AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR REVIEW

10 years, 18 films, was Infinity War worth all the hype?

I loved how the Russos made this surprisingly accessible for fans who may not have obsessively watched the entire Marvel backlog beforehand or ever (Sacrilege, I know).

Crucial plot points were covered BUT you would be missing out on a lot of character depth, back stories and little references if you haven’t dipped into the other Marvel movies.

It felt like all the other films had been gearing up for this moment.

As much as I griped about some of the earlier Marvel efforts (Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers Assemble, the Hulk reboots, Iron Man 2), I never faulted the characters; what they stood for, their journeys and their progression over the years.

I have to say that I was actually excited to finally see all these incredible characters unite against a common foe (and what a foe!).

Josh Brolin, take a bow. I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on the Purple Mountain. His vocal gravitas lifting the amazing visual effects. The detail on his expressions were impeccable. For me, one of the most memorable Marvel villains to date.

For a moment, I almost felt empathy for the tormented maniac. An engaging presence that chewed up every scene. You could almost understand his motives. The flashbacks providing a much needed depth with his relationship to Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Even his minions delivered; Tom Vaughan-Lawlor was brilliant as Ebony Maw and a worthy adversary (most notably for Strange) and it took me half of the film with all that make up to realise that it was The Leftovers’ Carrie Coon playing the bloodthirsty Proxima Midnight (What a name!)

Surprisingly the opening sequence didn’t grab me. As much as it set the tone with Thanos claiming lives from the get go. It didn’t pack the emotional punch I hoped. Maybe because the lives involved were hardly a shocker.

However once Stark, Strange and Spidey united; my doubts were instantly extinguished.

I loved how IW had the perfect balance of humour, drama and action.

The fast paced set pieces, the stunning visuals, the quick witted one liners, the fun exchanges. 2 1/2 hours breezed over in a heart beat.

Mixing up all the characters made for so many brilliant encounters. The biggest highlight involving the unexpected teaming up of Thor, Rocket and Groot.

The Guardians gang almost stole the show from everybody. Drax and Mantis were fantastic: delivering some of the most quotable dialogues.

I think everybody had their moment to shine (The Cap’s Third Man entrance, Strange’s sorcery, any scene involving Thor). An impressive feat in itself considering how many characters were thrown into the mix.

The battle of Wakanda sequences were incredible! It almost (almost) rivalled the epic Helm’s Deep battle of LOTR (Nerd!). The animation, the intensity, riding every high and low.

Now don’t get me wrong, the film wasn’t perfect (Scandalous!). Ruffalo had already won me over as Banner/Hulk BUT he got on my nerves. More so because Hulk failed to turn up when the chips were down?!

I loved how the trailers lied. Manipulating the order of scenes and showing moments that weren’t necessarily in the movie. Some for the better, some for the worst.

After watching Banner embrace Hulk and appearing to resolve his inner turmoil in Thor: Ragnarok, I was a little annoyed that he was still very much unstable and out of control. Watching Ruffalo pull constipated expressions, groan and go a little green after a bad vindaloo was a little infuriating. Tut tut tut.

I’m sure you have heard whispers of characters being bumped off. I wouldn’t be commending a bold finale if risks weren’t taken but the removal of one particular character was abrupt and handled a little poorly for my liking *cough* Soul Stone *cough*

I had to laugh that Gwyneth Paltrow made a seemingly unnecessary cameo and yet both Ant Man and Hawkeye were out of the mix with just a passing comment to explain their absence. Really?

Even the special clip (that all Marvel fans endure endless credits for) was disappointing. Setting up the introduction of another Marvel character that we all knew was coming.

However, the gripping finale delivered a surprisingly dark turn and a very bold move from the Marvel team.

I can honestly say I didn’t see it coming. It’s hardly a spoiler to know that this is only Part One but I’m already pondering theories on how they can work Part Two and any other projects between the release dates.

BUT one thing has been established. It may have spanned 10 years but the Marvel movie-verse still has plenty in the tank (Especially right now) and I for one cannot wait for the next instalment.

3.5/5 (with room for a 4)*

*If some of the little niggles are addressed and rewarded in Part 2!

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GONE GIRL REVIEW

Gone-Girl-2014-film-poster

If you haven’t gone. Go!

One of the best films I have seen in a long time and dare I say a contender for film of the year? Can Fincher do no wrong? (Leave Alien 3 out of this!)

With his wife’s (Rosamund Pike) disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man (Ben Affleck) sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

After seeing the heavily advertised trailers and endless hype for Gone Girl, I dreaded seeing it. I felt the trailers gave everything away and left little for me to look forward to. I went in expecting to be disappointed, praying that it will at least be watchable.

But not this time. A slow burning, tense, suspenseful murder mystery that keeps you guessing. Dark, clever and, at times, surprisingly funny with some sharp satire on the relentless media manhunt that can consume a nation and remove objectivity where it’s really needed.

The opening hour very much sets up the pieces flicking back and forth from the initial incident. We get a sense of each character. The inevitable finger pointing game begins; “I think they’re hiding something”, “He looks dodgy”, “I think he or she did it”.

Ben Affleck was fantastic and apparently battling his Batman bulk. But the real plaudits will go to Rosamund Pike. A fitting end note for a busy year of movies for her. The Oscar buzz around her performance is completely justified.

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the novel. People have told me that the book is so much better. If that be the case, I must read this book because the film was brilliant. It helps that the screenplay was adapted by the author Gillian Flynn.

I’m sure many of you have heard the twist talk. Yes, there is a big twist. That is revealed quite early on. I will not be revealing any plot points because I want people to see this. However, I did find that the twist transformed the film for me and took it to another level.

The first half of the film had chugged along quite well and certainly played on the paranoia and suspicions fantastically with the endless red herrings. But once the twist is revealed, it changes everything and how everyone was initially perceived.

My main quip with films (of late) was pace. At 165 minutes, I thought this film would test me. BUT for once, I found myself hooked and actually turning my phone off to avoid interruptions. Transfixed by the story, the acting and suspense.

The trademark cinematography (and regular Fincher stalwart) of Jeff Cronenweth certainly adds to the murky undertones flowing through the film. Fincher also has a fantastic supporting cast at his fingertips.

Tyler Perry was surprisingly good, delivering some unexpected but hilarious one liners as the ruthless smooth talking lawyer. To be honest, I wanted more to see more of his character. Sela Ward (House) and Missi Pyle (Dodgeball) were perfectly cast as the silver tongued media mouthpieces thriving on the attention focused on Affleck’s Nick.

Flynn couldn’t be any more accurate with the representation of the media surrounding the missing; the social media in particular. How a simple picture can be manipulated to mean so much more than was originally intended.

Gone Girl allowed some smaller actors the opportunity to step up. Kim Dickens (The Blind Side) was very good as the relentless detective hell bent on persecuting Nick. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) went completely out of character. A breath of fresh air. He played the part to perfection.

Kathleen Rose Perkins was wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her. A real shame after her performance in Episodes. The real scene stealer, second to Pike, was Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo. Coon has already made an impression after her turn in the bizarre but strangely hypnotic The Leftovers. Performances like this will certainly keep her very much on the watch list.

I felt the ending fitted the film perfectly but others may find it a little too abrupt and open. It is always a risk when everything pieces together that the final unravelling may disappoint. BUT there is certainly a lot more to this than meets the eye.

A film that very much lives up to the hype. Tense, suspenseful, dark, engaging. GO SEE NOW.

4/5

Yes, a 4! Finally a film to break the endless ranting and raving from this reviewer.