A short and spoiler-free review of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

Mind. Blown.

If I could tell my 19-year-old self discovering superhero comics in college exactly how good their big screen adaptations would become, I wouldn’t believe me.

I saw “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) tonight with expectations that were very high. It was still better than I thought it would be. It was easily better than last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” (although I think of them as two halves of the same epic movie).  I don’t pretend to be a film expert, so take this as speculation — I personally think the pair of “Infinity” films have made comic-book movie history in the same manner as the original “Superman” (1978), Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) and Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy (2005-2012).

I don’t really want to make any more observations, because I’m too afraid of inadvertently posting spoilers.  But I will say that there is a massive tonal change between “Infinity War” and “Endgame.”  The banter and humor of the former is largely left aside, and this concluding story is darker and far more emotionally sophisticated.  It’s moving.  It feels strange to write here, but I kept thinking during the movie that this was a more “grown up” Marvel film.

And it is EPIC.  I honestly can’t imagine how Marvel can top it with future films.  There is an action set piece that made my jaw drop.  I can’t say more.

This is an obvious 10 out of 10 from me.

 

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Throwback Thursday: the Marvel superheroes in the 1989 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Oh, god.  Oh, god.  This … this is evidently what passed for the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe in 1989.  (This is the company’s float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.)

Can I be blamed for not getting into superhero comics until college?  When portrayals like this represented the genre to the general public?

Dear God, what have they done to Dr. Doom??  And is that misshapen, dirty aluminum golem supposed to be the Silver Surfer?!  And they’re all in a … multi-level mausoleum?  A crumbling clock-tower?  A haunted castle that inexplicably has a manhole right outside its entrance?  Huh?  Wha?

Hey, this was nearly two full decades before the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Indeed, it was the very same year as Tim Burton’s “Batman” — and that is actually the first bona fide modern superhero movie that I can think of without googling it.  The genre had a long way to go.

Hey … the Spider-man balloon was pretty cool.

 

 

A short review of “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017)

Like the two films preceding it, “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) is an intelligent, well rounded science fiction thriller.  The newest “Apes” series has been leagues ahead of the campy late-1960’s original films, and of course Tim Burton’s bizarre 2001 remake.

There is more going on here than a simple “apes vs. humans” tale.  Nor does it engage in simplistic moralizing, in which the innocent animals must escape from their human oppressors.  There’s a hell of a lot of moral complexity — something noted by the many positive reviews for the film.  One of the things that I liked the most was a compelling new surprise plot element, even though it approaches deus ex machina territory.  I won’t spoil it here, but it’s bleak, it’s frightening, and it makes you think.  Given the new information one character explains to another … it’s hard to say who is the bad guy, isn’t it?  How this plot element plays out is damned effective too.

This movie also superbly renders non-human characters — both in terms of its smart script and its special effects (a combination of both CGI and human actors).  I was greatly impressed at the detailed and lifelike facial expressions.

The action sequences were well executed, too, and the film had an epic feel.  (Although this would be a decent conclusion to a trilogy, filmmakers Matt Reeves and Martin Bomback have gone on record stating they wouldn’t be averse to future sequels.)

Still, I must confess that my attention sometimes wandered.  I think the pacing was a bit off.  It also didn’t help much that the conclusion of the final action set piece was spoiled by one of the film’s trailers.  (What the hell were they thinking?  Who makes these decisions?  Was there any backlash from fans who didn’t want advance knowledge of the film’s ending?)

Although this was an exceptionally well developed film, I just can’t give an unusually high rating to a movie that didn’t always hold my interest.  I believe, therefore, that I’d rate this an 8 out of 10.

 

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Throwback Thursday: 80’s Wolverine posters!

The first of the posters you see below was created in 1987 with art by Art Adams; the second in 1989 with art by Mike Zeck.  (Is there something ironic about an artist named “Art?”)  These definitely bring back 90’s memories for me, though — I remember looking them on my friends’ dorm room walls at Mary Washington College.  (The Adams’ piece that popped up in the dorms might have been different; there are several variations of the image, and I seem to remember an all-black background.)

That would have been the Spring of 1991, toward the end of my freshman year.  It was just before I’d really discovered superhero comics, even though I’d grown up with Sgt. Rock, Indiana Jones, Conan the Barbarian and Archie.  I thought costumed heroes were generally a stupid idea; not even the Batman craze after the Tim Burton’s 1989 film attracted me to the genre.  (Burton’s film was actually considered quite groundbreaking at the time; this was long before Christopher Nolan’s amazing work eclipsed it and its sequels.)

I didn’t even know who Wolverine was.  (Trust me, I was fully converted to both Marvel and DC fandom during my sophomore year.)  I remember listening to a classmate muse about the image of Wolverine fighting Captain America — if Wolvey’s adamantium claws could cut through anything, and Cap’s adamantium shield couldn’t be broken, how would the melee depicted play out?  (Yes, I’ve long since learned that Cap’s shield is made of vibranium; I’m just not sure if that’s a retcon or not.)

 

 

Arthur Adams Wolverine Poster (1)

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