Ultimate 70s Blogathon: The Exorcist (1973) by Emma K Wall (Explains It All)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon

Our next participant joining us for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon is Emma from Emma K Wall (Explains It All) with her review of The Exorcist. Before we talk about how iconic The Exorcist is since we have two entries for it already, remember to check out Emma’s amazing blog where she talks about movies, TV, music and books and injects a great personality and style to it all. Its always a fun time over there.

Without further ado, here’s her review of horror classic, The Exorcist.


Thank you to Drew and Kim for hosting such a great blogathon! And what a cool, psychedelic banner you created too (if I may add – see my right-hand column for proof).

The Exorcist (1973) – Film Review

The Exorcist

Though not one of my absolute personal favourites (like top 20 or something), I still believe that The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films, if not THE greatest horror film ever made. And I realise that’s an incredibly bold statement but it’s hard to imagine anything else ever being as infamous, chilling and powerful. It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil. It has an amazing atmosphere, pairing great writing with genuine terror and is still scary to this day (45 years after its original release – actually that might be the scariest fact of all!). Anyway, twinned with the fact I’d watched it fairly recently it was an easy choice for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon.

I first watched The Exorcist as a teenager (almost a rite of passage) and it did really scare me. But let’s just get this out the way now – of course it won’t ‘scare’ everyone. And of course it won’t scare you if you watch it with your stoner mates and laugh loudly through the crucifix scene. But that doesn’t make it shit, okay? I don’t often get on my high horse with movies (not unless someone starts slagging of Face Off or Zoolander) but it genuinely irritates me when people say “The Exorcist? That’s shit! I thought it was funny”. Er, no mate. It wasn’t the first ever horror film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for nothing you know (though it didn’t win). Aaaaand exhale.

The Exorcist is an Absolute Classic – plain and simple. I refuse to hear otherwise. Apart from some valid points already mentioned, there are other various reasons it deserves the jagged, bloody crown of horror.

The Exorcist

Based on a novel, it has a super, valid and coherent story. Made in the 70s it has those beautiful on-screen retro effects. You know when they’re all freezing cold in Regan’s room and their breath comes out white? Well the room really was like an ice box. And you know Regan’s horrible gravely ‘possessed’ voice? That really was done by a voice actress – who chain smoked and drank whiskey to get the tone right (you gotta love that relaxed 1970s outlook).

It’s also very well directed and I can only assume William Friedkin pissed off the entire set with his gung-ho attitude. Examples include firing a real gun next to someone’s head to get a ‘real’ reaction and the bit where Regan’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) is attacked by her possessed daughter, well she really WAS in pain – and shouting angrily at Friedkin as she landed on the floor, screaming and clutching her back. It was a genuine reaction – and cheerfully kept in the film. If you care to check out the IMDB trivia page you’ll find lots of similar stories. And then of course there’s the cool mystery, intrigue and real life horror that generally surrounds The Exorcist. Like the myth that there was evil ‘written into the pages’ of the script, making it a cursed movie from the beginning. With deaths on the set and a fire that halted production for a number of weeks, interestingly there was actually a real life exorcism ON SET – that’s how freaked out they all were. And the terror definitely continued with the audience, with reports of people fainting, throwing up and running out of the cinema, one guy apparently actually broke his jaw as he collapsed in shear, dramatic fear.

Aside from all that, it also seems important to point out that The Exorcist is also scary, simply because it’s just that – SCARY. It’s dark, it’s claustrophobic, there’s creepy eyes and demonic voices, evil laughter, dark corners and tension. We’re talking about a cute little girl possessed by a malevolent demon for goodness sake. And though it’s now been done many, many (yawn) times, back in 1973, can you imagine how effing terrifying it was?

                                                                                                                                 The Exorcist

So, what more proof do we need that The Exorcist is a terrifying and brilliant delight? We have a great story, a mental director, superb old effects and a genuine feel of evil. Well, I suppose we could do with a world famous theme tune? Something that everyone now associates with the film? Happily The Exorcist also succeeds this, in the shape of Mike Oldfield’s the Tubular Bells. Not a score written for the movie, but a piece of music used in the movie and now basically as famous as the movie. And in places, just as scary.

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Finding Dory (2017)

Baking Through Disney has hit quite the snag but I am working on catching up on some Pixar and Disney titles in the meantime. I needed a lighthearted movie and decided to give Finding Dory a go.

Lets check it out!

Finding Dory (2017)

Finding Dory

Director: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane

Voice Cast:  Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. – IMDB

Following the success of Finding Nemo, Pixar continues in this universe with Finding Dory. While it still features our favorite father and son clownfishes, this time’s star is Dory and her search for her parents and where she came from. Dory is a great supporting character in Finding Nemo but the question here is whether she can carry an entire movie by herself and that was also my hesitation. Other than the Toy Story trilogy, lets just say that I’ve been disappointed with Pixar sequels so this one had the same idea as making a movie out of the Minions from Despicable Me (which I haven’t seen but will soon since it just landed on Netflix) and Penguins from Madagascar (which I have seen and reviewed here). They turn out fun and a good time but never quite has the meaningful and memorable punch that some of the Pixar movies have been able to deliver.

Finding Dory

The good part is that Finding Dory delivered everything I expected it to be. It was fun and silly and had some hilarious characters and moments. Was it a necessary movie? Probably not. Its fairly easy to see where the story was going to go but it was a cute, especially the baby Dory was absolutely adorable. It had a nice message about family, just as Finding Nemo had but somehow, it felt like it still lacked a little bit more substance, maybe its because it felt so much like watching a Finding Nemo movie that it lacked some uniqueness. There’s been a lot of sequels for everything kind of movie in the last decade (maybe longer) so its hard to not hope that a sequel can deliver a little more.

finding dory

With all that said, Finding Dory excelled with some fun characters to match up the vibrantly forgetful Dory, voiced by the ever so talented Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen herself makes me happy so its hard to not love having an excuse to watch Dory’s origin story. Dory, Marlin and Nemo are exactly as fun as you would expect them to be. Of course, some of the new characters really did make it a lot of fun. Hank is a cranky octopus who wants to escape the aquarium and helps Dory only to get her ticket out of there. In the process, his many octopus abilities helps them out a lot while still realizing that a big scary octopus like him still has his fears. On the other hand, much nicer sea creatures here is Dory’s childhood friend, a whale shark called Destiny who they used to talk to via the aquarium pipes and Destiny’s aquarium neighbor, a Beluga whale who had a concussion and thinks he lost his sonar abilities. All of them together is absolutely a riot and its a ton of fun to watch.

Finding Dory

Overall, Finding Dory is a fun entertaining adventure and while there was some predictability in it, its still an enjoyable Pixar film. Pixar always comes with great animation and colorful palettes. The underwater aspect gives it this cool touch. While still the movies and has some level of imagination is a nice entry point for kids to know about different underwater creatures, I would imagine. Other parents who post about kids reaction to animated films probably would provide a better opinion on this. I loved marine animals (and still do) since I was a kid so whale sharks, beluga whales and colorful tropical fish, etc are all my favorite things so this movie really hit the spot for me on that level.

Ultimate 70s Blogathon: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) – Movie Reviews 101

Next up in the Ultimate 70’s Blogathon is Darren from Movie Reviews 101! If you don’t know Movie Reviews 101, well, you are definitely missing out some great stuff. Darren is the host of the monthly Opinion Battles which is now in the 4th year. At the same time his review blog reviews movies every single day with his own rating system. On top of that, Darren is also co-host of the Talking Stars Podcast.

Without further ado, let’s check out his selection, Kramer vs. Kramer!

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

kramer vs. kramer

Director: Robert Benton

Writer: Robert Benton (Screenplay) Avery Corman (Novel)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry, Howard Duff, George Coe

Plot: Ted Kramer‘s wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple’s son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.

Tagline – There are three sides to this love story!

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers the rest of the review 

Verdict: Masterclass

StoryKramer vs Kramer starts as Joanna Kramer (Streep) walks out on her businessman husband Ted (Hoffman) leaving him to raise their child Billy (Henry). Ted must learn how to be a single parent while also keeping his career on path because he is on the verge of one of his biggest moments of his career.

15 months later Joanna reappears in the Ted’s life wanting custody which leads to a heated custody battle between the parents while Ted must deal with his own career problems.

Thoughts on Kramer vs. Kramer

Characters – Ted Kramer is a busy marketing man whose wife walks out on him leaving him to raise his child alone, the added responsibility of raising his son, his work starts to get comprised but it is when his wife returns, where Ted must fight for full custody of his own son. Joanna is the wife that walks out on the family, when she returns she wants to have custody of her son again, we don’t learn much else about her during the time which disappoints. Margaret is the neighbour that is there for Ted during his tough times. Billy is the child that finds himself in the middle of the custody battle after 15 months with just his father.

Performances – Dustin Hoffman gives us an acting masterclass here showing he can give us an Oscar worthy performance given the right material. Meryl Streep is fantastic in the supporting role showing us just how good her talent was going to be. Justin Henry gives on of the best child actors performances too in this film.

Story – The story follows one man needing to learn to be a better father once he is left alone with his son, before turning into a custody battle, which has become an all too often event in the modern world. Seeing how the custody battle unfolds brings us into the reality of how difficult a job being a single parent holding down the job on demanding success level can be. We learn how wrong the system appears to be in one of the most powerful films you will see.

Settings – The New York setting shows how busy the lives of the people involved would be.

Scene of the Movie – The aftermath of the case in the park.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I feel we could have learnt a lot more about Joanna’s motivation during the 15-months too.

Award Wins: Won 5 Oscars

Final Thoughts – This is one of the most powerful, perfectly acted movies you will ever see, the emotions you will feel will leave you broken for what is one of the best films ever made.

Overall: Easily one of the greatest films of all time.

Rating

47 Meters Down (2017)

The final movie rental we watched during the holidays save for one around New Year’s Eve (which the review is coming up) to try and catch up more with 2017 is 47 Meters Down. No brainer really why I picked this one. I really love shark movies. There is no particular reason other than I find them endlessly amusing for the most part. There are some exception to the equation so let’s see if 47 Meters Down works or not.

47 Meters Down (2017)

47 Meters Down

Director (and co-writer): Johannes Roberts

Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura

Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive. – IMDB

At first glance, 47 Meters Down ticks a lot of the boxes that I love and fits right into what I enjoy. Sharks, destination vacation, sisterly bonding, tension, water, shady characters, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt: all people and things that interest me in a movie. Being trapped underwater with limited oxygen is a perfect setup for a shark film. It will build tension, and create suspense. There’s an unknown factor from the deep blue sea that blocks out the ability to detect the predator making them even less predictable.

47 meters down

In fact, 47 Meters hits a lot of those boxes. It manages to create the hunting and trying to escape outside of the cage bits very tense. It uses light and dark of the sea very well and teases your expectations a little as well. This lets the dread set in as we sit in anxiety with the sisters trapped underwater as they have to decide when to fight for their lives and when to stay put. To be honest, I don’t know enough about scuba diving or swimming with the sharks to know how authentic this entire ordeal is so I took it for what it was. Of course, if I was to get into a rusty looking cage to sit in to look at sharks, I probably would say no, but that’s just because as great as the idea sounds, I would probably want to join an operation that didn’t look as shady as the one the sisters, Kate and Lisa decided to go to, especially in Lisa’s case, lying about knowing about scuba diving. My point is that in creating tension, 47 Meters Down does a great job, especially in finding a way to also give us something to think about.

47 Meters Down

Putting the fact that I chose to believe everything here and pushing aside my lack of risky adventure, 47 Meters Down does also fall short in some places. In particular, it all dials down to some clunky dialogue. I think the sisterhood bonding thing was destined to happen as they saw their differences and their expectations. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt delivered good performances. But the dialogue and just sometimes how they decided to do certain things and reasoned the logic of their next moves made it feel very hard to fight for them. For sure, these decisions did lead to some intense scenes but at times, it felt a little deliberate.

As a shark film, 47 Meters Down does a lot of things right from building the atmosphere to having competent shark predators and a premise that helps build the tension of the film. However, some of the characters decisions or perhaps in general their reasoning does leave a little to be desired. These decisions do all pile up to whether you have connected with them and remain hopeful that they’ll make it out of this ordeal as they fight for survival. What does make up for some of its flaws is a thoughtful ending that gives us something to think about.

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Lets just get this out of the way before we start, I have watched about 20 minutes total of any King Kong movie and I only have this image of him climbing the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building or something or another. But I love creature features and giant monsters interest me so this felt like it was right up my alley.

With that said, let’s check it out!

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – IMDB

Kong: Skull Island is pretty much my first visit into the King Kong universe and let me tell you, it was a thrilling as ever ride. Visually, King Kong and the Skull Crawlers and the other giant creatures here are amazing to look at. The location is also very beautiful which further emphasizes that the more beautiful the place is, the deadlier the creatures in it are. There are exceptions to the equation obviously but Kong: Skull Island is just beautiful to look at with its lush forests and mountains and waterways. Its really very pretty especially the first moment the team breaks through the layer of storm and enters into this paradise. Of course, the next moment turns into hell as their seismic things cause the king of the place to come and attack them and we soon learn, Kong is not the enemy.

Kong Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is quite the action adventure. There’s a lot of suspense as they learn about the truth on Skull Island and what makes its inhabitants fearful. Kong is really just the king and the protector of his land. However, just like any kingdom, other creatures want to take him down. Skull Crawlers are very competent as a villain in their serpent ways. In fact, if we were to talk about villains, humans are probably the darker ones here. Everything starts with John Goodman’s character Bill Randa and his assistant that asks to somewhat tag along to check this island before another country heads out there and discovers it before they do. Of course, they soon realize he has his suspicions that he’s kept hidden to himself and soon, they are caught up on this island and trying to make it to the retrieval spot before they are abandoned here. The teams are separated and each seem to have their own agenda. The mystery and suspense works very well to keep the movie well-paced especially since the unknown territory and villain contribute a huge part to wondering what the true danger is and how to protect themselves and escape.

Kong: Skull Island

The cast here is also pretty impressive. Of course, its hard to deny any of their talent here. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly all have outstanding performances in their filmography to back them up and they all delivered great performances in Kong: Skull Island. I honestly would love to see Tom Hiddleston as his character James Conrad here in more films. He’s pretty bad-ass and very smart. It feels like this character has more to be discovered. It feels like Brie Larson hasn’t had any action films to date, or at least I haven’t seen any of them if there are and somehow she fits very well in this story as a daring photo journalist who can carry her own. John C. Reilly brings a slight comedic value to the otherwise serious and tense situation as well as Thomas Mann’s character who jokes around quite a bit. If you talk about human villain, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard hits the extreme notes in Kong: Skull Island as a man who lets wanting to stand up for the men he lost hide his reason and judgement. In many ways, I can’t say that his character didn’t at some point remind me of the nostalgic moments with Deep Blue Sea. Its probably just me though.

Kong: Skull Island

There’s a lot to love about Kong: Skull Island. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the creature designs are done so impressively and the story is pretty decent as well, filled with suspense and adventure. There were quite a few mixed or lukewarm reviews throughout the year and it made me not too sure about where to place this especially since I have no previous visit into the King Kong universe so it turned out to be an awesome surprise.

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of it?

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype

(original title: Le secret de la chambre noire)

Director (and screenplay): Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet

When an assistant to a daguerreotypy photographer falls in love with the latter’s daughter the relationship mirrors the art form as love and pain combine. – IMDB

Even though I have only seen Pulse from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, its safe to say that he is a director who takes his time to build atmosphere. Daguerrotype takes on quite the same style as Pulse to be honest which is a good thing. For his first film outside of Japan, Daguerrotype is safe as it plays with a ghost story, slow pacing and builds on the atmosphere to create an uneasiness in this fantasy drama with horror elements. As an indie film, it does a lot of things right especially using a classic photography theme as its main focus. Some cultures believe that photography snaps away your soul and it uses this point as a centre of making his subject immortal, (at least that is what I make of it). Perhaps that is where the inspiration comes from. Classic photography and building the big contraption is definitely the eerier parts of Daguerrotype and adds this older style and mystery.

daguerrotype
The outstanding elements of Daguerrotype is its atmosphere and the setting. It uses a dark and gloomy setting. This matches well with its characters which seem torn in their will to each break free in their own way. The camera does a great job at panning out and zooming in whenever necessary to capture and reveal what it wants to show. There was especially one part where it follows a character that is particularly immersive. It uses lighting very well to create the uneasy moments. The soundtrack is used appropriately  with a beautiful orchestral piece in various parts however still uses a mix of subtle and abrupt sounds to immerse its viewers during quieter scenes. While it may seem a little cliche and overdone, Daguerrotype uses the classic creaky doors opening slowly to create uneasy moments.

daguerrotype
Daguerrotype also has a pretty decent cast. Tahar Rahim plays Jean, the young man here who gets the job as a photographer assistant because of his inexperience and a general interest for photography. He is the main character and the script writes him quite in depth as we see many personality qualities of his. The story only does have about six roles aside from the small cameos roles with three being the leads. Playing opposite Jean is his photography obsessed boss, Stephane who has an unusual love for Daguerrotype photography which requires its models to stand for a long time motionless and uses a contraption to aid them. Stephane is played by Olivier Gourmet and he does a great job at capturing the grumpy perfection seeking artist with his own secrets. Stephane’s only perfect subject is his daughter Marie, played by Constance Rouseeau, who is a shy and quiet girl with a love for botany and struggles between going to pursue her dreams or staying to accompany her father and being his model.

The bottomline is that Daguerrotype does many things right however it is for the most patient of viewers. At over two hours run time, the story moves very slowly and sometimes might feel like the plot is lost in the little details and sidetracks making it feel fragmented and doesn’t come together however, it is also these fragments that may give this story something to think about after its finished. For horror fans, this might not fit the bill as it doesn’t have a lot of scares but more uneasy atmospheres and is more of a fantasy drama. However, Kurosawa’s skills of atmosphere, setting and tone along with the decent cast here that carries their role well are all good reasons to give Daguerrotype a watch.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, November 7 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Aren’t we feeling like the youngsters? Haha! It seems Jigsaw was given up and Les Affames was also given up for this month’s movie at the theatres and I ended up heading out to see Thor: Ragnarok with my friend. I’ve mostly been on track with the MCU films with a few exceptions like Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Let’s check it out!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

thor ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization. – IMDB

The MCU timeline has only gone through 2 years since the last we’ve seen Thor however, the previous movie, Thor: The Dark World has been four years. It is perhaps one of the first Marvel movies that I’ve gone in very blind. While Thor movies aren’t exactly very strong to the Marvel films, its always a fun time and its a very important factor of why I feel Marvel has been successful. Finding humor and blending it with a right amount of action helps form these characters and in Thor: Ragnarok, it is no different. The humor is fantastic especially with a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones. These blockbuster superhero movies have grown to be a norm to have incredibly long run times and it still is one of the criticisms I tend to have because it drags on in some parts however, Thor is also full of laugh out loud moments that it never falls flat for too long before it gets you immersed or simply having fun again.

Thor: Ragnarok

One of the best things about Marvel is that it knows that the fun in the movie, particularly in a blockbuster superhero film is simplicity. Sure, it takes a few turns here and there but everything works when its straightforward. There’s an issue then a dilemma then the superhero hits a snag that he or she needs to come back from and figure out a saving the planet or world or city solution. Nothing wrong with a little formula when you can get the tone right and the characters to be charming and engaging to watch. Thor: Ragnarok does all of that right and part it goes to having those engaging characters. Thor is always a joy to watch and with Loki being there as well, its always a fun time to watch their brotherly bickering even as they mock each other on their predictable characters. Being self aware is so important sometimes and that is the charm of it all.

Thor: Ragnarok

With that said, aside from Thor and Loki that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are so fantastic as, the other characters all have their parts. Familiar faces go to Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall. Making an appearance here and some very odd funny moments is The Hulk and of course, his human counterpart, Mark Ruffalo. All delivering on their roles very well. However, its great to see some other faces here as we learn a little more about Thor and Asgard’s history and of course the little sidetrack they make into The Grandmaster’s wastelands. The Grandmaster is played by Jeff Goldblum. Its been so long since I’ve seen Goldblum in anything but he takes on The Grandmaster with so much character in the most eccentric way. The awkward moments were the centre of a lot of the comedy here. A little younger in the cast was Tessa Thompson joining into the cast as Valkyrie who was a very different type of role than what she’s done in the past and I mean it in the best way. She’s a bad-ass lady and can definitely carry her own.

Thor Ragnarok

Its impossible to get through superhero movies without a mention of the villain. Except, Marvel movies have the fault of making incompetent villains who lack depth. Point exactly is that I can’t remember for the life of me what the name of the villain in The Dark World is. I think it starts with a “M” but all I remember was that he wasn’t really key to anything. Thor: Ragnarok is a little better mostly because Hella is the sister of Thor. She’s the secret of Asgard when Odin was much more ruthless. Nothing like sibling rivalry to get things heated up. Hella is played by Cate Blanchett and while a lot of her scenes were truly just amplifying how incredibly powerful she is, leaving it a little empty, its still Cate Blanchett and she is a fantastic actress that adds a little something to the role. Now, I’d be lying if her get-up didn’t remind me a little of Maleficent however, Hella is a dangerous villain all on her own, especially with a right hand man played by Karl Urban who never quite gets the depth in his character.

Overall, I have my criticisms about this movie but they feel a little like I’m nitpicking because Thor: Ragnarok is downright fun and packed with some cool action and awkward humor. Its villain is more competent and its humor is spot on and the characters are versatile and awesome. Thor: Ragnarok has its little issues and a lengthy runtime but it is my favorite Thor movie so far.

Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok?
Talking about lists, I’m definitely thinking of putting together a list of best to worst for the Marvel movies. Good idea?