Avengers: Infinity War

Directed by Joe and Anthony RussoAvengers: Infinity War

Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Josh Brolin

Backstory

It’s finally here.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe is 10 years old, and we get the payoff we’ve been promised ever since the end-credtis stinger of the first Avengers that had us all going, “Holy crap, is that Thanos?”  Yes…yes it is.  And while previous films teased those McGuffins known as the Infinity Stones, this is the one that brings it all together, in a 10 year anniversary celebratory affair.  Is the payoff worth it?

Plot

Bruce Banner falls from the heavens and crashes into the Sanctum Santorum of Doctor Strange, causing Strange to reach out to Tony Stark for help.  Banner has a message:  Thanos is coming.  Out in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call, where they rescue Thor from the wreckage of the Asgardian rescue ship.  Thanos has laid waste to the remnants of Asgard.  Back on Earth, the disciples of Thanos attack Vision, attempting to extract the Infinity Stone from his body.  This brings Steve Rogers and his secret Avengers out of hiding.  While they may be scattered across the globe and galaxy, they being plotting against their common foe:  Thanos.  He is in search of the six Infinity Stones.  With all six, he seeks to wipe out half the population of the universe…an act, he believes, that will bring about a paradise.  Will our heroes succeed in defeating Thanos and save the universe?

What I Liked

This movie moves incredibly fast.  We’re just on from one action sequence to the next as we go from hero to hero.  And with so many diverse heroes coming together for the first time, they pair them off and have them interact with each other in unique ways.  As always, with Marvel films, the humour is there, no matter how dark it gets.  And Josh Brolin as Thanos is fantastic.  The problem with Marvel villains is weak villains, but they take the time to develop Thanos and we get to know him, thus making him a better villain.  Plus, there’s some great callback and references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including one cameo I found delightful.

What I Didn’t Like

You’d better be up to speed on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because there is very little in the way of recaps.  We hit the ground running.  And can Spider-Man please stop referring to the films I grew up with as “really old movies”?  You’re making a guy feel his age.

Final Verdict

Just amazing.  A wonderful payoff to 10 years of build-up.  Hurry up and get here, May 2019, so we can see Part II.

4 Nibs

Ready Player One

Directed by Steven SpielbergReady Player One poster

Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Lena Waithe, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance

Backstory

I’d been hearing about the novel Ready Player One online for a while now.  Consensus was it was true homage to geeks, just stuffed to the brim with references to beloved bits of pop culture…specifically, the pop culture of the 1980s.  Excitement grew when it was announced that Steven Spielberg would be directing the movie adaptation.  Spielberg announced that, to not seem too self-congratulatory, he’d be omitting all references to his own movies.  I shared with a co-worker who was a big fan of the book, and he said, “But…that’s like half the book!”  Needless to say, what glimpses we got in the trailer of the Iron Giant and the DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future had me hooked.

Plot

In the not-too-distant future, the world has become quite dystopian.  As such, the most popular past time in the world is OASIS, a massive online virtual reality video game.  When the game’s creator, James Halliday, passes away, he announces that he hid an Easter egg in the game.  The first to find the three keys to unlock the Easter egg will be granted Halliday’s personal fortune and complete control of OASIS.  Enter our hero, Wade Watts.  In OASIS, he goes by Parzival.  He, like many others, has dedicated his online life to finding the Easter egg.  He’s soon joined by his best friend Aech and rebellious spirit Art3mis.  When they find the first key, they quickly become the targets of the IOI corporation, who seek to find the Easter egg and monetize OASIS to death.  Soon evading IOI in both OASIS and the real world, it’s up to our heroes to find the Easter egg and save OASIS.  Can they do it?

What I Liked

Much like Wreck-It Ralph, I’m pleased to report that the multitude of pop culture references are more sprinkles on the cupcake and not a prerequisite to understanding the universe.  That being said, the make the action sequences such a delight as they are stuffed to the brim with Easter eggs.  This is one you’ll have to watch frame-by-frame on Blu-Ray to catch them all.  There’s a great soundtrack of 1980s hits, our heroes are likable and ones we like to root for, and the bad guys are slimy that we love to hate.  Also, the Iron Giant fights Mechagodzilla.

What I Didn’t Like

As much fun as it was, couldn’t shake the fact that it was still a rather routine “hero’s journey” kinda plot.

Final Verdict

Ready Player One is very enjoyable, very fun, and shows that Spielberg still has what it takes to do big, fun blockbusters.

3 Nibs