REVIEW: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)

“In time, you will know what it’s like to lose. To feel so desperately that you’re right, yet to fail all the same. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.” ―Thanos

Third Avengers film finds the “Mad Titan” Thanos (Josh Brolin) deciding to restore balance to the universe by killing half of it’s population. To do this he must track down six powerful infinity stones to be placed in a gauntlet, that once completed, will give him the means to do so. To stop him, The Avengers must put aside their differences and The Guardians of the Galaxy must learn to play nice with The Avengers. Not as simple as it sounds as Thanos and his four children…The Black Order…will destroy anything in their path to get the stones…two of which are already on Earth.

Spectacularly entertaining film is directed with a wonderful mix of intensity, action and humor by Joe and Anthony Russo, who gave us the best Marvel film…until now…Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely who get a whole lot of story going without the film ever feeling like it’s too busy or a mess. Our heroes are split up on various quests. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to forge a new weapon, Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to keep Thanos from getting the Time Stone and Cap (Chris Evans), Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) are trying to keep the Mind Stone in Vision’s (Paul Bettany) head out of Thanos’ mitt as well. The action scenes are far more spectacular than we have yet seen in the MCU and in this film series we’ve seen a lot. What can you say about a film that gives you Thanos vs Hulk in the first five minutes and that’s just for starters. What makes this film work so well, though, is not only some wonderful camaraderie between the many characters, but some very emotionally powerful moments, too. The Russos give this film an emotional depth that this series has rarely experienced and Joss Whedon’s first two Avengers movies rarely touched on. There are some side-split-tingly funny dialogue exchanges, too, between characters…such as Banner’s “There’s a Spider-Man AND an Ant-Man?”…and some heart skipping moments, that won’t be spoiled here. The writers pick some great character team ups, like Strange and Stark and Thor and Rocket with some great cameos that also won’t be spoiled here. None of this would work, however, with a weak villain and thankfully Thanos is one of the best MCU villains so far. He is given depth, a purpose…although, a diabolical one…and a powerful presence. It all combines for a villain who lives up to his threat factor big time and puts our heroes in more danger than they have ever been in…a danger they all face valiantly.

The cast is too large to discuss each individually. Our mainstays from the series all perform well with some stand-outs. Hemsworth is a highlight with Ragnarok’s changes to the God of Thunder carrying over here. While initially critical of Cumberbatch as Strange, he has grown into the role very well and the Russos use him wisely. Holland is turning into a great Spider-Man and the script, under the Russo Brother’s guidance, fix the awkward relationship between Peter and Tony that didn’t gel so well in Spiderman: Homecoming. Almost everyone is given their moments, there is some great dialogue for them and the whole cast are given some really intense scenes, unlike they have been afforded before, to shine in. The real force here is Josh Brolin as the Mad Titan. He does voice and motion capture for Thanos and really gives him a powerful presence and an intensity, few MCU villains have mustered in the film series’ decade history. You believe he is a threat and yet, they give him some emotional moments of his own, which give him a depth which only adds to his effectiveness. He makes this epic work. If there is any issue with characters, it’s that Thanos’ CGI children…Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian mostly come across as generic monsters, save for the creepy Ebony Maw…but Thanos gets most of the screen time.

There is very little to gripe about here. At 160 minutes, one or two scenes run on a bit long and a few characters, like Black Widow and Falcon get shortchanged in the whole of things. However we do get a comic book movie of epic proportions that brings spectacular action, nerve-wracking intensity, dramatic weight and some outright hilarious dialogue moments, all mixed to perfection by the Russo Brothers. Sure there is more to the story and the end leaves us wanting that more, but next summer the fourth installment arrives and it is going to have to be something else to surpass this, one of the MCU’s absolute best installments so far. Spectacular entertainment!

…and don’t forget to stay during the entire credits for a post credits scene that will knock your socks off.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 4 infinity gauntlets.

 

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NEW AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR TRAILER IS HERE!

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Marvel has dropped the new/final (?) trailer for Avenger: Infinity War which brings The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy together for a battle against the “Mad Titan” Thanos! Avengers: Infinity War arrives on 4/27/18 and is directed by the Russo Brothers.

Sources: Youtube/Marvel

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR GETS A TRAILER!

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Marvel has finally dropped the first trailer for Avenger: Infinity War which brings our heroes together with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a battle against the “Mad Titan” Thanos! Avengers: Infinity War arrives on 5/4/18 and is directed by the Russo Brothers.

Sources: Youtube/Marvel

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REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

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SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the sixth flick featuring the web-head in the last fifteen years and the second reboot in the last five…and this is not counting his extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War. Marvel was in a hurry to add the wall crawler to the MCU, once they ironed out the legal details and so we have another Spider-Man flick with our third Spidey in Tom Holland. The character might have needed a break instead of a reboot as, despite all the attempts to ‘freshen’ it up, there is still a stale familiarity to the proceedings.

This movie opens with working man Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew cleaning up after the Chitauri invasion of New York and being escorted off the site by a shady government agency…without compensation. Eight years later, Toomes and his crew have made some high-tech weapons and gadgets out of some un-returned alien artifacts, including a flight suit which they use to steal more artifacts to make more illegal weapons to sell. At this same time, young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is excited over being chosen to aid Iron Man/Tony Stark and is chomping at the bit to join the Avengers and be a real hero, something Stark now feels he is definitely not ready for. As the “flying monster” and his henchmen get on Peter’s radar, Spider-Man decides to try and take them down and prove to Stark there is a hero within the awkward fifteen year-old boy.

Film is directed this time by Jon Watts (Clown) from a script by six people and it shows. The film gives the impression of being a bit of a mess bouncing back and forth from superhero flick to awkward teen comedy and it doesn’t always mesh together well. The first half is especially weak as it focuses on Peter, once again back in high school, wanting the best of both worlds in being a normal teenager, who gets the attention of the pretty Liz (Laura Harrier) and a bona fide hero in Spider-Man. Instead he’s a nerdy outcast with only one true friend (Jacob Batalon) and someone Stark doesn’t trust to join the team, yet.  There are some funny bits, but here in the first half Spider-Man isn’t a heroic alter ego, but actually just as awkward at being a hero as he is socially as Peter Parker. His attempts at heroics cause more trouble than good and this approach starts to wear out it’s welcome quickly, as do the segments that enter routine teen comedy territory. It’s nothing new for something that’s supposed to re-invent the character for the MCU and comes off as clumsy as Peter. The second half picks up when he and Keaton’s Vulture start to go head to head and Parker has to go it alone when Stark takes away his toys. There is some decent action here, thankfully scaled down from the last few Marvel flicks, but again, nothing new. Another problem here is the attempts to fit Peter/Spider-Man into the MCU themselves don’t seem to fit and seem too obvious. Not only is there the Chitauri connection with Toomes’ toys, but the extended cameos by Stark and Iron Man. And if that’s not enough, Stark appoints Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to watch over Peter which really doesn’t add anything but yet another MCU link. The Spider-Man/Vulture storyline suffers, so we can spend time with Hogan and Stark. There are also numerous name drops to other Avengers and even a cameo or two from MCU familiar characters. This film feels even more like a deliberate attempt to force a connection with Spidey to the MCU than his cameo in Civil War. It’s obtrusive. Even Toomes’ big scheme involves MCU plot elements from past films. The film is still somewhat fun at times, but never feels like it’s own movie as even other flicks in the MCU series do.

The cast is good here. Holland does make a good Spidey. While the awkward approach was a bit much at times, the actor is charming and conveys both socially inept nerd and the hero within quite nicely. Keaton makes for an interesting villain. He is more a common criminal with some cool toys and that worked better than yet another megalomaniac. He has a couple of scenes where he is quite threatening and he is certainly more effective than Jamie Foxx’s Electro. Robert Downey Jr, at this point can play Stark in his sleep and he is Stark as usual here. Favreau seemed to be phoning it in as Hogan, which doesn’t help as the character has little to do but look annoyed anyway. Marisa Tomei is fun as Aunt May and while she is adorned in glasses, mom jeans and some corny dialogue, she is still Marisa Tomei…if you know what I mean and the film does have a little fun with that. Jacob Batalon is entertaining and has some very funny moments as Peter’s only friend Ned and Bokeem Woodbine has a minor role as Spider-Man villain Shocker who is one of Toomes’ thugs. There are also a couple of fun Marvel cameos, too, for fans to look out for.

So there are mixed feelings for a film that had some fun moments and a few solid action scenes, but felt rushed as far as reintroducing Spider-Man yet again. The script is a bit of a mess and with six scribes it’s no wonder. Jon Watt guides things well enough, but he can’t overcome the familiarity it still has and that the film tries way too hard to stuff Spidey into the MCU, which is now in it’s third phase. Holland makes a fine hero and Keaton a solid villain, but in all honesty, Stark and Happy Hogan really didn’t need to be there and their scenes don’t feel like they are part of the rest of the film. At this point the Web Head needs a bit of a break, but apparently will be back as the end credits forewarn us. Stay through the credits for two post credits scenes, one which playfully has fun with us for waiting through the credits for post credits scenes.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 webs!

 

 

 

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REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

When on a mission to stop a vengeful Brock Rumlo (Frank Grillo) in Lagos, The Avengers suffer a set-back when there is some collateral damage and lives are lost, including citizens of the African nation of Wakanda. The world is now becoming wary of the superheroes and the damage caused by the power they wield in our defense. Spearheaded by Wakandan King T’Chaka (John Kani) and Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt), the Sokovia Accords are implemented as a way to regulate the Avengers and their actions. This splits the team down the middle as a faction lead by Captain America (Chris Evans) are against the restrictions and a faction lead by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) are for regulation. The rift widens as T’Chaka is assassinated and evidence points to The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). As Cap sets out to intercept and save his once best friend from government orders to eliminate him, it makes he and his allies outlaws, with Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers in hot pursuit. But is there a third party pulling the strings with an anterior motive?

In comparison, Captain America: The Winter Solider was a bit more streamlined and the lines between good and evil were certainly much clearer. Here the creative team behind one of Marvel’s best films returns to shake things up a bit by having a good portion of our story being about a fractured Avengers pitted against each other. It dares to turn Captain America into an outlaw and Tony Stark into the authority figure (which is an interesting stretch for the rebel Stark) trying to bring him in. The film is exceptionally well directed again by Anthony and Joe Russo, though the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely doesn’t quite feel as tight as the previous flick’s. One understands Stark’s guilt over Ultron and why Cap has a better understanding of the casualties of war, but it still seemed like they both took their opposing stances a bit too easily. After all, Stark has had no love for authority figures and Cap seems to put his personal feelings for Bucky ahead of the fact that Winter Solider is a killer and suspected of murdering a government dignitary in front of a watching world. Granted there is only so much time to tell the story and the film is already at 147 minutes, but it seems a little rushed. The story does give way to some spectacular action sequences that rival anything seen so far in the MCU and yet avoids another big city destruction scene that has been done to death in films recently. The fight scene at an evacuated airport is a lot of fun and gives some nice exposure to new heroes like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and a certain web crawler (Tom Holland). The scene is a blast and is a nice lighter toned sequence to give us a break before things get dark again when Tony, Cap and Winter Soldier have an intense confrontation in Siberia, with the real villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl) unveiling his master stroke to get them at each other’s throats…and it is a nasty battle indeed. The FX are top notch, as is all other facets of the production and we even get some James Bond style globe hopping to give the film an epic feel, despite a more personal level story. Flaws aside, it is still one of the better Marvel films and far from the mess that was Batman v. Superman.

There is far too big a cast to give everyone their props individually, though some new additions are worth mentioning. The veterans do some of their best work in their roles, even if we feel these super friends got at each other a bit too quickly. It’s hard to envision an MCU without Evans or RDJ and the Russos give Johansson’s Black Widow her best material. Sebastian Stan gets a far meatier role as the conflicted Winter Solider/Bucky and he is solid. It was nice to see William Hurt return as the hard-nosed Ross. Elizabeth Olsen gets to play a troubled Scarlet Witch having doubts about controlling her powers and guilt over the results when she can’t. She is a fine actress and does well. Chadwick Bosemen impressed as T’Challa/Black Panther and should be exciting to watch when his solo film arrives. Emily Van Camp got a little ass to kick as Agent 13 and had a bigger role than in Winter Solider. An appealing character and actress. Daniel Brühl’s Zemo could have been a stronger villain, but that is currently an achilles heel in the Marvel films. Paul Bettany seemed to get a little short changed as Vision. We only get to see a few scenes of him interacting with the others before the action comes and his bond with Wanda didn’t get properly developed. Finally we get a really different and enjoyable Peter Parker from Tom Holland and a sexy Aunt May from Marisa Tomei. Looking forward to seeing both of them in their own flick, too.

Not as tight and streamlined as Winter Soldier and some of the character motivations seemed a bit abrupt and needed a bit more development. The film has no real clear bad guy till the villain pulling the strings comes to the forefront, but even then, he continues Marvel’s problem with weak antagonists. Zemo is far more Malekith than Loki. The big pluses are some truly spectacular and well choreographed action scenes that avoid overindulgence and a really dark and intense last act when our favorite heroes try to tear each other apart. The new characters such as Black Panther and Spider-Man arrived with shinning colors and some other characters got to show new sides. Definitely another notch in the plus column for Marvel and as usual, stay for two scenes during the credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 shields.

captain america civil war rating

 

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NEW “CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR” TRAILER IS AWESOME!

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Captain America: Civil War is set to arrive in theaters on 5/6/16 and this highly anticipated second sequel has a brand new trailer…and it looks awesome! I CAN’T WAIT!

MonsterZero NJ

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“CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR” GETS IT’S FIRST TRAILER!

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Captain America: Civil War is set to arrive in theaters on 5/6/16 and this highly anticipated second sequel has finally gotten it’s first trailer…and it looks awesome! Nuff Said!

…and the lovely Scarlet Johansson is looking yummy as always…

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.58.24 AM

MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEW: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

The highly anticipated sequel to the super-fun Avengers is admittedly a bit of a mixed bag but, it is an entertaining mixed bag and the good far outweighs any of it’s shortcomings, including a blast of a last act that makes up for most of them.

Joss Whedon once again writes and helms and picks up a few years after the last flick. The team has been scouring the world cleaning up Hydra’s strongholds. On the latest mission, they encounter two enhanced individuals, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) Maximoff who bare a grudge and some heavy tech that Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) decides to mess with. Stark intends on creating an automated security system for the rest of the world but, accidentally creates a monster in the A.I. Ultron (James Spader). Ultron feels the only path to world peace is to eliminate the main source of the problems…mankind. Now the Avengers must face their greatest threat as Ultron, aided by the Maximoff Twins, begins to initiate his master plan of world peace through global annihilation.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way, so, we can get to the good stuff. The 141 minute running time seems both excessive and not enough, as some plot elements…such as the introduction of one new team member, The Vision (Paul Bettany), seems rushed…while other situations…such as a furlough at a team member’s remote farm…seem to go on too long and not accomplish much. The film has a bit darker tone and thus isn’t quite as outright fun as the original and the plot is a bit more convoluted. I did like James Spader’s Ultron, though I though he could have used more ferocity and menace to really put him over. Overall, this keeps this from reaching the same heights as the last one or the recent Winter Soldier but, there is plenty to like, too!

The good stuff is certainly abundant. There is some truly spectacular action and Whedon gives the film a far more cinematic scope and shoots this one in widescreen to enhance that. The characters are all given some nice depth and each have their own moments to add to this and it works. The camaraderie between members, now that they are a team, also works well and it gives it impact when Wanda…The Scarlet Witch…starts to mess with their heads. Speaking of Miss Maximoff, it’s no secret to Marvel fans that she and her brother Quicksilver will see the error of their ways and be Avengers by the final battle…which is a doozy. I liked not only these new characters, but, how they were portrayed and Scarlet Witch and The Vision especially make quite an impression. Quicksilver’s debut, though, is somewhat muted by the character’s more amusing appearance in X-Men Days Of Future Past last Summer. Again, while Ultron could have been a stronger villain, the showdown between the team and the mechanical megalomaniac and his minions is a spectacle to behold and bares a resemblance more to the finale of Man Of Steel than the last Avengers flick. It made up for some of the more disappointing elements with some riveting action and some truly great visual moments. There is also plenty of Whedon’s trademark snappy dialogue and a few magical moments, too, such as one involving Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Vision that brought the house down…and let’s not forget a mid-credits scene that had equal impact on the audience I saw the film with.

As for the cast, I am not going to go through all of them, suffice to say the regulars and cameos from familiar faces are all performed well and those cameos were fun. Though, I will say the Banner/Romanoff relationship needed a bit more time to really have weight. There is some character overload here and some of the little things get ignored. As for the new blood, Elizabeth Olsen makes the best impact with her Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. She gives her a sense of tremendous power without overacting and while her transformation from vengeful bad girl to Avenger is another element that seemed rushed, she fit in very well with the team including a really nice scene with Renner’s Hawkeye…who has some good lines here. Johnson is fine as her slightly arrogant twin brother Pietro/Quicksilver and it’s not his fault that X-Men beat his character to the punch and his character also gets short-changed a bit time-wise. Bettany makes a truly impressive Vision and that he also voices Jarvis is no accident. Finally there is Spader. I have always liked James Spader and he is a good choice for the snarky, homicidal artificial intelligence but, he never really is given opportunity to emanate true menace. Ultron disappears for long periods of time and his matter-of-fact approach to his evil plot robs the character of being a real intense threat. Even in physical combat I never got the impression The Avengers were in any real danger of getting defeated. Our mid-credits cameo has more threat in the 30 seconds he is onscreen than Ultron musters in the whole movie.

So, to simplify it, on one hand the film’s running time works both for and against it. It’s not as much pure fun as the first adventure and there is a bit of a character/plot overload. Add to that a villain who is never really allowed to reach his diabolical potential and it falls somewhat short of Loki’s attempt to rule earth last time. On the plus, there are some great character moments and interaction. The new characters worked really well and I am certainly looking forward to more of the new Avengers members. There were some great cameos from familiar faces and some really good lines too and the last act was an amazing thrill ride that ups the ante for future Marvel epics. So, I do highly recommend Avengers: Age Of Ultron, just downshift the expectations a little bit and you should have a blast.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Black Widows. avengers age of ultron rating

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON GETS A 3rd AWESOME TRAILER!

 

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Marvel has treated us to yet a third Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer and it’s the best yet! Avengers: Age Of Ultron opens in the U.S. on 5/1/15!

source: Marvel/Youtube

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OFFICIAL POSTER FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON GETS A RELEASE!

 

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The official poster for Avengers: Age Of Ultron has been released! I can’t wait for the flick which arrives in the U.S. on 5/1/2015!

source: CBM

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