Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Endgame

Plot: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe

After 10 incredible years of the MCU, it seems that every single moment has led up to this film. Fan or not, you have probably heard of the staggering success of this film the last weekend – 1.2 billion dollars within one weekend. It is absolutely insane, yet no one seems overly surprised. I am not. I got my ticket for the first release in South-Africa. I get grumpy with spoilers but I don’t have meltdowns, yet I suspected I would have one if someone spoiled this form me. I will keep this review as spoiler free as possible, because if you have eagerly awaited each of these films as I have, you deserve to have it unspoiled for you.

Overwhelmed, emotional, shaken, surprised. That is pretty much how I felt. It became inevitable with the lead up to this film not to ask if a major superhero would die, but which one would. I will tell you that whatever happens feels completely right for that character, like they were always written for it. It is sad, but it feels like the perfect ending.

There are two character developments which feels… weird, even for Marvel. The one I will literally never be able to unsee but the actor involved handled it with charm and comedic ability. But still. It felt like a personal attack on the most beautiful character. The other one was quite hilarious but showed good character development. I am sorry, I am not really making any sense, am I?

It is a mammoth film, with a running time of three hours and 1 minute. It is a feat that I in particular didn’t feel that the film was drawn out, it is written well enough and is entertaining enough that the film runs without ever feeling that unnecessary time was wasted.

What worked well in this film is that the focus was very much on the original 5 superheroes. The Avengers crew has become way too large over the last couple of years and Avengers: Infinity War’s ensemble cast was large enough to host a high-school reunion of a really robust year. I don’t think it is too much of a spoiler to mention that when the rest of the avengers return, it is worth it and at the exact right moment. It is also really beautiful with the focus on one character’s reaction specifically, and you will have to have been dead inside for a thousand years not to be touched by it.

I will probably return with another review once the spoilers are out everywhere. Further than that, it was good and powerful and I enjoyed it. It has been a wild ride, and a beautiful one.

Love you 3000 😉

Rating: 7.5/10

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Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Spoiler free –

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Plot: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Well. I knew I had to get to cinema to watch Infinity War immediately after its release or else risk this film being spoiled by the internet for me. We’ve been waiting ages since the slightly lacklustre Age of Ultron for another instalment of the all powerful Marvel ensemble cast to once again fight some massive celestial being. Finally reunited, the Avengers and all their new superhero friends are forced to take on Thanos, the biggest and baddest of them all, who is also in running for the worst dad of all time to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), is collecting the Infinity Stones, very powerful stones (obviously), and you don’t need a comic book background to know that it will be really bad when this genocidal maniac gets hold of all six stones. It’s no spoiler that some of the stones are in the possession of a few Avengers, and they do an ultimately dismal job in protecting them. You will have to watch it if you want to know what happens at the end, but it was neither comfortable nor a quietly satisfying end.

Infinity War takes an age to get their superheroes together, which is not surprising, since they decided to include a massive amount of their star power in the film. Since Age of Ultron the original Avengers have scattered and hidden, and they aren’t all super happy with each other. Tony (Robert Downey Jnr.) is still happy by being managed by Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still dealing with the devastating destruction that happened in Thor: Ragnarok. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson, this time blonde), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, with deliciously longer hair) and Sam Wilson (Anthonie Mackie) are still (I think) in hiding. They all fall in at different stages of the film, and my sold out cinema was cheering as each original Avengers cast member was reintroduced.

It’s impossible to write a short and concise review of the movie and to discuss the stars, because (nearly) the entire Marvel universe is in the film. However, here are a few thoughts on some of the characters:

Vision (Paul Bettany) comes across as awfully wimpy and I don’t know how he was intended as a superhero in this film. He seems to just be there, and his moments of action aren’t all that action packed.

If I could have had more of Danai Gurira as Okoye I would have, because she just has the best attitude and lines. Also good seeing T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), but after the enormous success of Black Panther I would have loved to see more of the man.

Avengers

It is the first film where the Three Chris-es are combined – Pratt, Evans and Hemsworth have so much charm between them it is a wonder that they aren’t combined an Infinity stone themselves. There is delightful moments full of humour when Starlord meets Thor and needs to deal with all that muscle. I’ll just say that there is a moment when Thor arrives that made me very, very thankful.

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Thanos has character depth, and that is something that hasn’t always been present with Marvel villains. He has layers and there are times when he actually almost makes sense, his reasoning behind his warlord status. There were a few moments where I legitimately felt sorry for him, and then had to remember what he had done.

I have some issues with the ending (really, who doesn’t at this stage?). I don’t want to say too much, but I really hope that they are planning to address some… events… in the next Infinity War instalment (there better be one), because they can not just do what they did. I am REALLY excited for the post credits scene, and I am optimistic that that will mean something overall for the drama levels in the last ten minutes of the film.

I liked Infinity War, except that ending. Thee CGI is insane and everywhere again, and that as well comes as no surprise – I mean, Josh Brolin doesn’t really look like that, does he now? It is really long, again though, expected, and full of emotional upheaval. If you haven’t watched it yet and you really dislike spoilers, I suggest getting to a cinema soon. It’s a bit off the normal route for Marvel, and they’ve taken big risks, but if you look at the crowd response rate you can rest assured that Marvel has another hit on their hands.

Rating: 7/10

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Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

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Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

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Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

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Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

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Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

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Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

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Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

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Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

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Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

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Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

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Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

Movie Review: Age of Ultron (2015)

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Plot: When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

Rating: 8/10

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Avengers: Age of Ultron, had the extremely difficult task of living up to its’ predecessor. My love for the first movie is well known, and I’ve reviewed it on my own site as well as on Rob’s for his Genre Grandeur.

I was extremely excited to enter the Marvel universe on Friday night, and I was not disappointed.

Age of Ultron immediately starts the action. The Avengers are united (although they sadly never share HOW the Avengers got back as a team), and they are kicking ass. Invading the Hydra building in Sokovia, they briefly meet the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and it is very clear that they are impressive enemies. Then Tony Stark is Tony Stark and uses fellow genius Bruce Banner, to set loose Ultron, a powerful creature with artificial intelligence whose main goal is human extinction.

Age of Ultron feels like one huge act. The action never stops, and the scenes flow into each other. I really enjoyed that and thought it also worked well with the slightly less over the top fighting scenes. I really enjoyed the character development. My big issue with the first Avengers were that the characters aren’t really developed – some you know because of their stand alone movie but the first Avengers is just packed with vague references and smart mouth comments between the team.

Age of Ultron tries to give you an idea that these are (mostly) people. I found the story line on Hawkeye the most interesting and never thought that would be in the books for him. I also really enjoyed the character development Natasha Romanoff got – she’s the only female Avenger from the first movie and it is clear that she’s had a sad and unsavory past, but no further background was provided. Her story is intense enough to draw outrage and sympathy on her behalf, and also endear her to the female audience.

AOU Team

The humor in AOU is a lot less forced and thus funnier than in the first movie. It is not only Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr.) who crack the jokes, it is everyone, and it makes the movie a lot more humorous. I liked the testosterone fight between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Iron Man. I also really enjoyed that Thor got more lines and that he actually spoke every once in a while, showing he had more potential than looking good – which he does, excellently. One of my favorite scenes is where everyone tries to lift the hammer, and Thor only gets uncomfortable when Captain America (Chris Evans) has the hammer twitching – proving that he is the only worthy Avenger of the hammer except Thor. Captain was also once again the sad guy that kills us with his desolation of having to live without Peggy Carter – just kill me already with that, okay?

Bruce Banner is played by Mark Ruffalo and I think it is one of the best casting choices they made. I work in an academic environment and let me tell you, he does the scatter brained scientist really really well. He is also very heartbreaking when dealing with his anger issues and his heartbreaking lifestyle choices. #lovetheguy

I also really appreciated Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. He has that mouthy and badass vibe of what you would expect of him, but he also has an authentic quest for vengeance and I appreciated that.

AOU Scarlet

THEN: OMFG I LOVE THE SCARLET WITCH. Elizabeth does an absolutely amazing job as the female part of the Maximoff twins. Her attitude is fierce, her quest for vengeance is pure, she looks like such a bad ass and the way her powers are brought to life on screen had me in such a fangirling in the cinema. YAY to Marvel for bringing in such an impressive character in the Avengers franchise (I might add that brings the total females up to three, and the males six thousand).

The romance in Avengers came unexpected but not unwelcome. I don’t really think it was necessary because it is not a rom-com, but it is still welcome and surprisingly sweet. The two characters involved surprised me because I would never have grouped them up, but it worked out really heart twisting in the end.

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I really liked the villain. Ultron is surprisingly funny and embodies the darker side of Tony Stark’s thought. Ultron is multi-layered, extremely intelligent, not alien (good to Marvel for not going that route again) and he had me worried a lot of the time for the level of destruction he could cause. His cause was initially so noble and good, and enales great discomfort because Ultron really has something right – the human race has no idea how to maintain peace.

I thought AOU did so many things better than the first one did: humor, pacing, character development. I still like the first one more, but can’t really pinpoint why – perhaps it is Loki’s deadly charm that pushes it to the top. Age of Ultron is an excellent job done by Joss Whedon and Marvel, and the characters individually shine and as a team. It is definitely worth paying a ticket for!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is living in Washington and learning to live in the modern world. He still works for S.H.I.E.L.D. He meets war veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and makes a new friend in him.

Steve is picked up by Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and they help save a SHIELD vessel from Algerian pirates. Natasha takes information from the ship’s computers on Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) orders, and Steve is upset because he is being lied to. The next day, Steve confronts Fury and Fury shows Steve SHIELDS latest developments – a large trio of helicarriers that is set to enforce world peace.

Nick Fury isn’t able to crack the data that Natasha took from the ship. It is odd, because as the director of SHIELD he has access to everything. On his way to see Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) he is attacked in his vehicle and the vehicle is torched by the Winter Soldier. Fury manages to make it to Steve’s apartment and gives Steve the data and the warning to not trust anybody. He is shot by the mysterious Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Steve takes after the assassin but he escapes and Nick dies in hospital after giving and manages to make it to Steve’s apartment.

Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a senior SHIELD official, wants to clear Nick’s name when his involvement in the hijacking of a SHIELD vessel becomes known. He speaks to Steve, who declines to share what Fury told him seconds before his assassination. Pierce brands Steve a fugitive and Steve is attacked in an elevator by SHIELD officials. He escapes, and goes to retrieve the retrieve the memory stick with the data on where he left it in the hospital vending machine. Natasha, who took the data from where Steve put it, shows up and says she will help him find out who is infiltrating SHIELD and help clear Nick’s name.

Will the two be able to restore Nick Fury’s name? Who is the Winter Soldier? Will the helicarriers be aired despite the warning Fury issued before his death?

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Rating: 8/10

I loved this movie! It was so well done. I really thought it was much better than Captain America: The First Avenger. It seemed that the producers took their time and actual care to get the movie properly done this time around.

The Winter Soldier was action packed and fast paced, and never felt too long. The fight scenes were incredible.

Personally, Steve Rogers/CA is the best of all the super heroes. Iron Man is extremely arrogant, Thor has too much pride, and the Hulk really has an anger issue, but Steve Rogers is genuinely a brave, honest man that exists way beyond his expected life span because of those things.

Nick Fury is awesome. He is always on top of things and somehow knows what is happening everywhere. He is ruthless but everything he does is for the sake of the safety of humanity.

Robert Redford was excellent as Alexander Pierce. He seems so sincere you never see his corruption underneath until it is too late.

No aliens were involved. I enjoyed it because it shows that there are corrupt and evil people in the world, and that they must be fought too.
Although Natasha Romanoff is much more likeable in this movie, I will put it out there that I simply dislike Scarlett Johansson. I haven’t found her a fantastic actress and she seems to be in roles where she is a pain in my ass. However, her more humane version of Natasha (awesome name, have to say) was more likeable than any other movie I’ve seen her in.

The Winter Soldier itself was totally badass and an excellent villain. Sebastian Stan was excellent – can this guy be cast in more movies now? He was completely respectable as Bucky, and it is heart breaking to see how it damages Steve to see his friend in such a position.

The characters developed as the movie progressed. Especially Steve Rogers, who seems to be moving on in life and making friends, and Natasha Romanoff, who starts showing that she is a human being that wants to be accepted by the people she works with and someone who takes the integrity of the people she works with seriously. I enjoyed Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, Steve’s war veteran side kick. He seemed to be able to immediately distinguish who is right and wrong and who to help.

Really worth the watch!