REVIEW: NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

CAST

David Hasselhoff (Click)
Lisa Rinna (Veronica Mars)
Sandra Hess (Mortal Kombat: Annilation)
Neil Roberts (Holby City)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Tracy Waterhouse (Elysium)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Ron Canada (Cinderella Man)
Bill Croft (Andromeda)
Roger Cross (Arrow)

Image result for nick fury agent of shieldThe first live-action interpretation of Nick Fury, played by none other than David Hasselhoff. In this 1998 made-for-TV movie, The Hoff stars as the comic-book super spy, alongside soap star Lisa Rinna as Contessa Valentina ‘Val’ de Allegro Fontaine and a cast of relative unknowns. Now, in an effort to capitalize on Jackson’s notable appearance and the current popularity of comic-book properties on the big screen, the first Nick Fury film was released on DVD.There are a few things you should know. Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a good film.At times it seems as if the filmmakers knew they didn’t have the talent, schedule or budget to make a quality film, so they took the so-bad-it’s-good approach. Except they never quite got as far as the “good” part. The acting is cringe worthy, the dialogue is laughable, the action scenes are awkwardly choreographed, the plot is unoriginal and little attempt has been made to be faithful to the original comic-book mythology beyond the use of the characters’ names.For what it’s worth, the story centers on a plot hatched by Andrea von Strucker (aka Viper), the daughter of Nick Fury’s defeated nemesis, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, described in the film as “last of the great global boogey men.” As the new head of the terrorist organization known as HYDRA, she threatens to launch a deadly biological attack on Manhattan in the form of the Death’s Head Virus, unless she is paid in the sum of $1 billion.The threat is big enough to bring Nick Fury back into the field after five years of forced retirement. He’s understandably reluctant to return to S.H.I.E.L.D. — which, in this case, stands for the inelegantly named “Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division”  until his old flame Val shows up and convinces him of the impending danger posed by von Strucker’s evil spawn. He assembles a task force — including Val, psychic Kate Neville (Tracy Waterhouse) and the eager but untested Agent Pierce (Neil Roberts) — to disarm the missiles containing the virus and to take down Viper before she can escape to do more damage. Don’t let the cover of the DVD fool you. Though this is touted as coming “from one of the writers of Batman Begins” there’s no trace of the realism or tragic darkness of that film. The writer in question is David Goyer, who’s been involved in his share of high-profile genre projects (namely the Blade trilogy). As one of his earlier and less successful efforts, he’d probably be content for this title to remain in obscurity.

Even if the dialogue was stellar, the real problem would be with Hasselhoff’s forced and overly dramatic performance. He’s hopelessly miscast as the hard-as-nails, playing-by-his-own-rules Fury. No matter how much he poses or chomps on cigars with flourish, there’s nothing tough or intimidating about him. As a fighter, he’s slow and stiff in his movements. So much so that it’s distractingly obvious whenever the choreography has been adjusted to compensate for his lack of agility and when a stunt double has been brought in to do it for him. There’s never any danger of the audience taking the character too seriously. But Hasselhoff is not alone in this regard. There’s plenty of atrocious acting in this film that he’s not responsible for, amplified by a mesh of excruciating attempts at various accents, both foreign and American. The worst offender is Sandra Hess as Viper, who takes the character too far into the realm of camp that she actually surpasses Hasselhoff in terms of overacting. In the end, the story’s resolution allows for her return in future adventures. Needless to say, and thankfully,  that’s not going to happen.hqdefault.jpgThe character of Nick Fury has a rich history and a deep back story that may someday make for a good film. But this low-budget, low-quality affair is definitely not it.

 

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REVIEW: THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Brian Bloom (Vampirella)
Chris Cox (All Star Superman)
Jennifer Hale (The Rick)
Peter Jessop (Jla Adventures)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Eric Loomis (Shin Chan)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Colleen Villard (Duel Masters)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST COICES

Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Drake Bell (The Reef 2)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and Teh X-men)
Alex Desert (The Flash 90s)
Vanessa Marshall (Duck Dodgers)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Elizabeth Daily (Valley Girl)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Cam Clarke (He-Man)
Lance Reddick (Lost)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold!)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)

Both Marvel and DC have to an astonishing degree started to pick up these last few years, with several well-appreciated shows that I really enjoy: Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Green Lantern TAS, and now this; The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

It’s very rare indeed for a superhero cartoon of this magnitude to be  great from start-to-finish, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is, right from Episode 1 `Iron Man is Born’ to the finale `Avengers Assemble!’. There are literally no dud episodes whatsoever! The whole series is infused with tremendous intrigue, exceptional plotting and some of the tightest continuity I’ve ever seen in a TV series. The number of sub-plots and story-arcs that are juggled here is staggering, but the creative team handled it all with such precision. The coherency, intricacies and pacing is nothing short of exemplary overall. This isn’t just essential for kids; adult Marvel fans will get bags of satisfaction from watching this cartoon!

So what exactly can folk expect? Well, as I said, the choicest pieces of Marvel history (be it in comics or on film) have been successfully adapted and utilized here. From how the Avengers banded together to life-changing events like the Civil War threat and the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion (adapted beautifully here!). Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Black Panther are all superbly established before `Assembling’ for the first time, members come-and-go, characters undergo changes, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the Vision join the ranks, and all-manner of superb guests join the party, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and even those Guardians of the Galaxy!

And on the villains-front, you can be subjected to a cracking-bunch of dastardly rogues, such as Loki, the Red Skull, Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and (of course!) chief arch-nemesis Ultron. And it’s not all just for window-dressing. The depictions of all these characters (hero, villain and otherwise) and their worlds is just pure gold. It’s perhaps the most faithful animated portrayal of the Marvel Universe.
Really, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could (and should) have gone on for more seasons. Instead, Marvel pulled the plug in favor of the replacement show Avengers Assemble. Thus in the last batch episodes, you DO get the feel that the writers were trying to wrap things up and give the show a grand swansong to make way for the next-cartoon-in-line. Admittedly, there are a few loose ends left over, but the series is mostly wrapped-up in winning style with a very acceptable conclusion. And in an age where too many shows are cancelled prematurely/end on a sour note, it makes that final moment of `Avengers Assemble!’ all the more of a triumph, just like the entire series itself.