Saturday, December 5, 2015

Recap/Review: Marvel One-Shot "Item 47"

You can't see it, but I'm sighing. Unfortunately, I've just now reached the midway point for the Marvel One-Shots. As of this date, there are only five of them. And it seems like it's going to stay that way, now that Marvel can expand their ideas for short films into entire shows.

Everyone knows about Agent Carter's show spinning off from the Marvel One-Shot of the same name, but did you know that so did Jessica Jones? And they have a few more ideas for One-Shots that were never made, probably so they can expand them into their own shows.

But I think that these One-Shots triumph when all they're doing is telling a single story. No more, no less.

So let's take a look at example of a One-Shot doing just that.

And yes, I'm aware of the in-joke of the title.
The One-Shot begins with two lovebirds, Bennie and Claire (Jesse Bradford and Lizzy Caplan) sitting in a car, arguing about something. Apparently, they're about to do some kind of... thing. Whatever it is, it involves something that fell out of the sky, which Claire is taking as a good sign even though Bennie's getting cold feet.

Bennie: "What makes you so sure that the sign is pointing in the right direction?"
"You make me sure."

The guy questioning whether or not you should do this is what's making you sure that you should? Do you not trust him that much?

Claire: "'Cause you got it to work."

The obvious joke for me to make is "Of course he did; guys can fix anything," but I'm refraining from doing so. Not just because the joke's obvious and kind of sexist, but wait until you see what he actually fixed.  Claire yammers on about how this is their chance to make a life for themselves instead of waiting for the world to give them a break, and that ends up convincing him.

Bennie: "I hope you're right."
Claire: "I am. I'm always right."

Nope, not touching the low-hanging fruit there, either.
So our little lovebirds finally work up the courage... and go rob a bank.

Wearing his-and-hers robbery masks. These two are adorable.
And yes, it seems as though that "thing" that Bennie fixed was a Chitauri gun-arm. Luckily, he's also proficient at firing it and manages to unleash a couple of blasts that don't hit anyone, but still get the point across. Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) talks over the security footage of this, explaining that this is Allentown, 5 days after the Battle of New York.

Agent Blake (voiceover): "Please tell me why the one piece of alien tech you failed to capture is now functioning."

And not only that, but there were no less than four other incidents matching this description.

"It was almost five, but the one in Gotham looks to have been done by some clowns with a school bus."
Including one in Savannah, Georgia this morning.

Agent Sitwell: "Hey, I been there! They do a great pulled pork right down the street."

Yes, Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) is back.

"That deli was almost as good as that Nevada diner I went to a while back. Got me hooked on hot Dr. Pepper."
Blake is not amused. They both take jabs at each other's investigative technique, with Blake preferring gathering footage and intel, while Sitwell went out and got a lead on this modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Yeah, get it now? Bennie and Claire? Cute, Marvel.

But when Sitwell says he'd like to get a move-on....

Agent Blake: "I understand, Agent Coulson. ...I'm sorry, force of habit."
Agent Sitwell: "We all miss him."

"Good thing Fury's having them cut open his brain and fiddle around, right?"
Sitwell's orders are simple.

Agent Blake: "Retrieve the weapons tech and neutralize the two outlaws."

Speaking of them, Bennie and Claire are hanging out in a South Florida hotel. Their utterly obscene amount of money seems to have added up to Claire's satisfaction, and they begin looking forward to doing whatever they want with their ill-gotten booty.

Like making love all over it, even though money is one of the germiest things out there.
But before I can make a joke about who is getting exactly what "booty," the neighbors are playing their music too loud, ruining the mood. Bennie goes next door to ask them to keep it down, and instead finds Agent Sitwell, who judo throws him to the ground and slaps on those plastic restraint things that they like to package toys in. You know the ones, I forget what they're actually called.

Bennie struggles and manages to kick over the sound system and yell to Claire that the 5-0 done found them.  Claire grabs the gun, yells a warning, and zaps the wall, a couple times, despite Sitwell's continued protestations that this would go a lot smoother if they would simply cooperate.

"I can't hear you over my gun!"
Long story short, there's a struggle, the gun gets knocked away, and it goes off, incinerating a big chunk of the money. Bennie and Claire get restrained and start to bicker a bit, but Sitwell gets straight to brass tacks when he returns.

Agent Sitwell: "Forty-seven known alien objects hit the ground after the portal closed above Manhattan. All dormant. All dead."

"Kind of a deus ex machina, wasn't it?"
Agent Sitwell: "Except this one. This one works just fine. Any idea why that is?"
Claire: "Bennie got it to work."

They try to use this to plea bargain, but Sitwell knows exactly what he's going to do with them.

Agent Sitwell: "Who said anything about going to jail? I was sent here to retrieve the weapon and to neutralize you."

This can only end well.
Sometime later, Agent Sitwell returns to Agent Blake, who's more than ready to rip him a new one about all the collateral damage. But Sitwell isn't alone. He's got two new recruits with him.

Agent Sitwell: "Agents Blake, I'd like you to meet Claire Weiss and Benjamin Pollock."

Bennie now has a job reverse-engineering the alien tech and Claire is now Agent Blake's assistant.

Told you this could only end well.
And so, as Sitwell and Bennie leave...

Agent Blake: "Do you know how to make coffee?"
Claire: "No."

The credits roll to "Just What I Needed" by The Cars. And in the background, you can see the blueprints to more and more reverse-engineered prototypes before finally looking like something that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents could wield. ...except they never will.

Also, the word "Prototype" is constantly misspelled like this was an episode of Batman: TAS.
I don't want to give anything away just yet, but let's just say that you can see some things that looks a lot like these "Protoypes" in Age of Ultron, but the good guys sure ain't using 'em. But enough about that. Claire boredly messes around in a swivel chair, and it's time to review.

This is definitely a step up from the past couple, mainly because they had a new budget to work with. And holy crap, what they did with that budget. Less than half a million dollars, and yet the weapon effects look like they came straight from The Avengers.

The story is nothing new. Sitwell decides that instead of killing his targets, he'll offer them a job. Which you might note is exactly what Hawkeye did with Black Widow. But the characters buoy up the story, even without the presence of Agent Coulson and a rather shoehorned-in reference to him.

Out of all the characters introduced, I think Bennie's my favorite. Claire's spunky, but that's nothing we haven't seen before. Bennie is a 100% nice guy, continually apologizing to the people he's robbing, even to the point of helping a guy by dusting off his shirt. It's a nice contrast to the fact that he's shooting up banks.

Unfortunately, Titus Welliver is wasted as Agent Blake. I mean, the guy's been on Deadwood and Lost, and they give him such a lackluster role? Wasted.

But in the end, Item 47 is a lot of fun and a very satisfying look into an expanding world. Remember, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't premiered yet. So this was the first real step into the street-level Marvel universe that would later be seen in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's definitely worth a watch.

Next time... the one, the only, the Brit. See you then!

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