This Means War!

Avengers: Infinity War

I’m a movie buff, as are a number of my friends. We’ve formed a sort of informal Move Premiere Posse (MPP) that goes and sees movies, especially the purported blockbusters, at the earliest possible premiere show. For many of the blockbusters, previews start on Thursday, as with Infinity War, or sometimes Wednesdays, as was true of Ready Player One.

Yes, we all contributed to Infinity War’s monster 39 million dollar Thursday take.

The first thing you need to know about the movie is that it’s Part 1 of a two-parter, as exemplified by Marvel’s original advertising for the movie (see the above image). Since then, they’d gone silent on the idea of a two-parter, and announced that they’d decided not to tell anyone the name of the fourth Avengers film, saying that the title would be a spoiler.

Well, the movie borrows some major beats from the original comic book source material, and it does, indeed, end in a cliffhanger. Just accept that, and move on. Because what Marvel has delivered is a sprawling, fun, action-filled extravaganza powered by a villain that’s a true and worthy opponent for the Avengers. All of them.

It’s not a perfect movie, but it mostly works just fine. There are some interesting sets of heroes working together, and that mostly works, too. All of the characters get a few good lines, even if some obviously get more screen time than others. The science is wonky, but then, it was in the original comic books, as well. It’s all fast-paced enough and fun enough that it’s a smooth ride the whole way.

If you like superheroes, go see it. If you like Marvel, go see it. It’s well worth your time.

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Justice League: Surprisingly Watchable

Justice LeagueMy brother dragged me to see Justice League, the new DC superhero movie, last Thursday for its early premiere. Technically, it’s the fifth movie in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), DC’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Of course, Marvel has had 17 successful movies compared to DC’s five movies, which have been critically panned with the sole exception of Wonder Woman.

This review, by Paul Tassi, is about the most accurate I’ve seen. He does an excellent job of summarizing what was good and bad about the film.

My own brief summary:

  • The character interactions mostly feel right, and are primarily what makes the film work as well as it does. The humor is a huge plus for the film.
  • The villain is just a McGuffin for the team to fight. He’s even more one-dimensional than Marvel villains, which is an impressive feat, but not one that you should strive for.
  • The threat used to bring the team together seems a little sketchy. Basically, it’s just a plot device to get the team formed.
  • Aquaman was considerably more intriguing than I expected, despite the abbreviated introduction
  • Flash was hilarious. More, please.
  • The special effects weren’t quite up to the final climactic battle, but DC tried.
  • It’s got some plot holes you could drive a truck through. Try not to think about them too much.

Basically, it’s an enjoyable film. I liked it. I didn’t love it. On IMDB’s 10-star scale, I’d give it about 6 stars (considerably better than the 39% from Rotten Tomatoes).

All of the previous DC movies have been financially successful, despite any beatings they taken from audiences and critics. However, Wonder Woman is the only film that has emerged with acclaim from both fans and critics, as well as being a financial powerhouse. It remains to be seen how Justice League will fare. It debuted lower than expected, 96M in the US rather than 110M+ as was expected, which is the worst of all the DCEU films. And the word is that it’s basically got to cross 600M worldwide to make a profit.

It’s got some serious problems, but it’s the first film other than Wonder Woman where they successfully captured the essence of the DC superheroes.

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Deadpool! Your Valentine’s Day Rom-Com

I’d heard a lot of good things about the new X-Men movie, “Deadpool.” I’d also been impressed with the savvy, in-your-face marketing campaign for it. So I decided to go see it today.

Before I tell you what I thought about the movie, let’s look at some more of that marketing…

Deadpool on Valentine's Day

The first thing you need to know about “Deadpool” is that it’s R-rated. Very. And very violent. And it deliberately tries to break every rule going, from the crazy initial credits to breaking the fourth wall, to making fun of everything under the sun (including other X-Men movies, the poor performance of Ryan Reynold’s ill-fated movie, “The Green Lantern,” and its own budget limitations).

It’s crazy, with extreme attitude. It’s raunchy. It’s fun. It redefines what the Chinese Year of the Dog means (you’ll know what I mean when you see the appropriate scene in the film). But it’s also clever, which makes all of the difference. In short, it’s a surprisingly good movie…and it doesn’t even come close to having the sort of plot where the heroes are saving the world.

There’s something refreshing in seeing the filmmakers embrace the character, Deadpool, and all of the things that make him a favorite with fans. And rather than toning it down, or filing the edges off, they just go for it. Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes. You have to respect the chances they took with the film, and the way they made it pay off.

We may be looking at the top-grossing film in the overall X-Men franchise, despite the fact that, as an R-rated film, its audience is more limited than most other PG-13 superhero films.

If you like superheroes, daring filmmaking, raunchy humor, over-the-top violence and an intelligent script…go see this film. Oh, at heart, it’s also a romantic comedy. Go figure.

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