JUMPCUT’s Top 5: Marvel Cinematic Universe

With ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ practically within touching distance, we asked our team to vote on their favourite films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We’d like to make it clear that this list doesn’t reflect any of the team’s personal lists, but is in fact based on the results of a voting system we used. The team would love to discuss their favourite MCU films, so feel free to join in the discussion on Twitter – @JUMPCUT_ONLINE 

Our journey to ‘Infinity War’ started 10 years ago with ‘Iron Man’ as we watched Tony Stark create a suit of metal whilst being held hostage in a cave. Since then we’ve been introduced to a whole range of different heroes, we watched a skinny kid from Brooklyn become Captain America (thanks to a little super soldier serum), a dramatic and never ending sibling rivalry between Norse Gods, a walking, talking stick sacrificing his life for a bunch of criminals he’s known 5 minutes and making everyone cry, only for his son to then make everyone go ‘awwww’, and a King running round in a cat suit to protect his country.

Before we announce our Top 5, we also asked our team to tell us their least favourite film from this iconic universe. The team’s overall pick may not come as too much of a surprise, but there are a couple members of our team who had this film in their personal top 5 lists and are very unhappy about this particular result!

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JUMPCUT’s Least Favourite

Thor: The Dark World

The second film in Thor’s trilogy saw the God of Thunder go toe-to-toe with Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a dark elf who threatens to bring darkness to the Nine Realms as he wields the power of the Aether. After coming into contact with the Aether, Thor must save Jane, and the rest of the world from it’s dark power. A highly forgettable sequel, which even Christopher Eccleston recently admitted he hated being a part of, and not enough of Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif if we’re being completely honest! 

We also asked our team to vote for their most anticipated upcoming MCU film (which has been confirmed) and beating the likes of ‘Avengers 4’, ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’, and ‘Black Panther 2’ is…

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JUMPCUT’s Most Anticipated

Captain Marvel

This week the cameras began rolling for Brie Larson’s solo film debut as ‘Captain Marvel’. We will of course see Captain Marvel make her first appearance in ‘Avengers 4’, or maybe even ‘Infinity War’ if rumours are to be believed! Either way, we’re excited to see her in action and become the first female superhero in the MCU to have her own solo film (Way overdue Marvel! *angrily shakes fist*). 

Without further a do, here’s our Top 5 MCU films based on votes from our team!

JUMPCUT’s Top 5

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#5 – The Avengers (2012)

I can already hear the trumpets blaring as the camera circles Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye as they came together to stop Loki and his chitauri army from invading Earth. ‘The Avengers’ was a box office smash in 2012, four years after we witnessed the start of the MCU with ‘Iron Man’ and the post credit scene that built all our hopes up after we witnessed Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury tell Tony Stark that he wasn’t the only superhero in the world and gave everyone goosebumps when he mentioned the ‘Avengers initiative’. This was it. This was what we had been waiting to see and it didn’t disappoint!

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#4 – Black Panther (2018)

‘Black Panther’ is currently on it’s 5th week at #1 at the box office and is the first film to hold it’s top spot since Jame Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. We first met Black Panther in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ where he became an instant fan favourite. ‘Black Panther’ takes place just days after the events of ‘Civil War’ as Chadwick Boseman’s T’challa is sworn in as King of Wakanda following the death of his father. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) has other ideas and returns to Wakanda to challenge T’Challa for the throne so he can run things his way. The film boasts a fantastic cast, stunning visuals, and one of the best villains the MCU has seen. Michael B. Jordan absolutely killed it as Killmonger and is the second Human Torch to be redeemed by the MCU.

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#3 – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Coming in at #3 is this bunch of a-holes. The success of this film came as quite a surprise to many, but with a catchy soundtrack and some stunning visuals, James Gunn actually did it! Who would have thought that a film with a smack-talking raccoon and a talking stick would bring a tear to your eyes, both with laughter and from pulling at your heart strings. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ took us to out to the stars where we met a whole host of new races and faces, and it was the perfect set up to learn about the Infinity Stones, which fans  (and Thanos) have been keeping a very close eye out for ever since…

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#2 – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Compared the other solo films in the MCU, it’s fair to say that Thor never really got the film he deserved, that was, until Taika Waititi delivered us ‘Ragnarok’. After being left out of the events of ‘Civil War’, many had wondered where Thor had gotten to – but it turns out he had bigger (and greener) problems on his hands! Waititi injected a lot of colour and humour into ‘Ragnarok’ and also blessed us with Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and of course, Korg. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie was a very much welcomed addition to the ‘Revengers’ team and we’re keeping our fingers crossed Valkyrie doesn’t become one of the many fatalities we’re expecting to be forced to witness in ‘Infinity War’! 

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#1 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Our #1 may not come as much of a surprise to many, especially because it didn’t feature anywhere earlier in our Top 5 list, but ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ sits proudly at the top of JUMPCUT’s favourite MCU list. With some fantastic fight choreography and the proud owner of one of the more memorable scores of the entire franchise, ‘The Winter Soldier’ kept things grounded (for the most part) as we learned that S.H.I.E.L.D had been compromised and Hydra had their hands on the steering wheel the whole time. But that’s not all Steve Rogers had to deal with, no sir. It also turns out that his best friend Bucky is still alive… and trying to kill him. Steve’s friendship with Bucky has always been at the heart of his trilogy but could Thanos put an end to it once and for all in ‘Infinity War’?

And that’s it! That’s our top five films of the MCU. How does your Top 5 compare to ours? We’d love to here your thoughts over on Twitter – @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

JUMPCUT’s Top 10 Films Of 2017

As we prepare for our annual award show, The Odysseys, we asked our wonderful team to list their top 10 films of 2017 and we’ve created the JUMPCUT Top 10 list based on their input. The votes were nail bitingly close, and there’s been plenty of discussion this year amongst the team!

You may recall that last year we posted up our ‘Top 10 Most Anticipated Films Of 2017‘, which featured the likes of ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Logan’, ‘Dunkirk’, and at the #1 spot was ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, and whilst appearing on some of our team’s personal Top 10 lists, did it make it onto our Top 10 of the year?

Just missing out out making our ultimate top 10 are the following honorable mentions:

and now, for the part you’ve most likely quickly scrolled past everything else for: JUMPCUT ONLINE‘S official top 10 films of 2017 are:


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#10 – IT

One of a number of adaptations of Stephen Kings work to grace a screen this year, ‘IT’ made a record breaking entry to the box office by more than doubling the record takings for a horror film’s opening weekend. Bill SkĂ„rsgard’s performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is not one that’ll leave your nightmares any time soon. With the film arriving on home release shortly, we highly recommend taking Pennywise home with you!

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#9 – Wind River

Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut was nothing short of heart racing. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen ditched their MCU costumes for something a little warmer as they investigate the death of a young girl in Wyoming, on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The investigation leaves the audience guessing right up until the third act, and when the truth hits it doesn’t pull it’s punches.

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#8 – Thor: Ragnarok

If a couple of years ago you’d have told us that a Thor film would end up our ‘Top 10’ of the year least, you’d forgive us for not believing you. Whilst the first two instalments of his solo outings are rather lacklustre and dreary, in comes Taiki Waititi to shake things up and deliver one of the best entries to the MCU to date. With lots of colour, humour, and a dash kiwi charm, Waititi left his mark all over the God of Thunder – as well as introducing us to everyone’s instant new favourite, Korg, who is played by Waititi.

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#7 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

‘The Last Jedi’ topped our list last year for most anticipated movie of 2017 and boy did we have a wait on our hands. Now it’s been released worldwide, the latest entry to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise has divided many fans on it’s approach to some of the characters and it’s plot. It’s fair to say that our team, which consists of a number of huge ‘Star Wars’ fans, had quite a bit to say on this film (in a pleasant, civilised, and GIF-happy manner might we add) and it may actually come as a surprise to some of them that it made our list!

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#6 – Baby Driver

If the toe-tappingly catchy and action filled trailers weren’t enough to get you to see Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ in the cinema, then we sure hope you’ve corrected your mistake and watched it since it’s home release following it’s wave of praise online. Not only is the film insanely brilliant, the soundtrack ain’t half bad either.

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#5 – La La Land

The UK started the new year hearing nothing but praise for ‘La La Land’. The U.S theatrical release date was in December, whilst we had to twiddle our thumbs and wait  here in the UK until the following month. By the time it was released, it had already won a jaw-dropping amount of awards and was also in the running for a number of Academy Awards, including ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Film’ (let’s not get into that). 11 months later and the film still sits highly on the top of a lot of our team’s list, and we daren’t tally up how many times we’ve all watched it since!

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#4 – Get Out

With a production budget of just $4.5 million, ‘Get Out’ broke records and all expectations when it grossed over $251 million worldwide during it’s run in cinemas. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was greatly received and is arguably one of the most talked about films of the year. Daniel Kaluuya has received numerous nominations and awards as the lead of the film, and rightly so. Another one we recommend ticking off your list before the year is out!

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#3 – Logan

James Mangold stepped back into the director’s chair to direct another Wolverine solo film, but this time the claws were well and truly out for his R-Rated return. ‘Logan’ showed us Wolverine like we’ve never scene him on screen before. The neo-western take on Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Logan was a perfect send off for the actor and the character, as well as a superb introduction to Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney (aka X-23). ‘Logan’ proved to be an emotional farewell, but also left us with a glimmer of hope that we could potentially see X-23 in her own film in the future.

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#2 – Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s latest film was hyped up to no end that some of us were certain our expectations were too high and would never be met. Those doubts were quashed upon viewing the film (numerous times for some of the team) and although the story, told from three perspectives (land, sea, and air), had very little dialogue, the way in which is was shot, and the perfect accompanying score, were enough to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.

Sometimes I still hear the ticking…. 

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#1 – Blade Runner 2049

Aaaaand if you hadn’t guessed by now – Denis Villeneuve’s neo-noir sci-fi masterpiece ‘Blade Runner 2049’ sits at number one for this year’s list. With some breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and set pieces, an ear-pleasingly gorgeous score, and strong performances from Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas, Ryan Gosling, and the rest of the supporting case, there was nothing we didn’t love about this film – although unfortunately it appears that the general audience may disagree with us as it didn’t perform all too well at the box office!

 


There you have it! ‘Blade Runner 2049’ claims the #1 spot this year for us here at JUMPCUT. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this list and what your Top 10 looks like!

In case you missed it, we also wrote up our ‘Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2018‘ – We wonder if any of those will feature in our end of year top 10 next year….

Feel free to leave a comment below, or tweet us your Top 10 to @JUMPCUT_ONLINE 

Thor: Ragnarok

Year: 2017
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo

Written by Sarah Buddery

The staggering achievement of Marvel Studios in creating a cohesive, overlapping, and constantly evolving cinematic universe is something which – pardon the expression – should really be marvelled at. Undoubtedly helped by the wealth of interesting and beloved characters it has in its impressive back catalogue, the signs of growth are more evident than ever in the latest offering, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’.

Helmed by under-the-radar (but soon to be household name) New Zealand director, Taika Waiti, ‘Ragnarok’ is like none of the other 16 movies that preceded it. Fans of the off-kilter and quirky sense of humour in previous directorial films ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ will know what to expect, and everyone else? Well you’re able to get a full-on Waititi slap in the face and you are going to love it.

The first ‘Thor’ film had a great natural humour to it with its fish-out-of-water narrative, but the disappointing ‘Thor: The Dark World’ took itself far too seriously, suffering from weak villains and a clumsy style. ‘Ragnarok’ is Thor on acid, embracing the weirdness of the character in the best possible way. The Thor of the comics is absolutely nuts, and finally we have a Thor film which feels 100% suited to the character.

The comedy is the strongest it has ever been, and dare it be said that it even challenges ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in that department. There’s zingers left right and centre, genius cameos and characters, physical comedy and oh so much more. Chris Hemsworth has never been better as the God of Thunder; his comic timing is absolutely impeccable and it is great to see him having so much fun where the character has previously been a little stuffy.

On the whole, the cast is absolutely fab with returning members being better than ever, and the new additions feeling like they have always been there. There is a reason why Loki is everyone’s favourite Marvel villain, and whilst not the main villain of this piece, he has plenty of screentime and Tom Hiddleston is, as always, a delight to watch. As Goddess of Death, Hela, Cate Blanchett is absolutely wonderful, but perhaps doesn’t get as much exposure as she deserves in this film; just one of its minor drawbacks.

Always the highlight of every single film he is in (that is a fact!), Jeff Goldblum chews every single bit of technicolour scenery as The Grand Master, and was clearly having huge amounts of fun. Having impressed in ‘Creed’, Tessa Thompson is wonderful as Valkyrie, and she kicks so much ass. Mercifully there is no romantic subplot (it would’ve felt massively shoehorned in), and it is so great to have another badass female hero, and a female main villain as well, for the first time in the MCU.  

The 80s vibe runs through the gloriously unique soundtrack, with synth seamlessly mixing with a more traditional superhero score. Also used in the trailer, it is so good to hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ used, and to amazing effect as well; let’s face it, this song was made to be used in a ‘Thor’ movie! Visually, ‘Ragnarok’ is one of the most arresting Marvel movies so far, with some particularly striking slow-motion wide shots, mostly in the flashback scenes and fight sequences. This technique is used sparingly enough so as not to become annoying, and it shows just how diverse a director Waititi is.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is madder than a box of frogs and all the better for it. It does suffer from feeling a little disconnected from previous MCU films, but when a film is this much fun, it almost doesn’t matter. With Waititi’s stamp all over it (and the character he voices, Korg, unquestionably stealing the show!), ‘Ragnarok’ feels refreshingly different and is a much needed injection of fun, particularly for those who are feeling the so-called “superhero fatigue” from oversaturation of comic book movies. A strong contender for one of the best MCU films, and arguably the most fun, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is absolutely unmissable!

Sarah’s Rating: 9.0/10

The First ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Reactions Are In!

The first reactions to Taika Waititi’s ‘Thor: Raganarok’ are in and the majority are hailing it as a hit! Whilst the review embargo is yet to be lifted, the social media embargo lifted a few hours ago!

A number of reactions hail MCU newcomer Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie, as the standout in the film, with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk also getting his fair share of love. Cate Blanchett is also being praised for her role as Hela, with lots of critics admiring her role as the big-bad and that she looks like she had a lot of fun doing it.

As I’d hoped, Waititi is being praised a helluva lot for injecting his style into the MCU and into the character, and whilst it does appear that this third ‘Thor’ film is mostly self-contained, I hope that Waititi’s influence and style for Thor stick as we lead into ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and see Thor team back up with the Avengers, as well as all the other heroes we’ve come across in MCU so far.

A fair number of critics are also hailing it as the best ‘Thor’ film to date!

Below are a selection of early reactions: 

Hela Wreaks Havoc In The First Teaser Trailer For Thor: Rangarok

Right out of nowhere the first teaser trailer for the upcoming third instalment of Thor has been released and it gives us our first proper look at the the tone and plot of the film. 

In this teaser, we see Hela (Cate Blanchett) giving Thor a run for his money as she catches and then destroys his Mjolnir, rendering Thor basically powerless. We also see Hela up against an army of Asgardians, which she the lays waste to.  Subsequently, Thor is captured and made to fight in an arena where he is pitted against fellow avenger ‘The Hulk’ – much to Thor’s delight it would seem! 

As well as a better look at Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, we also get our first look at Karl Urban as Skurge and Idris Elba’s return as Heimdall. We also get a couple of shots of Loki, who we know Thor will team up with at some point in the film to try and find their father who is stuck on Earth. 

Since being announced as the director of this film, I’ve had high hopes Taiki Waititi would do Thor justice, and from the look of this teaser I will not be disappointed. Already there are a lot of people on Twitter comparing it to the likes of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in tone and style, but is that necessarily a bad thing? What I’m taking away from this teaser is that Thor is finally going to get the love he deserves from fans of the MCU, where he’s only really shined in the ‘Avengers’ films, and less so in his solo outings due to poor plots and villains. It’s an exciting year to be a film fan, and even more so for lovers of comic book movies. 

What are your initial thoughts on the trailer? Are you sold on Thor’s new tone? 

The official synopsis for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is: 

Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok — the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization — at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger — the Incredible Hulk!

Written by Tom Sheffield

Kristof Kiraly: VFXtraordinaire

Kristof Kiraly may not be a household name, but as a visual effects artist, Kiraly has played a part in making some of the biggest films of recent years. From ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to ‘The Jungle Book’, mass explosions to vast landscapes, Kristof Kiraly is the man with the magic touch who, along with his team at Double Negative Visual Effects, gives your favourite films that extra kick.

Interview by Jakob Lewis Barnes

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JLB: Working in visual effects seems like a very specific and technical field of filmmaking, was there a particular moment where you realised that was what you wanted to do?

KK: From a very early age, I was obsessed with creation. I spent hours drawing, sculpting or playing with Lego. I’ve always wanted to understand how things work under the surface. I think it’s this kind of curiosity which led me to the world of computer graphics.

Like many other artists, the big blockbusters were the real push for me; I remember watching behind-the-scenes documentaries of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jurassic Park’ etc. and realising that people do this for a living was a life-changing experience. Of course I had no idea how I could break in to the industry, but I dived in deep and spent all my time learning VFX on my own (this was a time before YouTube tutorials). With that knowledge, I was fortunate enough to secure a job with a small VFX company where I really started growing, and after six years I got invited to MPC (Moving Picture Company) in London.

JLB: I imagine visual effects to be an extremely challenging and painstaking task, so what, in your opinion, does it take to be a top visual effects artist?

KK: In my opinion, a good VFX artist has to be a good problem solver, because that is essentially what we’re doing most of the time. In this very technical world, things go wrong all the time and you have to figure out how to fix them. The ability to work under pressure is a must-have skill too; time is always compressed and the number of tasks can often be overwhelming.

Also you have to be open to learning new things all the time, because the industry is rapidly evolving and if you stop learning you’ll get left behind. And finally, learn to leave your ego at home. A movie is a team effort where your work is always open to criticism, changes and sometimes it can even be completely thrown out. That’s the nature of the beast, but that is also why the end result is usually much better than the first version.

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JLB: On IMDb you’re credited as “Environment Technical Director” – can you clarify exactly what that entails on a day-to-day basis, and on a larger scale in the filmmaking process?

KK: Environment Technical Directors are responsible for creating environment scenes, that match the photographic quality of the plates they are dealing with. In simpler terms, everything that isn’t a character, vehicle or prop is environment. Creating environments requires both technical and artistic knowledge, as it involves everything from matte-painting to modeling, texturing, projections, lighting, rendering and even composition. As I said earlier, it is creative problem solving on every level.

JLB: Your filmography includes quite a few superhero movies such as ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, but who is your favourite hero (or villain) and why?

KK: To be completely honest, I’m not a huge superhero or comics fan. I personally prefer movies that are closer to reality; I am more excited about everyday superheroes like the journalists of ‘Spotlight’, or the computer scientist Alan Turing, who helped Britain win WWII. But if I had to pick a superhero movie it would be Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, with its dark atmosphere and Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score.

JLB: Recently, films like ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and the upcoming ‘Assassins Creed’ have opted for more practical effects rather than CGI – can you see this becoming a common trend?

KK: I think everyone agrees that going practical is the proper way of approaching any shot. It gives the film crew a physicality they can relate to. The actors can feel that they are part of the environment, the DOP can set the lights up properly and figure out what lens and camera movement works. Of course, practical effects are very costly, harder to control and have their limitations. That’s where VFX comes into play – to extend those boundaries, but it should be used sensibly and be based on reality. That’s why it’s good when we have the practical elements.

To be honest, my only problem with this new wave of “practical effect based” movies is their marketing and the way they treat visual effects publicly – as though VFX is just a negligible thing, and practical effects is the holy grail. The fact is that these modern blockbusters have almost no frame which has not been digitally enhanced in some way.

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JLB: Your company – Double Negative Visual Effects – was part of the VFX Oscar winning team this year for ‘Ex Machina’. Where would you say Ava – the artificial intelligence at the core of the story – ranks among your studio’s creations?

KK: I was extremely pleased to see ‘Ex Machina’ winning the Oscar for Best VFX. Especially since everyone was pretty sure that it would go to either ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Mad Max’. I think the movie in general was a massive achievement, and the effects served the story well; it wasn’t just a mindless visual orgy but a very organic piece. ‘Ex Machina’ is a great example of why I love to work for Double Negative – it is very much a technology-driven company with some insanely-talented artists.

JLB: For you personally, what is your proudest moment/favourite piece of work in the VFX industry?

KK: I’m extremely thankful that this is my nine-to-five. Working on movies that millions of people will go and see (and hopefully enjoy) is very rewarding. I’m proud of everything I’ve been working on, but my personal top three would be ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation’ and ‘Spectre’.

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JLB: And finally, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given throughout your career?

KK: I’ve been given lots of great advice throughout my career, but two of those stand out as the most influential. The first, is from my late grandfather who told me that you have to learn new things so you have more legs to stand on and that will give you stability.

The other is from my former MPC leader, mentor and friend, Marco G, who told me that in VFX you have to have three things to survive: reputation, connections, and savings.

Luke’s Top 5 Superhero Movies

Written by Luke Riley

Greetings to all geeks, nerds and superhero fans. The time is finally upon us and Batman and Superman have come together on the silver screen. Many of us have finally witnessed two of the most iconic heroes battling it out in ‘Batman v Superman’, a pre-cursor to what will be the Justice League and the DC Universe. To celebrate this, I bring you my (very subjective) top 5 superhero/comic book movies. I personally like these comic book movies as they represent what I like to see in terms of action, characters and the stories. Please feel free to comment below, whether it be to tell me what a great list I’ve put together, or that I’ve made a huge mistake.


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5. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

The first ‘Hellboy’ film is a visual feast for the eyes, with an intriguing story and awesome characters, and the lovable red devil returns in this sequel. Guillmero del Toro turns it up to 11, and this is absolutely his movie. This sequel solidifies the universe that was set up in the first, with an amazing animated flashback in the intro to set up the motives of the villain, The Elven Prince Nuada. ‘Hellboy 2’ is so true to itself, everything is believable within the context it is presented. While we still haven’t seen a third in the franchise, this continuation brings it full speed to the conclusive, amazingly choreographed final fight. This movie proves that Guillermo del Toro can take source material and translate it well to the screen. Now, let’s pray for the trilogy to be completed.


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4. Avengers Assemble

The massively popular Marvel Cinematic Universe hinged on the success of 2008’s ‘Iron-Man’ – if that movie wasn’t a hit, we would never have seen an Avengers film. However, in 2012 we saw our beloved team come together to battle Thor’s adopted brother, Loki (played fantastically by Tom Hiddleston). The initial worry was whether each of these huge characters would be given enough screen time, but those worries were quickly slapped aside as each character was given their time in the spotlight in ‘Avengers Assemble’.

In one movie, we get; Iron-Man fighting Thor, Thor fighting Hulk, New York getting invaded by an alien army from another dimension and hints at the impending arrival of Thanos. Read that sentence again and remember that it all happened! What a world it is, that this material is given credence, presented authentically and respects source material as well as the audience. In Joss Whedon we trusted, and he truly delivered what is now a favourite of many comic book fans.


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3. Man Of Steel

Following on from ‘Superman Returns’ – a movie which I actually enjoyed – the man in blue was to be given a fresh reboot. ‘Superman Returns’ wasn’t enjoyed by many, and whilst it was set to have two sequels, those plans were shelved so that Warner Bros could re-adjust. If ‘Superman Returns’ was an evening of peaceful and reflective classical music, then ‘Man Of Steel’ is a night of sweat-inducing heavy metal. From the first frame, the pace of this movie does not stop, the first 20 minutes being a krypton-based civil war. We also get a never-before-seen fighting Jor-el (Russell Crowe) as he has a brief encounter with Zod.

When we go to earth, we see Clark Kent as an adult, trying to find out who is he is. From the moment Clark finds a crashed Kryptonian ship to the final fight, the movie is quite literally a comic book on the big screen. It’s not just the conflict between Superman and Zod that has divided audiences, with this film being highly polarising and widely panned. I love it though, and the sequel, ‘Batman v Superman’, which has also divided audiences. Both films are full of action and beautifully pay homage to their comic book counterparts, which is a big tick for me.


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2. Batman Begins

Warner Bros wisely put our Dark Knight on the shelf after the dreadful ‘Batman & Robin’, and it seemed like the caped crusader was done with. However, a hero would appear in the form of Christopher Nolan, a man who would strip away the needless cliches to reveal a very well-crafted story in a real world setting. Not only is this movie on an almost CGI-free diet, we are introduced for the first time to a live action R’as Al Ghul. While ‘The Dark Knight’ builds on the strength of ‘Batman Begins’, this is where the origins are so beautifully crafted. With a grimy colour palette, strong performances and a satisfying story, this is a worthy mantle for Batman to stand on high. It also comes with a bombastic soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer; not only does the music fit the tone, it enhances it ten fold. For me this is the essential solo Batman movie, as I enjoy a villain who is lordly yet able to beat some fool into the ground if needed. I do enjoy ‘The Dark Knight’, but this first in the trilogy really hits a home run for me.


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1. X-Men

“Mututation, it is the key to our evolution” – Professor Charles Xavier

This is an opening quote that shows this movie will have intelligence and a respect for the source material. The first scene is particularly interesting as we see a young Magneto being taken away from his parents, as well as the origin of his power. His power is born of hatred and from being persecuted for being different and also the love for his parents. In his adult years, his motives are to protect his fellow mutants, but he also sees humans as inferior; he believes they should become mutant or die if they aren’t worthy. He becomes the things he hated, the reason why he is who is and also what created him. This hate is countered by the gentle yet determined Professor X, who believes the two species can co-exist. While we have characters such as Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm, my enjoyment stems from the conflict of Xavier and Magneto. These former friends with opposing ideologies have several conversations throughout this film which, because of their combined acting abilities, have more excitement than any fist fight. The first movie in the ‘X-Men’ series signified that Hollywood was ready to take comic books seriously, and I am thankful it began with The Children of the Atom.

Hemsworth Set For Ghostbusters

A quick look at the entertainment press, and the hunk of Hollywood right now – Chris Hemsworth – has a new job, after being chosen to play the receptionist in the much anticipated all female cast reboot of ‘Ghostbusters’. No, seriously! The film looks set to invert all aspects of the classic Ghostbusters franchise by popping Hemsworth in there as a bit of eye candy for the ladies.

Director Paul Feig has his hands full, with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones starring and Dan Aykroyd producing. As if Hemsworth could put a foot wrong though, right? Err….there was Blackhat (2015) directed by Michael Mann and even Hemsworth couldn’t save that disaster.
An interesting article in The Guardian’s film section however, suggests that this could be a rather shrewd career move by Chris Hemsworth. IF he pulls it off, going from ‘Thor’ to desk attendant would be quite the credit to add to his resumĂ©.
Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

In 2012, Joss Whedon brought together the band of Marvel superheroes known as The Avengers, for the hugely successful ‘Avengers Assemble’. Financially, there are very few films to match the success of ‘Avengers Assemble’, grossing $1.5 billion to make it the third highest grossing film of all time (behind Titanic and Avatar). With a budget of $220 million, that’s a pretty nice little profit. Critically, the film has garnered 31 awards and 65 nominations, as well as ranking in the top 200 films of all time on IMDB. Marvel and Disney’s partnership has produced an incredibly successful, lucrative global phenomenon which has seen the superhero genre dominate the box-office in recent years. With both Marvel and DC boasting a hectic schedule slate over the next five years, the power of the superhero movie shows no signs of stalling. But is it all getting a little too much?

What is it about superheroes which very rarely allows us to leave the obsession behind with our childhood? My own love of superheroes started as early as I can remember, with my favourite, Batman. I wanted to be a hero just like him, I had the outfits and the toys, I watched the cartoons and the films religiously, I was hooked. Far from neglecting this addiction, it has thrived as I have grown older and discovered more and more superheroes. I always harboured a certain reluctance, even ignorance, to the world of Marvel, aside from The X-Men and the detestable Spider-Man movies of the early  2000s. But then, in 2008, along came Robert Downey Jr. and Iron-Man to save the day, inspiring me to delve deeper into Marvel’s rapidly expanding cinematic universe, to find Captain America and Thor.

With the world adequately educated on the stories of these three heroes, the Avengers were ready to assemble. Throw in The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Director Nick Fury and you’ve got yourself a formidable team. For me, there is something about a super-team joining forces which really excites me. ‘Avengers Assemble’ was a truly amazing film; it’s exciting, fun, full of action and more importantly, it was NEW. A truly groundbreaking film, in terms of visual effects of course, but also a pioneer in the genre of superhero movies itself. To give the world a live-action film, featuring all the best characters Marvel has to offer, this was something special. Even with the resounding success of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, it is hard to deny that ‘Avengers Assemble’ took the superhero movie to the next level and placed itself firmly at the heart of a thriving market.

Three years later, and the world is dying for more from The Avengers. The sequel, ‘Age Of Ultron’, arrives in UK cinemas on April 23rd, with the USA having to wait another week on top of that. We have been treated to three pretty special trailers, to tantalise our excitement for the grand spectacle, but what exactly do we know about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’? Taking its title from a 2013 comic-book story arc, the film seemingly diverts from the graphic novel plot in many ways, in which the villainous Ultron has already ravaged planet Earth and New York City in particular. Ultron is created by Tony Stark, as the final step towards artificial intelligence, but his creation turns rogue and targets humanity for annihilation. In the comic-book, Ultron is portrayed as being exceptionally powerful, and whilst it seems he will still have a devastating effect on NYC, Joss Whedon has admitted that he had to tone down the robot’s powers for the movie.

Everyone is back for this one, even the dastardly Loki, plus Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and an appearance from The Vision. The multiple trailers for ‘Age Of Ultron’ depict an army of AI robots, led by Ultron ravaging New York City and causing a lot of trouble for the Avengers, in scenes which resonate with the Sentinels from ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’. The aspect of the trailers which has caused most excitement though, is the appearance of The Hulkbuster, another of Stark’s controversial creations. The Hulkbuster is Stark’s way of saying “I don’t trust you man” and it seems The Hulk doesn’t take too kindly to such a precaution, with the two pitted against each other in a destructive battle. There are clear tensions amongst the Avengers, and the Hulkbuster underlines this, tensions which Ultron is delighted to manipulate and exacerbate, whilst enjoying a reign of mass-destruction. But the good guys will win in the end, right?

If Marvel’s upcoming schedule slate is anything to go by, then yes, the good guys will prevail. The post-Ultron schedule is headed by ‘Captain America: Civil War’, which will place Captain America against Iron-Man in another internal battle within the troubled Avengers team. With Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and more set to return for the Captain America sequel, we are left with no uncertainty as to the survivors of ‘Age Of Ultron’. By providing us with details of this film, before we have even had the chance to enjoy the Avengers sequel, Marvel have removed all elements of surprise and suspense from the experience. Only The Hulk, with no standalone film to come and no cast list released for 2018’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, is at risk of being killed off in ‘Age Of Ultron’. Unfortunately, the financial benefits of Marvel’s marketing campaigns means that we can no longer enjoy a little mystery and ambiguity surrounding our favourite films, but then again, we hardly expect the good guys to lose.

Ultimately, all of the upcoming films in Marvel’s cinematic universe SHOULD be incredible and I am personally very excited for ‘Age Of Ultron’ in particular. Indeed, I can’t recall being this excited for any film before. Maybe it’s a good thing that we know what is in the pipeline, I mean, the more the merrier when it comes to the superhero movies. This may be Joss Whedon’s farewell to the franchise, but ‘Age Of Ultron’ is set to be even better than its predecessor, an unfathomable thought. Long live the superhero movie!