Tag Archives: avengers

Movie Review (Spoilers): Avengers Infinity War

This review contains spoilers.  So reader beware, I’m going to go analytical on this one… but first I’m going to preface the spoilers with some generic comments.  Yes, I enjoyed the movie.  I think people should see it themselves.   Other (mostly) non-spoilery comments: I think Cap’s new shield(s) are lame.   I want a Wakandan energy shield.   Spider Man steals the show.

So, now into the actual review.  It starts out with a bang and with a mass murder of Asgardian survivors.  There’s a bit of continuity issues here (as later on in the film, Thor says that Thanos killed half his people, but Thanos blew up the ship and we don’t really see any survivors).  So there’s an issue.  Loki’s death was interesting, but there was an inevitable element of it, it wasn’t really a surprise and frankly, was pretty stupid of Loki.  I would have rather seen him join up with Thanos to betray him at a truly opportune moment, maybe even chuck Thor out an airlock.  Instead, we could see it coming.  There was no surprise in it.  Heimdal sort of stole the scene, too, in his sacrifice to send Hulk to Earth to give them warning.

The introductions and initial confrontations on Earth were good.  They set the scene well, and there’s enough humor and mixed desperation to make it all entertaining and engaging.  I would have liked to see Vision in full fighting form.  Having him barely limping along through most of the movie was a bit of a disappointment.  I get it, he was injured, but you would think they’d try to fix that.

The Guardians of the Galaxy really stole the show, them and Thor, anyway.  Pretty much every scene with them was highly entertaining.  The pace through the whole movie was fast, faster than I would have liked, but it wasn’t as frantic as people have complained about.  No, there’s not a lot of time for character growth and such, but that’s not what this movie is about.  It’s about the end of the world, it’s a disaster film more than anything else, and if there’s one thing that this movie does very well is to show the cost of a terrible disaster.

I’ve got to say, it’s almost Wagnerian Opera, at times.  From Heimdal through to the very end, we see the cost of fighting evil.  It doesn’t pull any punches and it doesn’t let up.  It’s dark, but the strong point of this film is that the heroes don’t flinch.  Most of them realize that they’re not going to survive, that they’re fighting to save others and not themselves.

The middle act is full of that sort of thing.  We lose a few characters, we see Thanos toy with some of them, letting them think they’ve done well, only to pull victory away from them, often in comical fashions.   Bubbles in Starlord’s pistol was the most brutal, I think.  The torment on Quill’s face as he worked himself up, only to have all that effort pulled away was heart-wrenching.  The return of Red Skull was a nice touch, but I would have liked to see more done with that.  Make him join up with Thanos, give Thanos a minion we actually recognize and already dislike.  Give Cap an enemy to fight that he knows and already hates (oh, and Bucky, too).

That brings us up to the final battle where Wakandan warriors start dying in droves.  We see them almost take the Gauntlet from Thanos (so close, yet I can’t help but think that Strange planned it, planned for them to lose so that Thanos could take the Time Stone, so he could then take the Mind Stone).  We see Thanos toss the mightiest heroes of Earth around like they are children.  Then he rips the Mind Stone right out of Vision’s head.  It’s all brutal, very metal, and terribly operatic.  The choices they made on who lives and dies were telling, though.  We knew the Hulk wouldn’t be one, not since Bruce Banner has character growth to figure out why the Hulk is gone all cowardly lion.  They kept Ant Man out of it all since he has a movie coming out in a couple months.  Scarlet Witch was obviously grateful to die after having killed Vision for no reason.  Doctor Strange was an interesting choice, especially since he saw this all coming.  He knew and planned for it, which makes me wonder what Wong is doing back on Earth as this all happens.  Bucky and Falcon just felt like cheap shots.  Neither of them have had enough screen time, their characters are both interesting, but Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with them, to give them a movie or what.

The Guardians… damn, if anyone paid a price for fighting Thanos, the Guardians sure as hell did.  Rocket is the only survivor.  Gamora’s death was similar to Loki’s, we saw it coming, it still had emotional impact, but her death was for Thanos’s sake, to humanize him somewhat, and it achieved that.  Peter, Drax, and Mantis *all* dying on Titan seemed rather harsh.  It would have been nice to see Drax and Mantis running around trying to save the universe without Peter Quill.

Spiderman… well, we know he’ll be back.  He’s got a movie due next year, after all.  (For that matter, we know many if not all of them will be back, because comics) his death was meant to humanize Stark, to humanize the cost of fighting Thanos… but it just let me down a bit on the writing.

Stark’s survival is the thing that leaves me shaking my head.  I get it, RDJ is sort of the backbone of this universe.  It all started with him… but come on, let some of the younger generation step up.  Tony Stark’s story and character have been complete.  There’s not much more for them to do with him.  I get it, I realize that Doctor Strange orchestrated Stark’s survival, getting a promise out of Thanos because of whatever he saw in those multitude of futures…but still, the writers made that choice because they wanted RDJ in the lead… again.

For the rest of it, Black Panther going down was a nice touch.  An emotional impact that I wasn’t expecting.  The others, including at the post-credits scene, showed the impact, well enough.

In the end, however, what do we come away with?  The fight isn’t over.  There can be no doubt about that.  Thanos may have had his way, but that means little when they left heroes like Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.  They’ll go after him and they’re going to find a way to fix things (in as much as that’s possible).  Avengers 4 is going to be focused on fixing all of this, and with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, anything is possible.

I think that something many critics missed is that despite the title, this isn’t just an Avengers movie, this was very much a Thanos movie.  Thanos showed the biggest character arc, the most growth, and in the end, it was Thanos who achieved his goals.  We can argue all day about the rationality of his motivations (ridiculous in so many ways as to be utterly insane), but his drive and implacable resolve made the movie.

What would I have changed?  Oh my word, so very much.  I would have used Red Skull for more than a throw away here and gone character.  It would have been great if he joined Thanos and worked with him from then on.  The motivations for Thanos are a bit silly, but Josh Brolin lived it up well enough that we can accept them, the character was far more interesting in play than as a concept.  Stealing a few more moments for character growth, a scene with Banner and Natasha (Widow) would have been nice.  Use of some of the earlier enemies: Red Skull, Loki, Baron Nemo (whose motivations are similar to Thanos’s) and even an Ultron robot (whose motivation was basically the same as Thanos) as his lieutenants would have been interesting, especially with the scheming they would have done against one another and Thanos.  That would have also given us some real emotional hooks when one of them were taken down or switched sides.  Red Skull facing off against Steve Rogers and Bucky, backed with Thanos and Hydra goons would have been great.  Baron Nemo, granted powers by Thanos, would have been terrifying.  Ultron with alien tech?  Yes, please.

All in all, it’s a fun, fast-paced movie.  It hits you hard in the feels, though I think the writers played it safe a couple times near the end.  They’ve built the House of Marvel on RDJ’s shoulders and I think they’re terrified that if they kill him off, they’ll kill the franchise.  Overall, it was basically what I expected of the movie.  I enjoyed it, I give them props for managing so many characters and giving many of them engaging and awesome scenes.  I really want to see the impact of Thanos’s victory in the upcoming movies (plus the TV shows, which I need to get back to watching, assuming I ever have free time again).  I think it’ll hold up well, better than Age of Ultron.  It’s not my favorite Marvel movie, but it still beats the socks off of the DC cinematic universe.

Oh, and as a final thought, who else thinks they’ll use “fixing” everything as a chance to bring the Marvel X Men into the MCU?  I mean, continuity issues, Time Stone… what better way to get Wolverine and Hulk into a drinking contest?  Here’s to hoping.

Advertisements

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review (With Spoilers)

I actually saw Avengers: Age of Ultron last week Monday, but I’ve been very busy so I haven’t really had a chance to post what I thought of it until now.  At this point, most of you who read this blog have probably already seen it.  If you haven’t, you should probably skip this review as it will contain spoilers.

The action comes fast and heavy with this movie.  It starts out mid action sequence.  If you’re like me and you watch Agents of Shield, then you had some idea of what was coming.  If not, then they explain pretty well.  Hydra has been doing human research in an eastern european country.  This appears to be their last remaining base (but it is Hydra, so do not hold your breath) and the Avengers take it out pretty readily.

The interesting part comes when we find out that the two surviving test subjects volunteered for the testing.  We get to see Scarlet Witch (never called that in the movie, as far as I can tell), in action as well as her brother, Quicksilver.  As is said in the movie, “he’s fast and she’s weird.”  Scarlet Witch’s power set seems extremely comprehensive, possibly even too powerful.  She’s got telekenetics, telepathy, even what might be clairvoyance (she shows Tony Stark a vision of a possible future where the Avengers are defeated).  The same can also be said for Quicksilver (Who we only ever see laid low twice, both being his own actions rather than those of someone else), which works well enough as they fight the Avengers (each of them outclassing the entire team in their own ways), but as they join up with the team, it almost seems too easy.

As for the rest of the cast, we get to see quite a bit more of Black Widow and Hawkeye.  Black Widow comes across as far more human, and vulnerable, than we’ve seen to date.  Her budding relationship with Bruce Banner adds an interesting current to the actions they take as they both try to protect each other… until Natasha realizes that she needs “the other guy” more than she can afford to protect him from that pain and shame.   The dynamic is all the more interesting for the fact that while you can tell that Bruce is attracted and interested, he is also terrified of hurting her in his alter ego as the Hulk.  Joss Whedon did a great job with Hawkeye, showing us his wife and family and then throwing out the red herrings that suggested Hawkeye wasn’t going to make it.  They were subtle, but just heavy enough that most everyone I’ve talked to caught them.  Seeing Hawkeye as a person, with a wife and kids, made him, and by extension the others, more human, more real.

My complaints in this movie come from the theme of hubris, which was pretty much what I was afraid of.  We have seen Tony Stark go to this well over and over and over again.  We’ll presumably see it again in Captain America, Civil War.  I’m tired of it.  We get it.  Tony Stark can be an arrogant ass and make mistakes.  This, in general, seems to be the theme of every one of the Iron Man movies.  I liked those movies… but not as the main plot to Avengers.  Ultron was a mistake.  An avoidable one… which plot apparently required Tony Stark to be an idiot and Bruce Banner (who gods know should know better than to mess with things he barely understands) to go along with him.  They did a good job with the overall execution of this plotline, but it still comes off as… well, lazy.  Comic book lore had Hank Pym (I think) as Ultron’s creator.  Would it have been too hard to throw a cameo his way, since he’ll be introduced in Ant Man in a few months anyway?  For that matter, we’re already swallowing aliens, why not give him an extraterrestrial origin?  Why does everything have to be Tony Stark’s fault?  Basically at this point the character has become severely irritating to me, as he is a character that doesn’t learn.

On to the stuff I did like.  The one-liners and humor was excellent.  The scene where Vision casually picks up Mjolnir was perfectly executed.  Hawkeye’s defeat of the Scarlet Witch when she goes to mess with his brain and his response were equally perfect.  Throughout there was a level of humor and excitement, even when things were the darkest.  The titanic ‘fist bump’ between the Hulk and Stark’s Hulkbuster was both epic from an action perspective and humorous enough to bring a snort of laughter.  The action flowed smoothly enough and was easy enough to follow that I never had to stop and go: wait, what?  Ultron’s nefarious plan was evil genius as expected and while he came off as confused and muddled sometimes, he also was sinister enough to take seriously.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I’ll probably catch it again while it is still in theaters.  My main complaint was, again, on the origins of Ultron and Tony Stark’s requirement to have his own failures rubbed in his face again and again rather than any issues with the movie itself.  The action, special effects, scope, and characterization were all excellent and at the end, I was left wanting more.

 

 

Captain America Winter Soldier Movie Review

Disclaimer ahead: I’m reviewing a comic book movie and I’m not a fan of comic books.  That aside, let’s get to the movie!

Short answer: I loved it.  Lots of action, interesting plot, and the good guy heroics that you would expect from Captain America.

Let’s dive a little deeper though.  The movie had excellent pacing and plot, at no point was there a point where the audience was left to get bored.  Action was often built with tension, we are meant to care what happens to the people in this movie.  Chris Evans brought the patriotism, freedom-loving, and honest Captain America to life, in a fashion that was both inspiring and heart-rending at times.  Yes, I say heart-rending because of the burdens he shoulders.  There was at least one tear-jerker of a scene in the movie.  You are able to guess the direction of the plot, but the full extent has enough twists and turns to satisfy, but not overly complex like a bad Bond movie.

The movie brought with it the trappings of a political thriller, but don’t be mistaken, it’s not a movie about murky politics and finding the lesser of two evils.  It’s a movie about Captain America doing the right thing… no matter the cost to himself along the way.  It was a movie about a good man setting the example and causing all of us mere mortals to step up and stand with him.  I think it’s a movie that reminds us of the importance of freedom… and that there are always those who are willing to use fear to take power.

I particularly liked the development of Scarlet Johanson’s character, Black Widow.  The interplay between her, a character who is fundamentally a creature of shadow and lies, and Captain America who is a beacon of truth… it was fascinating.  The tension between the two was well played and believable and at the same time, we saw that his inherent goodness acted as a draw to her own character, who fights for good, but doesn’t believe she has any within herself.  In addition, Falcon was an excellent character, something of an every-day-man who fights in the realm of gods and superheroes… and who fights because it is the right thing to do, rather than from some calling or granted power.  There are others, some of whom get only a few words to say, but they’re all called forward, forced to choose between what is easy and what is right.

I’m interested to see the effects of the movie upon the Agents of Shield TV show, as well as to find out more about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The movie has some very serious repercussions in the Marvel Movie Universe and I want to see that transformation play out.  There were two post movie scenes, one mid-credit that hinted at a lot of activity for Avengers Age of Ultron, and the other which makes me interested to see where the character of the Winter Soldier is headed.

All in all, it was an awesome movie.  Frankly, the only disappointment I’m feeling about it is that I’ve got a long wait until we see these characters again.

 

 

Thor: Dark World Review

I’ll preface this by commenting that I grew up on action and even a few comic book movies… but I never read comic books. So while I’m sure there are some diehard comic book fans who know far more about Thor than me, well, that’s fine. I’m reviewing this as a movie, and also as part of the series of movies that Marvel has done.

Disclaimer aside, I really enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. It was fun, exciting and adventurous. Better yet, the previews, for once, didn’t give the whole movie away. The movie had an irreverent sense of humor, epic scope and felt almost more like space opera than a comic book movie. Which is good, because I’m awful sick of the ‘dark gritty’ feel I’ve gotten from some comic book movies of late (Batman and Superman, I’m looking at you).

I’ll do a quick rundown of things I liked first, and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers. First off, the characters. We got to see a different side of Thor, Loki, and the ‘mere’ mortals who run around in their circles. We got to see Thor planning and thinking, rather than just smashing. We saw Loki and some of his other motivations… and just how twisted his brain can be. There was some character development for Jane Foster, we got to see the long term effects of Loki’s mind control of Doctor Selvig, and we even got to see the indomitable Odin affected by events.

As far as the plot, things worked along at a pretty reasonable pace. There were plot twists, and changes and all manner of transitions. Thankfully, the movie didn’t try to overwhelm. I would say the best plot twists are those used in marketing. The trailers often suggested certain things to happen, yet they didn’t happen quite the way you might expect. In fact, some of the trailers set up false expectations which I really enjoyed during the movie, because when I got to those points, I had context and I realized that I didn’t know what was going to happen from the trailers. In fact, I had to figure things out during the movie.

As far as the actual effects and visuals… I found it interesting. I would not watch it in 3D if I saw it again (which I might). The 3D graphics were sort of meh. The overal visual effects were pretty good, though I would say that they made some parts of Asgard less grand in scale and other parts much bigger. I thought the overall looks of the movie were very impressive, and I never felt like the plot or any particular scenes happened just to show of some new special effect.

As far as the emotional impact, this movie managed to generate excitement, happiness, laughter, sadness, and even a sense of wonder. That’s pretty good for a superhero movie. In fact, they managed a couple scenes that were both beautiful and sad, which I found impressive. I’ve heard some complaints about the humor being buffonery of certain characters, but I’d disagree. In the context of how they presented the characters, it was at least internally consistant. Besides, they managed to produce the humor without undercutting the principle characteristics of those characters. The humor, the irreverence, kept this movie from feeling pretentious, and showed the audience that it wasn’t afraid to laugh at itself a little.

I continue to be impressed by how Marvel has both handled the individual movies of their series and also how they have continued to build the franchise. They’ve planned how these movies connect and yet managed to make them stand effectively alone. They’re big, blockbuster movies, but they’re fun, and they go into all of them with goals and plans of what they want to attain. It’s a refreshing change for movies, rather than how most sequels are “quick, milk the franchise for all the money we can!”