Zero Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie; “Avengers: Infinity War”

***SPOILERS***

Antagonists. The greatest of heroes are measured by the villains that they defeat. Most modern superhero movies forget this and have their protagonists face off against a singular villain with super strength, a sky beam, and a mindless army. If you study all of the battles from the previous 18 films, you’ll find that the most exciting battles are actually conflicts within the Avengers team. It takes a meticulous re-watch to even identify a villain in “Captain America: Civil War.” Thankfully, Marvel discovered this flaw, and created the perfect protagonist-antagonist conflict in the new movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.” The film follows Thanos (Josh Brolin), a purple hulk who chooses to wear only one gauntlet (did he lose the other one? or is it a Michael Jackson thing?). Realizing the necessity for an objective way to control overpopulation, Thanos comes up with the most efficient solution: halve the population in a painless, unbiased, and instant act. As simple as his plan seems, he must face off against several adversaries. These villains are actually the Avengers. That’s right, Marvel has brilliantly shown us the full power of the Avengers through the 42 previous movies just so that we understand how powerful our hero Thanos is when he fights them. By the way, did anyone know that Josh Brolin was that big? He must be at least 8ft tall!

Money. Movies can’t get made without money. Everyone on set needs to get paid, from the stars to the unpaid PAs. When a movie is in preproduction, funds are raised, investors are brought in, and a budget is created. For movies in the Marvel franchise, funding is not a problem. The movies are consistently lucrative and a fairly safe investment. However, while audiences didn’t seem to be fatigued from the Marvel superhero format after the previous 71 films, investors seemed to be. This film was underfunded and it showed. Early on, a fight scene takes place in New York City. The fight starts in a street, but quickly moves to Washington Square Park. If Marvel had a real budget, that scene would have been in a better park like Central Park, or at the very least Tompkins Square Park. Even worse, they obviously recycled sets from “Black Panther.”  Even the effects suffered. Vision (Paul Bettany) was rarely in full make-up which gave the false feeling that he was a person, and not just Siri come to life. Hulk as well was absent in most of the film because they couldn’t afford the VFX. But perhaps the worst part, was that towards the end, the VFX artists were shut down mid render and so a bunch of characters just disappear.

Relatability. When we watch a film, we enter into the story and the reality in which it takes place. This can be jarring for an audience if there is not an entry point that allows them to relate and understand the world. For this reason, superhero movies often include non-heroes that the audience can identify with. While all 112 Marvel movies have done this, unfortunately, the non-hero character does not exist in Infinity War. Every character has some sort of super power. It makes you wonder; where are the normal humans like Nick Fury, Jane Foster, or Hawkeye? Furthermore, as the Earth is attacked, where are the militaries? It seems awfully haughty of the Avengers to not ask for the help of the other 7 billion people. Practicality aside, the movie is just hard to understand. Like, I don’t have super strength, and I don’t see any characters without super strength, so how am I supposed to understand just how strong Thanos, or Thor, or Captain America are? Like they could all be weak compared to a normal human and we would never know. And how can we understand how these stones work without super intelligence? Usually they need to explains how things work to some average human side kick, but without one, we’ll never know basic answers to questions like: Why can’t the infinity stones create enough resources to support a larger population? Why does everyone across the galaxy speak english when there are thousands of languages on the planet Earth alone? Why is Gamora?

Over the course of the past 1200 Marvel films, audiences have come to know the formula of these movies. It’s hard to ask for too big of a change when the standard works, but “Avengers: Infinity War” does just enough to improve on its action, humor, characterization, and structure to create a fresh and compelling experience. I should note that this rating is contingent on viewing the film in a full theater; I give it zero popped corns!

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One Popped Corn

I Just Watched This Movie; “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Action. It is an easy way for a movie to capture the audience’s attention. By doing this, the audience doesn’t have to think about the deeper emotions of the characters. The filmmakers behind “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” obviously don’t understand this concept. Passing up on the opportunity to put Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) into another Hunger Games, Director Francis Lawrence instead follows the plot line of the books and keeps her underground for nearly the whole film. There are brief instances of action, though they are broken up by moving speeches by Katniss. In fact, the majority of the movie is just the internal struggles of Katniss after the trauma of the games and the destruction of her home. No one wants to see that. The reason we love and watch the Hunger Games is because it’s filled with fighting and killing. As soon as there’s something deeper than that, I lose interest.

Advertising. In most films released today, product placement deals are almost always used and can be extremely profitable. For example, the Transformers series encourages people to buy cars because… you never know… it could be a transformer. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 _ Book 3” includes a very effective bit of product placement. As Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion, she is filmed for motivational TV commercials. The film crew that does this, uses a combination of GoPro cameras and Google Glasses. The results were HD steady shots with perfect audio quality. The amazing quality matches the rest of the film, which I’m going to assume was filmed with those same cameras. This product placement will surely cause more feature filmmakers to use GoPro’s and Google Glasses.

Part 1. In present day hollywood, it has become tradition to split books into two or even three movies (like “The Hobbits”). “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 _ Book 3 + Chapters 1-28” does this effectively. It is in fact not a complete story. This is a great way to sell movies. Hopefully, other films will take note of this strategy, and not just films based on books. Imagine how cool it would be if “Avengers” was two parts. The first part could have been about the assembling of the team. A lot of conversations in rooms as they try to understand each other and get along. Then it could end with, like, the hint of an action scene. Everyone would be so excited to see what would happen next that they would all come back and see the second part. Which would have been nothing but action.

Though it was very much focused on characters and relationships and lacked any action, the performances, especially that of Katniss, kept the film entertaining. I give it one popped corn.

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