Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

I have to hand it to the MCU creative team. They delivered an epic.

Step back and think about that for a second. The lead up to this movie was 10 years in the making; it has a cast of characters that sprawls for pages, yet we know every one of them better than we know many of our own family.

There are 19 movies in the MCU, and not one of them is bad. Sure, some weren’t great, but I never left the theater disappointed. That alone is astonishing. In what universe would you expect anyone to create 19 movies and not a one of them sucked? No one else has come close to trying this level of epicness, let alone succeeding.

Any complaints about Infinity War has to be tagged in the category of nit-picking — which I will gladly do below. [No Spoilers]

I really enjoyed the pairings in Infinity War. Of course, there are way too many characters to throw into one big dynamic. The way they are split up and then brought together was perfect. A lot of credit has to be given to the editor/directors for putting this sprawling story together in such a way that it’s easy to follow. The movie changes gears between groups seamlessly and keeps the tension building with each scene jump.

Grade: A+

[Mild Infinity War spoilers below]

Here’s the only thing I can find to nit-pick on in Infinity War: the continuity of power. By that I mean: how strong/weak is a character/their powers in the evolution of the story?

The two clearest examples are of Captain America and Vision. Captain is nothing more than a super human, but human nonetheless. When he holds Thanos to a standoff, for a brief moment, even Thanos is surprised. But in the reality of the MCU, there’s just no way. Thanos beat the Hulk into submission. Captain America couldn’t clip Thanos’ fingernails.

On the flip side, Vision got whipped in every altercation. He’s made of Vibranium. How’s that work? In my book, the only character who should come close to containing Vision is Thanos himself. Any other foe should melt before him.

I won’t deny this is a difficult task for the creative team to manage. They want to deliver epic moments; moments when we see a character rise above expectations, such as Cap holding off Thanos.

And immensely powerful characters must have a weakness that can be exploited, otherwise there’s no story. It would be awesome, but ultimately underwhelming, if Vision just rips the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand and then uses it to beat him senseless.

It is exceedingly rare to see a story remain consistent throughout. Good guys can’t miss and bad guys can’t hit water standing in a boat; good guys can take a beating; bad guys get shot in the shoulder and fall down to die, silently.

All I can say is when this rule is violated, at least make it worth it. So here again, the creative team can’t be faulted too much, because they cashed in on every scene where a character rose above their abilities.

[Big Infinity War Spoilers Below]

 

 

 

 

Well now what? Practically everyone is dead, but we know that’s not how the story ends because there’s a Spiderman Homecoming sequel planned for the summer of 2019 and so forth.

How do they get out of this mess?

In March 2019 there’s the origin story of Captain Marvel,  to be followed by the Unnamed Avengers movie two months later. From what I’ve read, Captain Marvel’s origin story takes place in the 1990s, so we’re going back in time to find out about her, and then come back to the present to figure out how she’s going to back things up and fix them two months later.

The anticipation surrounding Infinity War will pale in comparison to what the next movies will bring.

Avengers Infinity War – what does the post credit scene mean?

Why You Need to Care About Carol Danvers – Captain Marvel Facts and Film Updates

The Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 Offers Answers for Avengers 4

The Four Films You Need To Watch To Understand Captain Marvel (Speculation, Pre-Movie Release)


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Mark Ruffalo Sneaks in a Hulk Movie

We’ve had two prior Hulk movies no one was happy with, and then Avengers rolled around. [pullquote position=”right”]Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was the one we’ve been waiting for, gifting us with a charming, quietly surprising underdog in his version of Bruce Banner.[/pullquote] His friendship with Tony Stark enchanted, matching Robert Downy Jr.’s alpha male character unassumingly, while Banner’s tender, unexpected, and  tentative relationship with Black Widow was satisfyingly organic (if completely up in the air at this point).

Suffice to say Ruffalo could sell the big green goods in a way no one since the 1970s could, when the combo of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno touched us via small screen.

All well and fine. So, will we finally we get a proper Hulk stand-alone movie? Apparently there are rights issues. Spiderman had rights issues, and it worked out eventually with Marvel’s Civil War and Homecoming. But at this point in the MCU (Phase Whatever), I’m not sure a Hulk standalone would fit. He’s shown up in an outstanding co-starring role for Thor: Ragnarok, and Hulk’s story will continue through Avengers 3 and 4 (the Infinity Wars).

According to this quick interview below, Hulk gets a “mini-movie” snuck in, spread out over the course of other Marvel ensembles. I guess we’ll have to be content with that. If Ruffalo is fine with it, we can be too.

So…for Thor 3 – Ragnarok…Rotten Tomatoes has it rated among the highest-rated Marvel films yet. Our two RunPee Ragnarok reviews (here and here) rate it in the A to A+ range, and we agree it’s a magnificent addition to the MCU. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s Ragnarok is hysterically weird and beautiful, with a great plot and stylish characterization.[/pullquote] It’s also got a direct lead-in to Thanos’ big entrance. A must-see before Avengers – Infinity Wars!

Where the Hulk will continue his “mini-movie” is anyone’s guess, now that we know Bruce and the Green Guy are at dire odds in their uneasy connection.  We’ll probably see Bruce Hulk out again…but at what cost?

How would you continue — or possibly end — this story? And will a Black Widow romance be a part of it? We find out part of these answers during the first part of Avengers: Infinity Wars. Soon, friends, soon.

Read More Marvel-Related Articles on RunPee.com

 

Movie Review – Traffik

From the trailers that I had been seeing, I was really hyped for this movie. Yet again, I was disappointed. The plot is a good one. It could have been a really great movie, but they flopped on the ending. There was so much build up and tension that when the finale hit, I was thinking it would go crazy. Nope; it’s almost as if they were told they had a day to wrap up and finished too quickly. The ending didn’t compete with the rest of the movie.

I’m wondering if they edited the [email protected] out of this movie. It seems like there was so much more but it didn’t make it to the final cut. I wouldn’t say that there were major plot holes, but a lot of loose strings. The first 80 minutes I’d give an A, but the last five minutes were rushed and not polished.

It’s an okay movie, but I’d probably wait for the DVD; it’s not worth the price of a movie night out.

Grade: C-

Movie Review – I Feel Pretty

Two kinds of people will like this film: Amy Schumer fans, and anyone who is body conscious (meaning: a lot of women). It doesn’t treat Schumer kindly (all the humor centers on her being chubby, yet thinking she’s hot stuff), and that kind of thing will be offensive to some. My very pretty movie companion felt really sorry for the character of Renee, and walked out a bit sad. She expected I Feel Pretty to be a whole lot funnier and seemed a bit downcast about it all.

I actually found this silly fluff movie empowering. Early on, Renee gets knocked out, and wakes up to think she’s suddenly become thin and sexy. While I don’t usually like ‘cringe humor’, I did appreciate that the character of Renee wills herself into a great new life, coasting on pure self-assurance. [pullquote position=”right”]It reminded me that confidence and a great smile are the best accessories a girl can wear.[/pullquote]

Things bog down a bit when she ignores and embarrasses her old friends for the new ones, but that’s presented in a rote fashion (message: don’t ditch your good pals for the new cool crowd). This isn’t what the film is about, though, unlike say, The Devil Wears Prada (which I love; don’t judge). Let’s get back to the point about confidence: just say YES to being vivacious and happy in your skin, no matter what society tries to sell you about unrealistic beauty. It’s presented here that even the skinny models worry about their looks, while portly Renee gets attention and accolades by simply believing she is the total package. Others feel it, and come to believe it too. It’s a nice little reminder for us all.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Super Troopers 2

This movie gets an “F” and it’s not short for “funny.”

I don’t find this type of movie remotely funny, but if this is the sort of thing you like I’d highly recommend waiting for the DVD, and watching it at home where you can relax and enjoy it in an altered state of consciousness.

I did laugh at one of the insults they made about America not using the metric system. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Grade: F-

Movie Review: Sgt. Stubby – An American Hero

Sgt. Stubby is an amazingly good movie. It seems that service animals have become quite popular in today’s cinema and that’s a good thing. My father had a saying, “The more I’m around people, the better I like dogs.”

To animal lovers, our pets are a member of the family — and how gratifying it is to see these four-legged heroes being honored, by giving them their own biographical movies.

I do recommend this movie to everyone — however I’ll include one caveat; there are some very tense moments when Stubby is doing his hero thing. Even though I knew Stubby was going to survive the war, there were times I had to turn away from the screen, in fear that somehow the writers felt that they should put a different spin on the movie and not let Sgt. Stubby come home. Hollywood has done some mean things just to make a bio a little more interesting — I’m just saying.

Anyway, if you feel that the little ones might get too stressed and have nightmares, maybe you should save this film for later.

Grade: B+

Movie Review – Truth or Dare

I’m impressed. It’s so hard to come across a good horror/scary film anymore that I’ve kind of given up. I went in with really low expectations and walked out really satisfied.

This storyline was a solid foundation paired up with some great actors and directing. It’s new and fresh. The many layers of the movie were well executed and had meaning behind it. Each of the characters had their own problems that were dealt with during the game of Truth Or Dare. I think that’s why I liked it so much.

This wasn’t a case of kids getting slashed up, there were actually reasons behind it. Thinking about it now, there’s a message behind the movie. You could basically sum it up by saying, “Live right or die.” Your dark secrets will come out eventually.

This is a fun movie, grab your Friday the 13th date and head to the theater. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Grade: A-

Movie Review – Isle of Dogs

Do see Isle of Dogs if it comes anywhere near your theater. It’s creative and quirky, with a great voiceover cast of big stars…and this is honestly something I haven’t seen before. Everyone in the production really pulled out a stylish little film. There are moments in this stop-animation tale that are sort of strange and artsy (I’m not normally a fan of artsy), but the story settles into a small-scale kind of epic adventure once the dogs start talking. There’s light humor, and “biting” humor, so both kids and adults will be able to “sink their teeth” into this (sorry about the puns).

I appreciated the conceit that the dogs are totally understandable, and the humans speak in gibberish (to them, and therefore to us, unless you speak Japanese). That was pretty clever. All the dogs were given a loving treatment, with their own personalities, and best of all: they didn’t come across as furry talking people (as Disney/Pixar oft do with their animal sidekicks). Their behaviors and conversations were recognizably doggie. Another item: the dogs of “our pack” stoically bear the kind of dorky names people have given them across time, like Chief, Spot, Buddy, Rex, Duke, King, Boss…it was cute.

And be warned, the cats in this movie seem fairly evil. “Finding the Cats” could be a vastly amusing drinking game — the corrupt government officials uniformly carry them around; they appear as statues, as logos on appliances and storefronts, and as iconography incorporated into maps and artwork. It’s somehow both subtle and overt.[pullquote position=”right”] I kept expecting the proliferation of cats to have some great meaning, but that would be too obvious. Isle of Dogs is smarter and sneakier than that.[/pullquote]

Really, the dogs as individuals were great. I could have sat through an entire movie with just the pack, hanging out, talking about favorite foods and their masters, flirting with the females, and composing Canine Haiku. Anytime we cut away to the people in the city, I started losing interest. Fortunately, most of the movie centers on “our pack” in this doggie dystopia, and it’s really groovy. There’s a few heartwarming moments to get teary-eyed, scattered throughout, but no real sob-worthy scenes. (I always like a head’s up if there might be ugly crying in my movie future. Yes, I’m still wary of seeing Toy Story 3.)

And I’m a sucker for hearing Jeff Goldblum’s voice from a dog’s snout. (The man embodies quirk.) Listening for all the celebrity voices was a treat. The screen lists the characters and actors in the intro, but it goes by so quickly that you can’t remember who plays what dog by the time you meet them. Part of the fun is recognizing these A-List actors as the film plays out.

There are a TON of visuals packed into most scenes, and it occurs to me this is the perfect kind of film to own on DVD, and play when you want something enjoyable in the background on house-cleaning day. You’ll keep finding things you missed on prior viewings. I can think of several scenes I wanted to pause the movie at, just to keep up with the casually sly asides going by.

Well paced, easy-going, unusual, and at times highly satiric. A real creative showstopper, Isle of Dogs gets a well-deserved A.

Movie Grade – A

Movie Review: Rampage

Bacon cheese burgers.

When you see it on the menu you know you want it. But you also know you shouldn’t have it. You scan the menu. Salad? Yeah, right. Pasta dish? Ummmm, maybe. But you keep coming back to that BCB.

You’re still not decided when the waiter asks for your order, but your mouth opens and, “The bacon cheese burger,” comes out — much easier and less fattening than it will go in.

[pullquote]Rampage is the cinematic equivalent of a bacon cheese burger. There’s nothing good for you in there, but man is it fun.[/pullquote]

As someone who basically sees every movie in the guilty pleasure genre, this one was better than most. The characters were just a little more idiosyncratic than what is typical in this genre and the story didn’t go overboard trying to force feed the audience into believing this could actually happen. Best of all there were a handful of good hearty laughs that got the whole audience going. Credit has to be given to The Rock. When he throws out a humorous line it lands squarely.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as Harvey (Agent) Russell, was an unexpectedly fun and original character. That sort of role is usually played much more seriously, but the writers created something fresh and fun for him and he played it perfectly.

It was interesting that the movie opened with a little on screen exposition about CRISPR. If you haven’t heard of it before then just wait. It will be big news soon. The good news is that CRISPR doesn’t work like that, except… Yeah, it does sort of work like that. It is essentially a word processor for gene editing.

Grade: B

Book description: Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR—a revolutionary new technology that she helped create—to make heritable changes in human embryos.

Movie review: The Miracle Season

I am quite obviously not the target audience for this movie: 50 year old male. However, even I was moved by the story.

No one is going to win an award for creating, or performing, in this movie, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do their jobs. I felt like all of the actors were invested in their roles, particularly the young ones.

I’m not sure how closely the movie follows the truth of what happened, but based on the clips shown during the end credits it looks like they didn’t venture far from the real life experiences.

Grade: B