Monthly Rewind for February

Hello, everybody!

The second edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing February! (I know it’s late, going through some laptop changes and had to switch everything over)

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Cop Out

District 13: Ultimatum

The Wolfman

From Paris with Love

Shutter Island

The Crazies

 

Thoughts: There were a few disappointments this month in Kevin Smith’s action comedy Cop Out starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, which was heavily reported that Smith and Willis fought on set – which is probably the only thing that people remember from this movie. Then there was Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, which cast-wise (Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins) and practical effects of the titular character (done by the legendary Rick Baker) were all done right, but execution of the movie left a lot – A LOT – to be desired.

Another slight disappointment was District 13: Ultimatum. The sequel to the highly touted District B13, which blew up when it reached here in the States, didn’t really have the right amount of energy as the first. Sure the budget was bigger, but there was just something off about it.

From Paris with Love was, and still is, a weird movie. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays an employee at the US Embassy who gets paired with a spy, played by John Travolta (yes, you read that right, and his name was Charlie Wax) to stop a terrorist attack. You want to see Travolta in a cheesy, over-the-top role, this is it.

Shutter Island came out this month which gave us the twisty, dark tale of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Teddy Daniels trying to catch killer on an island for the criminally insane. Of course, it’s the ending that sticks out for everyone, with some figuring it out and others, arguably, still not really understanding the ending.

Finally, The Crazies, one of the better remakes out there, is a solid horror thriller about a small town that gets effected by a virus making everyone, well, crazy. Lead by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, it is definitely one you should check out if you haven’t already.

 

 

2011

I Am Number Four

Unknown

Drive Angry

Thoughts: aka the lightless February on the list. We’ll start with the Liam Neeson-starring Unknown, which saw him playing a man waking up from a coma, only to find out that someone else has taking over life, along with his wife. It’s probably one of the more forgettable Neeson-starring action movies, especially with a weird, and pretty unnecessary twist.

I Am Number Four, based on a book series, had an interesting concept – aliens and their guardians hid on Earth to avoid being killed by alien bounty hunters. The aliens can only be killed in numerical order, and we follow Four (Alex Pettyfer). It wasn’t a bad movie, but it also wasn’t a great movie. At least we got Teresa Palmer.

Finally, Drive Angry. Look, this movie knew EXACTLY what it was, and was not afraid of even going beyond that. Nicolas Cage hamming it up, William Fichtner hamming it up too as a character only called The Accountant, and for those interested, Amber Heard in short shorts. I love how cheesy this damn movie is and no one is going to tell me any damn different!

 

 

2012

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Goon

Act of Valor

The Innkeepers

This Means War

Chronicle

Safe House

Thoughts: This is the year that studios started bulking up February. I’m going to start off with two movies I happened to see at a short-lived action film festival in Goon and Tomorrow, When the War Began. Goon has picked up some love thanks to streaming, and followed Sean William Scott playing a “goon” aka a hockey player who is there only to start fights. It leads to a showdown with another “goon” played, surprisingly, but Liev Schreiber.

Tomorrow, When the War Began, based on a book series, is basically an Australian Red Dawn, with a Mad Max chase in the middle of the film. I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but I remember enjoying the hell out of it when I saw it. It could have been the film festival vibe, but I’ll get back to you on this.

Act of Valor has probably been forgotten in time, but at the time it was released, it heavily promoted that it was lead by a cast of mostly real-life former soldiers, which lead to it feeling a bit ridged or wooden in the performance camp, but the action sometimes felt like watching a Call of Duty mission.

Next on the list is Ti West’s The Innkeepers, which I know has a lot of fans, but personally I’m not the biggest fan of it. I appreciated the old school homage that West was going for, but it just lacked a certain something for me.

Look, This Means War is not a perfect movie, nor was it the best use of Tom Hardy or Chris Pine…BUT, I hate to say that I enjoyed watching the back-and-forth between Hardy and Pine as best friends/spies who fall for the same women, played by Reese Witherspoon.

Safe House was one of those movies that I really liked when I first watched it. I’ve watched it once since the release and some parts still stick out to me, but for the most part it stuff that you’ve usually seen before. Ryan Reynolds plays a young CIA agent who is tasked to look after a fugitive (Denzel Washington), and both go on the run when the CIA safe house gets attacked. It’s a pretty entertaining action thriller for the most part.

Finally, Chronicle. It’s a rough sell now, considering the actions my Max Landis – the writer – and the allegedly bad work ethic of director Josh Trank (who went on to direct Fantastic Four, where the work ethic story came from). All that said though, looking back at the movie it shocked a lot of people, and meshed the superhero genre and found footage genre together to flip it on its head. The three leads in Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan (yes, he was in it) and Alex Russell did a great job of playing teenagers who get superpowers, and of course, eventually it gets to their heads – some more than others.

 

 

2013

Dark Skies

Snitch

Bullet to the Head

Identity Thief

Side Effects

A Good Day to Die Hard

Warm Bodies

Thoughts: This year was definitely a weird one. Let’s start off with Dark Skies, which I don’t think anyone remembers, I barely remember it. It followed a family that was getting haunted by aliens. It, it wasn’t good. Let’s follow it up with Snitch, a Dwayne Johnson-led drama, which was reportedly based on a true story, which followed a father, who works with the DEA to free his son after his son is set up in a drug deal. It’s not the typical Johnson movie we know of him now, but it just didn’t click the way I think they want to.

Speaking of things not really clicking, A Bullet in the Head, which starred Sylvester Stallone, a hitman, and Sung Kang, a detective who have to work together to bring down the hitman (Jason Momoa) who killed their partners. This is another I don’t remember too much from either, but I did remember it being a little too cheesy for a movie in 2013.

Identity Thief was one of Melissa McCarthy not-as-good comedies (I’m sure some of you are saying none) where she plays a, well, identity thief to Jason Bateman’s Sandy. Bateman’s Sandy then goes after her and it leads to an odd-couple buddy comedy. It also had a weird subplot with bounty hunters chasing after McCarthy. Like I said, not great, but just okay.

Let’s go from just okay to what the hell, with A Good Day to Die Hard. The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise where we see Bruce “I’m here to get paid” Willis team up with his now CIA operative son (played by Jai Courtney) in Russia to stop a nuclear threat, and ridiculousness ensues. Look, I love Die Hard and even Die Hard with a Vengeance. But this was SOO far removed from what Die Hard was it doesn’t even feel like a Die Hard movie. At all.  

Let’s move on to Steven Soderbergh’s twisty mystery drama Side Effects. It followed Rooney Mara, a woman who kills her husband (Channing Tatum) and it may have been because of bad prescribed drugs given to her. Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones also appear and I remember when I first saw it I was a little confused about the whole thing. It took a second viewing to getting a better grasp of everything. I wouldn’t say it’s Soderbergh’s best, but it was the first time I started to recognize Mara’s name.

Finally, Warm Bodies, a horror comedy romance in the vein of Romeo and Juliet, where a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) saves a living-women Julie (Teresa Palmer) and the two start a friendship/odd romance. Honestly, when I first saw it I thought it would be dumb, but once you pass the concept, it’s actually pretty entertaining for the most part. Hoult and Palmer definitely make it through while with some nice supporting cast performances by Rob Corddry and John Malkovich.

 

 

2014

Pompeii

Non-Stop

Robocop

The Lego Movie

Thoughts: Oh, 2014. Okay, let’s start off with the bad movies: Pompeii and Robocop. Pompeii saw Kit Harrington play a slave-turned-gladiator who has to save the love of his life from a corrupt Roman senator as Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. Honestly, the only thing that really pops out to me thinking about this is Kit Harington looked JACKED, and the ending of the movie. Not the movie’s ending, no, I’m talking about some of the people in my theater when the ending happened. I heard, I kid you not, loudly auditable gasp and “why!?” Clearly those people did not know about Mount Vesuvius, and I was very disappointed.

The remake of Robocop was…a movie? I’m not anti-remake/reboot/reimaging but Robocop gave me a real argument to be that person. Not only did the movie miss the entire point of the original, it really did nothing to stick out on its own, other than the lackluster new suit.

Okay, let’s move to a descent movie in Non-Stop, the second movie in the Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra team-up. Non-Stop had Neeson playing an air marshal who, in a transatlantic flight, has to find a terrorist onboard after being sent a text that someone on the flight will die every twenty minutes. It’s not Neeson/Collet-Serra’s best movie together, but it’s a descent thriller.

Finally, the biggest February movie at this point was The LEGO Movie. I can’t tell you how much I love this movie. I, like many others, was heavily surprised that they were able to pull off a LEGO movie, but also make it so damn good!

 

 

2015

Jupiter Ascending

Seventh Son

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The Lazarus Effect

The Salvation

Focus

Kingsman: The Secret Service

What We Do in the Shadows

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start with The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Oh, boy this was a mess. Credit to the siblings for trying to tell an ambitious, out-there story, but it was probably too out there…okay, too out there. Let’s talk about another fantasy action adventure movie in Seventh Son, which was not too ambitious and out-there, but lazy, and a waste of Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, and early Alicia Vikander.

Now let’s talk about some disappointments starting with Hot Tub Time Machine 2. I really liked the first movie, but the second one really didn’t live up to the built-in hype, and losing John Cusack was a bit of a hit. Secondly, The Lazarus Effect, which followed a group of medical researchers discover a way to bring the dead back. Instead of taking a more serious route with the science, considering they did go into it a lot, they went the “traditional” route and ended up with Olivia Wilde dying, only to come back with a demonic presence in her. Also, the trailer gave a lot away.

The Salvation saw Mads Mikkelsen playing an European American settler in the old West whose family gets murdered, but when he takes his revenge, he kills the brother of a land baron (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and when he finds out what happens, the two get into a collision course as he goes after the settler. The movie was kind a weird one, as it really slows down in the middle of the movie, so when the action picks up again, I kind of lost a little bit of interest, which I was really bummed about. The movie also starred Eva Green, if you need another reason to watch.

This next one is an indifferent one for me. Focus starred Will Smith as a veteran con man, who takes an amateur con artist played by Margot Robbie, under his wing and when they get romantically involved, he calls it quits – because you know, love and con artists don’t match? – however years later Robbie’s Jess and Smith’s Nicky meet during a new con and things get complicated. Focus isn’t actually that bad, with Smith and Robbie playing really well off each, and that’s really what keeps the movie going. But, honestly that’s about it.

Finally, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew’s Vaughn’s take on the spy genre with a balance of top notch action, quippy comedy and a great cast with the introduction of Taron Egerton to us fans, Kingsman deserves all the love it got and still gets. And yes, the church/”Free Bird” scene is still awesome to this day.

 

 

2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Gods of Egypt

Triple 9

Hail, Caesar!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Eddie the Eagle

Deadpool

The Witch

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get this one out of the way – I’m looking at you Gods of Egypt! A movie that was probably done ten years too late, with weird and wonky CGI and an uninteresting lead, the whole movie is just a bit oof. We then move on to Triple 9, which honestly was disappointing in all regards. The movie followed a gang of criminals and corrupt cops who plan on murdering a cop to pull off a heist across town. The reason it’s a disappointment is because this thing is jam-packed to the gills with names, but can’t make anything work.

Let’s talk about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the sequel to the great film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The sequel is a bit of a mixed-bag with the action still being top notch, but the story gets a little too ahead of itself and just a tiny bit hard to follow.

Speaking of a mixed-bag, let’s talk about The Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! which followed Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer, trying to keep the stars of a studio in check. But when George Clooney’s Baird Whitlock goes missing he has to deal with a whirlwind of cover-ups and twin sister reports played by Tilda Swinton. I think the thing that everyone remembers about the film is Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes’ scene together, but other than that, the movie does have its charming moments, but at the end of the day, it’s a descent Coen Brothers movie, nothing more.

Look, I’m in the small camp that enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, taking the classic tale and turning the Bennet Sisters and Mr. Darcy into badass zombie killers, while still trying to tell the story in its own way. It’s not perfect, even I can say that, and not all the actresses playing the Bennet Sisters get enough screen time to really get a good feeling for who they are.

Eddie the Eagle, told the story of Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton), who was the underdog skier in the 1988 Winter Olympics, along with his coach, played by Hugh Jackman. It’s your basic biopic underdog story with Egerton blasting his charm all over the place, and Jackman playing something a little different.

The long anticipated and would-it-happen-won’t-it-happen Deadpool movie came out this month, and while the movie divided fans, you couldn’t say that Ryan Reynolds and the team did the character some justice.

Finally, another divisive film that came out this month was The Witch, or The VVitch if you want to go that route. Either way, Robert Eggers directed a very atmospheric horror that followed a family getting tormented by a witch. It gave us Anya Taylor-Joy and Black Phillip. What more do you want?

 

 

2017

Rings

Collide

The Great Wall

Fist Fight

A Cure for Wellness

The Lego Batman Movie

John Wick: Chapter 2

Get Out

Thoughts: Okay, let’s talk about two bad movies to start off in Collide and Rings. Collide starred Nicholas Hoult as a driver who works for a gangster (Ken Kingsley) to pay for this girlfriend’s (Felicity Jones) medical bills, but things go wrong, and ends up in the crosshairs of a druglord (Anthony Hopkins). The movie wasn’t too out there, despite the concept, and speeds up –no pun intended – and then stops everything too often. Then there’s Rings…OOF. A sequel to the previous movies, and going “deeper” into the mythology that we already knew, a weird cult involving the tape, and the biggest f-k you ending that year.

Let’s talk about The Great Wall, or as some people just simply called it by the trailers “Matt Damon the white savor of China” Movie. The movie was not Damon playing the white savior of China, since the majority of the movie is played by actors of Asian descent defending the Great Wall of China from monsters. The movie itself is fine, and the thing that drew me in more was the cast since I knew who most of them were.

Now, let’s talk about a disappointment in A Cure for Wellness. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the surprisingly long creepy horror drama saw Dane Dehaan playing a young executive sent to a remote location “wellness center” to bring back the company’s CEO, but things aren’t what they seem. The movie itself does have a creepy vibe at times, but the movie sometimes moves at a snail’s pace and loses any bit of stream it’s built up. Plus, its ending comes out of nowhere, to the point that I was kind of onboard, but would have been more onboard if they had built it up a little more.

Next up is Fist Fight, starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube as high school teachers who, well, get into a fist fight on the last day of school. It’s a movie that should have been really dumb, but it was actually pretty funny seeing the complete opposites of Day and Cube go up against each other. And yes, the fight does happen, and it’s ridiculously descent.

John Wick: Chapter 2 upped the ante from the first John Wick in every way. From the action, to the world, to the mythology of John Wick himself, Chapter 2 delivered on the action sequel I wanted.

The LEGO Batman Movie, a sequel/spinoff of The LEGO Movie, follows LEGO Batman (voiced again by Will Arnett) on his own crazy adventure with Robin (voiced by Michael Cera). The movie did feel like a huge love letter to Batman, and for the fans.

Finally, Get Out. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut broke ground just about everywhere. From its themes, cast and story, Get Out is still talked about today with respect and love, and that’s the biggest accomplishment I think.

 

 

2018

The 15:17 to Paris

Winchester

Annihilation

Operation Red Sea

Black Panther

Game Night

Thoughts: The last year of our Monthly Rewind, and we’ll start with the “bad” movie of the month in Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, which is based on the true events of three American tourist who stop a terrorist attack on a train to Paris. The movie is, arguably, Eastwood’s “worst” movie, but that’s mainly because he cast the three actual heroes of the event to play themselves, and they didn’t have any real acting talent. It’s not their fault, clearly, but the movie didn’t really go anywhere considering the event only took a few minutes and Eastwood stretched it out to an hour-and-half.

Next, Winchester, which is also “based on a true story” of The Winchester Mystery House built by Sarah Winchester (played by Helen Mirren), the heir of the Winchester rifle, who builds a massive house to keep the spirits of those who were killed with rifles. It’s an okay movie, with Mirren really being the selling point here, but the movie itself leads to a finale that feels kind of just blah.

Let’s talk about the very divisive, Alex Garland-directed adaptation of Annihilation. Based off the novel written by Jeff VanderMeer, it follows a team of different scientists who go into an unknown environmental zone called The Shimmer, to look for Natalie Portman’s Lena’s husband character (played by Oscar Isaac). The cast, of pretty much all actresses, was great along with the visual effects. The “problem” came in with the final act, where it truly goes “out there” which some people went along with it, and other didn’t.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about Marvel’s Black Panther. A lot of people had things to say about Black Panther before, after and during its run in theaters. The movie was a massive milestone in the current comic book movie trend and culture, and in movie history itself. While I personally felt the movie was good, it didn’t speak to me like it did for others, who truly connected to the film, as it should.

Next, Operation Red Sea, a Chinese production which followed a Navy Marine Corps team who are sent to rescue hostages in a dangerous and country during a coup – which is loosely based on a true event in 2015. The movie was hands-down one of the best action films of 2018, with some impressive action sequences and a group of characters that you really connect to.

Finally, we got Game Night, honestly one of my favorite comedies of 2018 – and it came out in February. The movie followed a group of friends – lead by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams – who meet regularly for game night, but one night things are changed up, and it leads to a kidnapping and everyone trying to figure out if it’s real or not. It’s a great concept with a killer cast – Billy Magnussen and Jesse Plemons being the standouts – and jokes that completely work.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

My Best/Favorite Action Sequences, Scores/Soundtracks, Trailers & More

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Avengers: Infinity War – Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord, Drax & Mantis vs. Thanos & Wakanda Battle

Incredibles 2 – Elastigirl Chases the Train & Jack-Jack vs. Raccoon

Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Ethan and Walker vs. Lark Decoy, Paris Escapes & Helicopter Chase

The Night Comes for Us – Bobby and Fatih vs. Arian’s Men, The Operator vs. Elena & Ito vs. Arian

 

Honorable Mention

Avengers: Infinity War – Hulk vs. Thanos

Overlord – Opening

Avengers: Infinity War – Iron Man vs. Thanos

Black Panther – South Korea Chase

Ready Player One – Race to the First Key & Final Battle

The Strangers: Prey at Night – Luke vs. Man in the Mask

Jailbreak – Jean-Paul, Tharoth, Dara, Sucheat and Vuthy (guard) vs. Gecko inmates

 

Just Missed the List

Mile 22 – Li Noor vs. Hospital Assassins

Upgrade – Grey vs. Fisk

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Finale & Miles Runs from The Prowler

Aquaman – Arthur vs. Manta (Italy) & Mera Runs

Tomb Raider – Fox Run

Sicario: Day of the Soldado – Convey Ambush

 

 

MISC.

Mark Tildeley – Phantom Thread (Production Design)

Pawel Pogorzelski (Cinematography) & Grace Yun – Hereditary (Production Design)

Linus Sandgren – First Man (Cinematography)

Animation Department – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Alfonso Cuaron – Roma (Cinematography)

 

Honorable Mentions

Robbie Ryan – The Favourite (Cinematography)

Rob Hardy – Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Cinematography)

Seamus McGarvey – Bad Times at the El Royale (Cinematography)

Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick – Searching (Film Editing)

Hannah Beachler – Black Panther (Production Design)

 

Just Missed the List

Ready Player One (Visual Effects)

Ryan Samul – The Strangers: Prey at Night (Cinematography)

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – Suspiria (Cinematography)

Nelson Coates – Crazy Rich Asians (Production Design)

Sound Department – Overlord

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Ludwig Goransson – Black Panther

Hildur Guonadottir – Sicario 2: Soldado

Keegan DeWitt – Hearts Beat Loud

John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies – Halloween

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Soundtrack

 

Honorable Mentions

A Star Is Born Soundtrack

Alexandre Desplat – Isle of Dogs

Johann Johannsson – Mandy

Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk

Crazy Rich Asians Soundtrack

Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly – Anna and the Apocalypse

 

Just Missed the List

Daniel Pemberton – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Score)

Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread

Michael Giacchino – Incredibles 2

Lorne Balfe – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

 

 

Trailers

Mission: Impossible – Fallout – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb49-oV0F78

Avengers: Infinity War – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwievZ1Tx-8

Mission: Impossible – Fallout #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiHiW4N7-bo

Avengers: Endgame Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA6hldpSTF8

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4Hbz2jLxvQ

Ant-Man and the Wasp #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUkn-enk2RU

Us – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNCmb-4oXJA

 

Honorable Mentions

Halloween – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek1ePFp-nBI

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVDtmouV9kM

Blindspotting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9-HBqVbtTo&t=6s

Bumblee #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcwmDAYt22k

Detective Pikachu – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1roy4o4tqQM

Hellboy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt5g5_1cKVk

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDnKuFtdc7A

Upgrade (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hTLGlgZ4Z8

Bad Times at the El Royale – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQmOaJciI7Q

 

Just Missed the List

Pacific Rim Uprising #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BAhwgjMvnM

BrightBurn – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6eB0JT1DI4&t=6s

Bohemian Rhapsody – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S9c5nnDd_s

Sorry to Bother You – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enH3xA4mYcY

Hereditary  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6wWKNij_1M

 

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review (Please Read the Reviewer Note)

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Danai Gurira, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Letitia Wright, William Hurt and Josh Brolin

Synopsis: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

 

*Reviewer Note: This review is going to work differently than others. The first half will be the usual way my reviews work aka non-spoiler. The second half, which will be labeled properly, will be filled with spoilers galore. Also, I have left things out, and probably forgot a few things too, so if something is not here, that’s the reason. I do highly recommend you watch the movie before seeing any kind of spoilers. Do yourself that favor.*

 

10 years and eight-teen movies in the making, Avengers: Infinity War is a true culmination of what Marvel has created with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has given us a slew of characters we’ve come to care about and all of that is put to the ultimate test here. Not only do we see almost of these characters in one movie, we finally get to see some dream combinations play off. But, more importantly, we finally to get see the big bad that’s been in the shadows since the very first Avengers movie, Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War is a very busy movie, but the main story finds Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his henchmen, The Black Order – Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon), Crovus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) and Cull Obsidian – on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones. The reason? To put them on the Infinity Gauntlet so he can become the strongest person in the universe, and wipe out half of the universe to create balance. This puts him on a collision course with the now disbanded Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange who must stop Thanos and The Black Order from gathering them all.

That’s the basic premise of Infinity War, but as you can tell from the trailers, the characters aren’t all together. The characters are broken into groups pretty quickly, and they’re all pretty fun to watch unfold. Tony/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) finally meet, and it is everything you thought it would be. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is mixed up with the Guardians, mostly Rocket and Groot, and is on his own mission. Then there’s Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) who end up having to protect Vision (Paul Bettany) from the Black Order, with a little help from Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Wakanda.

Surprisingly, Infinity War puts into full throttle right at the start. You know where everyone is and what part they are playing in the grand scheme of everything. Could that have been seen as an oversight and lack of character development? Sure, but at the same time, we’ve seen pretty much all of these characters already. The only difference here is that they are finally together, and for the first time, it does feel like they are facing a genuine threat that they may not be able to win. It’s also rather surprising that one particular character, who has been a prime focus in these other team-ups, is kind of just a background character, especially with all the hype surrounding the movie.

Thanos and the Black Order pull no punches whatsoever. Thanos has a twisted way of looking at balance, and even though he knows its extreme, he thinks he’s the only one able to actually see it all the way through. We also get a descent amount of Thanos too. His character is rather interesting because of his ideals. I mean, once you get passed the killing half of humanity to create balance bit, Thanos has a lot more to him in this movie that I’ll get to in the spoiler section of the podcast. Let’s just say, Thanos is the villain we’ve been waiting for, as a threat and as an actual character.

As for the Black Order, they serve the role of henchmen to a tee, with Proxima Midnight being the more physical standout, but Ebony Maw being the more in-depth standout, and helps explain to others why they are people conquered. And if that sounds evil to you, that’s the way it comes out.

The heroes are great, but they are a mixed bag – I mean look at the cast list. Cumberbatch gets to play a lot more with Doctor Strange, Chris Pratt’s Peter/Star-Lord is a little more cocky than usual, which does play a role later in the film, Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian as Gamora and Nebula aka the daughters of Thanos do play a big role in this, although one of them has a bigger role than the other that hits hard. I’ll leave the other cast members in the spoilers section.

All that said, despite me nerding out hard throughout the movie, and believe me there is a lot to nerd out over, Infinity War does suffer from being a bit too bloated. Wakanda is a massive set-piece in the movie, but that’s it. T’Challa, Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) are glorified cameos at best, and that could be seen as a bit disappointing especially after Black Panther came out not too long ago. Some characters aren’t given enough time to breath, and one particular big character is just kind of there – again, more on that in the spoiler section.

All in all – for the spoiler-free section – Avengers: Infinity War is the movie fans have been waiting for since the Marvel Cinematic Universe started. There are important things that happen and moments that will stick with you as you drive home or talk about it with your friends or co-workers. Ten years in the making, and now, nineteen movies in, Marvel has done not just the most ambitious Marvel movie to date, but the most ambitious superhero movie of all time. You are definitely not ready for this. The humor – which is top notch – really helps, but please, PLEASE, do yourself a favor and don’t read any spoilers before watching this.

Avengers: Infinity War

4.5 out of 5

 

 

FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, I WILL BE TALKING SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS. SO STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE. SERIOUSLY, BACK AWAY….I SEE YOU TIMMY, STOP IT.

 

Okay, let’s dig in to this beast of a movie. First of all, WHAT THE HELL?! No, seriously, what the actual hell Marvel. Yes, Kevin Feige, the cast and the Russo Brothers warned us that we wouldn’t be ready for this, but damn I was not expecting that.

Let’s start at the beginning. Infinity War starts right where Thor: Ragnarok left off. Thanos and his Black Order boarded the ship and have pretty much killed all of Asgard (Valkyrie and Korg boldly missing). Ebony Maw says they are “saved,” which doesn’t really make sense, since it looks like everyone is already DEAD. Regardless, Loki hands over the Tesseract aka the Space Stone to Thanos, but not before he gives a great callback to The Avengers. This leads to pretty much our first look of how much Thanos is a threat when he, basically, beats the shit out of the Hulk. Seeing the massive threat on the way, Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth, and is promptly killed by Thanos himself.

And you would think that’s the first big death of the movie, right? NOPE, Loki has one last moment of redemption in him – calling himself Odinson was a nice touch – before trying to kill Thanos. Of course, Thanos saw it coming and literally chocked the life out of him, leaving all(?) of Asgard and Thor behind.

We then jump to several different locations, and where the teams will be set up.

Group A: Doctor Strange and Wong (Benedict Wong) are warned by Bruce (Mark Ruffalo), which leads to our first scene between Strange and Tony, which a nice Pepper Potts cameo. Tony, and us, get a breakdown of the Infinity Stones by Wong before Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian comes to Earth and get we our first big action piece with Spider-Man included. Strange does get caught by Maw, and Tony and Spider-Man, now with the Iron Spider suit which was teased in Spider-Man: Homecoming go into space toward Titan.

Group B: the very beginning of the movie, we hear a distress call being made, and guess who answers the call? The Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course, Rocket doesn’t see the point, but Peter/Star-Lord hopes to get some money out of it. Once they get there, they see what’s left and bring in Thor, who’s still alive. After some hilarity with Thor’s unconscious body, Thor is woken up and off-camera tells them what happen. Gamora then tells us what would happen if Thanos does in fact gets all the Infinity Stones. We then get some Star-Lord-y humor with Thor, which isn’t completely out of character, but I found a little too much, even for him.

Thor, then takes Rocket and Groot to Nidavellir so Thor can get a weapon powerful enough to kill Thanos. Which he does get later on in the movie, which is a battle axe called Strombreaker. Which sounds like a Game of Thrones sword, and something I find funny, since we get a great cameo by Peter Dinklage playing Eitri, the Giant Dwarf. Anyway, Star-Lord, Gamora, Mantis and Drax head to Knowhere to get the Reality Stone aka the Aether from The Collector.

Group C: Here is where things get interesting, and rough. Our third grouping is everyone else. It starts off by showing Vision and Wanda away in Scotland together. Apparently, in the two years after Captain America: Civil War, the two have been secretly meeting to see if they can start an actual relationship, and right as they think they can, they see the attack on New York, and Vision gets attacked by Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight. A fight occurs and the two are saved by the returning Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon, which put up a pretty good fight, before the two villains beam away. The heroes end up back at the Avengers compound to meet up with Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Bruce, who blows off Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt).

They run down their options to get the Mind Stone out of Vision, and that leads to them going to Wakanda. We quickly cut there to see T’Challa give Bucky, or The White Wolf, his new arm, so he can be ready for the fight.

I say rough because this almost feels like a C-storyline, which it shouldn’t because not only Captain America here, but so is Vision, who is important to this part of the story. Cap, Black Widow and Falcon just kind of show up and don’t really do too much. Which is to be expected with everyone else on the board, but still. Hell, even T’Challa, who just had his own BILLION-dollar movie come out feels like a throwaway character.

Back to Group B, Quill, Gamora, Drax and Mantis get to Knowhere where Thanos has already gotten the Reality Stone, and puts on a trick for them which involves him torturing The Collector for the stone and leaving him open for Gamora to kill him. Thanos appears and shockingly turns Drax into pieces of stone and Mantis into rubber bands – not permanently, but the imagery is still shocking to see. Thanos gets a hold of Gamora and then Quill is left with a decision.

Earlier, Gamora made Quill promise her if Thanos got a hold her to kill her. It’s a rather big scene because it puts both of them in tough position. Does Quill keep his promise, while also killing the woman he loves? Or does he let Thanos get away? Well, Quill goes to actually shoot, but Thanos turns his gun into bubbles and disappears. And since we’re on Thanos and Gamora, let’s talk about that scene.

One of the major questions coming into Infinity War was where the Soul Stone was. Of course, everyone had their speculations and all of them were wrong. Turns out Gamora knew were the Soul Stone was this entire time, and didn’t tell Thanos. When Gamora finally does tell Thanos were the Soul Stone is, they arrive and find out to get the Soul Stone, they need a soul, and that’s not all they find. No, because apparently the keeper to the Soul Stone is someone I’m not going to mention, because that is something you should experience for yourself. However, a little FYI, the StoneKeeper (as people with the Stone are called by the Black Order), is not played by the original actor, but Ross Marquand (Aaron from The Walking Dead).

This also leads to one of the best scenes in the whole movie, and one that I’m not ashamed to say, bought a tear to my eye. It’s a scene that humanizes Thanos a bit, because we hear Gamora say that Thanos has never loved anything or anyone. Of course, we can see the anguish on Thanos’ face as he throws Gamora down the cliff, and since he gets the Soul Stone, yes, he did love Gamora. Which is twisted in its own right, and makes Thanos a tragic figure in his own way, so I guess it’s up to the viewer to decide if Thanos is that or not.

We then get to Wakanda where Shuri leads the charge to get the Mind Stone out of Vision, but it will take time. Of course, the fight comes to the heroes when an alien race charges toward Wakanda with Proxima Midnight and Cull Obsidian leading the charge. Here we get, arguably, the biggest fight of the Marvel films with all the tribes of Wakanda, Cap, War Machine, Falcon, Black Widow, Bucky and Bruce in the Hulkbuster. Yes, because that epic hero shot in the trailers and TV spots ISN’T IN THE MOVIE. Which is fine, really, since Marvel is known for including scenes in their trailer that don’t make it into the movie. Also, the fact that Bruce is constantly trying to get Hulk out to fight and can’t is a nice added layer to the Hulk, which we don’t see often. That’s also probably because Hulk got his assed kicked, which doesn’t happen often or at all. It would also fit the idea that Hulk is his own being now.

So for the sake of ending his massive post, let’s take about that ending. The ending of ending, especially for a Marvel movie. After a great fight sequence between Thanos versus Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis and Nebula, Thanos gets the Time Stone, in what a knee-jerk reaction would be, “what the hell.” Throughout the movie, Strange constantly tells Tony that he’s not giving up the Time Stone, even saying at one point if it comes down to saving Tony, Spider-Man or the Time Stone, he’s picking the Time Stone. Then at the end of that fight, when we get blue-balled with Tony dying, but Strange ends up giving up the Time Stone…what?

Yup, Strange gives Thanos the time, presumably to save Tony’s life. However, if you remember, Strange uses the Time Stone before the fight to see over a million possible outcomes, and only ONE goes in their favor. Was that one of them? I guess we’ll find out in Avengers 4.

After that, we go back to Wakanda where Vision sees Thanos beating down the last line of defense, tells Wanda to destroy the stone so Thanos can’t get. This is the other scene that was rather touching and emotional, although it could have been more, if we saw more Wanda and Vision together. It’s also a scene that comes out of nowhere. But, the jist is that Wanda is powerful enough to destroy the Infinity Stones, which I don’t remember being discussed or even mentioned beforehand.

Either way, Thanos makes his way to Vision but Wanda is able to destroy the stone, which in turn destroys Vision as well. BUT, Thanos uses the Time Stone and revives Vision only to kill him again (poor Vision) and collect all the stones. As Thanos basks in his glory, Thor throws Stormbreaker into Thanos, but Thanos snaps his fingers! Then, the most ambitious ending to a Marvel movie yet happens: characters start to fade into ash.

Bucky, T’Challa, Falcon, and Wanda fade away in front of allies who left in confusion as to what is happening. We then go back to Nowhere and see Mantis, Drax and Star-Lord go. Doctor Strange is next, but not before telling Tony “there was no other way.” But the most heartbreaking one is Peter/Spider-Man. Peter goes over to Tony and breaks down saying he doesn’t want to go. This one got to me too, and kudos to Tom Holland for absolutely nailing that scene.

And just like that, half of the characters we’ve been following for the last ten years and the whole movie are gone. Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Thor, Rhody and Okoye are left in Wakanda dumbfounded. Tony is stuck on Titan with Nebula distract knowing he’s lost. Then to top it off, the movie ends with Thanos is some unknown planet in the mountains sitting down to watch the sun rise – which he mentions earlier in the movie – smiling that his work is done.

It’s an ending that is both effective and has you questioning what comes next. The bad guy won, and he didn’t just win, he wiped half of humanity out. Seriously, where do we go from here? How do The Avengers bounce back and potentially beat Thanos who still has all the Infinity Stones, but what looks like a damaged Infinity Gauntlet. How does Tony get back to Earth? And how does the Captain Marvel, who was teased at the end-credits, play into everything?

These are the kind of questions and wonderment we should have after watching this. You know, after we pick ourselves up from the fetal position and stop crying. Is Avengers: Infinity War, the best Marvel movie? Well, that’s up for you to decide. Personally, I wouldn’t say it is, but you bet your ass I’d put it up there. Idea and balls wise, it is. Who else has the balls to “kill” off their characters like that? (Besides Game of Thrones, get out of here you)?

 

New Podcast – Ava DuVernay Directing ‘The New Gods,’ Avengers: Infinity War Trailer, Deadpool 2 & More

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‘Black Panther’ Review

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole

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

Synopsis: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one fans have been waiting for, and one that fans have been making a good uproar about. For the first time, there is a superhero movie – at least in the modern age of superhero movies – with a predominate black cast, and one that’s actually good and doesn’t rely on stereotypes. While the race element is something someone can talk about more clearly than I can, Black Panther is without a doubt something special and different than we have gotten before.

Black Panther starts off with a brief history of how the fictional country of Wakanda and the Black Panther came to be, and from there we jump to a brief scene in 1992 with a young King T’Chaka. However, we then jump to the present day and see T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), as he takes the throne in his home country with the people closest to him by his side. His mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), his youngest sister and head of the science/weapons division Shuri (Letitia Wright), the Dora Milaje general and friend Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his former lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o).

However, T’Challa reign doesn’t go too smoothly as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) comes back into the picture, along with some help from the mysterious Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). T’Challa must now decide what kind of king he wants to be, and stop threats from all around him.

Like I mentioned, Black Panther is something special and different. The movie doesn’t strive away from touching on the racial issue unlike other Marvel films. They usually touch on them and move on to the bombastic action scenes, which is fine for me, but Black Panther doesn’t shy away from at all. In fact, it doesn’t even try to hide them and hits them all on the head without sounding preachy or forcing it upon us. Everything touched on makes sense, and when you take a step back, you start to realize what the message is coming from a superhero film of all places.

There there’s Wakanda itself. The technologically advanced country is a sight to see, with technology that doesn’t yet exist, but also with African tribal touches everywhere you go. Speaking of that, there is a lot of African tribal touches throughout the movie that just make Black Panther more authentic to its roots and gives it the extra touch above other films, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When it comes to everything else about the movie, well, it’s still pretty damn good. The cast are all fantastic from top to bottom. Of course, we already saw Boseman as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, but his character here really gives us a better sense at what to expect of him in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the other hand, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is arguably one of Marvel’s best villains to date. He reasoning is sound and most importantly, he’s well-written to the point that I wish there was more of him in the movie.

The other men fair well with Martin Freeman returning as Everett Ross in a bigger role than I thought he’d have. Get Out breakout Daniel Kaluuya has a small, but hopefully bigger part in the future, role as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s friend that takes an interesting turn. Andy Serkis’ Klaue returns in a hammed up approach that surprisingly works and is a ton of fun to watch. Finally, Winston Duke, who plays rival M’Baku is definitely one of the breakout stars here acting in a way that you wouldn’t believe he would at times.

But let’s talk about the women. The women in Black Panther are freaking badass! Danai Gurira as Okoye, the general of the Dora Milaje, is a force to be reckoned with anytime there’s a fight. Letitia Wright’s Shuri brings a spark of energy and fun every time she’s onscreen, and Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia acts like a bit of a moral compass for T’Challa, but also brings up the concept of what would you do for your country versus what should be done. Finally, Angela Bassett just commands the scenes every time she’s on because, well, she’s Angela Bassett.

Now, the movie does have a few faults. It does fall into the Marvel final battle cliché of being a bit too CGI-heavy with the final fight between T’Challa and Killmonger. Also, while we get to see Wakanda and its interesting history, along with its traditions, I would have liked to see a little more of the actual city.

All in all, Black Panther is an important movie no matter which way you look at it. Not only is it a superhero movie with an all black cast, but one of Marvel’s best films to date. With well written characters, a story that isn’t all over the place, and a deep and personal message and theme, Black Panther is a movie you should go watch as soon as possible.

 

Black Panther

4.5 out of 5

New Podcast – Brief Spoiler Free Thoughts on Black Panther & More

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New Podcast – Black Panther Sabotage Planned, Mario Gets a Movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp Trailer & More

The Movie Pit podcast is up ladies and gentlemen, and BOI do I get into today with some bull-crap of people trying to sabotage Black Panther. Needless to say, that part is not safe for work.

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