a 'review' as such, more of a 'report', hence no seven-questions and no rating. Disney UK were hosting a showcase event at their HQ in Hammersmith, London on Monday evening, and as I happened to be in the vicinity*1 I thought it'd be rude not to pop along. After being sent the long-way round from one entrance of the building to the other, Mrs Blackout and myself duly gave our details in the reception area and had our souls stolen by Uncle Walt's desk-mounted photographic capture-o-graph device, before being issued with a nondescript (although handsome, nonetheless) visitor's pass (hover your mouse over the 'Age of Ultron' poster, above). We were then escorted to 'the screening room' where a very charming Disney employee whose name I can't remember gave us a short introduction (and a disclaimer that she was a Disney geek rather than a Marvel geek, so we were to go easy with the questions).

The evening was a sort of launch event for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD and BluRay release (which went on sale that very day), and the presentation was split over two halves; firstly we'd be seeing some of the bonus features from the Winter Soldier BluRay, then we'd be having a look at the first Ant-Man trailer and Avengers: Age Of Ultron teaser from San Diego Comic-Con.

So the lights dimmed, the chap at the control-desk clicked his buttons*2, a besuited security gentleman discreetly paced the room's perimeter, and the screening began. The bonus features we watched (not all of the ones on the disc) were fairly standard for tentpole releases these days; a fast-cut blooper reel full of stumbling and corpsing, a series of extended scenes (usually 30-60 seconds of dialogue leading into an existing exchange, and plenty (plenty) of those shots where someone high up the food-chain of the film (from either side of the lens) sits in a chair speaking to someone on the left of the camera about how wonderful everyone involved with the production is. It's charming enough but it's filler, and gives you more of an idea what it would be like to be a guest on-set rather than someone who works there. I'm aware that an accurate 'making-of' documentary for a film this size would be painstakingly intricate and dull in equal measure, but I also believe that the fans of the superhero genre would take more interest than most in one, were it presented.

There's also a feature in the bonus material which features Anthony 'Falcon' Mackie yelling his on-set catchprase, "cut the check!", after successfully completing a challenging take. Or, judging by the compilation we watched, as a Pavolvian response every time the director called 'cut'. Many of these clips are then repeated throughout the other featurettes. I'm sure that working on the film and hearing his holler four or five times a day was nowhere near as testing as hearing it twenty times in two minutes, but how he escaped without having been beaten up by the audio crew is beyond me.

+ + + + +

And so, after a short break the lights were re-dimmed and we were treated to three more features. Firstly, the blooper-reel from season one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (with a similar pace and feel as above), followed by the first teaser for 2015's Ant-Man. The clip featured a be-suited Paul Rudd (ie the only thing to identify him was his voice) in what appeared to be one of his first runs at being miniaturised, taking verbal direction from, I assume, Hank Pym as he runs, jumps, falls and flies on the back of a fly/hornet. It was all quite chaotic and over very quickly, and looks great in a high-action, high-comedy sort of way.

Age of Ultron. We saw the teaser for Avengers: Age of Ulton. Not the one above, actual assembled, presented footage. It begins with the Avengers relaxing in a night-lit apartment building, and Thor depositing his hammer, Mjolnir, on the coffee table as Rogers, Stark, Banner and Barton playfully attempt to lift it to assess their 'worthiness' (Natasha Romanoff demurely declines this challenge, declaring that it's a question she doesn't need the answer to). A noise from the doorway attracts the group's attention, and there stands a rickety - but absolutely livid - incarnation of Ultron. What follows is an action-montage from the 'big' scenes of the film*3, complete with a twenty-foot Iron Man, enough carnage to fill a scrapyard the size of New York, and enough Ultrons to help staff it. This could be an event-movie in more ways than one, and may have the biggest impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date…

The trailers went down as well as you can imagine with the packed screening room, and while Disney/Marvel may have been preaching to the choir, everyone left with their faith bolstered.

It may seem like an odd move to run a promo-screening for products which its audience will be buying anyway, but Disney's PR department are trying to adopt a closer, more hands-on approach with the fans. A wise move in this day and age, particularly with the impending DC Universe timeline, and a move that's certainly doing them no harm.

*1 No, seriously, I did happen to be in London that day. I wouldn't have gone all the way there for a presentation which lasted less than an hour, otherwise (not that I'm casting any kind of judgement on the people who did). Look, I love Marvel as much as the next geek, and it just happened to coincide with my busy media schedule, mkay?

*2 No, really, you could see the mouse moving on-screen and everything. There was something reassuring about the clunkiness of it all; this wasn't a pre-programmed playlist, although it was still a guy playing various files from a hard-drive. But you could see him doing it. Look, I liked that.

*3 Interestingly, it appears that Quicksilver's part in this film will be significant after all, and that Marvels MCU timeline is finally going to butt heads with Fox's X-Men one. *rubs hands with glee*

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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