Avengers: Endgame, Review. Earns Every Minute of its Three Hour Runtime.

5 stars
When I heard Avengers: Endgame was going to be three hours long I was very concerned.
Not only about how I would sit through the entire thing without a toilet break, but also about how the film could drag due to this runtime.
Well, while watching Endgame I was overjoyed to find that, not only could my bladder hold, but also that the film earns every minute of its three hours.
In all honesty, the movie does not even feel three hours long.
Endgame is so investing that at no point does it drag, despite its long runtime, which is a huge achievement.
Directed by the Russo Brothers, the film picks up after the events of Avengers: Infinity War where Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers and wiped out half of all life in the universe.
The Avengers must then unite to find a way to stop Thanos and undo everyone’s deaths.
To say anything more of the plot, would be to spoil so many of Endgame’s amazing twists and turns.

Final Battle.jpg
The story of Avengers: Endgame offers so many explosive moments, especially in its glorious final hour. 

For the most part the trailers only show the first half hour of the film, leaving me completely clueless as what was going to happen next, which made the experience even better.
So many movies spoil their big twists in trailers these days that it was a wonderful change of pace to have absolutely no idea what was coming.
This is made even more wonderful by how brilliant Endgame is with its story, characters, and action sequences.
The story brought out so many emotions in me.
I honestly cried at least five times during this film, both out of joy and sadness.
I think the last time I cried this much when watching a film was Logan, which was my favourite film of 2017.
Well, Endgame is certainly looking primed to take the top spot in 2019 for all its brilliance.
The characters themselves are a part of this brilliance, with many of their arcs being complete perfection.
My favourite characters of the film would have to be Tony Stark’ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evan), Clint Barton’s Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Natasha Romanoff’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and surprisingly Nebula (Karen Gillan).
Tony is by far the standout though, with him providing a lot of the film’s emotional heart.

Tony Stark.jpg
Tony Stark is the heart and soul of this film, with Robert Downey Jr. turning in what has to be his best performance as the character.

Then there is the action, which is also stellar.
The final action sequence alone is one of the greatest final hours of any film I have ever seen.
It is absolute brilliance.
Sure, a lot of it is fan service, but it is earned fan service.
Every single part of Endgame is earned, especially that final bombastic hour.
Even the slower moments of the film are great, with so much amazing character development shown as our heroes deal with the aftermath of Thanos’ snap.
Speaking of the big guy, Thanos continues to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villain.
He is not the main character of the film, like he is in Infinity War, but his presence it still massively felt.

Back to me.jpeg
Josh Brolin is once again incredibly intimidating as the Mad Titan, who is the MCU’s best villain.

Overall, any problems I do have are relatively minor.
At the end of the film there appears to be a retcon to rules established earlier in the film, but this retcon is more than earned so it does not really matter.
Then there is Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), who I actually found myself disliking in this film because she is very stuck up and arrogant.
This would not have been a problem if this had been the start of her character arc, with her growing to learn that she needs the Avengers’ help, but she does not change at all.
Still, Captain Marvel is only a minor part of Endgame so my dislike of her here does not change my feelings about the film.
Avengers: Endgame is the true culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being its best film with the way it delivers excitement, intensity and emotion.
It is breaking so many records at the box office right now that it has me wondering if it might beat James Cameron’s Avatar, becoming the highest grossing film of all time.
I hope the film does because it has more than earned it.

Bad Times at the El Royale Review: A Priest, a Singer and a Cult Leader Walk into a Hotel.

4 and a half stars
Drew Goddard is a fantastic writer, having many film credits to his name but only one directorial credit, this being The Cabin in the Woods.
Well, now he has two to his name as his latest film Bad Times at the El Royale has been released.
Upon seeing the trailer for this film I was very intrigued by it, although I will admit it showed too much.
Even coming in knowing a few things that were going to happen, however, I still had a blast with this movie.
The basic plot is that a bunch of wacky characters consisting of a priest, a singer, a salesman, a hippie, a psychopathic girl, a guilt ridden hotel employee and a sadistic cult leader all stay for the night in the dying out El Royale Hotel.
Each of them have their own secrets, some not being who they claim they are.
What follows is a series of choices between California and Nevada, good and evil and red and black that results in numerous intense twists and turns.
The acting across the board for this film is stellar with many of the actors including Jeff Bridges, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth (for the brief time he is in the film) giving knockout performances.
The real standout of the film though is Cynthia Erivo in her film debut as Darlene Sweet, the singer who gets roped in on Bridges’ Father Flynn’s secret plans.
Ervio not only provides great acting but a great voice as well with her singing being of importance to the film, even going on to provide a very tense scene.

Darlene Sweet
Cynthia Erivo does a fantastic job as Darlene Sweet, owning every scene she is in.

Along with the acting, the cinematography is amazing and created tension between characters and added new meaning to scenes.
About half-way through Bad Times at the El Royale I remembered the odd way the first shot of the film was composed and the meaning behind it, which was brilliant.
Seamus McGarvey did an amazing job with the film’s cinematography.
A lot of people are comparing this film to Quentin Tarantino’s work, which I can definitely see because this film reminded me a lot of The Hateful Eight.
However, even though it is reminiscent of Tarantino’s films, it is not dependent on them and stands alone as its own individual film.
The one issue I had was the flashbacks, which were sometimes very jarring.
This is especially apparent in the final act when one of these flashbacks interrupts an action sequence and it took a few minutes for me to adjust as things were explained.

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The final act, initiated by the arrival of Chris Hemsworth’s charismatic cult leader Billy Lee, is interrupted by a flashback that briefly kills the momentum.

Still, this did not completely put me off as I was still enthralled with the arcs these flashbacks presented for the characters.
Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale was a fantastic film from Goddard that I had a ball with.
That being said the film will not be everyone’s taste with its slow pace, which I think it earns but others may not.
Either way, I still recommend you check it out to see if you like it or not.

Avengers: Infinity War, an emotional gut punch… until the next movie.

four_half-stars_0
Warning: Potential spoilers. I do not go into specific details but you may get some hints about what happens in the movie from my comments.
Avengers: Infinity War, directed by the Russo brothers, was pitched to us as the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with stakes the likes of which we had never seen in a Marvel film.
However, was that really what was delivered?
Well, yes in some way it was.
The stakes of this movie are incredibly high, with some gut wrenching moments but at the end of the movie I quickly went from wondering what was going to happen next to just wondering how everything set up here would be reversed in the next movie.
This train of thought kind of lessened the movie’s impact for me, which was a shame because Avengers: Infinity War is still a fantastic movie.
Picking up immediately after Thor: Ragnarok, the film has multiple characters from the MCU desperately attempting to stop Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, from claiming all six Infinity Stones, which have the power to shape the universe.
Forget the heroes though because Thanos is the main character of this movie and surprisingly manages to be both sympathetic and detestable at the same time.
Brolin gives an amazing performance as Thanos and the CGI for him was perfect.

Thanos
Josh Brolin gives a terrific performance as Thanos, delivering one of the best villains the MCU has ever had. 

As for the MCU heroes, there were so many but the ones who really stood out to me in this movie were Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Thor
Chris Hemsworth as Thor was especially good in this movie and had some great moments.

Other than them the rest of the heroes are mostly resorted to background characters but since they have already been established in previous movies it works.
Avengers: Infinity War may not have much of a story other than stop Thanos but it makes up for it by setting the stakes and going through with them, although how long these consequences will last remains to be seen.
I will admit, however, I nearly cried a couple of times in the movie.
These stakes the movie presents are amplified by the constant, thrilling action sequences that make the film even more exciting.
However, there were some negatives.
I have already spoken about how the film’s impact was slightly lessened because I believe the ending will be reversed in Avengers Four, but there are other problems as well.
For example, even though the CGI on Thanos looked great, for other characters like Proxima Midnight, played by Carrie Coon, it looked pretty bad and really drew me out of the moment.

Proxima Midnight
Proxima Midnight’s CGI was the most distracting in the film, which is a shame since she is played by Carrie Coon, who was nominated for an Emmy.

Also, some of the characters like Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, were significantly underused.
Other than that though, Avengers: Infinity War truly felt like the culmination of the MCU.
It had emotional gut punches, exciting action sequences, a great villain and stakes.
Let’s just hope these stakes are not reversed entirely when Avengers Four comes out.

Thor: Ragnarok, over hyped but still good

3 and a half stars
Given all the hype surrounding Thor: Ragnarok, with many people, including Joss Whedon himself, calling it a masterpiece, you would expect it to be one of the best Marvel movies, right?
Well, sadly not because, while I do believe the film is good, Thor: Ragnarok is certainly over hyped.
It is a very decent film and I would urge people to go and see it because the film is a lot of fun but, at the same time, I do think people are over praising it.
The film features the return of the goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett), who attacks Asgard and traps Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on a garbage planet, where Thor is forced to fight in Gladiator matches, where he runs into The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
The Thor movies are considered, by most, to be the worst films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so the new Thor movie definitely needed to do something different.
Enter director Taika Waititi, who turned Thor from one of the least interesting Marvel characters into a comedy star.
comedic thor
This new entry in the Thor series feels like it has more in common with Guardians of The Galaxy, than the previous Thor films.
Thor: Ragnarok is definitely a comedy first and super hero movie second.
The film has some excellent jokes, some of the best in any Marvel film.
My favourite joke had to do with the introduction of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), which left me in a fit of laughter.
Another hilarious thing about the movie is the character of Korg, played by Waititi himself.
Korg is basically the comedic relief and he gives a lot of the best jokes in the film.
However, while the comedy route is welcome, there is too much of it.
Both Guardians of The Galaxy films were comedies but they knew when to crack a joke and when not to.
As a result, these films were able to have big emotional moments but Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t know when not to crack a joke, going as far as to put them in the big emotional scenes, almost ruining them.
It is not only the jokes that ruin these emotional moments but how they were handled as well.
At the end of the film, when Thor fights Hela, something happens to Thor that is quite shocking but they cut away from it so fast that there is no emotion to it.
Another disappointing thing is the dropped sub plot with Bruce Banner and The Hulk.
Banner tells Thor something about The Hulk that you expect to come back and be a big thing later but it never does.
Also, let’s be honest here, if it was not for Blanchett’s great performance as Hela, her character would be entirely forgettable.
hela
Hela is no different from almost every other Marvel villain we have seen.
She wants to take over the universe and submit everyone to her will, blah, blah, blah, evil stuff.
However, like I said, the movie is not bad, it is just over hyped.
There are still a lot of really great things about Thor: Ragnarok.
For starters, the visuals are stunning and the CGI on display is really good.
The action is also riveting, with the fight between Thor and Hulk being a particular standout.
We are also introduced to new and interesting characters.
I already mentioned Korg, who is a great comedic relief character but there is also Valkyrie, who is sure to become a part of the Avengers and The Grand Master, played magnificently by Jeff Goldblum.
Surprisingly though, my favourite new character was not any of the main ones but a side character.
That character is Scurge, played by Karl Urban, who becomes Hela’s henchman, after she invades Asgard.
Scurge easily has the best character development in the entire movie.
You can see he likes how Hela gives him an important position, however at the same time, he feels guilty about the bad things that Hela orders him to do.
It was great to see a henchman in a movie that would not just blindly follow the villain, without any sign of a conscience.
skurge and hela
And, even though I do not think this movie is the masterpiece it is being made out to be, it is still a lot of fun.
Thor: Ragnarok is one of those movies that is just entertaining the entire way through, due to its constant comedy and action scenes.
If you go to see it, you will definitely have a lot of fun.
It may not be a masterpiece but it is still a good watch.