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 *****

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor Ragnarok

Despite the loss of his hammer (and some hair), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still ready for battle.

Marvel is now just one or two movies away from me actually picking up a comic.

The Thor trilogy ends, as the other two trilogies Marvel has provided (Iron Man and Captain America) ended, with a blast. Thor: Ragnarok is not only the best Thor movie, but one of the top four or five best Marvel has ever given us to date.

After the events of Thor: The Dark World (which is shown to us in a play on Asgard) and a battle against evil beings set to Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song”, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) set out to find their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), only to discover that he is being pursued by a secret sister of Thor, Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett, who, as of this reading, I have yet to see give a bad performance).

The God of Thunder escapes, only to be marooned on a far away planet run by the Grandmaster (a role that could only be played by Jeff Goldblum). It is here where he reunites with his old “friend from work”, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

From his first lines, I have finally began to realize how much of a sense of humor Thor has gained since he first hit the big screen back in 2009. This third film delivers some of the best humor any Marvel film has delivered (or any comic book movie, for that matter). I won’t go spoiling anything, except to say I never saw a movie I can remember that had the term “The Devil’s Anus” before. Yeah, you heard me.

Parents, there is one part in the movie that I felt was a little bit on the queasy side. We learn that the Grandmaster’s space ship is used mainly for orgies (“Don’t touch anything,” Thor orders). Yes, it is funny, but a little awkward. Nevertheless, if your kid has seen a marvel movie, they will like this one.

Even with grand special effects and wise cracking dialogue, the most enduring thing about Thor: Ragnarok is the sense of fun. You can tell all the actors (including the very welcoming Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and director Taika Waititi as the heartfelt Korg) are having a blast. It is no wonder why so many actors in Hollywood are jumping on the Marvel express.

Overall: Four Stars ****

Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight

 

While I am an amatuer movie reviewer, I am definetly not a newspaper writer. Even so, I still can enjoy movies about the buissness (the main one that always comes to mind is All the President’s Men with Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, and Jason Robards. Spotlight may not be better than it, but it is still pretty great.

Going into the film, I knew what it was about. It covers the story of how, in 2001, the Boston Globe’s new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) gets the Spotlight team to investigate some known sexual accusations in the Catholic Church of the city. I went to Boston at least twice in my life, but never knew that the city was big on the Catholic Church. Still, the Spotlight team goes and investigates.

The actors are so pitch perfect that I don’t think I saw any reseblance of the known faces on the screen. The two most notable performances are by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. Keaton is Walter Robinson (called Robby), the head of Spotlight. Ruffalo is one of his co workers, Mike Rezendes. The other two on Spotlight are Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) and Sascha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams, who is so good I did not once think I was seeing the same actress from Mean Girls and The Notebook). They report to Ben Bradlee Jr., (John Slattery), whose father was portrayed by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men.

This is a movie that will require more than one viewing (there are a lot of characters, including Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian played wonderfully by Stanley Tucci). Still, the more each character investigates, the more truth comes out (the testimonies of the victims are blunt, horrifying, and down right tragic).

Parents, there is some swearing, but the subject matter is what gives the movie an R rating (the testimonies of the grown ups who were sexually assaulted as children is very graphic in what they say, although nothing is seen). Still, I would not show this to anyone under High School age.

The first bit of the movie had me a little uneasy as to where it was going, but I eventually caught on to what is surely one of the best films of the year (much credit also should go to the screenplay and the director Tom McCarthy). The film will definetly have many Oscar nominations.

One story I read about the real Walter Robinson talking about Michael Keaton’s portrayel had me smiling.

“My persona has been hijacked. If Michael Keaton robbed a bank, the police would quickly have me in handcuffs.”

Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The Avengers are back.

The Avengers are back.

Like most great comic book movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron had me wishing I read comics more as a child. After seeing this film, I went straight to the web to gain more knowledge on the super heroes.

The movie starts out, quite literally, with a bang. It does not build up to any action scene, but drops you right in the middle of it. Like the first film, Avengers: Age of Ultron does not require you to see all of the heroes in their original movies (although some of them don’t have them). We still have Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man (played as uncannily as always by Robert Downey Jr.). He has tried to make a peacekeeping program with the help of Bruce Banner (the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo). Things take a turn for the worst when Ultron becomes convinced the only way to get peace in the world is by the Avengers extinction. His voice is deliciously played by the great James Spader. Others in the all star cast include Chris Evans of Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and (in a more showier role than last time around) Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

There are two new additions as well. After staring as a married couple in last year’s Godzilla, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen now play twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, better known, respectively, as Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch. Other minor roles are still played well by Don Cheadle as War Machine, Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Like the last movie, each actor takes his/her role seriously but still has a lot of fun with it. It results in having one of the year’s funniest movies (the film starts off with a swearing gag that is hilarious). All of the dialogue is crisp, blunt, and totally authentic. If there were no action scenes, the movie would still be worth watching (it could even play as an audio book at times). There are even some scenes of romance, between two characters I would not have thought of.

The film is not perfect: It does run long, especially the last action scene, but that is a minor negative. Parents, there is some swearing, and some innuendo, but that is really it. The last minutes of this film will have you waiting franctically for the next film (especially when you see the short clip in the credits.

The 2015 Summer Movie season has started out on a big positive note.

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2