Anniversary Celebration 5: My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 5

Hello, friends!

Welcome to the final item of my annual blogiversary celebration: my five favorite new films I have watched this year. But first, if you missed any of the reviews from this week, here is what you might have missed:

The Game, recommended by Ashley
King of Thorn, recommended by SG
United 93, recommended by Rob
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, recommended by Curt
The Wind That Shakes the Barley, recommended by Kira
The Raid: Redemption, recommended by Kim

Before I go into this list, I want to give a HUGE thank you to my blogger friends who gave me recommendations for this momentous event. These last few years have been fun and all of you have contributed to that, so I appreciate you helping me out in making this anniversary celebration stand out from the last four. Finally, to close out this celebration, here are my five favorite films I watched during my fifth year of blogging:

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle movie poster5) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Robin William’s Jumanji is one of my favorite movies from the 90s.  When I first heard they were doing a sequel, I was unsure what to think. On the one hand, Hollywood has been making sequels to ride on nostalgia factor, mostly to mediocre or worse success. But I didn’t want to judge before I saw it, especially after seeing the cast. I’m glad I didn’t write Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle off as a simple cash-grab because this was one fantastic film. All four cast members brought different kinds of humor that made for all kinds of laughs. Jack Black acting as a teenage girl was especially fantastic and something I didn’t know I needed in my life. I was in stitches throughout the entire film.

Black Panther movie poster4) Black Panther

There is no doubt that Marvel Studios is a powerhouse. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unprecedented cinematic accomplishment. At 18 movies in, they finally made a movie that many are pushing to be nominated for best picture at the academy awards. Whether or not Black Panther will receive that honor still remains to be seen. However, what is already clear is that this movie is amazing. T’Challa is a well developed character with an equally developed and compelling villain in Erik ‘Killmonger.’ Killmonger finally seemed to have broken Marvel’s shallow villain problem and that alone is note worthy.

Game Night movie poster3) Game Night

One of my favorite movie genres, if not my favorite, is comedy. And when it comes to comedy, I have a pretty low bar; if I laugh, chances are I’ll like the movie, whether it’s slapstick like Airplane! or more subtle humor like Cannonball Run. These days, comedies tend to go more lowbrow humor so a comedy that is clever is bound to get noticed. That’s where Game Night comes in. Game Night takes a simple premise, like a friend’s regular get together, and turns the crazy up to eleven. Best yet, it does so without becoming juvenile or distasteful. Every couple has their own dynamic, creating all sorts of laughs. Weird neighbor Gary, played flawlessly by Jesse Plemons, almost single-handedly steals the show. Comedies are great but one like Game Night that manages to be unique in the saturated genre is sure to be remembered.

Ready Player One movie poster2) Ready Player One

Ready Player One combines two of my favorite things: Steven Spielberg movies and video games. For as long I can remember I’ve had a controller in my hand. There’s something special about where games can take you. This movie understands what it truly means to be a gamer and playing for enjoyment and to bond with others. That spoke to me on a personal level. Outside of that, the animation from inside the Oasis was amazing and the story was interesting, especially when it highlighted the point above. Spielberg has a fantastic eye for fantasy and science-fiction and there could not have been a better director. All-in-all, Ready Player One simply had all the right pieces.

Avengers: Infinity War movie poster1) Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is to the entire MCU up to this point what The Avengers was to Phase One. It was a culmination of all the movie that had come before. The Avengers only had five movies worth of characters to worry about but Infinity War had the monumental task of capping 18 movies! And like the first Avengers movie, this year’s was up to the task. It balanced all the characters well and balanced the serious moments with the signature Marvel humor better than most MCU movies before it. Thanos, this movie’s villain, quickly became Marvel’s best villain to date, even greater than Killmonger mentioned before. Even though it is titled “Avengers,” an argument can be made that this is Thanos’ movie and the Avengers are the antagonists. It’s a wonderful flip of hero/villain dichotomy but was a brilliant move by Marvel Studios. Once again, they demonstrated why they are the king of the box office.

Turns out I didn’t watch nearly as many new films over the course of the last blogging year as I thought I did. In any case, I want to thank you all again for you patience as I went on a review hiatus and took an extra three months to get this celebration together. You all are simply the best. Another thank you for following, reading, liking, and commenting. It’s always great to see you stop by and I can never get enough of it. 😀 Onward to year 6!

Until next time, cheers!

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Avengers: Infinity War movie posterSynopsis
When Thanos (Josh Brolin) travels throughout the universe to collect the powerful infinity stones, all of Earth’s heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy must come together to stop him, before he can end half of all life in existence.

Well, here we are. 10 years, 18 movies, and one comic fan’s wet dream later, Thanos has finally arrived. Thanos has been teased at since the end of The Avengers in Phase One, intermittently throughout Phase Two, and was pretty silent throughout Phase Three… until now. The buildup to his arrival has been one for the cinematic history books. A shared universe between movies is nothing new; Universal’s monster universe from the 1900s, the Alien and Predator films, Nightmare on Elmstreet and Friday the 13th, the list goes on. However, what is unprecedented is the scope and interconnectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Marvel Studios needed to make the culmination of their journey to be great, at the very least, in order to properly payoff all of the threads they have been dropping since 2008. Avengers: Infinity War not only meets expectations but surpasses them.

You know what to expect from this film right off the bat. Within the first ten minutes, my jaw was on the floor. And it stayed there. The excitement never let up. But that’s not to say the action was turned up to eleven like a Michael Bay movie. No. The Russo brothers did a fantastic job of balancing action, drama, and humor. They’ve shown they can do so with a large cast in Captain America: Civil War and they’ve done it yet again here. While it may be the longest MCU film to date, clocking in at an hour and a half, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

One of my biggest gripes about Thor: Ragnarok was that it didn’t know when not to be funny. It didn’t take the time to let the somber moments be somber or the dramatic moments to linger before cracking a joke to break the mood. Not so in Avengers: Infinity War. Yes, it is funny and there are plenty of jokes and humorous moments are abundant. However, it isn’t afraid to take a step back and be dramatic, to be emotional, to let your jaw hit the floor and stay there for a moment. Like a fine wine before drinking, these moments are given the time to breath before moving on to the next great action piece or quip. It is some very disciplined story telling from the Russo brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to balance the different story elements so well.

But best yet, the characters feel balanced.

With nearly thirty characters to juggle, it’s amazing how shared the screen time is between all of them. Throughout the film, the characters are in several groups with many unique combinations, such as Thor, Rocket, and Groot, or Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man. These groupings made for some pretty great moments, either humorous or unexpectedly heartfelt. Despite the large cast, no one feels like they get short–changed on screen time. There are those those get more time than others but no one feels over-shadowed.

There might be a good reason for that.

Throughout the film, Thanos gets just as much screen time as all the heroes, probably even as much as all of them combined. He is treated like a main character. Much of the film’s run time is devoted to him, allowing his character to be deeply explored. He’s not just a stereotypical MCU villain that fits the one-dimensional format that plagues the franchise. Like the movie as a whole, Thanos is balanced between building his back story and driving motivations, as well as showing how formidable he is. He has easily and quickly become one of the MCU’s best villains (not that it was a high bar to hurtle).

While showing Thanos and all these heroes on screen, the tone felt balanced as well. Having spent several outings with many of these characters, each of their individual movies had their own tone and feeling. There is definitely a common, humorous tone between them that Marvel has refined over the last decade but they still had a uniqueness to them. Again, the Russo brothers and the writers managed to make these tones flow together smoothly. So when we jumped from the Guardians to Iron Man to Thor, it wasn’t jerky or awkward.

Slight spoilers in this paragraph. Given that this is considered part 1, with Avengers 4 being part 2, of the fight with Thanos, it should be no surprise that this ends on a cliffhanger. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of cliffhanger endings in movies. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s a cliffhanger in the traditional sense. In a way, this is Thanos’ story, not the heroes’. While it ends on a cliffhanger for the heroes, Thanos’ story is completed. It’s a fairly unique way to end a film, allowing me to put aside my usual feelings towards cliffhanger endings.

I thought Avengers: Infinity War was GREAT 😀 Calling this anything short of ‘epic’ would not do this film justice. Even that almost doesn’t feel appropriate to fit the scope and grandeur of what happens on screen. I love this film for the same reason I love The Avengers: it feels like an event. It brings together threads that have been laid out throughout the MCU films up to this point. And let’s not forget, this is only the beginning of the end of the buildup. We still have the conclusion in the as-of-yet untitled Avengers 4 next year. Marvel has proven time and time again they are expert story tellers and know what makes their characters tick. They’ve just proven again why they are continuously at the top of the box office.

You can also check out a spoiler-free audio review of this film in the Avengers: Infinity War episode of the Film Focus podcast, guest starring me!


Cast & Crew
Anthony Russo – Director
Joe Russo – Director
Christopher Markus – Screenplay
Stephen McFeely – Screenplay
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / Hulk
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers / Captain America
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Don Cheadle – James Rhodes / War Machine
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange
Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa / Black Panther
Karen Gillen – Nebula
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Paul Bettany – Vision
Elizabeth Olson – Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie – Sam Wilson / Falcon
Sebastian Stan – Bucky Barns / Winter Soldier
Peter Dinklage – Eitri
Benedict Wong – Wong
Chris Pratt – Peter Quill / Star- Lord
Zoe Saldana – Gamora
Dave Bautista – Drax
Vin Diesel – Groot (voice)
Bradley Cooper – Rocket (voice)
Pom Klementieff – Mantis
Josh Brolin – Thanos
Terry Notary – Cull Obsidian
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Ebony Maw
Carrie Coon – Proxima Midnight
Michael James Shaw – Corvus Glaive

Avengers: Infinity War Spoiler-Free Review

My pal, the fantastic Curt, aka the Hypersonic55, once again invited me to be a guest on his podcast, Film Focus. This time, we had a spoiler-free discussion about Avengers: Infinity War. Head over to his site to have a listen!

The Hypersonic55's Realm of Reviews and Other Stuff

Howdy ladies and gents of the internet, how is it going? So yeah this review is up a little later than I had wanted but let’s just say I had a hella busy weekend, but putting that aside, I am finally here to share with you my thoughts on the latest Marvel Studios, Avengers: Infinity War! Now I did consider doing a written review, but I feel like my podcast would be able to better describe my feeling about the film in a more vivid and raw manner. So my review will be presented via my podcast Film Focus and features a returning guest, my homie Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews.

Anyway here’s the episode 52:

Now I will admit this review was largely unscripted and since we were trying to avoid spoilers, there is a fair amount of vagueness to our comments, that being said we do cover a…

View original post 119 more words

Avengers: Infinity War Trailer #1 Reaction and Thoughts

Hello, friends!

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. I mean, who hasn’t at this point. If by some chance you haven’t, or you want to watch it for the 4 bazillionth time (Oh, just me? OK.), here it is:

OMG! How awesome was that!? Guys, I was literally in tears at the end. I’ve never had that kind of reaction from a movie trailer before. It was unexpected to say the least. After the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and how that movie turned out, I tried not to let my expectations get too high but this giant crossover has been 10 YEARS in the making. I hope that the wait has been worth it.

I haven’t done any kind of trailer review in a few years, but there is so much to digest from this trailer and so so much I want to comment or speculate on/about. Be warned, I do go into spoilers for several MCU films, including the latest Thor. Below are a combination of my observations, questions, and theories I have after watching this trailer. There is a lot to get through so let’s just jump into it.

Bruce Banner is not trapped as the Hulk

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Bruce Banner made the comment that if he hulked out one more time, that he may not be able to revert back to his non-green self. As heroes do, he chose to sacrifice himself and unleashed the Hulk in order to save the Asgardians from Hela.  Right away in this trailer, we can see that he is in fact not trapped as the Hulk and can transform back as needed (he can be seen as the Hulk later in the trailer).

How does Banner get separated from Thor?

Speaking of Banner, how did he end up on Earth? As mentioned above, at the end of Thor Ragnarok, he was was Thor and the rest of the Asgardians. So how did he end up back on Earth? And better yet, how did he just happen to land in Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum?

Rhodey is feeling better

Another character whose fate was left open was James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, AKA War Machine, after being partially paralyzed in Captain America: Civil War. However, knowing Tony Stark is his best friend, it’s no surprise that he is back in action, as you can see in the upper left of the image above. I’m sure Tony wasted no time or expense in getting Rhodes up and around again. Now whether his paralysis is cured or he is getting some technological assistance will have to be revealed in the movie.

Spider-Man dons the Iron Spider suit

After Spider-Man defeats the Vulture, Tony offers him a spot on the Avengers and a new suit, called the Iron Spider suit. Peter ultimately turns down the offer, which also included turning down the suit.  So why does he have it now? Is it temporary or did Tony give him the suit anyway? Either way, as excited as I am to see Peter wear this suit, I don’t like how he just gets all these bells and whistles.

Vision has a human form

Whether there are story reasons for this or financial ones for not putting Paul Bettany in makeup are yet to be seen but Vision has some sort of human form as opposed to his normal, purple form. I think this will be explained as a way to allow him to better interact with humans without being awkward.

Thanos has the Power Stone by the time he attacks Earth

We know that at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Power Stone was in the care of the Nova Corp. However, how he gets it before his invasion of Earth is not clear.  There are two ways I think this will happen: 1) The movie will start with him taking it from wherever the Nova Corp had it or, 2) it will happen off screen and he will just have it by the time he invades Earth. Either way, the Nova Corp aren’t going to take the theft of the Power Stone lightly, so…

The Nova Corp sends the Guardians to retrieve the Power Stone

I think this i s the why/how the Guardians go to Earth and meet up with the other heroes.  When Thanos retrieves the Power Stone from the possession of the Nova Corp, they enlist the help of everyone’s favorite team of misfits to get it back. Along the way, they pick up Thor from whatever it is he is seen doing in the trailer.

How exactly does Thanos get the Space Stone?

Or another way to phrase this is “is Loki working with Thanos?” The trailer makes it look like either Loki opens the portal for Thanos or he hands the tesseract to Thanos. I don’t think either of those happen and the trailer is cut to make it look that way.  What exactly Loki’s role in Infinity War is still up in the air but my friend had the theory that he pretends to be on Thanos’ side, only to betray him later. It appears that Thanos’ attack on New York City is for the Space Stone, so I don’t think it will be a simple hand-off.

Why does Thanos’ army attack Wakanda?

At some point in the movie, there is a giant fight in Black Panther’s home country of Wakanda.  The big question is: why does Thanos’ army attack Wakanda? What’s there? I doubt Thanos is trying to get his hands on vibranium so the only other explanation is there is an Infinity Stone there. Is this the yet-to-be-seen Soul Stone? Or has one of the others been hidden there?

The Second Battle of New York is early in the movie with the Battle of Wakanda later

I just made those names up so don’t take them as fact. Anyway, the statement is pretty self-explanatory.  Most of my evidence for this observation comes from Tony Stark and the armors he wears.  When he confronts Thanos in New York, he is wearing his traditional armor. We also see Tony wearing the Hulkbuster armor while in Wakanda.  To me, he wears this because he already knows how strong Thanos is, especially with the Power Stone, and knows his traditional armor is not strong enough.

Someone’s gonna die!!

This really isn’t a surprise, everyone figured this was going to happen. Vision is the most likely candidate given he has the Mind Stone in his head (and he seems to be in trouble as seen in the image above). I thought the same once I saw the stone placed in his head in Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, given the prominence of Corvus Glave attacking him for the stone, I think it is a red herring.  I have no doubt Thanos will get the Mind Stone but I also think that someone, or someones, will find a way to keep him alive without the stone. At least one person is going to die but not Vision. And if he does, it won’t be for long.

I had a few more things but they weren’t that important, like we finally see Peter’s Spider-Sense and is that a real reactor in Tony’s chest? Anyway, that’s most of what I had to say about this first trailer. What about you? What are some of your observations? Theories? Hopes? Dreams? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Until next time, cheers!