Avengers: Infinity War

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MAvengers: Infinity War

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Based on the Marvel comics by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Steve Ditko, Joe Simon

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (with input from James Gunn)

Produced by: Kevin Feige, Mitchell Bell, Ari Costa

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Stan Lee, Trinh Tran

Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson.

Emerging a shaky shadow of my former self after watching the last tantalising scene following the credits for Avengers: Infinity War, I was reminded of some dialogue in one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. The grandfather has been reading a book to his sick grandson who asks, “Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end. Somebody’s got to do it.” The grandfather replies, “Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives.” The grandson replies, “You mean he wins? What did you read me this thing for?”

And that is exactly how I felt after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. Obviously I don’t want to spoil this film for other fans who have invested the last ten years of their lives building a sense of rapport and family around these Marvel characters across an 18-film arc, but to say I left the cinema feeling the opposite of uplifted isn’t giving too much away (hopefully). At least I wasn’t sobbing into my popcorn like some others in the packed audience.

The film opens fairly much straight after the last scene of Thor: Ragnarok, and from there the action and unfolding plot never let up. It’s safe to reveal that the main focus of the film is centred on the galactic overlord Thanos, who is after all six Infinity stones, whose combined power would allow him to unleash his insane plan across the known universe. Of course some of these stones are currently in the possession of a few of the Avengers, whose lives are imperilled as a result.

The Avengers try to prevent Thanos’ audacious plan from being realised, as we jump across continents on Earth and around far-flung locations scattered throughout the cosmos, re-meeting those heroes we have come to identify as our friends, the people in whom we have invested so much of our emotional energy. I’ve seen all 18 movies in this Marvel cinematic universe at one time or another but don’t consider myself an expert, but I found the plot reasonably easy to follow, and from the bits of exposition anyone not overly familiar with Marvel’s films should still be able to follow the main story line.

The film is awesome in the sense of being a major cinematic event, full of light, action, a majestic score, and breathtaking, incredible special effects, as well as a clever screenplay that ensures the characters get to interact with others, have a moment to shine, and plan their line of defence. The pace seldom lets up while the rare quiet moments between characters are welcome and genuinely heartfelt, their willingness to possibly sacrifice themselves for others is nobly heroic, while the snippets of humorous dialogue lighten the sense of impending gloom.

Even the CGI Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) is convincingly lifelike, unlike that Steppenwolf guy from the Justice League movie, so he’s not your typical 2D evil villain dude. The fact that I could even understand if not condone the rationale for Thanos’ actions speaks volumes for how well his character was developed and portrayed.

One critic thought the film was “funny”, but perhaps they were referring to some of the much-needed humorous exchanges, especially involving the Guardians of the Galaxy crew (whose dialogue was provided by GOTG director James Gunn), since this film overall was not funny in tone, but rather increasingly WTF? and emotionally devastating. If ever a film needed a part 2, this is it, so I hope Infinity War Part 2 is being made right now, otherwise “I will be seriously put out”, to quote Prince Humperdinck.

Black Panther

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MBlack Panther

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Based on the Marvel Comics by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Produced by: Kevin Feige p.g.a

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis.

Growing up, black panthers were my favourite animal.  I remember whispering to my cat, asking to bring one of their cousins home for a visit.  Probably a good thing the wish never came true as a super hero I am not.  Nor have I been a big fan of super hero movies.  But Black Panther is a powerful and rich story that is beautiful and unique.

And yeah, there’s some pretty cool action as well.

The character, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) made his debut on film in, Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Well received, we now have the story of the Black Panther; a script based on the Marvel comics written by Stan Lee (who’s making a habit of popping up in films based on his characters) and Jack Kirby.

This is a story of T’Challa, the son of the African King of Wakanda who becomes the Black Panther after his father is murdered by Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis).

It’s a unique tale of the tribal nature of Africa combined with futuristic technology made from the hardest metal on Earth – Vibranium.  There’s also the mystical here with a black panther showing the Wakanda ancestors where to find the Vibranium, and how eating an herb of blue flowers enhances abilities making the Black Panther super-human.

See an informative and interesting article here describing the history of the comic of Black Panther written by: David Roach and Peter Sanderson.

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed 2015), Black Panther the movie is filled with colour, expansive landscapes (Rachel Morrison) and strong, layered characters.

There’s a lot of elements brought together by an emotive soundtrack (Ludwig Göransson) that soars and causes that swelling in the chest you get when the characters are doing right no matter what the cost.

It’s not often you get such a visual, action-packed sci-fi that causes such an emotional response.

The politics and message of the film could have turned the tone saccharine, but the careful handling of director Coogler and strong acting from the cast made the message poignant and thought-provoking.

It was a pleasure to embrace the beauty of the colourful nation of Wakanda – the costuming (Ruth E. Carter) of the inhabitants also a standout.

And the layering of characters with good and bad in all; where people can be the products of circumstance, allowing an understanding of why people behave the way they do.  Where integrity and the strength and clarity to make the right choices are needed to make any change worthwhile.

There’s a reason this film has been so successful as the appeal is wide and the message runs deep.

What a fantastic story and what a successful adaptation to the big screen.

Black Panther is not only exciting and beautiful to watch, an emotional chord is struck, provoking thought of what it is to be human.

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MGuardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn

Producer: Kevin Feige

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso and Louis D’Esposito

Written by: James Gunn

Based on: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki

If you enjoyed the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the chances are you will also enjoy this joyful follow-up, imaginatively titled ‘Vol. 2’. A fast paced, playfully psychedelic scene early on re-introduces the five main characters from the first film in what appears to be an entertaining yet largely irrelevant action sequence that serves no real purpose other than to dazzle.

This sequence does end up having some plot relevance later, but more than that, it helps re-familiarise viewers with the main characters or introduce them to those people who might not have seen the previous outing. Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), part human/part something else and his gang of frenemies have lent themselves out for hire as mercenaries in the months since the events of the previous film ended.

Peter’s encounter with someone claiming to be his father helps drive the central storyline but there are plenty of sub-plots to keep the action zinging along.

Twiglet Groot has grown into an adorable toddler version (huge merchandising opportunities abound!) who loves music. The cuteness quotient threatens to overtake the film’s edgier moments but luckily, baby Groot hasn’t lost its ruthless killer instinct which helps balance things out.

Where the first film focussed on introducing the characters of this offshoot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how they came to be a kind of connected group, the second film takes time to explore themes of family, growing up, belonging and searching for something that sometimes turns out to be much closer than originally thought. Family dynamics, parent-child and sibling relationships are all explored or experienced by the main characters, and there is more ‘quiet’ time for revealing most of their histories, which helps explain a lot of their behaviour or motivations.

Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) still gets most of the best lines, delivered in his deadpan way, where his honest desire to be helpful often comes across as hurtful. Rocket (voiced with gravelly menace by Bradley Cooper) demonstrates his deadly fighting skills while confronting his own ghosts, assisted by blue Ravager Yondu Udonto (Michael Rooker) whose lethal arrow causes entertaining carnage and mayhem in one memorable sequence.

As with the first movie, music is important in establishing mood. Whether it’s ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ in an early, super-playful scene, or travelling with the Guardians to a paradise accompanied by George Harrison’s classic, ‘My Sweet Lord’, or getting reflective with Cat Stevens’ ‘Father and Son’, the choice of songs overall work incredibly well.

The costumes range from gorgeous, especially those of the Sovereign Queen (Elizabeth Debnicki) and her people, to highly unusual, and many of the sets, planets and ship interiors are so incredibly imaginative and beautifully realised that it’s like being inside an enormous kaleidoscopic theme park ride.

The novelty factor of the first film is obviously no longer there, but the situations, humour, character development and multiple plots of this second outing coalesce by the end into a joyful explosion of colour, movement and resolution (of sorts). Under no circumstances should you leave before the very last credit has finished because there are some additional scenes that hint at the promise of continuing adventures. Bring them on!