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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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.

 

Captain America: Civil War Review

Civil_War_Final_Poster

Spoilers (for this film and Dawn of Justice) follow

Due to the destruction and collateral damage caused on their missions, especially that accidentally caused by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Nigeria, superhero team The Avengers are told they are to be put under government supervision. Captain America (Chris Evans), wishing to be freer in the team’s crimefighting, opposes this notion, while Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), guilty at the deaths caused, supports it, and the Avengers are split into two camps against each other. Later, Captain America sees that a bombing is being pinned on his old friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and goes to find him.

Being a film that features many of a certain comic company’s flagship heroes, and has two of those heroes against each other, an obvious comparison to make to Civil War would be to last month’s Batman v Superman. Both films have a lot of characters to juggle, but in the case of Civil War, they’ve at least had more time to develop and build up these characters. While Dawn of Justice felt like it needed to have another movie before it, the two main opposing heroes of Civil War have been properly developed and their reasons for their alliances is understandable. Superman died too soon in the DC Cinematic Universe, while Civil War‘s story feels like it was released at the right time.

The film has Captain America in the title, and he is the main character, but nearly all of the Avengers get a chance to shine. One particular stand-out is the newcomer Spider-man (Tom Holland), who may not appear that often, but is so humourously geeky that you just want to see more of him. The characters on both sides are well-written and entertaining to watch, and you care about what happens to our titular Captain, as opposed to the rather bland Superman of Dawn of Justice.

Civil War may deal with the consequences of the Avengers’ rather violent actions, but that doesn’t mean the film is afraid to indulge in a little action from time to time, and the action scenes it offers is extremely well-done. The airport fight is every bit as exciting as one might have heard it is, mixing fast-paced battles, lovable characters and hilarious comic relief into a glorious unified whole. Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, and his role at the airport more than justifies his reappearance.

But what is really justified here is the existence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Dawn of Justice showed us videos of Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, it felt like a discordant attempt to “catch up” with Marvel, and we all rolled our eyes when we heard news of a “Hanna Barbera cinematic universe”. This cinematic universe, however, gives us some interesting storylines, more than just “good guy beats up bad guy”, and some entertaining characters who play well off each other. It’s a universe that, despite the death and destruction, is a nice place to visit from time to time.

Captain America: Civil War is probably one of Marvel’s best, bringing fine drama, action and humour, reminding us why it’s a good thing this universe is being kept alive.