‘Avengers: Endgame’ Spoiler Review/Thoughts

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Cast: Everybody…I’m not writing them all out.

Synopsis: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

*Reviewer Note: This post WILL HAVE SPOILERS. It won’t be a full-blown review, but will have review elements. This is more of a free-flown thought post about everything. If it feels disjointed, I’m sorry.*

 

11 years and twenty-two movies has all led to this. Marvel and the Russo brothers have impressively weaved everything together for their endgame. From the moment we saw Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury coming out of the shadows to tell Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark that he’s now part of a bigger world, fans have been eager to see where all this was going to lead. Whether you were a comic book fan or not, Marvel and everyone involved behind-the-scenes made sure to make you, and keep you, invested in these characters, and make you care for these characters from beginning to end. In this case, keep you and make you invested in their final journey – well, at least for a few of them.

Avengers: Endgame will probably surprise some people. Because despite being a “comic book movie,” the first act of the movie – after the first ten minutes – is more of a drama, and one that focus of loss. We’re not use to seeing heroes lose, and even if they do, their turnaround happens later on. Instead, Antony and Joe Russo have the characters dealing with their losses and trying to on, but as Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers says, “most people move, but we don’t.” It’s not just a line, we see it on Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha as she’s trying to make sure the world doesn’t go completely lawless, and looks like she’s become a Nick Fury-esque leader, but the weight of it has gotten to her, especially when she hears about Jeremy Renner’s Clint has been doing since “The Snap” (I know it’s called something else, but we’re calling it The Snap).

Speaking of Clint, the movie opens with him dealing with The Snap all by himself, and it  almost makes sense why he would go down the road he’s chosen – for the comic book fans, they never all him Ronin. Then he has to deal with losing Natasha to get the Soul Stone – which I’ll get to in a little bit. Clint takes the punches and keeps going, and while it’s easy to hate or rag on the character, Clint is a valuable member of The Avengers, and it’s shown here as he’s basically the test dummy for going into the Quantum Realm, and getting the new Gauntlet into the playing field at the end.

Others who have great drama moments is Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, who escapes the Quantum Realm when the machine – I forgot the name – is turned on (by the rat?) and he comes out in a post-Snap world. He walks the streets of San Francisco seeing the aftermath and the slow realization of what happened, and the horror of seeing him searching for his daughter Cassie’s name, only to see his own name. Plus, yes, the reunion of him and Cassie is, probably, the first tear-jearking scene of the movie – for me.

Then there’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, oh I’m sorry, I mean FAT Thor. The effects of losing everything, and thinking it was his fault, because he didn’t aim for the head, is played throughout the film and it makes sense. Everything Thor has been through in the franchise has lead to him being one of the strongest Avengers, even if it’s said for laughs half the time, so having him be that close to end all of it and failing all the same is going to take its toll. Although, playing what essentially is PTSD a little bit jokey is questionable, it make sense that Thor would be the way he is. That said, I also love this scenes with Rene Russo’s returning Frigga.

Finally, we have Tony and Steve. The two still have some heat at the beginning due to the events of Civil War, but when the chips are down they know they need each other. Tony, and Karen Gillan’s Nebula, being rescued from space by Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel was expected, but seeing Tony with muscle loss and calling out Steve at the beginning is hard to watch. We’ve seen Tony in situations that he can get out of or even manage to barely get out of, but seeing Tony like this – a broken man – is something we’ve never really seen before, and it’s so effective, which makes his arc by the end

As for Steve, his ending just makes sense. Steve going back to the past to return the Infinity Stones, and then staying there to become old with Haley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is the ending that almost every fan wanted. Steve was always a man out of time, and the constant reminders of Peggy throughout the whole Captain America series, and here in Endgame it made sense he would stay and live his life with the love of his life. It also puts Chris Evans out of his contract, and a fitting end at that.

Now, let’s get to some of the grips. Because despite what some non-comic book fans think, we fans can be critical of the movies – well some of us. One of the main things everyone was talking about was the length of the movie. In many ways, it didn’t matter in the end because the movie doesn’t really feel long at all. The pacing, for the most part, is great. Endgame does slow down a bit when it comes to small scenes like when Thanos finds out about Nebula, and some of the double Nebula and Gamora scenes kind of slow things down, but other than, the pacing is fine.

Arguably, you can say Endgame returns to Marvel’s villain “problem.” Josh Brolin’s Thanos screen time is reduced tremendously from Infinity War, resulting in him not even appearing until about halfway, maybe even little more than halfway, through the movie. Granted, Infinity War was really a Thanos story, and Endgame was more about our heroes dealing with he’s done and trying to reverse it with their “Time Heist” it still would have been nice to get a little more Thanos – even if it was the past Thanos.

Now, let’s talk about fan service. Some will probably see Avengers: Endgame as huge fan service, and you know what, in some regard, yes Avengers: Endgame has a lot of fan service. But, the way I see the fan service in the film is that it’s done right. It’s not too heavy handed, which is saying something since the final battle scene is basically the most comic booky thing you can ever see or imagine a comic book movie doing. That said, the final battle scene is everything these movies have been building up to if you really think about it, so I can’t really blame the movie or call it real fan service if this was the direction they were going to go with.

Yes, the final battle scene, even leading up to it, had moments fans have been waiting for. Captain America lifting Mjolnir and using it, every major hero you can think of showing up for the battle – even having all the women team up – and Captain America finally saying “Avengers Assemble.” That said, is that a bad thing? Does it take away from your enjoyment of the film? To go extreme, should it not have been in the movie at all? Sometimes fandoms can be a fickle thing.

Finally, the time travel. Look, time travel in movies is always a tricky thing, and once you start explaining it, someone else is going to come in and tell you how you’re wrong. Does the changes they made affect the timeline? Yeah, probably. Does it matter for your enjoyment of the future films? Probably not, unless they bring it up. It’s not really a pass we should give the film, but I think for this, I’m going to let it pass because “Back to the Future is bullshit.”

All in all, Avengers: Endgame was, to me, a perfect sendoff and end to a franchise that’s been going strong – with a few stumbles sure – for over eleven years and twenty-plus films. Character arcs were wrapped up, hints of future in the franchise and emotional moments all over the place.

Avengers: Endgame

4 out of 5

‘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 – Spoiler Review of Thor: Ragnarok

The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

This week, I talk about some of the noteworthy news items, but the real highlight is I spoiler review Thor: Ragnarok!

That said, there will not be a written review. I’m going out of town this weekend, and I’m not bringing along my laptop. So you have to deal with a spoiler review for now. However, not spoiler review of Thor: Ragnarok – it was absolutely great!

My Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Well, it’s the end of the year and you know what that means. The lists of “Best of” or “Worst of” start to come out.  So of course, I have to put my list out there too!

Making these “Best of” lists is always hard.  Because no matter what’s on your list people will always disagree with where you put a movie.  So this year (like last year) I will put the movies in alphabetical order.  It’s simple and clean for the most part.  As usual I put the “Honorable Mentions” first and then put up my “Best/Favorite” movies of the year.

NOTE: This is MY list and in no way is official or meant to say your list is not good.  These are the movies that I enjoyed/liked/loved or thought where actually superior to others (I won’t say which ones are those)

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

John Dies at the End, The Kings of Summer, Mud, The East, Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, The To Do List, Dallas Buyers Club, Short Term 12, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, Antiviral

 

Honorable Mentions:

2 Guns: Didn’t expect a lot coming from this even with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.  Turns out it was pretty fun with some cool action scenes and great chemistry between the two leads.

About Time: Being a fan of Richard Curtis’ Love Actually I was kind of excited to see what he would do for his “last romantic movie.” The thing that surprised me about the movie is that it wasn’t just a romantic comedy with a time travelling aspect to it but it’s what you do with that.

Closed Circuit: A great political thriller about a bombing in London with the CCTV cameras not being any good use for the case.  Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall give solid performance and the way everything comes together and goes down really shocked me.

Dead Man Down: A reunion between director Neils Arden Oplev and his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace was nice to see but it was Colin Farrell’s stoic performance in his very European feel movie about revenge that had me from the very start.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: Tommy Wirkola’s took almost the same sensibility with this that he took with his hit Dead Snow.  The movie didn’t take itself too seriously and it worked.  I had a lot of fun with this movie and I think if people gave it another chance they would enjoy.

In A World: Directed and staring Lake Bell, the movie was a fun quirky look at how competitive Hollywood can be, just to do a voice over in a movie trailer.

Mama: Based on a short by the same name, producer Guillermo del Toro and short director Andres Muschietti came together to expand the short and give it a creepy/eerie mythology.  I liked the tone of the movie as it did fit a bit with the short and del Toro’s classic touch.

Oblivion: The movie could have been lost as a typical “sci-fi” movie but I found the movie to have a little more and with the score, it got to me enough to get here on the list.

Olympus Has Fallen: One of the two White House takeover movies and in my opinion the best of the two. Probably the reason I liked it the most was that it felt like an 90s action movie and knew what it was.

Out of the Furnace: A beautifully shot movie with a great story about brothers and what you will do for them.  Christian Bale does a great job in the movie but it’s Casey Affleck who steals the show as his brother.

Star Trek Into Darkness: I loved J.J. Abrams Star Trek and was excited to see what he would do in his second go around.  I know not a lot of people were crazy about the movie, even calling it the worst Star Trek movie ever (REALLY?) but I really liked it and Benedict Cumberbatch’s character reveal was still awesome to hear and see even if I already kind of knew.

Stoker: Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) made his American directorial debut this family drama thriller that is a bit of a slow burner and goes in directions you wouldn’t think would go.

The Croods: Didn’t know much about The Croods walking in and I have to say I enjoyed the hell out of it. Nicholas Cage’s father character totally fit him.

The Family: With nice nudges to Robert De Niro’s gangster movies, Luc Besson manages to pull together a good family action drama with a gangster twist of sorts.  But I think one of the highlights is John D’Leo

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Although I didn’t enjoy the whole movie as much as I did An Unexpected Journey, the sequel had it’s moments that I felt I could not let the movie pass without being on the list.  The River Barrel scene, Smaug and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel were the major highlights for me.

The Heat: I don’t think you could go wrong with Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig.  It also happened to be one of the movies that I laughed out loud in a theater.

The Last Stand: Another American directorial debut, this time by Kim Jee-Woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil) bought back Arnold Schwarzenegger to the big screen.  Yes, the movie wasn’t perfect but the last third act was pretty funny.

The Lone Ranger: The movie does have some pitfalls but the movie really wasn’t as bad as people said it was.  The last action scene involving the train is fantastic.

The Place Beyond the Pines: This movie wasn’t like anything I thought it would be. The trailers give nothing away and it takes a turn you didn’t think I would. The movie was a bit on the long side for my taste and the last act wasn’t as good as the first two.

The Wolf of Wall Street:  A great and somewhat twisted story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a real life former Stock Broker, who rose through the ranks his own way.  Martin and Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio prove they can do no wrong together.  Although the movie was a little long for my taste every minute tells a story.

This is the End: When the movie was first announced I didn’t really care too much about it but then I saw the movie and I took everything back.

Trance: Danny Boyle is pretty much always dependable and his psychological crime thriller makes you think until the very last minute on what the hell was really happening and even then you’re wondering what the hell was going on.

We’re the Millers: A little raunchy comedy never hurt anyone and with an unusual premise the movie actually kind of worked.  Although, the major flaws of the movie was Jason Sudeikis’ main character.

White House Down: The second White House takeover movie and one I wasn’t looking forward to.  One reason is that it was another White House takeover movie. The second was because I’m not the biggest Channing Tatum fan.  However, the movie was a good combination of humor and action so I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

World War Z: Very loosely based on Max Brooks’ popular zombie book, Brad Pitt stars in a race against time zombie survival movie.  Despite its behind-the-scenes problems the movie still managed not to be terrible.  Probably the standout of the movie was the Israel action sequence.

 

BEST/FAVORITE

12 Years a Slave: One of the most gripping, emotional, and character-centric movies of the year and it’s all a true story of Solomon Northup. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender give two of the best performances of the year and Paul Dano’s short supporting role is another highlight performance wise.

American Hustle:  Everyone gives great performances but probably the standout of the cast is Amy Adams.  Based on true events the movie has a good sense of the time period down to the music and clothing.  David O’ Russell knows how to get good performances out of his cast.

Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks gives a great performance as the title character that is kidnapped by Somali Pirates and does his best under the situation.  Props go to Barkhad Abdi for standing toe-to-toe with Hanks during those intense scenes.  But Hanks steals the show especially in the last act.

Evil Dead: Remaking a “cult-favorite” like Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is sure to strike a chord with people, and that is exactly what this movie did.  However, I (and many others) were able to look past that and see the movie for what it was.  It wasn’t necessarily a direct remake and it didn’t try to tarnish the original that people all love.  At the end of the day the movie did its job and that is to scare me.

Fast & Furious 6: Everyone thought that topping Fast Five would be hard but Justin Lin’s last Fast & Furious movie sure made it harder to make that decision.  The action is pushed to another level and everything feels like a conclusion and a new way to begin the story.  If it isn’t the best Fast & Furious movie then it sure is a close second. And really, can you not like the long runway scene!

Frozen: I found myself struggling a little with animated movies this year.  As much as I liked seeing Monsters University this movie surely is the better movie and a strong one at that.  Disney (by themselves, not with Pixar) has been stepping up the game lately with their animation movies.  Frozen played a little with the genre but also felt like an old classic and I think that’s why I liked it so much.

G.I Joe: Retaliation: Let’s face it, Retaliation should have not worked after Rise of Cobra.  Yes, the first one had it’s moments but if you asked me back then if I wanted a sequel I would have said no.  However, add in the “franchise savior” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and make it feel realistic and you have me.  Besides, the ten minute mountain sequence was just awesome.

Gravity: Every now and then we get a movie that is truly an “experience movie” and Gravity is that movie this year.  However, we also have to add in the “How the hell did they do all that?”  Nevertheless, the movie is great to look at and with the combination of Alfonso Cuaron’s directing and Sandra Bullock’s great performance I was completely sucked in to what I was seeing on screen.

Iron Man 3: Say what you will about Iron Man 3.  Was it perfect? No, (but really is any movie) but was it better than Iron Man 2? Yes.  But of course all anyone can talk about was “The Mandarin Twist” which pissed everyone off.  Let’s face it, Marvel totally got us and I think that’s what pissed everyone off.  I personally loved it because it played with our expectations and gave us, whether intentional or not, one of the biggest moments this year.

Man of Steel: I, like everyone, had my doubts about Zack Snyder’s Superman movie.  But seeing the final product but away all those doubts.  Henry Cavill did a great job playing the man from two worlds and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El was better than I thought it would be too.  The standout for me was Antje Traue’s Faora-Ul.  Of course this movie also had it’s own “twist” which again, I didn’t mind but the purists out there seemed to forget that it was part of the, at least to me, beginning of who and what Superman will become later.

Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon took a break from his Marvel duties and filmed an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play of the same name.  Filled with Whedon’s alumni the movie was set in modern times but still managed to work.  Drama-filled, funny and smart Whedon proved that he can work in all genres.

Pacific Rim: What’s not to like about giant robots fighting giant monsters! Next to the fact that everything looks fantastic

Prisoners: Hugh Jackman steals the show as he plays a father wanting his daughter back and takes matter into his own hands by taking the only person accused of it, who is played by Paul Dano.  Jake Gyllenhaal also gives a strong performance but it’s probably Melissa Leo who goes toe to toe with Jackman.

Rush:  A re-telling of the famous rivalry between Formula-One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  With great performances by leads Chris Hemsworth, standout Daniel Bruhl and Hans Zimmer’s score it was truly one of the best movies of the year.

The Conjuring: If this is James Wan’s last horror movie, it’s surely a good way to go.  Creepy, scary and based on actual events investigated by real life paranormal investigators The Warrens.

The Way Way Back: A great indie comedy with a good and real story about growing up. I knew nothing about it expect that it was getting good reviews and I agreed with them. Sam Rockwell is the best part of the movie and worth all the praise.

The Wolverine:  Basing it off one of the most popular Wolverine stories it’s finally a solo Wolverine movie that Wolverine fans wanted.  Hugh Jackman proves that Wolverine is his role and I feel sorry for the next guy that takes the role when Jackman finally steps aside.

The World’s End: The final installment of The Cornetto Trilogy isn’t probably entirely what people thought it would be but it was a somewhat fitting ending to it.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do a switcheroo role wise with Pegg being the better of the two.

Thor: The Dark World:  Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston embrace their roles more this time around and the movie really ups the action this time around.  Needless to say this movie surprised the hell out of me.

You’re Next:  A combination to an old school horror and home invasion, You’re Next was one of my biggest surprises this year. Also a fine performance by Sharni Vinson playing the heroine.

Zero Dark Thirty: Besides all the buzz (or controversy depending on how you view it) around the movie, it still was a great movie about (how the tagline puts it) “The Greatest Manhunt in History).  Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke career shot straight up after this but another highlight from the movie is Mark Strong’s supporting role.

‘Thor: The Dark World’ Review

Dir: Alan Taylor

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins

Synopsis: Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler review as always.  But I will say this, as with every Marvel movie, STAY FOR THE CREDITS! There will be a mid-credits and after credits scene.  Also if you watch the movie in 3D, you will get to see a 5 minutes preview of Captain America: The Winter Soldier*

 

Thor was probably the biggest question mark as to whether fans would understand the character enough to sit and watch a movie based on him.  Some were surprised when they saw the movie on how good it was (or bad for others) but once every one knew what the character was about and saw him team up with their other heroes they embraced him with open arms.  This continues most of the new found love for the character and changes things up.

The film kicks off with a prologue that finds Thor’s grandfather doing battle with an army of Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Eccleston), an angry elf who is hellbent on plunging the world into darkness with a powerful weapon called The Aether.  Thor’s grandfather ends up getting the Aether and hides it causing Malekith and a small portion of his army to hide.  Fast forward to present day, and Thor (Hemsworth) with Sif (Alexander) and The Warriors Three; Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Fandral (Zachary Levi, who replaces Josh Dallas) are busy cleaning up chaos in the nine realms.  Even though Thor is winning the adoration of his people and being groomed to be the new king, his heart is still with Jane Foster (Portman).

Speaking of Jane, she’s in London dealing with the fact that Thor hasn’t been around to see her since the events of the first movie.  She and Darcy (Dennings) find some weird going-ons and eventually leads to Malekith being awaken.  Of course while all that is going on, Loki (Hiddleston) is being held prisoner in the dungeons of Asgard for his crimes in Thor and The Avengers by Odin (Hopkins).

Bringing in Alan Taylor as the new director does give the movie a whole new look.  Not to knock on Kenneth Branagh but Taylor brings in that Game of Thrones style that works since the movie does go into the city life of Asgard, something the first movie didn’t do.  The movie’s battle scenes also have a different feel that really work for this movie.

The first half of Thor: The Dark World, is really all about the production design.  It’s an interesting blend of medieval style and futuristic space weapons that surprisingly works.  It also gives us the focal point of the movie about the Convergence, an event that has all the nine realms aligning and where the Aether is the strongest for Malekith to use.

The second half is where all the stakes are raised and where most of the pay offs are.  Thor has no choice but to free Loki and work with him to stop Malekith from using the Aether.  Of course seeing Thor and Loki together are the best scenes in the movie.  We’ve already seen their relationship develop in two movies now and when they come together it instantly clicks and makes sense.  However, we see some of the strains and some acceptances in their relationship that kind of make you wish they put them together sooner.

The movie does have its flaws. Some scenes probably over stay their welcomes just a tad long and there seemed to be a set up for a love triangle that doesn’t really play out in the end that well (if you’re a fan of the comics you’ll know it when you see it).  I’m pretty sure people will be a bit disappointed that there isn’t enough Loki in the movie but lets remember, this is a Thor movie and not a Loki movie.  Don’t get me wrong I love what Hiddleston has done with Loki and I love how he plays the character he’s not the focal point in the movie.

As for Hemsworth, he has truly made Thor his own.  Hemsworth gives Thor the perfect balance of arrogance – without being cocky – humility and maturely.  He knows what he wants and who he loves and will do anything to protect them even if it means he has to sacrifice himself.  Thor is a man of action and here he proves it.

In connection with that some of the supporting characters don’t really get to do much.  The Warriors Three become the Warriors Two with Fandral and Volstagg getting more screen time.  Sif shows off more her badassery this time but other than that she almost does nothing else as does Idris Elba as Heimdall, he actually gets to do some action this time around.  Stellan Skarsgard takes an interesting turn with his Dr. Erik Selvig character.  Rene Russo as Thor and Loki’s mother Frigga gets some cool moments that I would have loved to see more of and Hopkins as Odin this time around really just walks and sits around and doesn’t capture the powerful ruler he was in the first movie.

On the villain side, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who plays Algrim/Kurse is intense and a bit terrifying at times and is the right hand man of Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith.  Eccleston is under some heavy makeup and at times can come off as terrifying and a real threat but other times he’s just an obstacle in the way.

One of the things that really took me by surprise is the humor in the movie.  Don’t let this surprise you since Marvel has been injecting more humor in their movies as of late.  However, the humor doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the movie.  There are many big dramatic moments in the movie that make this movie really work along side the humor.

All in all, Thor: The Dark World is a fun, humor, and action filled sequel that, although its small flaws, does make me want to see more Thor adventures in the future.

 

Thor: The Dark World

4 out of 5

Anticipated Movies of 2013 Part 3 (Last One)

Last part of my anticipated movies for 2013

Oct

4th: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

            Many people have been waiting for a sequel to one of the few great comic book adaptations and after years of waiting directors Frank Millar (one of the creators of the original source material) and Robert Rodriguez are going to fulfill our wishes.

 

11th: Oldboy

            One of the best revenge thrillers I’ve seen and one of the best Korean movies as well. Even though many people are against it some were eased into it when Spike Lee was announced as the director and Josh Brolin was cast as the lead with Sharlto Copley as the villain and rising star Elizabeth Olsen joining too. Brolin has been talking up how the film has original director Chan-wook Park’s blessing and is not holding back on the brutality and dark tones.

           

18th: Malavita, The Seventh Son, No Good Deed

            Malavita is directing by Luc Besson who in my mind always makes enjoyable movies. This one has a mob family being relocated and having to fit in. Although not awesome sounding Besson is not the one who makes “dramas” so we can only assume that theirs going to be some action. Seventh Son is a 18th century movie that deals with magic. No Good Deed stars Idris Elba and is directed by Sam Miller who has worked with Elba on his hit show Luther so I’m in.

25th: The World End

The last installment in their so called “Blood & Ice Cream” trilogy, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back again. This time dealing with five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. The rest of the cast includes semi-regular co-stars Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan.

 

Nov

1st: Ender’s Game

            I’ve never read Orson Scott Card’s book (I intend to do that before this comes out) which this is based on but a lot of people are very excited for this. I’m in for another reason, the impressive cast. Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley

 

8th: Thor: The Dark World

Although some thought Thor wasn’t a good movie or Marvel movie for that matter, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not just because it was a Marvel proptery that was setting up The Avengers but because it had such great performances by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. With The Dark World it’s promising an even dark tone that Thor was hinting at and who better to bring that then Alan Taylor, the man responsible for many great episodes of Game of Thrones

 

22nd: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen

Although I didn’t really enjoy Hunger Games as much as I thought I would I’m still looking forward to Catching Fire since it’s a pretty nice set up for the final installments. Disney going for another hit animated movie in Frozen which is about a young girl named Anna journey to find Snow Queen and end the perpetual winter prophecy that has fallen over their kingdom.

 

Dec

13th: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I was very surprised with An Unexpected Journey and I can’t wait to see what Peter Jackson and Co. do next.

 

20th: Anchorman: The Legend of Continues, Saving Mr. Banks,

            Anchorman was probably one of the funniest/dumbest (dumb in a good way) movies I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Saving Mr. Banks is about how Walt Disney tried to get Mary Poppins to the big screen and how better to play Walt then Tom Hanks himself right?

 

25th: 47 Ronin, Jack Ryan

            47 Ronin has been delayed multiple times within the last two years for various reasons and it looks like it’s finally coming out. Set in the 18th century it centers on a band of samurai who set out to avenge the death of their master and who’s playing one of the samurai’s? That’s right Keanu Reeves. Jack Ryan is a Tom Clancy’s creation that has been played by Alec Baldwin (Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears) but now will be played by rising star Chris Pine and I for one can not wait.