Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers Infinity War

Thanos (Josh Brolin) shakes the Avengers to their core, as well as the audience.

For the past ten years, Marvel has made (for the most part) solid entertaining movies. It has also been that long since The Dark Knight, which has always been the best superhero movie. Few movies have been any kind of a threat (Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther). Now comes the cream of the crop, Avengers: Infinity War. In my mind, The Dark Knight is still number one, but it has been shaken by a solid silver place finisher.

I will be brief, for I would fear of any form of spoilers (there will be none here). If you have seen any of the Marvel films (I know you have), you know there have been six infinity stones in the universe. They are being hunted by Thanos (Josh Brolin), in his quest to bring balance to the cosmos. This is done with the infinity gauntlet, which he can use to wipe out half of all living things, with a snap of his fingers.

That is as far as I will go. Standing in his way are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Captain America (Chris Evans),….ok, basically everyone in every Marvel movie except for Ant-Man and Hawkeye (that was easier).

Remember Spider-Man 3, when there were too many characters and story lines? Well, Infinity War has only one real story line and one villain. Nevertheless, all the star players are not only here, but needed. Afterall, that is how hard it is to defeat a guy like Thanos. The first ten minutes alone prove my point.

Credit also must be given to directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Each character is given same amount of screen time, but the right amount of it. Kudos to the actors for remembering the old rule: no small parts, only small actors.

Speaking of which, there is even a role for Peter Dinklage. I mean that transition not as a put down joke, but from the heart. There is no doubting the man’s talent.

Parents, I was about to say it is like any Marvel movie, but, to be fair, there are a lot of darker moments. That is all I will say. Middle School and above.

That is all I will say, because this is not a movie to read about. It is one to experience. And what an experience.

 

Overall: Five Stars *****

Sicario (2015)

Benecio Del Toro and Emily Blunt in Sicario.

Benecio Del Toro and Emily Blunt in Sicario.

It was in last year’s Edge of Tomorrow (which is still in my mind horribly underrated) that I learned how tough Emily Blunt can be. In that film, she held her own against one of the biggest stars in the world (Tom Cruise), and seemed to do so with out any struggle.

In Sicario, she stars as FBI agent Kate Macer, who (at the start of the film), comes across the house of bodies due to the war on drugs. She is recruited by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). It is not entirely clear (at least to me) what branch of government he works for, but it is clear his view on how to stop the drug war: Things must be done off the book, and it is clear with the man he uses named Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro).

While Brolin is good, and Emily Blunt shows she is one tough cookie, it is Del Toro who steals the show. His Alejandro is easily one of the most memorable characters in cinema for the past few years (he reminded me of Anton Chigurgh from No Country for Old Men).  While I always knew he was a great, underappreciated actor (he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2000’s Traffic), I admit I had forgot about it (he has not had many great films since then, save for 21 Grams). Here he gets a chance to spread his wings again in a performance that is, as teens today might say, sic (pun intended). Here is looking at another Oscar nomination.

The problem with the film I think is the confusion of characters. I admit I had trouble remembering the names of certain characters, and had no idea who some of them even worked for. Still, the film is wonderfully made (the director is Denis Villeneuve, who recently directed Prisoners with Hugh Jackman). It also has stellar cintamatography (which is no surprise when you realize it is 12 time Oscar nominated Roger Deakins who did it).

Parents, High School and above. There is no real sexual scenes (one where a character is about to after a lot of kissing, but then does not go farther than that). The movie gets its R rating from its swearing (which is language any teen would hear sadly these days in school), but the violence is graphic. For those who can handle it, it is one of the gems of 2015.

Overall: Four Stars ****