Tag: Bradley Cooper

Avengers: Infinity War

avengersinfinityI’m unapologetically lukewarm about the superhero genre having long suffered the much-maligned superhero fatigue.  And while many fans will bemoan such critics and explain how the superhero genre differs little (in quantity) from other celebrated genres, I must highlight one notable difference; the dreaded word “universe”.  Attach that word to a large grouping of open-ended narrative arcs and it’s a recipe for trouble.

Rather than the episodic nature of other genres, the superhero genre has, for some reason, decided to create giant cross-pollinated mythologies of characters who share the same “universe”—every so often tying them up in one big tentpole movie.

Beholden to Marvel’s “universe” Avengers: Infinity War tries its hardest to corral its many denizens into narrative alignment. You can almost hear the cogs turning as each hero is conveyer-belted onto the screen and plugged back into the Marvel “universe” system.  Despite such difficulties, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done an admirable job of wrangling it all together.

Understandably, the plot is fairly shallow in order to fit in the numerous heroes and villains. The infighting of previous Marvel films is largely forgotten as the Avengers are all forced to contend with a larger, outside threat: Thanos (Josh Brolin), an enormous, galaxy-trotting warlord who believes the universe would be better off if half of the population was exterminated. His genocidal plans depend on obtaining all six Infinity Stones, their combined power would allow him to reduce life in the universe by half with the literal snap of his fingers.

The action is predictable, with plenty of the usual punchsplosions, collapsing walls, and CGI overload that we’ve become accustomed to. But thankfully the fight sequences aren’t too long … there simply isn’t time for them.  Curiously, a by-product of accommodating an enormous cast seems to be the reduction of tedious fight sequences. However, character development also takes a back seat—a mere luxury squeezed as small as Antman’s undies (who ironically isn’t in this film).  What’s left, however, is Marvel’s intoxicatingly funny brand of humour which keeps pace with the film’s sheer kinetic momentum and culminates in a bold and risky ending (of which my lips are sealed).

Fair to say, I was not expecting much and had to muster all my super-reviewing powers of critical impartiality.  And although Avengers: Infinity War is far from perfect, the result was better than I had anticipated and should satisfy even lukewarm superhero fans.

See more of my NZME reviews here.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

gotgv2“I have famously huge turds!” is a line that you might find irksome rather than funny, but when it’s delivered with the understated clarity and bombastic bluster of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you’ll be all aboard that laughing gig.

The first Guardians film was a hilarious thrill-ride, and going into the cinema I was hoping for more of the same from its sequel. It is largely produced by the same bunch that gave us the surprisingly entertaining original. I say “surprisingly entertaining” because the recent deluge of comic book adaptations has left me with a severe case of hero fatigue, but Vol.1 felt like a genuine breath of fresh air. It also did a wonderful job of paying homage to many of the classic adventure comedies of the eighties. Helmed again by James Gun who directed what will most likely be a career defining original, Vol. 2 only took as long as its opening sequence to plant me firmly back in its exciting and absurdly hilarious universe.

Having been found by his long-lost father in the outer reaches of the cosmos, Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), comes to terms with the immortality his father bestows on him, versus the mortality of what he considers his real family — the rag-tag bunch that make up the Guardians of the Galaxy.  His Guardian buddies, in particular love interest Gamora (Zoe Saldana), are suspicious of Peter’s father, Ego (played by Kurt Russell), and set about uncovering the truth. The plot mainly serves to flesh out each character rather than much else and veritably takes a back seat to the film’s sassy style and swagger. Yes, Vol. 2 won me over entirely with its adept repartee coupled with incredibly stylistic set pieces all set to the back-drop of some pretty cool music. What’s not to like?

But most importantly, like its predecessor, this film is fully aware of itself and its objectives — take you on a jaunty adventure and make you laugh in the process.  It is Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone, and Back to the Future all bundled together in a cassette tape and shot into space, although unlike Messrs Jones, Colton and McFly, it hasn’t followed up its iconic original with a rubbish sequel.  If Vol. 1 gave us that heady mix of comedy and adventure that the eighties got so right, then Vol. 2 has given us the sequel that the eighties never managed to deliver … just watch other studios turn this formula into a cliche. Hopefully Waititi’s Thor gets in before the stampede.

You can see the published review here.

Comments on Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is an entertaining and lighthearted drama that has little more to remark it. A lot has been made of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. Contrast can shed some interesting light on a performance. Lawrence, who has demonstrated her acting chops in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games, perhaps comes across a little flat here … but maybe it is because I am comparing this with her previous roles. Bradly Cooper, however, benefits from the opposite and surprised me with a role that is interesting and multidimensional. Not his usual fare. With a few directorial gaffs (shame on you David O. Russell) Silver Linings Playbook is by no means a stella film and will no doubt fade into the collective conscious of the also rans. However, it still is a solid film that deserves a watch.

See my rating here.

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook