Avengers: Endgame Review (No Spoilers)

Release date: 24 April 2019

Avengers: Endgame, I love you 3000.

I saw Avengers: Endgame twice in 12 hours; that should give you a pretty good sense of how I feel about this movie. The first screening was in a packed house on opening night, the second was early the next morning with a much smaller crowd. Both experiences were different, but both were acutely affecting, and satisfying.

There’s no doubt Avengers: Endgame is a love letter; a love letter to a decade of story, to the myriad of characters, and to the OG Avengers, the original six that started it all. But it’s also a love letter to the fans; a walk through the movies of the past, the triumphs, failures, and odysseys of a strangely human bunch of super-human/alien heroes, all coming to a head in a massive brawl that’s an absolute cracker. It’s a deeply rewarding finale, a beautiful conclusion to this once in a lifetime, cinematic journey.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, I’m tempted to because there were some spectacular character arcs, as well as brilliant comedic scenes, (let me just say that Chris Hemsworth is a national treasure), and I want to talk about it all to anyone who will listen. I came home and blurted everything out to a family member who couldn’t have cared less, then spent until well after midnight talking online, burning up my DMs with friends who, like me, saw it on opening night. I want to share, damn it, but part of the joy of this movie was the not knowing, so being spoiler free for that first viewing is and was a gift. It was the nerves, the anticipation, and the excitement. It was worrying if my fave was going to make it. It was being side swiped by feelings I never saw coming. It was laughing so hard I literally slapped my thigh.

In amongst the action sequences and epic battles, there is space for genuine emotion, and that, quite frankly, caught me off guard. I’m not going to tell you I cried, because in all honesty, at times I sobbed, and not just because there were some sadder than sad moments, but because there were some glorious moments that made my heart swell with love and happiness, and my eyes leak all over my face. I wasn’t the only one (thankfully), I was surrounded by snuffles and sniffles, and at least one rather loud, anguished, cry in the dark. But even when things seem their bleakest, there’s a lot of unexpected humour to balance it out. This movie is damn funny, with some laugh out loud sequences and wonderful, witty, and of course, snarky banter. It’s something the MCU has done beautifully through the series, blending the drama with the playfulness, as well as keeping the separate Universes and character tones true to their individual franchises, even when they’re all mixed in together. Infinity War shone at that, and here, Endgame perfects it.

In a story chocked full of everything and everyone shiny, the script is somehow the superstar; not something you usually say about big, glossy, blockbusters, but there was nothing in this movie that felt hokey or heavy handed to me. There was a honesty to the Avengers’ post Thanos snap struggles that was unanticipated and refreshing. These are characters we’ve grown to love over the past 10 years, and seeing their trials as well as their victories, so beautifully rendered, punches you right in the gut. Be prepared for a good deal of feels, but remember, you won’t be alone.

Getting to sit with a group of fellow aficionados and watch the thing we’ve all been waiting for is so special. To hear the authentic gasps, the concerned mutters, the cries of “noooo”, then the spontaneous and enthusiastic applause as the credits roll; it gives the event a true community feel, like we’re all in this together, like we’re with each other ‘til the end of the line.

Avengers: Endgame left me less emotionally devastated than I expected and more overwhelmingly thankful. Thankful that I got to experience this epic tale of heroes and mega villains; thankful for Cap, Tony, Bruce, Nat, Thor, Clint and everyone in between, and though I know we have more Marvel movies coming down the line, for some of these characters, some of my cherished favourites, their stories are done, and that truly is a hard pill to swallow. I will miss them terribly, but I’ll be forever grateful for the ride they took me on.

As a wise and somewhat sassy man said, “the end is part of the journey,” and what a glorious journey it’s been.

P.S. See the movie before you’re spoiled, because the surprises are everything, and stick around for the credits to see a lovely tribute to the Avengers cast, but there’s no mid or end credits scene in this one, so if you need to pee after the 3 hour running time, you don’t have to wait!

(c) Amy Hutton

 

Venom – Movie Review

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It’s a comedy, right?

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Super-hero

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

I’m not sure if comic fans of the Venom character are going to like this movie, but coming at it purely as a movie goer with a limited understanding of the comic Universe Venom comes from, this rollicking action flick is super fun.

It’s the oddball humour that makes Venom the whacky ride it is. The interaction between the Symbiote, Venom and his human host, Eddie Brock, is at times damn hilarious. Venom has the best lines in the movie, tormenting Brock from inside his head with some zippy insults and sassy banter. Unfortunately the film makers took a little too long to reveal the alien with a passion for tatter-tots and people’s heads, leaving the audience with no real sense of the character they’re supposed to be rooting for…eventually. Who and what Venom is, is never really explored, so if you don’t come in with that knowledge, it’s hard to feel a connection.

In fact, one of the flaws in Venom is the emotional jump the Symbiote makes from ravager of Earth, to saviour. It was literally a “Huh?” moment. There is no evidence of an emotional bond developing between Venom and Eddie, and at no time does Eddie represent the kind of influence that may change the mind of an alien who initially sees our World as a smorgasbord, to one who doesn’t want to see the human race perish. Eddie is a bit of a dick for a lot of the movie. Consequently, it’s a jarringly sharp turn in the narrative. Just a little interaction between the two showing a growing understanding of each other would have done the job, but the leap the audience is asked to take is a large one and winds up making the movie feel disjointed.

There’s no doubt Venom is an uneven film in writing and structure, but that doesn’t stop it being enjoyable. The action sequences are pretty cool, with energetic fight scenes and an epic car chase through the streets of San Francisco (and who doesn’t love a good car chase), plus the stars are the kind of actors that can turn a less than stellar script, into something that is more often than not, delightful.

Tom Hardy is always compelling, sometimes confusing, and often downright terrifying, but here in Venom, he’s, well, goofy. Hardy’s Eddie Brock is not exactly the most likeable character on screen. When we first meet him, he’s selfish with no regard as to how his actions will affect anyone, and as his life crumbles, he becomes a shambling loser who blames everyone else for the situation he created through his own arrogance. But once Venom takes hold, even though Eddie doesn’t exactly redeem himself, he does become more charming somehow. Probably because…Tom Hardy. Hardy, even when a little strange, is undeniably charming. His quirky performance breathes life into Brock.

Michelle Williams, as Eddie’s love interest Anne, doesn’t have a whole lot to do, but like Hardy, Williams is such a wonderful actor that the moments she is on the screen are lovely to watch. Essentially Eddie, Anne and Venom are having some kind of bizarre love triangle rom-com in the middle of all the shooting and throwing of baddies around the screen, with Venom instantly appreciating the awesomeness of Michelle Williams, as well he should! Rounding out the cast, Riz Ahmed plays bad-guy in the guise of entrepreneur Carlton Drake, with a suitable amount of shadiness. But none of the characters, and especially not Venom ever feel completely 3 dimensional. They just aren’t given that room.

Venom definitely could have been a better movie, more Venom would have helped for a start, but it’s a big, nutty, snarky, slightly bizarre, popcorn chomping, hell of a good time, and if you’re willing to just go with it and want to be simply entertained, chances are Venom will do it for you.

3.5/5

Bonus tip: There are 2 after credit scenes. The mid credit scene is the standard Marvel teaser, the end credit scene is a sequence from the upcoming animated film, Spider-Man: In to the Spider-Verse which looks AMAZING! So stick around.

 

(c) Amy Hutton

The Meg – Movie Review

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Good, old-fashioned B-grade horror flick. Big, dumb and fun, with enough thrills to keep the heart rate up.

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller, Horror

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub

Starring: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose

Straight up I have to own that I LOVE big shark movies. Or big croc movies for that matter. Deep Blue Sea, and Lake Placid are two of my all-time favourites. They’re on frequent re-watch in my house, and I’m not going to apologise for that. They are gold. And I’m just going to say it, I’ve seen pretty much every SyFy shark movie to assault our screens, from Two-Headed Shark Attack, to Ghost Shark, to the epicness of the Sharknado series. I can’t help it. They are stupid and fun (mostly). So, it’s no wonder The Meg, was on my “must see IMMEDIATELY” list.

There’s no denying, The Meg is seriously derivative. It’s a little bit of all of the above mixed with a decent helping of Jaws. The amount of times I wanted to yell out, “HAVE THEY NOT SEEN JAWS?” Well…it was a lot. GET OFF THE BACK OF THE OPEN BOAT, PEOPLE, THERE’S A MASSIVE SHARK OUT THERE. Guh. (Please watch some movies, movie characters). There are gobsmackingly outrageous (yet totally epic) heroics, and some genuinely good scares. I can’t say there were many surprises, all the plot twists, if that’s what you’d call them, you could see coming at you like the Meg itself. But it’s big, and it’s dumb, and it’s wholly enjoyable. A solid B-grade schlock horror flick, with decent effects, and enough tension to keep me sitting forward in my seat. I had a pretty good time watching it.

The Meg starts with a rescue mission gone wrong. Jason Statham’s character, Jonas Taylor, makes a tough choice, lives are lost, and he pays for it with his career. Flash forward five years, and Jonas is now the sole hope (of course he is), for rescuing a bunch of scientists stuck at the very, (very, very, very), bottom of the ocean in a tiny sub, after they were attacked by something rather large, the same something rather large, coincidentally, that made Jonas’ original mission go awry, and which no one believed him about. Dun dun dun! It’s time for Jonas to pop on his hero pants, confront his fears, and discover the Megalodon of his nightmares!

I was wracking my brains trying to remember what I’d seen that had Jason Statham in it. I’d figured I’d seen a few of his movies, the hits like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I remembered he was hilarious in Spy, and as I was enjoying the hell out of watching him fight a ginormous prehistoric shark, I was thinking, “I really should watch more of this guy’s movies”, only to come home and look up his filmography and realise, oh, I’ve seen a bunch! Who knew! It was Statham who holds The Meg together, he’s pretty close to perfect as the tortured, reluctant hero, all deep sighs, furrowed brow, and cuteness with the pre-requisite, sassy kid. There’s a smattering of romance shoe-horned in between his and Bingbing Li’s character, which manages to give the audience an amusing, and not entirely unpleasant, Statham shirt off scene. Though for someone who’d been sitting around Thailand drinking beer for a few years, he was totally ripped! Must have been low-carb…

Once the formerly, thought to be extinct, Megalodon manages to escape the bottom of the ocean and make its way into open water, our ragtag team of hero, scientists and billionaire jump on a boat to hunt it down. Let the good times roll! Seriously, if they’d just have popped on Jaws on the way out… I mean, there are genuine lessons they could have learnt there!

There’s a pretty cool, over the top, scene with a whole crowd of people floating on inflatable rings in the sea, (Megalodon window shopping below them), complete with kid asking his mum if he can go in the water… *whispers* don’t go in…have you not seen Jaws? This scene was part of an excellent marketing campaign that positioned The Meg as a good/bad movie with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. It lives up to that hype.

In the end, there’s enough self-aware humour and jump scares to make this an enjoyable ride. The Meg is certainly not high art, or the best in its genre, but it’s a pretty good time with a talented, diverse cast. The shark is big, the action is big, Statham’s abs are ridiculously big, just grab the popcorn and let it wash over you, like the gaseous mist from which the Meg emerges.

3.5/5

 

(c) Amy Hutton