The Imitation Game

In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.

The Imitation Game, beyond the film, was eye-opening and inspiring. The movie painted a clear picture of Alan Turing and the difficulties someone with his preferences and ideas could endure during a time of bleakness. Backed by solid performances and a succinct flow, director Morten Tyldum succeeds in giving a hero the exposure and  recognition that he deserved.

All my viewings of Benedict Cumberbatch has been limited to his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sherlock, both of which have him play a flawed intellectual who still manages to have a heart to care about the ones close to him. He still maintains the eccentric intellectual aspect, but is less, for a lack of better term, douchebag-ey. In place of that, there’s a lot of vulnerability and openness to his performance.

Keira Knightley’s star shines just as bright as her male counterpart. Cumberbatch’s awkwardness is balanced out with her confidence and charm, and even though the audience can insinuate his true feelings, it isn’t hard to not root for the couple to find their way together as well.

Of course in the movie such as this there is going to be scientific jargon, but that is kept at a minimum. Thankfully, what is place at the forefront are the difficult choices that the scientists must face when accomplishing their goal. Not only does it give an opportunity for the actors to really go for it in the acting department, but raises the tension in the film drastically, reveals each character’s true sentiments.

Director Tyldum was clearly trying to go for something regarding the pace of the film. Each scene flows really well, and the transitions in-between are seamless, but unfortunately, some placement in which those scenes take place are confusing. Even towards the end, the film will jump into the future.

Yet my biggest disappointment came in the form in the story. Not to say that what these men had done wasn’t heroic, but taking the context out of the film, there were many moments that you could tell that was copy-and-paste from other underdog stories. Even though the film does its best to not necessarily mask the tropes they had, they charm us with the personnel and stakes.

Get to the point: I can’t say whether or not Turing himself would be proud of this film, but there is plenty to enjoy and it’s probably Benedict’s best work that I have seen thus far.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 65%


Searching

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever. 

What a suprise, a mystery got me sucked into filmwatching again.

Searching could have easily been so much more in the worst way possible. We’ve seen those parents hunting kids in thrillers, hacking in servers, and busting ass all the live long day. Director Chaganty crafts a crisp, emotional roller-coaster of a film that is culturally relevant and is woven into reality. So real, that I was sporadically thinking throughout the films runtime that this has to had actually occured. Thankfully, no such event has transpired.

And how authentic this film feels can’t be understated since it doesn’t just stem from the performances or plot, but also through the format that we view the story from. The entirety of the film takes place on screens, from one computer to another, or to maybe a phone. While this could come off across as gimmicky and only there to try something different, for once, it doesn’t.

Instead, we get brilliant visual story-telling with subtle gestures in the typing of words or the notifications that pop up on the side bar. Even a few laughs are given here and there with quick jump-cuts. Perhaps there are a few moments where a facetime is used in a bit of peculiar way, mostly to have the audience get a good guage of John Cho and the Detective communicating, but that can be easily glanced over when Cho puts through a grounded, simplistic portrayal of a parent trying to get his daughter back as well as discovering a few things that he most likely wouldn’t have found out had it not been for the events in the film.

The use of technology and websites also benefit the audience since we follow along with John Cho as he goes through website after website, searching for clues. He doesn’t have the hacking skills of the characters in the Matrix, so he can’t hack through emails or find phone numbers on the spot, so he hits the “forget password” icon or goes on phone number websites to get his information.

Perhaps the part that was the most eye-opening is when a montage takes place and we see many characters lie and change their opinions about one other character when something happens to the latter. It’s something that the filmmakers should be really commended on, since calling out those who do that as hypocritical could be deemed insensitive.

Get to the point: I have yet to see a movie better than Searching this year. It’s simplistic take on filmmaking is creative, realistic, and satisfying.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 90%

Edge of Tomorrow

When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj. William Cage (Tom Cruise), an officer who has never seen combat, is assigned to a suicide mission. Killed within moments, Cage finds himself thrown into a time loop, in which he relives the same brutal fight — and his death — over and over again. However, Cage’s fighting skills improve with each encore, bringing him and a comrade (Emily Blunt) ever closer to defeating the aliens.


As of late, the Tom Cruise resurgence seems to be on full throttle. His three most recent Mission Impossible films were his most successful and despite some blunders, Cruise has continued to solidify his A-lister status. Among those films that have massively impressed is Edge of Tomorrow.

 

The movie is essentially a Groundhog’s Day version of an action movie, and while the idea of seeing the exact same sequence happen again and again might seem tedious, Doug Liman changes our perception by having the main character, Bill Cage try his absolute best to change the future in every way possible. Tom Cruise plays a flawed hero to his best and it pays off. Not to mention the somehow hopelessness that Cruise and the audience dreads as they go through each day knowing that Cruise will fail again and again due to his cowardice and lack of experience. The weakness and inexperience that he shows makes the constant trial-and-error much more intriguing. Therefore, the audience, while not necessarily relating, connects and cheers for Cage as he learns and grows. So much so, that it’s hard for the movie to really take a break, as it seems to be going 100 for much of the runtime.

 

The likable and approachable characters were coupled with a tight script and sharp editing, leaving much of the movie for the audience to imply rather than hold their hand and drag them along. There’s also a good amount of dark humor laced into the storyline, particularly around the running gag that Cruise will die and live again.

 

Emily Blunt plays the foil, shining in her role at the same time. As if her body didn’t speak enough to her bad-assery, her sharpness and demeanor when instructing Cruise only makes their chemistry more dynamic. The aliens, while looking quite unique and menacing, were thankfully made only as plot points and a means to end, which gave more time for leads to develop. However, she just isn’t a one-dimensional warrior, her role becomes more as Cruise learns to properly utilize his gift. She ends up not just assisting him in combat training, but also serves as a mentor and friend as their relationship goes further and further.

 

Get to the point: Man, is it tough to find a solid action movie that isn’t part of a franchise. Yet it’s movies like these that let us breathe a tiny bit of fresh air. You would need it after the heart-pumping story from start fo finish. 

 

The Inquirer’s rating: 90%

 

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Synopsis: Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.


There was quite amount of surprise on my face when I was exiting the theater after my screening of Fallout. Not because the movie didn’t turn out as well as the previous two, but how it managed to exceed all my expectations entering the same theater.
Mission Impossible, particularly the latter trio, seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Movie after movie they seem to top one action sequence after another, only to one up it with the next film. No shots are wasted and the camera varies from angle to angle to give a solid geography of each location. Then, when the characters use that geography or their own ingenuity to find a way out or to execute their plan, our respect of the movie is amplified.
And I think that’s what I appreciated most from the recent film, that it doesn’t talk down to the audience in just simply giving us a balls-to-the-wall action film without any sort of intelligence or thought, but hoping that the set-pieces themselves will be the meat of the film. Dialogue is given carefully and it’s a movie where almost every sentence has to be digested because they come back later in the film.
Tom Cruise is clearly at home with these films. His quick-witted, constantly 100% persona as Ethan Hunt has worked so well and it continues to thrive here, especially with partners Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson work off of him, which can also lead to some subtle humorous moments.
Henry Cavill seemed to be the stand-out to many after seeing this, but while I did think his performance was more profound than any of his appearances in the DCEU, I didn’t care from him that much in Fallout. The villains of the Mission Impossible are mostly interchangeable and forgettable, mostly to serve as the plot point to get the IMF to defeat them, but here Cavill was really given an opportunity to really challenge Ethan on his beliefs, much like Kilmonger to Black Panther. While there are light conversations sprinkling the topic, the film never really gives a full confrontation.
Probably the most impressive achievement was how the film managed to be almost a carbon copy of the previous two, yet still manage to keep my interest. There were so many moments that while I watched, my mind would immediately bring up scenes in the past two films that were the equivalent to the I was currently watching, but there were little details that distinguish one from another. Also, the technical aspects of the film helped make more watchable. Wide shots comboed with quick cuts made the experience and action for each movie unique.
Get to the point: MI: Fallout is the best action movie of the year. It’s not without flaws, but when compared to many other actions shitshows out today, it stands high above and even looks to be a standard from many more of its kind.
The Inquirer’s Rating: 85%

Incredibles 2

Synopsis: Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.


Superheroes seem to be all the craze nowadays, don’t they? Marvel churning out stud after stud, all while anticipating a potential Fox merger. DC…, well, let’s just say they’re trying. Now, Pixar is throwing their hat into that circle with their sequel of the critically acclaimed The Incredibles. Obviously, times are much different now than then. Marvel was reeling from losses and Sony was the one soaring with the Sam Reimi-directed Spiderman 2. And DC…, well, let’s just say they didn’t deserve to even try. (Catwoman, Batman & Robin, Steel). In both circumstance, Pixar adapted and rose above, as they have done again and again.

Visually, I cannot remember an animated movie that has struck me with its sharp, yet blending colors. And this was before I had even seen movies like Coco and Inside Out. Bird’s direction with lighting in the animated movies shape the objects to look so clear that they seem real, even when the characters are clearly animated. Even more impressive is that the difference in what is made to give a realistic appearance to the animated characters is smoothed out. The transition is seamless. There’s a scene inside a dark apartment and the objects placed in the background and in front of the animated character moving inside are crafted beautifully, I, for a split second, thought it was real.

The first five to ten minutes would probably be the weak point of the movie. It suffers from the same pacing and plot problems as Star Wars: The Last Jedi where they are responding directly to the events of the first movie. There’s a lot more showing than telling here. Nevertheless, the film takes off once a corporation named DevTech enters the story and thrusts it forward with a plan to get superheroes back on the map. From then on, there is a great balance of gorgeous action sequences to fun family moments that form character developments.

The film covers a lot of issues, from equality to kids with special needs, but the one that is prevalent for a majority of the run time is the debate of how much humans rely on sources such as technology to “experience” reality. The villain, at first, seemed very superficial and uninteresting, but after some thought, I had reconsidered. The issues that the villain speaks on are thought-provoking and even haunting when one realizes how often jobs, schools, and the casual citizen relies on a screen. As much fun as the movie is for kids, there are plenty of intellectual, philosophical discussions between characters debating the creation versus the selling of a product or ease versus quality.

Get to the point: Pixar does it again with a sequel that builds on the already-set story of the first yet adds more and adapts to the current generation.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 85%

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Synopsis: Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.


As I walked out of the theaters after my screening of Ant-Man and the Wasp, I noticed a strange pattern in how I felt after watching all the Marvel films this year. It was a sensation that I hadn’t felt in a Marvel film for a while. Unsatisfication. Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp have all left me unsatisfied in some sort of way. Infinity War, being head and shoulders the best of them, had a pretty good reason: it is a two-part story. Black Panther left me unsatisfied with its world building and character-development outside of Kilmonger. Ant-Man and the Wasp didn’t
aim to the heights that Avengers or Captain America: Civil War tried to shoot for. Heck, it didn’t even try to be epic to the extent of movies such as Black Panther and the Iron Man movies. In this way, it’s hard to hate on Ant-Man, but it felt that character development had flatlined and what potentialthat was given in the prequel kind of feels untapped.

Marvel has done a “marvel”-ous job of casting, so much so that there isn’t one actor thus far that I can recall being not right for their respective role.And it clearly shows in Ant-Man and the Wasp. We get a whole plethora of solid acting and humerous performances, from Michelle Pfeiffer to Randall Park to Michael Pena. Yet the two characters who share the title name of the movie stand out the most, and rightfully so. The banter between Hope and Scott remainsas not just the best in the movie, but also among the best in entire MCU. The spotlight has moved over to Hope Van Dyne for much of the film. This does have it’s drawbacks, as Scott is made more of the supporting character and it does feel at times that he is delegated to a simple comic relief role. However, this adds much character to the Wasp and she is the character I am most excited to see join the Avengers.

Both the first Ant-Man and this film share the commonality of trying to be the fun, light-hearted action-comedy. However, the first really tried to make us
sympathize with Scott’s character and we had the oppurtunity to see emotional and conflicting moments between him, Hope, and Hank. Here, it feels that Scott
is shoved into the plan that Hope and Hank are making and we do get moments of catching up between characters, they are quickly shoved to the side for more
action sequences. Yes, I understand that Marvel movies are about the action first, but a trademark of their charm has been their character development and
since this movie doesn’t have the epicness and grandiosity of Avengers: Infinity War, perhaps a bit more screen time could be placed on delving deeper into
the characters.

This problem affects the villains too. While I don’t think that they are as dull as many of the phase two villains as Walton Goggins does seem to have a bit of fun with his miniscule and Hannah-John Kamen makes the most of her performance, there isn’t enough to really get that invested into them.

I’d be the last one to doubt Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige. They’ve created quality superhero movies that have transcended their own genres as well as have mass appeal to audiences from numerous demographics. Yet it seems the only two heroes that I can really get behind are Spiderman and Dr. Strange. Therefore, I’m not exactly 100% on board when it comes to the new Avengers. But maybe I’m presuming too much.

Get to the point: Iron Man and Captain America are the two flagship characters and what Marvel has been able to accomplish with character arcs from their first films until now has been almost impeccable. Unfortunately, while Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun action-comedy, it lacks the heart that Marvel movies typically have.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 55%

Up in the Air

An idea from a young, new co-worker (Anna Kendrick) would put an end to the constant travel of corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), so he takes her on a tour to demonstrate the importance of face-to-face meetings with those they must fire. While mentoring his colleague, he arranges hookups with another frequent-flier (Vera Farmiga), and his developing feelings for the woman prompt him to see others in a new light.


The United States of America without a doubt faced one of its most tumultuous times in the late 2000s. While one may look at entertainment just as movies to provide some sort of relief, director Jason Reitman comes out with a film centered around someone who has been that bearer of bad news, the one that is indirectly stripping people of their jobs. Yet Reitman pulls an impeccable balancing act, distributing weight on both analysis and performance, between comedy and drama.

Despite the fact that one might bear malicious feelings to someone who not only executes his job as a downsizer with the precision and ruthlessness, but also relishes the perks and the sensation of that occupation, I couldn’t resist the charm that Clooney had implemented into the performance. When you see how some plot points in the movie may come in and wreck his lifestyle, you may not sympathize with him, but you understand how the change would feel to someone like Bingham.

The two other leads (Kendrick and Farmiga) play characters that symbolize the two paths that Clooney’s character is presented with. In the beginning, his ideals shaped Goran’s (Farmiga), but as the movie progresses and Bingham gets a taste of what Keener (Kendrick) strives for, the way he views everything is changed. The back-and-forth between Keener and Bingham remains to be truly a highlight, which doesn’t just include their conversations between one another. The facial expressions given through the manner in which they use to execute their jobs tells so much more.

Another great aspect of the film is how Reitman manages to have call-backs to even that have take place in the first half or second half of the movie. At first, they seem to be there to just give a slightly better picture of the protagonist, but then we would revisit those events and plot-points, only with a Bingham who has changed and started to think in a completely different fashion. The irony and contrast that is conveyed is only enhanced by Clooney’s performance.

Up in the Air is more than just a comedy-drama. It’s a case study of how people do and view their jobs. It introduces a viewpoint that others may be too emotional to view when hearing that the job that they worked so hard for is being taken away. Slowly and surely, we get to see Bingham’s path start to trend in a much different direction. Yet even at the movie’s low point, there are attempts to redeem oneself.

Get to the point: The three lead performances carry this film past the stratosphere and to see the deterioration of a man that in the beginning looked so strong as well as giving us solid dialogue and touching moments makes Up in the Air a must-see movie.

 The Inquirer’s Rating: 95%

Chef

After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant. As he tries to figure out what his next step should be, he finds himself in Miami. Carl joins forces with his ex-wife (Sofía Vergara), best friend (John Leguizamo) and son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food-truck business, and the venture provides a chance to reignite his passion for cooking — as well as his zest for life and love.


When thinking of the name Jon Favreau, some big blockbusters immediately come to mind. He has had massive success with being the initiator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the successful Jungle Book, and even his future projects with Lion King and being involved in upcoming Star Wars tv series. Chef felt like a palate cleanser, a breathe of fresh air to clear the mind and fill the soul.

Simplicity seems to be a commonality between the titles in movies made by Favreau and Chef easily reflects that in its story-line. It’s without a doubt that the first half of the film is filled with much more conflict and tension, leading to a slightly higher interest than the second half. The story journeys someone who believes in his work and wants to have creative freedom over his passion but is bogged down by an higher-upper (see if you can draw any parallels). Similar to how Casper had to start from scratch and take a moment of reflection thus taking the time to connect with his son, Favreau goes back to his humble beginnings with this type of movie before Iron Man and other Disney blockbusters. This also might be conveyed through the difference in time spent on shots of cooking in the first and second half. While the first would breeze by scenes of Casper and his son’s get-togethers and focus on food porn, the second swapped that favoritism, letting the audience experience the re-connection between father and son.

There’s a turning point that takes place after Dustin Hoffman’s character and Casper engage in a argument that feels more like a climax than any other point of the film afterwards. While the comedy didn’t really stick out to me, there were times that induced laughter. Probably the stand-out traits of the movie were the food and the acting. The food itself is mouth-watering and artistic, but perhaps it was the cooking itself that seemed more like an artwork that the finished product. The film also bolstered a impressive cast, and every person turned in charming and likable performances, which was mandatory in a movie where the story is character-driven. There some throwaway characters that are tossed to the wayside, but those deficiencies are easily compensated with great performances by the supporting cast that do stay throughout the second half.

Get to the point: Chef isn’t your Michelin-recommended, gourmet, five star quality meal, but it doesn’t aim to be nor should it be. The film’s simplicity is buoyed by the charm and heart supplied by the cast’s performances. It’s the movie version of comfort food, leaving me happy and satisfied. 

The Inquirer’s Rating: 75%

 

Deadpool 2

Synopsis: Wisecracking mercenary Deadpool joins forces with three mutants — Bedlam, Shatterstar and Domino — to protect a boy from the all-powerful Cable.


Sequels often take what their predecessors do and expand upon it. We can expect sequels to do be more grandiose, to enlarge mythos, and press onto a story that we have cherished in the previous film(s). Deadpool 2 essentially accomplishes all of this. Director David Leitch establishes more connections to the X-Men universe, while at the same time, further progressing Wade Wilson’s character that already had a solid foundation in the first movie. However, while everything was done well, the result didn’t resonate with me as much as the first. I still laughed and understood the plot well enough, but something was missing.

Two movies under the superhero genre had come to my mind once the credits had rolled (stay for the mid-credits scene): Iron Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Their previous films have sustained a legacy as well as widening the horizons of the genre. The first Deadpool shares those trait. Ryan Reynolds had rejuvenated his career and people were clamoring for the next screening of the Merch with the Mouth. Like the previously mentioned sequels, Deadpool 2 also lands short of his predecessor. It’s tough to pinpoint how far it is from the first. Iron Man 2 was a disappointment, while Guardians 2 wasn’t quite there, but somewhat close. I’d say it lands in between.

Reynolds knocks it out of the park in this film, just like the last one. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast remains a blur in my memory. The two new additions, Domino and Cable (Zazie Beetz and Josh Brolin), barely had gotten much devolopment outside of one or two scenes. All the previous characters that were in the prequel are shoved into several scenes that felt trivial and unnecessary. Some characters are revealed to be villains in this, one standing out clearly more than the other. Their time in the spotlight was limited, which I was fine with, hoping to get more out of the protagonists, but there wasn’t enough.

Oddly, enough, the effects in Deadpool 2 have seemed to take a hit. While I understand the budget isn’t exactly up to par when considering how much production cost for movies such as Justice League or Avengers, I didn’t have much of a problem with the first Deadpool’s effects, if any at all, and that film had a lower budget than this. One of the most glaring examples is a scene where Domino’s powers are put on display and her surroundings looked rubbery. Contrast that to the initial highway scene and final fight in the first Deadpool. While the background of both sequences were coated in different shades of grey, it seemed to mesh together better and make it seem less fake. Another factor might be the fact that Deadpool’s colors stand out when you place him with a dull background. Not to hate on Domino’s outfit, but her color scheme doesn’t pop in colors so when her surroundings emit vibrancy and color, the eyes will gravitate towards the latter.

The movie, again, similarly to Guardians 2 tries to tackle emotional drama and tries to hit feelings much more than the first. Within the first five to ten minutes, this is already established. Unfortunately, the notes that they try to hit don’t always match with the jokes that they pull, thus leading them to be less funny. While there are plenty of lines and quips that had me roaring, there were many more moments where I just gave a courtesy laugh.

There was a cluster-fuck of characters, especially towards the ending. Characters appear and do one little thing to help the team, but you don’t feel their overall weight in the story. Movies like Avengers: Infinity War or to a lesser extent, Age of Ultron work because we’ve seen all the protagonists and given them chances to grow, but here, the characters feel shoved in and unnecessary. And no, just because “It’s Deadpool”, doesn’t excuse the movie from this.

Get to the point: Deadpool 2, technically, is a good movie. Good performances, choppy, but well-done action, good aesthetic all hold the movie up. Yet while the physical aspects of the movie were present, the emotional and psychological parts lacked.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 55% 

Avengers: Infinity War

Synopsis: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.


So we’ve come to point where saying any upcoming Marvel film is good would be equivalent to stating that water is wet. Through its peaks and valleys (if one could even consider them that), Kevin Feige has presented the viewing audience with a bundle of quality movies time and time again, each connecting and building upon one another. The Russo brothers are back to direct, with good reason. Their two previous Marvel installments have been hailed as some of the best in the MCU.

Funny enough, while the title gives us the name of our favorite heroes, the main villain, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is given the most development and is the clear highlight of the film. That’s not to disregard the rest of the cast, who execute their roles to the best they can, but with so much star-power and names being tossed around, at times it can feel tough to see who stands out. Thankfully, Thanos himself is a charismatic villain. No, he isn’t given the charisma that makes many fall for Loki nor is he iconic to the level of the main iterations of the Joker, but as the film progresses, the character and motivations are flushed through so even though, one may still look to him as the clear villain, that doesn’t mean that we can’t see why he believes that what he is doing is right.

With each of their films, the Russo Brother’s action has been made with a bigger and bigger scale, due to the type of characters they are given of course. Noticeably, there was a lot less shaky camera, if any at all, during the action sequences. Most of the time, the camera showed our favorite heroes battling in wide or tracking shots, giving us the more grandiose feel rather than the elevator scene in The Winter Soldier, where quick cuts and close-ups conveyed urgency and claustrophobia.

The first Avengers, despite its great last action sequence and charming villain, was most successful in bringing together the heroes and making it as if they could operate in the same universe. Therefore, if there was one thing that Joss Whedon had to nail, it was the dialogue and simply put, he did. Once again, the Russo Brothers emphasized on that. With the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy and characters from Black Panther, we had the opportunity to see interactions and call-backs to previous films. While it may be a bit of a shallow way to view it, I often perceive these Avengers films to be a reward for sticking with the characters in their solo movies. Without a doubt, had someone come up to me having no prior knowledge of the previous films, I would spurn them away from this film. There’s just too much going on in terms of references and exposition that one could easily get a headache from just sheer amount of plot in the movie. Granted, it’s done the best way possible, but that doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t feel overwhelmed.

The first act of the film, while thoroughly entertaining, felt like watching football before the Sunday Night Football on NBC hits, except the television would just cut to a different game every five minutes. Much like a football fan would be happy to watch that much football, I found myself pleased to see everything that conspired in the first act, but having 8 different stories happening at 8 different settings will feel inordinate at times. In the second half, when heroes start to form bigger teams, the story becomes much more streamlined.

I have conflicting feelings about the ending. At times, I think that it is given for shock value, that they may have done this to this character just to make us feel, but on the other hand, I found myself caring so much that I enjoyed and even shed a few tears. It’s similar to how I feel about the entirety of the film. I doubt that people would haven’t invested in the entire universe would be moved, but those that have will probably get more of the feels.

Get to the point: Ring up another win for Marvel. The Russo Brothers balance a immense cast with well-made action, a well-crafted villain, and well-loved references and interactions by the heroes that we’ve come to enjoy for the past ten years. Here’s hoping to another strong ten.

The Inquirer’s Rating: 85%