Freshwomen’s English class 7: Superheroes, spies: action and romance

Nimen hao,

welcome to this week’s class. We will do some work on developing our reviewing skills. Today we will focus on film, and practice developing a theme and thesis.

We’ll look at series of images and movie clips from Spy, Superheroes and romance movies and develop some descriptions, evaluations and themes. As you watch the clips, keep in mind some of the elements that constitute a movie review:

  • Story, plot, genre, style.
  • Social themes and significance.
  • Creative craft elements (including, for example, quality of script, direction and performances, visual design and cinematography,  lighting, set design, costume, hair, make-up, special effects, sound, music, editing.

Spy films (comparison 1: Bond v Blonde)

“The name is Bond, James Bond.”

Lets start by having a look at this clip from Spectre, one of the recent Bond series movies. First a brief synopsis:

British spy chief “M,” Moneypenny and Q are fighting for survival against an ambitious government mandarin with plans to shut down the 00 agent program and replace it with his own sinister high-tech surveillance network. Bond (007) has to track down a sinister Austrian kingpin at the heart of Spectre, an evil organisation with tentacular reach and extensive personnel. If he succeeds, then the 00 system might be saved, and the new computer surveillance system rejected.

During his quest, Bond goes to Austria where he encounters his main amour, Dr Madeleine Swann (the woman in the car in this scene). The pair manage to get away to Tangier on a train journey after a colossal punch-up with a beefy henchman. Later, they are captured by and have to overcome the evil Oberhauser, Spectre’s CEO.

Clip1: Spectre.

 

Now let’s have a look at a clip from Atomic Blonde. (clip from 01:10). Again, let’s read a brief synopsis first.

The setting is Berlin just before the fall of the Wall; the paranoid hangover of the cold war is giving way to a new era of hungry opportunism. A British agent has been murdered; a valuable list is missing. And MI5 asset Lorraine Broughton … is flown in to clear up the mess. There she butts heads with fellow agent David Percival … and has a fling with rookie French spy Delphine ….In this scene the East German security guards are trying to prevent a spy leaving for the West. By killing him ….

Clip 2: Atomic Blonde scene to be played in class.

Discussion: work in your small groups to compare the two scenes.

  • Describe each of the scenes: what kind of a scene is it; who are the protagonists; what happened? what were the craft elements, what social themes can you identify?
  • Evaluate the scenes: what comparative judgements or critical commentary can you give about the scenes/aspects of the scenes? Can you identify a theme/themes for comparison?

Superhero films (comparison 2: Superman v. Batman V. Superman + Suicide Squad + Avengers: Infinity War).

Let’s begin this comparison by watching “mild mannered reporter Clark Kent” Superman do some super stuff while Lois Lane (Clark Kent’s colleague/Superman’s love interest) does what she does (from Superman, 1978).

 

Now let’s watch these three clips from Batman V. Superman.

Clip 4. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice scene 1.

 

Clip 5. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice scene 2.

 

Clip 6. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, scene 3.

 

Discussion: work in your small groups to compare the scene from Superman the Movie with the those from Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

  • Describe each of the scenes: what kind of a scene is it; who are the protagonists; what happened? what were the craft elements, what social themes can you identify?
  • Evaluate the scenes from the two movies: what comparative judgements or critical commentary can you give about the scenes/aspects of the scenes? Can you identify a theme/themes for comparison between the two movies?

Female Superheroes

Marvel and DC comics have each made their own world of superheroes in comics and film. In each there are interesting representations of women. Let’s have a look a “mash-up” of some of some the DC Comics Gotham City girls and Captain Marvel.

Clip 7: Gotham City Girls

 

Clip 8. Captain Marvel (to be played in class).

Discussion: Superwomen? Gotham City Sirens + Captain Marvel.

Work in your small groups to describe the female characters represented in the Gotham City Sirens and the Captain Marvel clip

Comparison: Suicide Squad v. Avengers: Infinity War

Now let’s watch these clip from Suicide Squad.

First read this synopsis.

Suicide Squad takes place after the events of “BvS.” Davis’ Amanda Waller gets the idea to pluck the worst of the worst villains from prison and give them a chance to reduce their sentences. In return, they must help the state fight its trickiest foes. Their first assignment is to take down a seemingly insurmountable, supernatural figure: the ancient Enchantress, who can time travel and zip through space and manipulate metal and has all kinds of impressive, dangerous skills.

Clip 9-10: Suicide Squad scene to be played in class.

Now let’s have a look at a scene from Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s a brief synopsis.

Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

Clip11: Avengers: Infinity War

Discussion: Suicide Squad + Avengers: Infinity War.

Work in your small groups to compare the scenes from Suicide Squad with the that from Avengers: Infinity War.

  • Describe each of the scenes: what kind of a scene is it; who are the protagonists; what happened? what were the craft elements, what social themes can you identify?
  • Evaluate the scenes from the two movies: what comparative judgements or critical commentary can you give about the scenes/aspects of the scenes? Can you identify a theme/themes for comparison between the two movies?

See a character list for Avengers here.

Or here.

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