Avengers: Infinity War, Epic Fights, Space Battles and…

Although I’ve seen most of the comic book movies over the last 15 years, the genre is not one of my film favorites. However, this third Avengers movie promised to be, well, super because of the all-star cast from so many other good movies coming together. It should have stirred the heart strings and made my pulse race with tension. Instead, it left me with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”

Spoiler Alerts

Avengers: Infinity War had all the major players with the notable exception of Antman. Screen time is dominated by Ironman, Thor, and Peter Quill, although  Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Gamora, and Black Widow play major roles as well. Everyone else in the Marvel movie world shows up in smaller, sometimes bit parts. That’s okay too because having the audience follow too many superheroes in their multiple storylines would be too confusing. The plot bordered on that already with a lot of jumping between Earth attacks and Thanos progressing his way through his stone collection on other worlds. I never felt bored with the movie, but I never engaged with it either.A Infinity Wars

What Went Wrong?

In the roughly 2.5 hours I sat in the theater, I never felt emotionally involved with the film. By trying to force so much story in a short time, the creators didn’t slow down long enough for the audience to develop any attachment to the scenes. Tears should have flowed when Gamora begs for death or when many of the heroes meet their death. Some audience members did cry. Unfortunately, I simply walked away with a feeling that it wasn’t real.

Instead of focusing on the relationships, my mind filled with all the mistakes they made. First if Gamora is so important to Thanos’ scheme, why didn’t she disappear to unknown parts? Surely the galaxy is big enough to hide in. I also felt that Dr. Strange’s character was downgraded dramatically from his stand-alone film. Here is a guy that held another interdimensional god at bay with time manipulations. Why wasn’t this an option again? He also freaked out and befuddled two other gods, Loki and Thor. Granted neither of those have high intelligence skills but Dr. Strange even trapped Loki into an ever-falling dimension. Why could this not happen to Thanos’ minions? I will say (Spoiler!) that Dr. Strange gave the biggest hint of all about the end of the war, (not the same as the end of the movie) in two separate lines.

The end of the movie proved to be worse. During the final fight in Wakanda, the forces of good go up against the forces of alien in an epic battle that reminded me of scenes of Braveheart. It shouldn’t have. Braveheart was set back in the pre-technology days where swords and spears made sense. We’ve got guns people! Bombs! And Wakanda is supposed to own advanced technology. They used it but in limited ways. So why are we fighting hand to hand here? Why not wait to bomb the raging critters after they’ve come through the shield? Why run full speed into battle, exhausting yourself before the first blow and dispersing your troops? Looks good on film but dumb in battle.

Finally, I didn’t go into the theater expecting to see the first in a two-movie story. This always irritates me because I expect a film to wrap up the plot unless it is otherwise advertised. Avengers: Infinity War ends with half or more of the heroes dead. Thanos won. Heck, half of the galaxy is instantly erased from existence. Why do I know it is a two-movie plot? Because no studio would ever kill successful cash cows such as the Black Panther, Spiderman, and Thor without a plan to bring them back. Since the wielder of the infinity stones controls time, reality, and space, death becomes an easy fix.

By the end, I didn’t feel like I wasted money but I would not see it again. Nor am I sure I will buy the Blu-ray when it comes out. Considering I’ve collected many of the comic book movies, that says a lot.

So should you see it? If you’ve followed the comic book movies, then yes, see this film. No doubt the plot will be a major factor in the future MCU films. If you are not a Marvel fan, then don’t bother. For all of its fast pace, great CGI and pageantry, Avengers: Infinity War fails to stand on its own.

 

 

 

Justice League: DC Finally Finds Humor

Until now, my two complaints about DC movies revolved around the facts that they are often too visually and psychologically dark and lack humor and fun memorable lines. Justice League finally fixes that by created a pack of superheroes who can be angsty but still make wisecracks while kicking, in this case, alien ass.

 The Plot

Justice leagueThis film continues where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leaves off. Superman is dead and chaos rises while the world mourns. Batman, played by Ben Affleck, has done a mental 180, becoming a Supes-supporter. Some fans think he sees a world that has lost hope because their beacon-of-everything-good is gone and wants to change that.

I disagree. At the beginning of Justice League, Bruce Wayne is tracking the appearance of unusual creatures, looking a lot like human mosquitoes with killer bites. They are attracted to fear. He realizes something big is coming and he can’t handle it alone. Hence, he recruits a hidden, yet still active Wonder Woman, a nearly homeless Flash, the loner Aquaman, and a tortured Cyborg, who is barely in control of his awesome powers. Even with this much manpower, Wayne believes they still need Superman so he uses the Kryptonian pool that Lex Luther misused along with an alien artifact to raise Clark Kent from the dead. Worried about how he will react, Wayne has the rest of the group attempt to control a very angry man of steel once he is revived. One amusing part of the film is that Supes still kicks all of their asses even though two, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, are demigods (Superman too in a way). However, fear of what is coming is Batman’s motivation, not any need for hope.

The rest of the movie involves a new villain (yet old to the comic books), Steppenwolf, the Apokolips general for Darkseid. He collects the supposedly secret and guarded mother boxes to unite them and open a portal for something evil. I say “supposedly secret and guarded” because the big horned dude waltzes in, slaps everyone around, and goes straight for the glowing boxes with surprising ease. Their hidden vaults did not appear hidden at all.

Once opened, the group unites in an excellent battle scene where they really need each other to win. It’s not a case of “okay, everyone punch someone!” but more of an our-powers-united feel that leads them to winning. It also features some of the best humor lines.

Eye Candy and Feminist Controversy

DC seems to be drawing in the female audiences with their choices. We loved Wonder Woman as a pro-feminist movie. Justice League was all about the eye candy for the ladies.  Both Henry Cavill (Superman) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman) displayed rippling abs in scenes long enough to make the ladies fantasize about their favorites all night long. Yet some scenes were for the men as well. Gal Godot looked splendidly sexy in everything she wore, including some tight leather-like pants that showed off her legs and rear beautifully.

Some critics have stated that the Amazon women were displayed back in leather bikinis again rather than the full armor shown in Wonder Woman. They felt this was insulting by pushing women back into the sexy-but-stupid roles because who would fight with exposed abdomens? Anyone watch the 300 (2006) recently? The movie was true eye-candy for women and every one of the (male) Spartans lacked protective coverings on tanned thighs, ripped stomachs, smooth chests… ahem, but I digress.

I understand why some folks are upset. However, I only saw the leather bikinis in fast paced backgrounds. The queen and the guards still had their armor and helmets. None of the lesser costumes were obvious in the movies or at least they were not front and center as a main point, so this controversy seems like a fuss over nothing. With women’s health being under attack in the real world, a glimpse of leather bikinis is a distraction, not a controversy.

Cool Scenes

The creepiest moment in the show is due to excellent filming. Superman has awakened in a foul mood from the dead and is holding another superhero at bay. The scene shifts to Flash’s perspective as he enters the speed force. Everyone else is motionless but Supes’ eyes begin to track the Flash in a classic “oh crap!” moment before Clark punches him. Wonderful visual moment.

Most of the big ending fight is great too but the best highlight is where Aquaman is airborne. He is fighting and being tossed around by the flying mosquito-humans. He becomes victorious with help and then grabs one, kills it, then surfs the body back to the ground, popping off with long hair still perfect.

In conclusion, this movie had better lines, better relationship chemistry, and great filmmaking as compared to most of the previous DC movies. I’m starting to like Batman again even though I hated the Christian Bale interpretations. Affleck gives the character a smoothness and thoughtfulness that is not buried in so much darkness. I’d like to find out more about Aquaman, although he is as loner and as much an intense jerk as the Bats at times. The tension between the two is great.

Justice League is definitely worth seeing, possibly even twice to get nuances not apparent the first time around. Although I don’t go to IMAX and 3-d showings for private reasons, I can see how the film would rock in those types of theaters. However or wherever you can check out this movie, do so. It’s well worth the ticket price.