Avengers: Infinity War


Viewed – 09 May 2018  Cinema

Do I suffer from comic-book movie fatigue?  To a degree yes.  I still enjoy some super-hero smack down action but have felt underwhelmed by recent fare both through over-familiarity with the concept and the desire for something different and a little deeper.  So we come to this epic instalment where it seems Marvel is throwing everything at the viewer for the ultimate battle against what appears to be the ultimate foe – Thanos.  Hinted at and foreshadowed in previous movies, the intergalactic megalomaniac, played by Josh Brolin is finally out to claim the fabled Infinity Stones, of which if he claims all six will give him ultimate power over life and death in the universe.

Avengers Infinity War

So the stakes are immensely high and it’s up to a disbanded Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow etc) and any friends they can pull into their ranks (including Spider Man) to stop this powerhouse of a villain.  In a movie like this it would be easy to go lazy and just fill the run time with fight after fight, which we get in spectacular fashion … but what takes this to another level is the depth to the characterisation I wasn’t expecting and even though it’s crowded with ego’s butting heads, somehow many of the characters get time to have their moment and stand out individually.  Despite such a serious situation it also throws in moments of decent humour, especially with the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy, with the scenes between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Pratt’s Star Lord proving particularly funny.

So we come to the central figure here, the long awaited and somewhat hyped appearance of Thanos, and Josh Brolin brings a surprising amount of pathos and grit to the character that makes him the closest Marvel has got to the level of Heath Ledger’s Joker.  He really is that good, and in a movie with many surprises and bold plot developments, he elevates the movie into the realm of classic status.  The fact the movie takes risks with a very familiar formula, especially in it’s closing moments just has to be applauded also.  This is the best Avengers movie yet and could possibly be the best Marvel movie.  So simply put, you have to see this one.

Verdict:  5 /5

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Iron Man 3


Viewed – 17 December 2013  Blu-ray

You have to love Iron Man.  Such an unashamedly bad-ass character backed up by the one liner filled charisma of Robert Downey Jr … what’s not to like?  In this third outing for the high tech hero / billionaire and following on directly from the Marvel Avengers Assemble, Tony Stark (Downey Jr) faces a new threat, that of a middle eastern terrorist (Ben Kingsley), clearly modelled after Osama Bin-Laden (bad taste?) who is setting off bombs on American soil.

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Directed by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) as can be expected this is peppered with the director’s trade mark sharp, often very un-p.c. dialogue.  Not quite so much fun are the constant nods to Avengers with references to Thor and the like (didn’t we get enough of this in I.M #2?) and a war on terror backdrop that’s becoming an all too familiar story device these days.  Downey does a good job as the increasingly troubled stark (he’s getting panic attacks following Avengers … but this isn’t fully explored) and throw in a little kid let’s bond moment (Hellboy anyone?) and a twist I saw coming a mile off … and well, to be honest considering all the good reviews – I was disappointed.  The first half of the movie is actually rather slow, and although Guy Pierce as always, is rather good – this all just felt a bit unnecessary.

Again Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts is well observed and is the crutch this movie just about stands up with, with an enjoyable Gwyneth Paltrow – and towards the end some of the action was pretty slick – especially the final encounter with the villain.  Also Rebecca Hall is in it, and well… she’s hot.  But overall I found this really lacking – and dare I say it, I might have enjoyed I.M #2 more.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Marvel Avengers Assemble


Viewed – 30 April 2012  Cinema

This has to be one of the most anticipated movies of the year.  With Marvel Studios prepping the big screen mash-up of some of their best-loved comic book creations through movies like Iron Man to Captain America: The First Avenger, this is one concept that has promised the near-impossible … so the question on all our lips remains, can this even hope to deliver?

When vengeful God Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steals a powerful source of energy right from under the nose of government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. its up to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to finally launch his Avengers Initiative, and sets about calling on Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawk Eye (Jeremy Renner), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and finally Iron-Man (Robert Downey Jr).  Loki has teamed up with a violent race from another dimension to rage war on earth, and it’s up to the Avengers to stop them … and all I could say was BRING IT ON!  Directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Serenity) this colourful and thoroughly entertaining movie has the words ‘blockbuster’ running through it like a piece of Blackpool rock (U.S. readers, google it!), with over-the-top special effects action, lots of destruction and big personalities going toe to toe in-between kicking more ass than an ass-whooping contest.  Thankfully though holding it all together is a razor-sharp script penned by Whedon and Zak Penn that is full of great lines and a surprisingly amount of comedy that is so well-timed and perfectly judged that it just about stops things descending into farce.  Whedon has always been good with an ensemble cast, and despite the egos on display here, the script wisely allows every character a moment to shine.  Also considering Scarlett Johansson is the only female, she impressively (and gorgeously) manages to hold her own despite the testosterone on display.

The story lets things down a tad, borrowing it seems from the first Transformers movie for its cube-like macguffin, and apart from Loki the enemy are personality-free punch bags for our heroes to look good battering.  Also considering the movie is set in New York, and it’s the Marvel Universe we’re dealing with, Spider Man’s omission seems somewhat jarring.  But when pondering such issues, there is usually another breathtaking action sequence, witty line or cool looking character around the corner.  If when sitting down to this you intend on being entertained – then believe me, you can’t go wrong with The Avengers.

Verdict:  4 /5

The year in review – Part One


I thought I’d do something a little different this year as we near the end of December.  There will still be my final Top Ten of 2010, but for now I thought I’d offer a critical look back on the movies I have watched since January.  Note:  This is not a review of movies released in 2010, as there’s many I haven’t been able to see, rather this is a look at what movies I’ve seen that have impressed me, regardless of original release date.

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Iron Man 2


Viewed – 29 October 2010  Blu-ray

Back in a packed summer season, Iron Man #1 stood out as the surprise superhero gem despite tough competition from The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.  I loved it, mainly down to the perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr but also some superb action scenes and a tongue-in-cheek rule breaking attitude that kept it fresh and exciting.  Naturally I was hyped for the sequel, but sadly missed it at the cinema.  So it was high time I made up for that on Blu-ray.

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