4/26/18

Avengers: Infinity War

Every superhero has a weak spot; Achilles had his heel; Samson, his hair. Now Thor needs his hammer back. My biggest challenge in this top-heavy fantasy/adventure was keeping track of all the characters. Between overwhelming Computer Generated Imaging (CGI) and an explosive script, my usually busy notepad (yes, I write in the dark) was sorely neglected.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (two "Captain America" films, so far), working from a PG-13 script penned by a committee, have once again assembled a slam-bang actioner which features countless superheroes as they try to save the Universe. Evil Thanos only lacks two (out of six) stones that will give him unlimited powers. His plan to save the Universe will be to kill off half of its populations, thus eliminating food shortages and overcrowding.

Here is a small part of the Russo brothers' gigantic cast:
  • Chris Evans ("Gifted") Steve Rogers/Captain America is my favorite because he's so decent! (But a BEARD?)
  • Chadwick Boseman ("42") T'Challa/Black Panther is ready to pitch in to do his part. (But spears against phasers?)
  • Robert Downey Jr. ("Sherlock Holmes") Tony Stark/Iron Man is still trying to stifle Peter Parker's eagerness. (But Pepper Potts wants him to retire.)
  • Josh Brolin ("Only the Brave") Thanos doesn't want to save the World, but he will save the Universe as soon as he obtains those last two stones. Doctor Strange has one, and Vision has the other.
  • Idris Elba ("Luther") Helmdall still believes that somehow Asgard will survive.
  • Scarlett Johansson ("Rough Night") Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow works best with Captain America.
  • Mark Ruffalo ("Now You See Me") Bruce Banner/Hulk desperately tries to launch his alter ego, but the Hulk won't come out.
  • Anthony Mackie ("All the Way") Falcon is always there when they need him.
  • Chris Pratt ("Guardians of the Galaxy") Peter Quill/Star-Lord and his motley crew blunder around and try to help. We welcome them because we know there will be humor.
  • Zoe Saldana ("Star Trek: Beyond") Gamora has memories of Thanos when he befriended her as a child.
  • Tom Holland ("Captain America") Peter Parker/Spider-Man is trying to be a friendly neighborhood superhero,  much to Tony Stark's dismay.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Current War") Dr. Steven Strange meets his match. He can only do so much.
  • Paul Bettany ("Manhunt: Unabomber") Vision is willing to make a huge sacrifice to keep that stone away from Thanos.
  • Tom Hiddleston ("The Night Manager") Loki never quits; he is always full of tricks.
  • Chris Hemsworth ("12 Strong") Thor has his reputation to uphold, but without his hammer things look grim.
  • Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones") This giant (!) blacksmith needs help re-igniting his forge.
This PG-13 actioner starts with a bang and never lets up. Our whole cadre of superheroes must stop Thanos before his devastation is irreversible. I have left out a number of superheroes but time and space, you know...

Fisticuffs, CGI, mayhem, CGI, fire fights, CGI, blowie uppie stuff, CGI, amazing landscapes, CGI, torture, CGI, aerial battles, CGI, unusual aliens and CGI. Have I forgotten anything? As you can easily see by my partial list of actors, this movie is top heavy with superheroes and feather light on plot. They had serious problems with continuity and size issues: at times Thanos was huge, other times he was just big. This is a 90-minute film spread out over 2 hours and 29 minutes. It is eye candy for fans of CGI and over-the-top violence, but I stifled more than one yawn.

We were not a noisy or enthused audience as we quietly exited the screening today.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
See what I mean:
* * * * * * * * * * * *

4/23/18

Thoroughbreds

This quirky (R-rated) little outing left me with an inchoate sense of dissatisfaction. I was tempted to skip putting any labor into it and leave it unreviewed. Upon reflection it occurred to me that I owe you a review because personally, I wasted an hour and 32 minutes of my life which I will never get back; I would like to spare you that same aggravation.

Writer/director Cory Finley ("Sauna") seems to understand the rewards and challenges of privilege, so it is only natural that he display them on screen ("Write what you know."). Problem is, once he did, we were left with absolutely no one to root for.  I watched two attractive, entitled young women who didn't seem to have enough to do, and you know, "Idle hands..."

His cast:
  • Olivia Cooke ("Ready Player One") is Amanda, the stony-faced young tutor who arrives at a spacious house in the opening scenes. She displays no emotion because she is incapable of feeling any.
  • Anya Taylor-Joy ("Split") Lily is ambiguous about needing a tutor, but she really wants to rid her world of that bossy stepfather.
  • Anton Yeltsin ("Star Trek") I'm sorry to say the role of Tim is the last one in which we will see this appealing young actor. A horrific accident at his home has taken him from us. Yeltsin plays a drug dealer in this one.
  • Paul Sparks ("House of Cards") Mark hasn't endeared himself to Lily. Amanda just sees him as a challenge.The two young women cobble together a plan that should solve the problem for each of them. It isn't anything I would try. Ugh!
Stay home.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This gives you a feel for it.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

4/14/18

Finding Your Feet

Another Movie for Grownups. And as a grownup, I can relate. The issues here are universal, but resonate particularly with "People of a certain age."

Our snobbish heroine is on top of the world. After a sterling career, her law-enforcement husband is being knighted, so she is now Lady Abbott. The celebration festivities are barely under way when she leaves her guests to retrieve something and interrupts her husband in mid-embrace. Humiliated, she flees to live with her unconventional sister in public housing. Now things get interesting.

Director Richard Loncraine ("5 Flights Up"), working from a PG-13 script by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft ("Urban Hymn") brings us a satisfying tale with a top-flight (courageous) cast which can hold up under many, revealing closeups.

Part of Loncraine's cast:
  • Imelda Staunton ("Cranford" and "Harry Potter") Sandra had plans for her golden years but evidently she married a tosser who had definite ideas of what was proper behavior for his wife. She is a basket case.
  • Celia Imrie ("The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") Bif lives a marginal but happy life. She sniffs the cream to be sure it hasn't spoiled before she serves it and regularly goes to a seniors' dance class on Thursdays. She tells her sister Sandra, "Get off your high horse!"
  • Timothy Spall ("Mr. Turner") Charlie has his own drama to confront but he goes to the dance class to be supportive of his unhappy friend Ted.
  • David Hayman ("Viceroy's House") Ted still isn't over his divorce. He lives on a canal in his boat which is moored next to Charlie's.
  • Joanna Lumley ("Me Before You") Jackie has had numerous husbands, so she is the resident expert on divorce settlements. She dispenses advice at the Thursday dance class.
As a lark the seniors dance class organizes a Flash Mob which is picked up by the news. This prompts an invitation to a Dance Festival in Rome, all expenses paid. What a hoot!

You can expect lavish alcohol, occasional marijuana, silly hi-jinks, excellent acting, and a recognizable song list that includes: Rockin' Robin, Chantilly Lace, Rock Around the Clock, and Tequila, among many other familiar oldies. By the way, I saw this with a closed caption device so none of the accents would frustrate me.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Check out this trailer:
* * * * * * * * * * * *