Tag: Idris Elba

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.

Molly’s Game

mollysgame“The humiliation and depression had given way to blinding anger at my powerlessness over the unfair whims of men.”—it is a line that succinctly expresses one of Molly’s Game’s many concerns with male power and while the film is not explicitly feminist, its sentiments feel very apt in Hollywood’s current #metoo climate.

This remarkable true story of entrepreneur Molly Bloom follows her rise from the ashes of a former emotionally abusive workplace into the shady world of men as she spends a decade running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. It was a hush hush man-cave for rich celebrities, and Molly, a self-confessed “anti-wife”, used her drive and wits to develop a successful business model, all the while plugging holes in its legality.

Biopics often take liberties with the truth for dramatic ends, but thankfully Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation has kept surprisingly faithful to Bloom’s memoir.  The film employs a flashback structure often returning to her upbringing, and makes it clear that her drive was born from her relationship with her father (played by a very stern Kevin Costner). But when the inevitable cracks begin to appear in her burgeoning business, she feels compelled to put her moral conscience under the microscope and finds that all is not well with the industry she has encouraged.

The ever-reliable Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) is no stranger to portraying head-strong women. An affirmed feminist, Chastain appears to have embraced this role of empowerment. Molly seems to take great delight in standing her ground on questionable legal advice, with her lawyer (played by Idris Elba) frustrated by the moral code she sticks to.

It’s no surprise that Molly’s Game leans heavily on its screenplay. Wordsmith Aaron Sorkin has, in his directorial debut, wisely let his strength do most of the heavy lifting. And with the exception of a few early flourishes, Molly’s Game is a visually conservative, yet sumptuously scripted affair. Its sharp and snappy dialogue is paced just fast enough to have you reaching,  but just slow enough to give you a sense of catharsis.

Read the full review for the NZ Herald here.