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Mark Ruffalo & The Avengers Sequels

He plays Dr. Bruce Banner in the summer blockbuster “The Avengers” – and he is the third actor to play the doctor and his raging alter-ego, the Hulk. His name is Mark Ruffalo and he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill – literally and figuratively.


Ruffalo, in this scene from “The Avengers,” is probably best known for his supporting actor role (opposite Leonardo DiCaprio) in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” (Walt Disney Studios)

“Hulk Smash Box Office!”
Ruffalo replaced actor Edward Norton, who was originally cast to play The Incredible Hulk (Norton’s difficult demands apparently cost him the role). It has turned out to be a career-maker for Ruffalo, who just signed a six-picture deal to play the hulking green giant.

After ”The Avengers,” Mark Ruffalo will appear as the Hulk in five more films, according to insiders. Two of those are Avengers sequels and at least one will be a Hulk movie that he will star in (plus we also expect him to show up in “Iron Man 3″).


Before Ruffalo was cast as the not-so-jolly green giant, Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”) was being considered for the part. 

Ruffalo, who was interviewed at the premiere for “The Avengers,” described Bruce Banner’s alter ego as ”a loose cannon – he’s the teammate none of them are sure they want. It’s like throwing a grenade into the middle of the group and hoping it turns out well!” He’s also called the famous Marvel character “my generation’s Hamlet.”

When asked about the talents of “Avengers” director/co-writer Joss Whedon, the actor had this to say: “I was so impressed and blown away by how much he packs into this movie and how exciting it is and what a great ride it is, and how it just works on every level.” And work it does; early reviews for “The Avengers” are calling it one of the best superhero movies to date.


Ruffalo also provided the motion capture for the face and body movements of the Hulk – while Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk in the 1970s television show) will provide the Hulk’s voice. As you can see, Ruffalo’s facial likeness comes through amazingly. (Walt Disney Studios)

Bringing Monsters to Life
It’s not only great Hollywood visual effects artists who bring creatures like the Hulk to life. Actors like Ruffalo learn how to act through years of dedicated training. Ruffalo has definitely honed his craft and it shows both in the character of Dr. Banner and the computer-generated Hulk. What do you think of Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk?

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posted by Vince Matthews in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments

A Roundup of Reviews for “The Avengers”

“The Avengers” is officially the biggest comic book movie of all time. Name a box office record and the film has either broken it or is preparing to break it.


“The Avengers” is packed with action…and star power. The cast includes (from left): Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk).

But what are critics saying about the movie? We gathered comments from some of the nation’s top writers about film and here’s what they had to say about this summer’s mega-movie event…

Peter Travers, movie critic of “Rolling Stone,” had nothing but raves in his review:
“‘The Avengers’ has it all. And then some. Six superheroes for the price of one ticket: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. It’s also the blockbuster I saw in my head when I imagined a movie that brought together the idols of the Marvel world in one shiny, stupendously exciting package.”

Owen Gleiberman of “Entertainment Weekly” awarded the flick a B+ rating in his critique:
“In terms of storytelling, ‘The Avengers’ is for the most part a highly functional, banged-together vehicle that runs on synthetic franchise fuel. Yet the grand finale of CGI action, set in the streets of New York, is—in every sense—smashing. True, it wouldn’t be out of place in a Michael Bay movie, but no Transformer was ever as transfixing as this leaping, flying, pummeling superteam. It makes you eager to see what they’ll do next, now that they’ve defeated a threat even bigger than their egos.”

In her Avengers review, Associated Press critic Christy Lemire praised the movie, especially the script:
“Whedon has come up with a script that’s cheeky and breezy, full of witty banter and sly pop-culture shout-outs as well as self-referential humor, one that moves with an infectious energy that (almost) makes you lose track of its 2-1/2 hour running time.”

Richard Corliss, of “Time Magazine,” gave the film a generally positive review, due to its sheer entertainment power:
“Reworking Zak Penn’s original ‘Avengers’ script, Whedon sat on his usual impulse to go meta; instead he served as expert mixologist for this all-star cocktail party. The movie guarantees fast-paced fun without forcing anyone to think about what it all means…”


“Hulk smash box-office records!” Ruffalo digitally bulks up for his role as the Hulk.

In his movie review, Michael Phillips of the “Chicago Tribune” gave it 3 out of 4 stars and called it “143 minutes of stylish mayhem”:
“So is this Marvel Comics franchise alumni reunion a full-on Hulk smash? Financially, yes, most likely (‘The Avengers’ is already killing ‘em overseas.) If the film is more solid and satisfying than terrific, so be it. Cleverly, writer-director Joss Whedon combines and recombines its various intramural rivalries. If you were a fan of two or three or more of the movies directly feeding into this one, you’re already planning on seeing ‘The Avengers’.”

Even Roger Ebert, the dean of American film critics, found much to admire in the movie, rating it 3 out of 4 stars in his write-up about the super-hero movie:
“‘The Avengers’ is done well by Joss Whedon, with style and energy. It provides its fans with exactly what they desire.”

Build Your Own Blockbuster!
It looks like “The Avengers” is well on its way to winning a huge chunk of this summer’s box office. But what about next summer? Young people can start learning the movie industry this summer, thanks to digital filmmaking camps offered by Digital Media Academy, which are taught by seasoned Hollywood professionals using the latest, cutting-edge software. We’ll see you at the theaters this summer for “The Avengers.” And next year, who knows? Maybe we’ll be lining up to see your hit movie.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

More Marvel-ous Movies: Avengers, Captain America 2, Thor 2

“The Avengers” has wowed audiences and broken box offices records. And in the not-too-distant future, “The Avengers” will be joined by even more movies from the Marvel Universe.


“The Avengers” assemble at Comic-Con in San Diego. From left: Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo.

How about an”Incredible Hulk” franchise helmed by Mark Ruffalo? For now, all eyes are turned toward “The Avengers,” which is expected to be the blockbuster of Summer 2012.

Assembling a Cast of Heroes
“The Avengers” trailer features Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury).

The story, written by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon tells how the Avengers came together to fight Loki and an alien army he brings to Earth to destroy mankind. Whedon wrote the screenplay and directs the film.


On the set of  “The Avengers,” director Josh Whedon looks on while the actors relax between takes. 

The film, which was first announced in 2005 has taken a long road to completion. Originally delayed by the release of “Iron Man” in 2008, “The Avengers” was pushed back to July 2011. Then actress Scarlett Johansson signed on and the film was delayed again to accommodate her schedule.

Fine-tuning the script (which director Whedon rewrote after joining the project in 2010) additionally delayed production. And finally, there was the much-publicized substitution of Mark Ruffalo to portray the Incredible Hulk – after actor Edward Norton left the cast. (Longtime Hulk fans may be pleased to learn that the Hulk’s voice will come from none other than Lou Ferrigno, who played the not-so-jolly green giant on TV back in the 1970s.)

So much for the art of digital filmmaking, still both the studio, cast and director understand the urgency to get it right, because multiple sequels are riding the film’s success, like…

Thor 2
In November 2013, moviegoers can look forward to the arrival of “Thor 2,” which will again star Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-swinging Norse god from Asgard. His last screen outing, 2011’s “Thor,” earned nearly a half-billion dollars ($449 million internationally). Suffice it to say, Marvel already has high hopes for the follow-up film.


Immediately on the heels of “The Avengers,” release, Hemsworth will start shooting “Thor 2.” 

Filming on “Thor 2″ is set to begin late this summer in London and while several big-name directors have been attached to the project, it appears Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”) will get the assignment. The screenplay is being written by Robert Rodat (“Saving Private Ryan”). Along with Hemsworth, Natalie Portman is scheduled to return for the sequel, along with Tom Hiddleston, who will again portray Thor’s evil brother, Loki.

Captain America 2
Last summer’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” also scored big at the box office, raking in more than $368 million worldwide. The film was a solid hit with critics, too. Critic Roger Ebert wrote, “I admired the way that director Joe Johnston propelled the narrative. I got a sense of a broad story, rather than the impression of a series of sensational set pieces. If Marvel is wise, it will take this and ‘Iron Man’ as its templates.”


The good Captain will return to movie screens in April 2014.

Marvel has been listening. The publisher/studio (now owned by The Walt Disney Company) has been planning a Captain America sequel since before the first film was released, they’ve even camped out a release date: April 4, 2014.

Captain America 2 is rumored to take place mainly in the present day, with the Cap’n adjusting to his new surroundings, although the screenwriters have said they’re experimenting with flashbacks to the World War II period.

Get Your Hero On!
Whether it comes to saving the universe or dominating movie screens, superheroes rule. And today’s superhero movies finally deliver the explosive, larger-than-life hollywood visual effects that comic books can only depict through illustrations. Creating comic book characters isn’t the easy and bringing them to life on screen is even more difficult. We’ll be headed to a theater to see if earth’s mightiest heroes “The Avengers,” really do save the day.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Hitchcock and PSYCHO: A Love Story

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s all-time master director of suspense, is set to return to the big screen in 2013. “Hitch,” as he was called, influenced both the horror genre and forever left his stamp on the craft of filmmaking. We take a sneak peek at the new biography and the film’s star.


A larger than life presence: the great director Alfred Hitchcock works his magic.

Bringing Hitchcock Back
In the new film “Hitchcock,” Anthony Hopkins (best known as Hannibal Lector and more recently as Thor’s father Odin), will star as Alfred Hitchcock with Helen Mirren portraying Hitchcock’s beloved wife Alma. The Fox Searchlight production will be directed by Sacha Gervasi and co-produced by Ivan Reitman, of “Ghostbusters” fame.

“Hitchcock” will concentrate on the lifelong love story between the famous director and his wife. The backdrop for the story: the 1960 production of Hitchcock’s brilliant terror masterpiece, “Psycho,” a film many critics still consider the greatest horror film ever made.

Shooting on “Hitchcock” began last week in Los Angeles, with the cast being rounded out by Scarlett Johansson (as actress Janet Leigh, who portrayed the ill-fated Marion Crane in “Psycho”), Jessica Biel (as actress Vera Miles, who also starred in the original film) and actor James D’Arcy (who will play Anthony Perkins, an actor who gained tremendous notoriety based on his performance as “Psycho”’s deranged Norman Bates).


Hitchcock on the set of “Psycho,” setting up the shower scene…


…And Sir Anthony Hopkins, in full makeup, displaying the famous director’s profile in the new film “Hitchcock.” 

Hitchcock’s challenges to get “Psycho” made are legendary in Hollywood circles: The master director eventually was forced to fund the entire $800,000 budget himself and save money by utilizing the shooting crew from his celebrated TV program. Once released, however, the film (which the studio didn’t want to make) caused an international sensation and earned its director and producer both financial success and and a reputation as filmdom’s Master of Suspense.

Based on Stephen Rebello’s outstanding book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” (which detailed Hitchcock’s struggles to get the project produced, despite a complete lack of interest in making the film by Universal Studios) “Hitchcock” could be an Oscar contender.


Ever the prankster, Hitchcock released this publicity shot of him sitting in the set chair of “Psycho”‘s very dead Mrs. Bates.

Meet the Masters in Film School 
Serious about becoming a filmmaker? Then learn how to make a movie this summer at film camp. Learn about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Official Avengers Movie Trailer Released

Showcasing possibly the most anticipated movie of 2012, The Avengers official movie trailer was just released and fans are already buzzing with excitement.


The Avengers cast at Comic-Con in San Diego this past July (from left to right): Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk (Bruce Banner). The film is directed by Josh Whedon. 

While we’ve already met some of these characters individually (such as Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America), the trailer introduces us to the group of superheroes collectively known as The Avengers.


The very first Avengers comic-book. 

The two-minute Marvel Studios preview gives fans a sneak peek at the explosions, epic battles and (of course) wise-cracking Tony Stark. Not since The X-Men has a group of actors in comic-book costumes so energized the movie screen.


In this screen capture from The Avengers trailer, Captain America leaps into action. 

Avengers Assemble
Directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and set for a May 4, 2012, release, The Avengers finally brings together the Marvel superheroes that we’ve been following individually – and which have been dominating the box office since Iron Man flew into action back in 2008.

The heroes are assembled by Nick Fury (agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to take on a super-villian (Tom Hiddleson plays Loki, Thor’s brother) that wants to – you guessed it – rule the earth. Nine Inch Nails’ “We’re In This Together,” provides the soundtrack for the trailer, while Whedon’s directing skills provide the action. Check it out:

Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) stars alongside Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) in the soon to be blockbuster, The Avengers.

From Comic Books to the Big Screen
“Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” were Marvel Comics’ answer to DC Comics’ Justice League. The comic book was the creation of writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Jack KirbyThe Avengers #1 first appeared on newsstands in September 1963. The original Avengers didn’t include Captain America, though. It wasn’t until issue #4 – when the team discovered the Captain, trapped in ice – that he joined the team.


Mark Ruffalo replaced actor Edward Norton as The Hulk. Ruffalo’s likeness is very noticeable in the new Hulk. Ruffalo also did his own motion capture for the CG shots of The Hulk.   

As for the first cinematic treatment of the comic book, fans should expect both the Avengers’ trademark battles and team squabbles. Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, told The LA Times Hero Complex, “I’m looking forward to being in a room with not just those actors but those characters, these larger-than-life characters, and seeing how that turns out. I want to see how Captain America and Thor and Iron Man react to one another.” If the trailer is any indication, the chemistry will be electric.

Making Heroes Super
There’s a lot of movie production that went into The Avengers. If you want to make special effects for the movies or direct your own film, why keep putting off your dream? You CAN have a career in the movie business – and maybe someday direct a team of all-star actors like those featured in The Avengers.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments