FlixChatter Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War. It’s not just a movie… it’s an event. The buzz is quite overwhelming even when I only occasionally browse Twitter & Facebook as I’ve been preoccupied with a local film festival. The nice thing about being busy is that I barely have time to read any articles on it, and given how even Marvel studio has been begging fans NOT to spoil anything, it’s best to go into Infinity War not knowing much about what’s going to happen to earth’s mightiest heroes.

On that note, I’m going to keep this review relatively brief and I won’t go into any details. I’m also not going to put the actors’ name as most of you already know who they are anyway, or you can easily just go to IMDb if you forget.

Now, there are apparently 40 characters featured in this movie, which is absolutely insane! Yep that is waaay more than in DC’s Justice League, however, the advantage of this latest Avengers film is there have been two films done previously with multiple heroes, AND many of the heroes featured here have had their own individual films (even a trilogy). Therefore, we already know quite a bit about some of their background and why we should care. That is I think, one of the reason Infinity War is not a huge jumbled mess that was Justice League. The Russo Brothers miraculously able to juggle a dizzying number of MCU heroes, and also presented an adversary that poses enough threat to warrant this huge assembly.

I’d imagine one of the toughest tasks for the directors (good thing there’s a PAIR of them, two heads are always better than one) is how the heck do they transition from one to the next? I think for the most part the transition work pretty well with using certain music and superimposing the location at the start of a scene. Some of the character entrances are better than others. I particularly love how Steve Rogers  & his besties are introduced, but then again Capt is easily my fave Marvel hero of the whole bunch. He looks even more bad ass with longish hair and scraggly beard, yowza!

It’s also exhilarating to see T’Challa and Wakanda again after having enjoyed Black Panther relatively recently, and the battle against Thanos’ army is quite exciting. You could say Thor is perhaps the MVP in this assembly, and there’s also a new character we haven’t seen before that’s made a pretty big impact in the movie. I’m going to let you find out for yourself who that is but it’s definitely a memorable one.

Another mighty challenge to get this film right is the tone. I think it’s admirable that the Russos + writing team Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely can balance the lighter tone with the more emotional scenes. Admittedly, some of the humor are on the goofy side, such as whenever the Guardians of the Galaxy posse show up. That bit when they meet Thor for the first time is quite hilarious, yep even amongst a throng of heroes, Chris Hemsworth’s physique is quite something to marvel at. The one liners and repartee between superheroes are a hit and miss, though the banter between Dr Strange and Iron Man did make me laugh. Bruce Banner/Hulk is especially hilarious here and Spider-Man also continues to be a comic relief. His relationship with Iron Man has grown to the fact that Tony Stark’s practically his adopted (billionaire) uncle. The relationship between Wanda and Vision is explored more here as well, but thankfully it didn’t make me cringe the way Black Widow + Hulk was in Age of Ultron.

For a film called Infinity War, naturally you can expect a long battle sequence. Fortunately, there’s more that happened leading up to it that isn’t all about action, action, action. That fact alone is quite a feat, but that’s been the strength of the last two Captain America films that the Russos directed. The action, no matter how bombastic, has to punctuate and support the story instead of overpowering it, and the writers didn’t lose sight of that here. Yes there are perhaps too many plot threads that at times feel overkill, but I’m glad that there is still a singular focus and that is to defeat Thanos. Now, as I mentioned above, despite that rather ridiculous chin, he is actually not just a odd-looking monster hell-bent on taking over the world, but there’s surprising ‘humanity’ to him despite his decidedly twisted logic. I remember cringing every time I see an image of Thanos in all the promos because he looks so silly to me, but fortunately, in the film he’s much more menacing.

What makes a superhero film worth watching is that there’s an actual grave threat that actually requires their superpower. The film also asks just what it actually means to be heroic? It’s not enough that one simply has a superpower, but how much is one willing to sacrifice in order to help others? For some of the Avengers, this battle is a personal one. The personal sacrifice narrative is what gives this gigantic movie its heart and emotional resonance.

Now, as far as all the suspense of which Avengers die in this movie? Well, I gotta say, I did gasp a few times and even shed a tear or two. I wouldn’t say this is a brutal film given it’s a PG-13 flick, but there are some darker moments the fact that there’s a lot at stake for even the most powerful team in the universe and beyond. For the most part, it’s a mostly-thrilling roller coaster ride for Marvel fans, though I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite in the MCU canon. Some parts are overlong and some went by way too fast. Given there are SO many plots to cover, there’s barely any time to immerse in a single one as by the time that happens, it’s already moved to the next one.

Still, I applaud the filmmakers tasked with this gargantuan task of bringing the pinnacle of 19 (nineteen!!) Marvel films. That’s a colossal ambition equal to Thanos wanting to collect ALL infinity stones! I also love the rousing music by Alan Silvestri who’s done the first Captain America and The Avengers movie). As far as the ending, well, they certainly made sure that you know that the war goes on. This is just Part I so things are deliberately left on a major cliffhanger. If you stick around for the end credits, you just might get a hint on what’s in store for the next installment.


So have you seen Infinity War? Well, I’d love to hear what you think!

Weekend Roundup: THOR rewatch and IN TIME review

Happy Presidents Day, folks!

I’ve got a day off today which is always nice. Well, I skipped the cinema again today as there just isn’t anything worth spending $10 bucks for. So on Friday night my hubby and I opted to finally open our THOR Blu-ray disc and re-watch it. As I’m anticipating The Avengers this coming May, we might re-watch the individual Marvel superhero movies before that, and THOR has not one but two of The Avengers‘ major players… the god of thunder himself AND the group’s nemesis, Loki.

This is the third time we watched THOR as we saw this twice on the big screen and I still love it. I must say I REALLY enjoy watching Tom Hiddleston more and more as Loki and am thankful to Kenneth Branagh for choosing him as the villain. I could see how at the end of this film Loki has become so disillusioned with who he is and his place alongside his brother… he already had such a major identity crisis in the beginning and by the end of it, Thor’s return to Asgaard will finally push him into a full-blown sinister villain hellbent on revenge and destruction. So yeah, Thor definitely earns its place amongst my Top Ten Favorite of 2011, check out my full review.

IN TIME (2011)

Most of the time, I watched movies because of the cast but this one is one I actually watch despite of it. What appeals to me most about this movie is the sci-fi concept of time as means of life force AND currency. Set in an unspecified period of the future, people stop aging at the age of 25 but are engineered to live only one more year, that is unless they have the means to buy their way out of that situation to have a shot at immortal youth.

The protagonist is Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) who lives in a ghetto-like society where people are constantly dying as they literally run out of time. Everyone has a ‘digital body clock’ in their arm that tells them exactly how much time they have left down to the last second. Coffee costs four minutes of their life and a bus ride is about 1 hour or two. It’s a fascinating concept to see people pay and getting paid in their jobs by scanning their arm into a certain device that would deduct or put the number of hours. Unlike blood transfusion that would mostly have to be done at a medical location, people can transfer their life force in a matter of seconds in this futuristic world as all they have to do is put their arms together and the hours/minutes is transfered immediately.

Tragedy hits Will at the beginning of the film when his 50-something mother (Olivia Wilde) ran out of time on the way of meeting him. Wilde is actually younger than the 31-year-old Timberlake by 3 years in real life but that is ok as she looked about 25 in this film. It’s even more devastating as Wil just inherited over a hundred years from a stranger he saved from a bar, a 105-year-old Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) who’s burned out of living forever. It’s not exactly clear how Henry obtained that enormous amount of life force however, but he ended up transferring most of his life force to Will with only minutes left for him to commit suicide by the bridge.

Will then moves to a different ‘time zone’ New Greenwich, a city where the upper class live and the millionaires here have hundreds and even millions of years to their time to live as they please. It’s eerie to see that everyone is so young, Phillipe Weis, a time-loaning business tycoon introduce his mother in-law, his wife and daughter to Will and they all look merely a couple of years apart. The 90-year old Phillipe himself looks barely old enough to be a college freshman.

Will ends up being on the run as the Timekeepers (led by Cillian Murphy) think Will killed Henry and stole his time. But just before he is arrested, he managed to kidnap the Phillipe’s beautiful daughter Sylvia and the two runs off together in Will’s newly-acquired fast luxury car. Will is hellbent on fighting against the injustice of the system and against the ‘for one to live forever, few must die’ philosophy of the rich, fostered by billionaires like Weis. The rebellious Sylvia is more than happy to trail along with Will as the two become lovers on the run.

Whilst the whole thing is quite a novelty idea, there are tons of issues that keep this from being a great film. For one, the storyline is quite predictable. In many occasions I could predict what’s about to happen next. The high-paced action and car chases are fun to watch but there’s no sense of real danger to the protagonists and apart from the scene between Will and his mother, the elements of surprise is almost non-existent throughout. The set pieces are quite nice however, I especially like how the vintage-futuristic cars, if there is such a thing… they have futuristic elements but the design is made to look like 60s/70s automobiles.

Now, let’s talk about the casting. I’ve always thought that Timberlake has talents but not exactly a capable leading man material. He was good in The Social Network but it was more of a supporting role and he simply had to rely on his charm and confidence to make it work. In this one, he’s serviceable and even sympathetic at times, but lacks a certain depth that would make his character someone we could truly connect with. I think Seyfried is a promising young actress, she’s definitely got on-screen charisma, but she’s not given much to do but look alluring in a short dress and sky-high heels. Props also for her ability to outrun the police in those stilettos, not to mention keeping her perfect bob always looking so smooth and bouncy. They make a nice looking couple but neither have the edge to make me think they’ve got it in them to be society’s ‘savior’ who steal from the rich on behalf of the poor. In fact, they seems to be a clumsy amalgam of Robin Hood + Romeo & Juliet + Bonnie & Clyde.

Director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1m0ne) seem to have a penchant for ridiculously beautiful people. This film is chock full of them! In fact, Timberlake seems to be the only the more ‘normal’ looking one amongst supermodel-types like Seyfried, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer and Olivia Wilde. Now, I’m probably the only one who’d notice this, but even Sylvia’s bodyguard is played by a the gorgeous Ethan Peck, the grandson of my beloved Gregory who obviously has the tall, dark with a deep voice genes on his side. Perhaps the director is trying to emphasize the ‘fountain of youth’ aspect of the story but I feel like the gorgeous cast actually becomes a distraction instead of serving the story.

The massively-talented Cillian Murphy with killer blue eyes is always watchable as the chief of the Timekeepers, but I don’t think his talent was fully utilized here. When I first saw the trailer, I actually thought what this movie would look like with Cillian as the lead and how a capable director Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott could take this fascinating time-based currency concept to new heights.

Final thoughts:

As I’ve said above, this movie is worth a watch largely because of the fascinating concept. I probably wouldn’t even rent it if I weren’t a big fan of this kind of sci-fi films. Thankfully, despite the flaws, it’s not a complete waste of time either, which would be ironic indeed 🙂

3 out of 5 reels

So what did you watch this weekend, folks? If you’ve seen this movie, I’d love to hear what you think.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Thor

Thor Cast
Branagh, Hopkins, Portman & Hemsworth

Is this a comic-based flick or another Hamlet adaptation? The cast for the upcoming Marvel comic adaptation Thor is is looking pretty high brow. First, we’ve got Shakesperean actor/director Kenneth Branagh at the helm. Second, the lineup includes the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson.

I’d never peg Branagh to be doing a movie like this, which is all the more reason I’m intrigued to see what he’ll bring to the table. Seems that more and more serious thespians are joining the comic-book bandwagon, just this week it’s been reported that Dame Helen Mirren will star in an espionage thriller Red, which is based on a DC comic. Now, some might think they are merely wanting a little piece of the superhero pie as one Cinematical writer put it. She also astutely noted that the quality of these genre flicks have been greatly improved over the years that if there ever was a stigma of being involved in those, it’s quickly eroding. I’d say it’s a win-win trend for everyone involved: the project gets some kind of prestige-boost, the actors get a heftier paycheck (as films of this genre usually get a relatively bigger budget), and we the moviegoers get to see higher-caliber acting alongside some kick-ass CGI. That’s definitely not a bad thing, especially the fact that with the continued success of both DC and Marvel projects, comic book flicks surely aren’t going away any time soon.

For anyone not familiar with the comics, here’s a quick plot summary from THR’s blog: The movie’s story sees the god of thunder Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions re-ignite an ancient war. As punishment, Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans. Once here, he learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends dark forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Hopkins will play the Norse god Odin, who is Thor’s father and ruler of Asgard. Newcomer Chris Hemsworth (who’s last seen as Capt. Kirk’s father in Star Trek) has been given the role of Thor and Natalie Portman will play his love interest.

The movie is set to be released Summer of 2011.