Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seen in… May 

Hey hey, the gang's all here. Image via The Movie DB

A month of crowd-pleasing blockbusters and one worthy Oscar winner. We’ve had such a warm (nay, hot) spring in Toronto that it feels like summer is already here. There’s ice cream to be had, air conditioned theatres to soak in and warm evening bike rides over wet streets to be enjoyed. There’s no denying good movies make summers better. Who am I kidding? Every summer needs some cheesy movies too.

Avengers: Infinity Wars
Almost a decade of Marvel films have alluded to or directly led to this film and it’s second half coming out next year and it a big way it feels like Marvel is still playing with us. These films have contributed to a culture of not being able to discuss a film without risk of spoilers. How can you talk about a movie when you don’t want to be the bad guy who ruins it for everyone else? Along with television series such as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, we’ve all participated in the oddest conspiracy of silence since JFK’s notorious philandering. Yet, I’ll try to give my two bits without giving anything away.

In this film we begin moments after the film Thor Ragnarok ended only to find Thor, his brother Loki and Hulk defeated by the purple-skinned evil lord of the Universe, Thanos. We then briefly see various members of Earth’s mightiest heroes living their lives; during a stroll in the park, on a school field trip, negotiating a lunch order, when the long missing Bruce Banner appears out of the sky to warn of the approach of Thanos. We learn of Thanos’ desire to complete his magic glove (or gauntlet if you prefer) empowered by the mystical and dangerous Infinity Stones and of his plan to use this power to correct the Universe’s overpopulation problem by simply eradicating half of all living things. This is probably the most radical act of environmental terrorism since Greenpeace scaled an oil rig to erect a flag. Thanos sends a trusted lieutenant to take both the Time Stone and Mind Stones (I’m not going to get into it) from the Avengers who is met with resistance from Iron Man, Spider-man, Dr. Strange, et al. Game on. Sort of. We still spend much of the movie re-assembling the team of supers called the Avengers from all corners of the Earth. From Scotland to Africa the band slowly gets back together for one last gig. Scarlet Witch, Vision, Captain America and Black Panther all team up for the mighty battle that we know is coming. Then it is over, seemingly with a snap of Thanos’ fingers. There are a lot of problems with this movie - mostly that you might pay $15 for yet another set-up to yet another movie. At this point we’ve all put so much in the franchise that we want a pay-off which we still don’t get. Worse yet, despite its own scattered, multi-plot, multi-threaded story line, this movie actually takes time to set up yet another franchise rather than just resolve the story we just watched. And, here’s the spoiler alert, a lot of crucial characters die, but we know they aren’t really gone, because they’ve all been given sequels that have yet to happen. Basically, this movie employs a “Time Stone” that feels like it will be kind of an “instant replay” stone or perhaps a magic Mulligan that will restore all of our heroes just in time to save everyone despite having already lost. What that effectively does is remove the stakes. An action or drama depends on high stakes. Will a couple stay together or ruin a family? Will the heist go off without a hitch or will the thieves go to jail? Will a pilot from a farm save the world or will everyone be killed? Marvel has essentially removed the biggest stake of all: death. When the film ended, the crowd I was with left quietly. Not a peep. No excited talk. No hollers of fun or joy. Just quiet. I don’t think it was the quiet of reverence (such as after the ending of Dunkirk) or of shock at what we just witnessed. It was the shock of “meh” and despite that, knowing we would all plunk down another $15 in a year just to see how it all ended.

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