Avengers Infinity War Review

Do you remember 2012’s Avengers Assemble and how unbelievable it sounded back then? After getting they each got their own big-screen movie, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America appear alongside each other in another big release. Six years and several Marvel movies later, the cast of Avengers Assemble seems downright quaint with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, which has the cast of Assemble along with Doctor Strange, Spider-man, the Guardians of the Galaxy and more. However, with so many interconnected Marvel movies released as well as other films like DC’s dull Justice League, the novelty of so many heroes in one film has worn off somewhat.

Yes, Infinity War, being the culmination of ten years of Marvel movies is far from what you would call a standalone film. While you could go into Black Panther or Spider-man Homecoming without watching any prior Marvel releases, this does require a decent knowledge of past films to really enjoy and understand.

Infinity War is best enjoyed with a good knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with as little knowledge about the film itself as possible, so I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. The crossover aspect of Infinity War works mostly with some good interactions between close comrades and heroes who have never met until this moment. Everything you liked about these characters in previous movies is on full display here, maybe a little too much as Infinity War often feels like a “Marvel Universe’s Greatest Hits” (which I suppose is appropriate given the prominence of the Guardians in this film).

The amount of characters does often make the story feel a little jumbled and overlong, and sometimes like you’re watching two separate films sewn together. One strength of the MCU movies is how each one feels distinct, and that feels a little too apparent here. The characters are still entertaining and sympathetic (but again, it’s better if you’ve watched their movies first) and Thanos is actually more than just a big bad world-destroying villain. The visuals are once again fantastic, for there are a lot of worlds to explore this time, and the action is very well-staged and exciting.

Avengers: Infinity War is extremely enjoyable, as have been most Marvel movies, with plenty of action, humour and even some effectively emotional moments. But is it the best MCU movie ever? Not really.

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Black Panther Review

While watching Thor: Ragnarok, I did fear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was running out of steam, but thankfully, Black Panther proved me wrong. There is still a lot of life and a lot more corners to explore in this world. While the title character may have been introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther works as a standalone film, but thankfully is not yet another origin story.

The story is mostly set in Wakanda, a secretly-technologically-advanced nation of Africa which has always been protected by a “Black Panther”. The current Black Panther, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has been made the new king of Wakanda after his father’s death, but his reign is challenged by the arrival of a mysterious figure known as “Killmonger” (Michael B. Jordan).

Like most Marvel movies, Black Panther is a visual treat, and the futuristic city of Wakanda is a joy to behold. There’s a lot of fun to be had seeing their technology in action and how they are utilised in fight scenes, said fight scenes also being very exciting and fast-paced. What really brings Wakanda alive, however, is its residents.

Boseman again turns in a great performance as Black Panther, creating a hero that while noble and regal, still has a human side to him. This human side is most effectively shown through his interactions with his sister Shuri (Letita Wright), who is a scientist who acts as T’Challa’s Q. She’s a very entertaining character and gets in some good banter with her brother. Sherlock’s Martin Freeman plays a role that is likeable and amusing.

Marvel may have had a history with mediocre villains in the past, but have been trying to remedy that with the likes of Ego and Vulture. Jordan’s Killmonger is another intriguing villain – true, he does gain a Black Panther suit himself but wears it only briefly. Killmonger is not only a threatening villain, but an intriguing, sympathetic character.

Black Panther is another fast-paced, exciting and fun addition to the Marvel library. It certainly gives high hopes for Infinity War.

Top Ten Movies I Reviewed in 2017

10
Logan

A fitting end to the character of Wolverine, at least until his inevitable introduction into the MCU.

9
Better Watch Out

Surprisingly clever film which will make good viewing for those who seek something other than saccharine holiday fare.

8
It

Proof that horror remakes are not always unnecessary, and has a lot of fun with its monster.

7
Split

Thrilling and suspenseful with a surprising and satisfying twist, but worth watching just for McAvoy.

6
Spider-Man Homecoming

While not the best superhero or Marvel-related release this year, this was still enjoyable and had a great performance from Michael Keaton.

5
The Lego Batman Movie

A tonne of fun and a barrel of laughs, it’s strange that a Lego movie is a better 2017 Batman movie than a live-action Justice League.

4
A Monster Calls

Not only has some interesting visuals but a heartfelt story as well.

3
Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot was one of the best parts of Batman v Superman and shines even more in the best DCEU film yet (or ever, it might seem).

2
Baby Driver

Hilarious, exciting and makes good use of music.

1
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Speaking of a film that makes good use of music, this is a film you could watch again and again, filled with great comedy, action and even emotion.

 

Thor Ragnarok Review

Spoilers may follow

Another day, another Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I fear that when writing this review, I’ll be repeating my reviews of previous entries in this franchise. It’s fun, the characters are well-played and have good dialogue etc. Indeed, while I did find Thor: Ragnarok entertaining and enjoyable, there was still the sense that this universe has almost run its course.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about Thor: Ragnarok. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston again do commendable jobs as their respective Norse gods, and Mark Ruffalo is a hilarious highlight, both as a battle-loving Hulk and a confused Bruce Banner. He gets the lion’s share of the most memorable scenes, proving that Hulk is indeed the one when you want to have fun.

There, however, still exists the typical MCU problem of an uninteresting villain, especially annoying given this villain had potential. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is Thor’s older sister and goddess of death, so she could have been an interesting antagonist, but sadly, she just comes off as your typical evil sorceress, the type you’d find in abundance in, well, Disney films.

There is still a lot of fun to be had, and some of the jokes really work well, like utilising “Pure Imagination” of all songs. Yet there still is the sense of “second verse same as the first”, that so much of this has been done before and done better in previous MCU films. It’s a space adventure like this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol II, yet doesn’t have as much heart as that film did. The villain, as said before, isn’t as interesting as the Vulture was in the last MCU film.

So I am recommending you give Thor: Ragnarok a watch; you’ll enjoy yourself, it’s good to watch while munching on a big bag of popcorn. It just feels like something’s missing.

Spider-Man Homecoming Review

There was plenty to like about Captain America: Civil War, but one of the biggest highlights was Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man, even though his role was a small one. Loveably dorky and awkward was he, and it made several viewers want to see him in his own movie. And here we have it.

Spider-Man has been battling street-level crime using the suit Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr)  gave him, but wishes for a greater challenge. That arrives when he comes across a group of bank-robbers using high-tech weapons supplied to them by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). Assisted by his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), Peter attempts to put an end to Toomes’ operation, even though it might mean Stark losing trust in him.

The film begins with scenes from Civil War, and Stark does play a significant role. He does not, however, dominate the film, and enough is explained that those who haven’t watched previous MCU movies could follow. It’s certainly refreshing to watch after Amazing Spider-Man 2, which seemed only to exist to set up regular movies. There’s no origin shown this time (though mentioned) but this does have all the elements of a good Spider-man film; not only do we have Peter chasing down villains, we have him dealing with teenage angst.

Tom Holland is once again perfectly cast as Spider-Man, making him likeable, funny and sympathetic; possibly the best on-screen Spider-Man yet. The film’s second most memorable performance comes from Michael Keaton, who may not have been as fun as DeFoe’s Green Goblin but is certainly a threatening villain, made even more so by the human elements of his character. A lot is happening in this movie, yet it never feels overpacked or overlong.

2017 has certainly proved itself to be a good year for superhero flicks. Spider-Man: Homecoming is not as funny as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or as engaging as Wonder Woman, but is still a tonne of fun.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

May include spoilers

What a wonderful surprise Guardians of the Galaxy was! Though prior to the film’s release Rocket Raccoon and Groot were nowhere near as big as Spider-man or the Hulk, it was still massively entertaining and humourous. It showed that the Marvel Universe wasn’t afraid to embrace the sillier aspects of its source material, and now, every grim and gritty product from DC like Batman v Superman and Gotham is met with “Why be so serious? Marvel had a movie with a talking racoon!” (which makes it odd that the new Marvel Studios opening is somewhat reminiscent of the opening credits of 1989’s Batman).

Sure enough, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 maintains a lot of the cheeky humour of the original. The very intro of the film involves a miniature Groot (Vin Diesel) dancing while his friends battle a hideous tentacle monster in the background, we get another cameo of none other than Howard the Duck, and of course, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) gets several good lines and interactions with his teammates; a highlight is when he gets into an argument with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and threatens to leave a turd – not necessarily his, either – in Quill’s bed.

The characters say and do funny things, but they are characters we care about as well. Despite Rocket’s sarcasm, Drax’s inappropriate comments and little Groot’s naivete, there is still the sense that this group need each other, and it still does make you care that Peter lost his mother. The main villain is also more interesting than most in the Marvel canon, not to spoil anything.

The film also looks very visually appealing, with characters like Rocket and Groot looking like they belong with the human characters. Some of the alien designs are nothing really that interesting but a planet they spend a good amount time on is beautifully realised. There’s also one hilarious visual where characters’ faces warp and bend when they’re going through portals.

It may not be as good as the first, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still enjoyable enough to make you smile when the credits promise “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return”.

Doctor Strange Review

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A common argument about why Marvel’s movies are generally better than DC’s is that Marvel is less afraid to explore the more surreal side of comic books. Man of Steel was too moody and trying too hard to be realistic, but Marvel made a fun little movie where characters included a tree man and a talking raccoon. Now we have Marvel’s latest movie, Doctor Strange, where magic and warped Inception-esque cities abound, and it works pretty well.

The titular doctor, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is involved in a car accident that leaves him unable to use his hands. When he learns of an ancient order that apparently healed a paraplegic, Strange goes to find that order and learn magic under the tutelage of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Strange becomes skilled in the magical arts, and uses what he learns to battle the evil sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen),who wants to bring forth the demon Dormammu.

The best thing about Doctor Strange is definitely its visuals; it’s a film that deserves to be seen in IMAX. Just the scene where Strange first meets the ancient one, and is taken through a metaphysical journey where his hands grow hands is worth the price of admission alone. The Marvel universe is meant to be a weird and wonderful place and now that it has sorcery at its disposal, it has a lot of fun with it.

As for the story itself, it is the typical superhero fare: character gets powers, learns how to use them, and there’s the big evil portal to the big evil dimension that we’ve seen in this year’s Ninja Turtles and Suicide Squad. Thankfully, it is kept entertaining and engaging by Cumberbatch’s performance. True, it does seem similar to his Sherlock, but it’s an interesting setting for a Sherlock-esque character to be in. Though Strange’s co-workers find him arrogant, he’s still a character the viewer enjoys spending time with.

Mads Mikkelsen has done a brilliant job playing Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal TV series, and he does a good job with the villain of this film, even if the character himself isn’t really anything special. Swinton’s performance and character are more interesting, and has some good interactions with Cumberbatch.

Doctor Strange is another enjoyable entry into the Marvel canon, and one especially worth seeing in 3D.