REVIEW: Item 47 [2012]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 12 minutes | Release Date: September 25th, 2012 (USA)
Studio: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director(s): Louis D’Esposito
Writer(s): Eric Pearson

“It’s time we took a chance for ourselves”

I guess when your latest film makes over 1.5 billion dollars at the worldwide box office you find yourself with a little extra scratch to throw around. What better way to spend it than on the series of short films you’ve been producing for DVD releases? Where the first two entries lasted barely four minutes each and consisted of mainly dialogue and Agent Coulson’s deadpan smugness, Item 47 finds itself benefiting from a massively expanded budget. Not only do we get three recognizable faces introduced as new characters to the Marvel universe, we also receive a lost alien weapon from the Battle of New York with some major destructive power. Luckily for all of us, Claire (Lizzy Caplan) and Bennie (Jesse Bradford) simply use it to make some cash by knocking off East Coast banks.

It’s a theme that “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” touches upon after Thor: The Dark World in episode eight “The Well” wherein the team searches for the Asgardian Berserker Staff. When you introduce alien technology to this world, it’d be stupid not to work in how it affects the normal people who come into contact with it. We never find out what Claire and Bennie want so much money for, although it’s implied there was a specific reason; only that they are good kids who don’t want to harm anyone. It’s obvious from the surveillance footage Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) and Agent Blake (Titus Welliver) watch considering both thieves decimate walls and doors but take the time to make sure their innocent victims are in one piece and marginally unafraid.

Producer Louis D’Esposito takes over directorial duties while Eric Pearson remains onboard as screenwriter to retain the humorous tone we’ve come to expect from these world-building vignettes. The crux of the tale besides exposing us to Claire and Bennie—who may or may not come back into play in subsequent Marvel properties—is to once again show Jasper Sitwell’s penchant for being a doof. They weren’t kidding when he and Coulson joked about his being a good patsy in The Consultant: Hernández plays the role perfectly. I’m only sad he was forced to exit this light-hearted atmosphere in order to propel the plot of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s demise in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. At least we have these shorts as evidence of the person he is when not under alternative orders.

The real fun, however, comes from Caplan and Bradford finding themselves way over their heads in stuff they don’t understand. Or at least in stuff they don’t realize they understand. Bennie did get this dormant laser gun to work when no one else in the government could, so his role may evolve into something much larger as the franchise’s saga continues. For now, though, we should just be happy that Marvel is finally taking these shorts seriously as more than in-jokes without relevance to the bigger picture. Item 47 pretty much does what “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was created to do, so we can treat it as a precursor to Coulson’s groups’ escapades. But don’t let that diminish its autonomous success at infusing some much-needed laughter back into New York City after an unexpected extraterrestrial invasion.

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