It can be annoying when people tell you how to watch a movie. That’s why I don’t care about spoilers, because a person should be allowed to know exactly what they want to know before they see a movie. Want to know everything? Great. Want to know nothing? Awesome. Either way, it’s on the individual viewer to decide. It’s also why I don’t like it when a movie is available only in 3D. What if I don’t care to see it in 3D, which I never do? Just let me decide how much I want to pay and what kind of experience I’m going to have.
That said, I’m going to tell you how to watch Cabin in the Woods.
Don’t read anything. Don’t even bother with the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. I can’t review this movie without giving away something you are really, truly, better off not knowing. So here’s my review of Cabin in the Woods: Yes, it’s well worth your time and money. I highly recommend it. Whatever you think it is, it’s not that. It’s better. Funnier, scarier, WTF-ier. Long-time Joss Whedon underling Drew Goddard (co-writer of this film and writer of Cloverfield) makes his directorial debut and he acquits himself well. Whedon co-wrote the script and his fingerprints are all over it. When it was over, I turned to T and said, “That got me really excited for The Avengers.” But in and of itself, Cabin in the Woods is really…you just need to see it for yourself. And the less you know going in, the more you’re going to like it.
Now, let’s talk about Joss Whedon and why he’s amazing, so that in two weeks when The Avengers is finally here (!!!), we don’t have to rehash that yes, Whedon is the best; we can just refer back to this. When he was hired to direct The Avengers two years ago, I was like, Yes, that’s the guy who can make sense of it. And last year I remember someone asking me if I had any concerns about the movie, which had just begun filming, and I said, No—it’s Joss Whedon, and I never worry about Joss Whedon. I also remember throwing into at least one, if not all, of my Comic Con previews for LaineyGossip that Whedon’s annual panel is always worth attending because whatever he’s on about now, everyone else will be doing in future. Whedon is one of those guys who live ahead of the curve.
I come by my love of Whedon honestly. I watched and liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a kid, but I fell in love with Whedon as an auteur when I watched the ill-fated Firefly on TV. I’m not a sci-fi person, but goddamn I love that show about space pirate-cowboys. It was on Fox, who treated it abominably, and I followed it through schedule changes, episode switches, and finally, its untimely end. It was my first TV heartbreak, the first time I loved a show so much that I went around saying, “I don’t get it, I don’t get why everyone isn’t watching this.” Because of Firefly, the similar fates of Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights didn’t wound me too deeply—I was still feeling the loss of Mal Reynolds & Co. Then in 2005 Whedon managed to get out a movie extension of Firefly called Serenity. It remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and is a high-water mark for making a visually gorgeous film on a manageable budget ($40 million).
When it comes to Whedon, there are some expectations. If you’re not familiar with him as a filmmaker and you’re curious about what The Avengers might be like, I recommend watching Serenity and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. They’re both on Netflix Instant and between the two of them you can get an idea of where he’ll take a Marvel movie. And if you are a Whedon devotee, you’re worried, right? You’re thinking about it in the back your mind, the fates of Wash and Penny. You should be thinking about Wash and Penny. No one is safe with Whedon. Nothing is sacred. He will make you LOVE and then he will BREAK YOUR HEART. And that’s part of his charm. He isn’t afraid of upsetting his audience. If anything, he loves to upset his audience.
If you’ve not seen Dr. Horrible, please, get on it. It’s only 42 minutes and it stars Neil Patrick Harris and is a musical about a supervillain. It’s unabashedly nerdy, as is everything Whedon does, but another element of his charm is that you don’t have to be a nerd yourself to enjoy it. Again, I don’t like sci-fi, as a thing. But I am devoted to Firefly/Serenity because of the sharp writing and filmmaking (the tracking shot at the beginning of Serenity is a thing of beauty), and the perfectly cast ensemble that brought out the best in one another. This is why I thought Whedon was the best, most natural choice to helm The Avengers—his bread and butter is pulling together an ensemble and making it work in surprising, witty ways.
Joss Whedon has been something of a nerd-world secret for fifteen years, but with The Avengers pushing him into the mainstream, he’s a filmmaker who can’t be marginalized as the geek’s auteur any longer. He is a major, major talent that we need in filmmaking, for his writing, for his wit, for his visual flair. He’s the kind of filmmaker that inspires generations—he already is influencing a new crop of filmmakers for the better. If you think I’m overselling this point, just consider what the Batman movies have done for Christopher Nolan—how much power and pull he has behind him now as the director of a super-successful franchise.
Whedon is a filmmaker who takes a very mainstream product that we all think we know and twists it into something surprising and new. And with so many of the top filmmakers going on about mo-cap, 3D and frames-per-second, we need a guy whose idea of making an interesting movie is to start with a damn good script and turn it into a damn good movie, without the crutch of techie gimmicks. We need Joss Whedon to be that guy, and lucky for us, he already is.