April 27, 2019

Movie Review # 59 Avengers: Endgame with 22 Marvel Films Ranked! Plus my Talking Flick Appearance where we talk all things Endgame!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

**This Review is Spoiler Free for Endgame, but may contain spoilers for all the previous films**

22 Films in the making Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of the Infinity Stones storyline, but it is also a culmination of sorts for this group of "Original Avengers". Rarely does a movie provide so much fan-service (this is a comic readers wet dream come to life), while still entertaining many peripheral fans who may have not have seen all 22 of these Marvel films. The Russo brothers have proven themselves already by directing (3) of the best Marvel films (Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War) so we knew to some extent what to expect from this film. We mourned for a year the loss of many of our favorite heroes who drifted away into dust after the Mad Titan Thanos snapped his fingers in Infinity War, waiting patiently to see how we would get them back and that time has now arrived. The Russo brothers know how to drive event films, and they obviously knew how to build anticipation for this film, shooting misleading trailers and even after a security breach pushing out a major campaign to tell fans to avoid spoilers, although Bills Runningback LeSean McCoy didn't catch on. Rarely does the fan go out of his way to avoid this information but credit to what the Marvel Universe has built here as fans seem to really care about the genuine movie experience.

The story of how our beaten and broken remaining Avengers get their groove back is a long one (runtime clocks in at just a smidge over 3 hours), the setup is very fast, a quick recap of what happened immediately after the snap, then a 5 year jump into the future where some major things happen while the group separates and attempts to deal with their defeat and desperately find ways to "move on". Interestingly enough though these movies thrive on the element of surprise and thrill of discovery this film doesn't linger on any of these big comic inspired moments, it services the fans then it immediately moves on which keeps this 3 hour film feeling shorter (while also requiring that 2nd and 3rd viewing that I'm sure Disney loves, because so much is happening so fast you can't process it all). 

Robert Downey, Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Capt. America), Chris Hemsworth (Chubby Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Professor Hulk), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) all get interesting and consequetial arcs as the original Avengers lead the way to redemption, but standout performer Karen Gillan (Nebula) really shines in the large amount of screen time she gets. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley have been around basically since the beginning and that knowledge comes in handy as they have to callback to older films several times in this movie. It may be somewhat confusing for some of the fans who haven't seen all 22 of these but again it moves so fast that nobody really dwells on it. I certainly complained at times during The Winter Solider and Civil War that what the MCU really lacks is consequences, the characters who often make bad decisions rarely suffer enough consequences to change their behavior, however in the last (2-3) films that has changed thanks mostly to Thanos (played surprisingly well by Josh Brolin), a very well written "Big Bad" that doesn't say a lot in this film (most of his intent is covered well enough in Infinity War). Believe it or not Endgame's consequences are much more heart wrenching than in Infinity War (although those dusting scenes were well done), this film is better than that one. I suppose the Russo brothers had this all planned out after they were able to make Civil War a success, that helps a lot even though there are plenty of inconsistencies throughout.

The finale of this film like most is another epic battle where a lot of creatures and heroes collide, this looks very familiar to Infinity War, but because we are on the edge of our seats waiting to see which of our heroes comes out ok, it doesn't matter much. The emotion this film rides on has been building up for 11 years, kids have grown up with these films so the most important thing to do is to properly honor those characters and don't mess up the landing. By the time the credits roll you will have felt satisfied, perhaps a little devastated, but most importantly you will have felt like your time was not wasted watching and investing your valuable time in this MCU has been worth it after all. SEE IT!

**perhaps in time I will re-review the film with spoilers, until then feel free to comment freely**

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Saying goodbye to our beloved heroes is never easy, making sure they go out in a way that is true to their characters is even harder, now mix in the expectation that comes from the hardcore fans and you are nearing a "no-win situation", the Russo brothers perform admirably here, layering their film with so much fan-service that you don't have time to dwell on the faults. The difficulty level here is high and because of that I'm grading this superhero extravaganza on a bit of curve, I'm giving it a worthy of holding the hammer 7.0 with room to grow depending on how rewatchable it remains. It is at the moment of this review the best film of the year and the "#1" Marvel film thus far.

I don't know what Phase 4 will bring, but it will never be the same and that's ok, I am confident in knowing I have most certainly enjoyed the ride. Rewatchability is something that evolves with time so I reserve the right to edit this list, now with that being said...

Lets rank em, all 22 MCU films: 

22. Age of Ultron (5.5)
21. Thor: The Dark World (5.5)
20. Iron Man 3 (5.5)
19. Dr. Strange (5.5)
18. Ant-Man and the Wasp (5.5)
17. The Incredible Hulk (5.5)
16. Thor (6.0)
15. Capt. America: The First Avenger (6.0)
14. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (6.0)
13. Captain Marvel (6.0)
12. Ant-Man (6.0)
11. Iron Man 2 (6.0)
10. Spiderman: Homecoming (6.0)
9. Thor: Ragnarok (6.0)
8. Black Panther (6.0)
7. Avengers: Infinity War (6.5)
6. Guardians of the Galaxy (6.5)
5. Iron Man (6.5)
4. Capt. America: Civil War (6.5)
3. Avengers (6.5)
2. Capt. America: The Winter Soldier (6.5)
1. Avengers: Endgame (7.0)

Shouts to Composer Alan Silvestri who linked together many of the scores from the previous films to really enhance the big moments in this one. Check it out below (especially track 28)!

Avengers: Endgame Score Soundtrack


Talking Flick: Listen to my guest spot on Talking Flick a great movie podcast where we talk what else Avengers: Endgame! Available on iTunes, Sticher, Anchor, or wherever you listen to Podcasts Links below. 

Talking Flick Podcast on Anchor     (The Avengers: Endgame Episode)
Talking Flick Podcast on iTunes    (The Avengers: Endgame Episode)

April 11, 2019

Movie Review #58 Shazam! With Talking Flick Appearance

SHAZAM! (2019) Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Directed David F. Sandberg

Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) brings his horror/thriller chops to the DC Universe for some lighter fare in SHAZAM! Back to back directors with a background in horror (Aquaman's James Wan) is a surprising turn especially when you consider that they were meant to lighten the heavy tone of the Snyder films that preceded them (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman). I am somewhat baffled by the DC films, most of them that Snyder was involved in were at worst watchable (and all but Justice League made plenty of money), but he did take big controversial chances (they didn't all work out), so I get the reason Warner Bros wanted to ret-con this train, however with a successful Wonder Woman (the best thing that came out of the Snyder-verse) and a very profitable Aquaman what is next for DC? 

SHAZAM centers around 14-year old Billy Bates (played sharply by Asher Angel), who was presumably lost by his mom at a carnival and spent several years bouncing around foster care. His most recent foster home surrounds him with a funny group of characters most notably superhero obsessed Freddie Freeman (IT's Jack Dylan Grazer), somewhere in there (and for loosely explained reasons) Billy gets to visit a magical wizard who grants him the power of magic. Once Billy figures out he can turn back and forth from 14 year old boy to like a 30 year old superman wannabe (in a purposefully cheesy costume) the fun really begins. Sandberg really leans into the Big meets Superman vibe and the movie is at its best when it is a buddy movie about kids in over their heads. When the film is at its worst is when they try to give a lackluster villain more layers than he deserves. Thaddeus Sivana (ho-hum showing from frequent baddy Mark Strong) kinda sleeps walks his way around this film with 7 deadly sin monsters (some questionable CGI), which is a bummer because the best thing about DC is its awesomely complicated villains. There is some fun easter eggs and plenty of wink wink Deadpool meta humor that keeps the film fun and allows it to coexist in the confusing DC film world. SHAZAM is a fun light ride that never takes itself too seriously, but I like it most (and give Sandberg and writer Henry Gayden credit for) when it delves into the serous stuff like what it is like to be a foster kid and searching for your "real" parents and how hard that reality can be. The movie has real (not cheap) touching moments about family which I found refreshing. SHAZAM! may not be the course correct I was hoping for, but it is certainly a leap in the right direction SEE IT!

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) A light lighthearted buddy movie that happens to be about superheros is a nice change of pace, enough to earn Shazam commendable 6.0 on the Shawshank Scale. I will be in line for the next chapter, hopefully with a more ROCK solid villain. 
Let me know your thoughts on SHAZAM! Submit a comment below.


Talking Flick: Listen to my guest spot on Talking Flick a great movie podcast where we talk SHAZAM! Available on iTunes, Sticher, Anchor, or wherever you listen to Podcasts: Links below. 

Talking Flick Podcast on Anchor    (The Shazam Episode)
Talking Flick Podcast on iTunes    (The Shazam Episode)