Missing in Action: Why I’m Probably Not Going to See Avengers Infinity War in the Theaters

Stop Signs

So, remember a couple weeks back when I posted that sometimes life gives you “stop signs” and you just have to be cognizant of them and learn when to listen to them in order to stay sane.  I discussing it in the vein of writing, but it looks like it applies to other areas of life as well as it turns out that Avengers: Infinity War is one of those “stop signs” for me, at least when it comes to seeing it in the theaters.  Without going into a long essay on the matter, simply put, car problems is the ultimate reason why I’m not going–my car, which had always been so reliable, now has decided to gift me with an intermittent starting problem which happens to me, but not the mechanics.  Yeah, I know, right.  I get stuck and it won’t start and have to get it towed (twice now) and then they start it up with no problem and charge me for diagnosing it.

If there was a digital equivalent of a “scream” emoji, I would be using it right now.

Thor Ragnarok

Actually, I’m not really all that concerned about missing Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters.  My mother and I have already had some of the movie spoiled for us and I’ve even encountered a couple of more spoilers in the two weeks since it has been released (despite my care of limiting my social media use).  My local theater wasn’t showing it in 3D Imax anyway, just regular 2D Imax, and (most importantly, to me, anyway), we haven’t yet seen Thor Ragnarok.  I’m sure that it isn’t essential to TR before AIW, but we’ve pretty seen every mainline Marvel entry in order and their are some character changes to Thor (obviously) that occur in TR which seem to carry over to AIW.

While I have seen movies out of order, I much prefer to see them in order, if that is an option.

Memorial Day & Labor Day

If you are wondering, we’re planning on seeing Thor Ragnarok on Memorial Day.  For those outside of the US, that’s a big holiday that happens on the last Monday in May (this month, as I write this) that is the unofficial kickoff of the Summer Season here as most schools are either out for summer break at this time (or will be out in a week or two afterwards).  We’ll probably purchase it (as opposed to renting it) as a movie to watch after the holiday dinner).

I’m hopeful that AIW will be out on Bluray/Itunes by Labor Day–our complementary holiday that ends the summer.  If so, then we can bookend the summer with Marvel movies and catch-up.

I’m not going to stress over things I simply cannot control.  I’d like to see AIW, but since it doesn’t look like its going to happen for a while, and since I have no control of the situation at the moment, I might as well just wait patiently until circumstances work out and allow me to see the movie.

Sidney




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Spoilers Redux

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Cast of Infinity War looking at the camera.  Image Source: YouTube

Avengers Infinity War Partially Spoiled for Me

So, my car wouldn’t start Saturday so I didn’t get to commute home as I have done every weekend since starting school.  Rather than let this defeat me–very demoralizing–I simply tried to distract myself through schoolwork, Netflix, and YouTube videos.  I was watching a video on the upcoming Spider-man video game published by Insomniac games (one of my favorite developers) and made the mistake of scrolling through the comment section to get a sense of what the gaming community thought of the game.  Right there in full view, with no warning or anything, some goofball posted a major spoiler about three characters in the movie.  I read the first two before my brain realized that it was a blatant spoiler (intentional, no less–no spoiler tag, no “spoilers,” nothing, just done to troll).  I stopped reading and didn’t see the third, but I reported the comment.  Yes, I reported it falsely–YouTube doesn’t have a report feature for “being a jack-behind,” so I reported it under commercialization.  Yeah, probably not kosher, but hey, if the poster hadn’t been such a twit, I’d have left his post alone.  It had 17 replies, probably angry responses to the spoilers, but when I reported it, it dropped off the comment section–but the damage was already done.

 Marketing through Fear of Spoilers

While it was ultimately the posters fault, I still partially fault the marketing of the movie for encouraging people to run out and see it before they were spoiled on it.  They got people into the seats and became the number one movie opening of all time by making this an “event” film, but in doing so, they created a culture where a “jack-behind” and troll out there would feel embolden, no invited, to see the movie first and then to create and post as many spoilers as possible in as many places as possible with the understanding that if you haven’t seen it yet (in the first weekend), then you “got what you deserved” if you were spoiled on the movie.  I’ve a report still to write and a Final Exam to take, so Disney and their marketing department really screwed the pooch for me.  My mother still wants to see it (although her desire was diminished once she discovered it wasn’t in Imax 3d), but mine is greatly diminished because of the spoilers and the way the movie was marketed and the release date changed.

It’s such a big topic that even the directors have asked fans to respect the movie-going experience:

Ah, well, its just a movie, right?   =/

Sidney




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Waiting a Week for Avengers Infinity War

No Avengers Infinity War for me this Week

So, as most of you know, I tend to go to the Marvel movies as soon as they are released (with some exceptions–I still haven’t had a chance to see Thor Ragnarok yet, although I’m hopeful that I will be able to see if for the Memorial Day Holiday at the end of May (fingers crossed).  While I haven’t looked to see if its being shown in Imax 3D at my local theater–pretty much the only way I’ll go to the AMC theater these days as I’m perfectly willing to wait the extra time until it is available for purchase due to the movie industry’s  desire to maximize profit by charging more for the Imax experience, but not offering movies in the 3D format as often as they used to–AMC still charges a premium price when showing movies in 2D when they’re Imax vs standard 2D.

EDIT: Did some quick googling and found that AIW was NOT shot originally in 3D.  However, it was shot using Imax cameras, a choice that happens rarely in the movie world, so it should look spectacular on the Imax screens even though the image will be 2D and not 3D.  I’m not sure how that will affect my movie going–2D is a much harder sell based on the prices at AMC.  At least with 3D, I can justify the expense by telling myself that it is something that I can’t replicate on my home theater.

It Isn’t All About the Money–Sometimes its about School

So, lest people think that I’m a poor college student (which I am at the moment, if truth be told), the expense of going to the movies (ticket prices & concessions) isn’t the primary driver of what’s keeping me away–this time, it’s school.  For the first time during my tenure as a PhD student, I have a Monday class with both a Final Exam and a Final Paper due after right as the AIW releases.  If Disney hadn’t moved up the movie by a week and kept it in its first Saturday in May release spot, then I probably would be going–2D or no 2D.  I have too much work to do and too much time and work invested in the class to throw it all away by not getting studying done or working on my paper over the weekend.

First rule of thumb for students (I tried to tell my 6th graders this time and again, but only a few listened), do your work first, then you have time to play.  This is a lesson that has been “hardwired” into me since my earliest childhood with daily “homework checks” at home.

So, all that to say that if the movie is still in Imax and it is a really good 2D movie, then chances are good I’ll try to see it next week, but I’m not going to risk my grade in my class (Plays Before Shakespeare) just because Disney moved the movie up a week in hopes that AIW would get 3 weeks to make money ahead of the mid-May release of Deadpool 2.  Something tells me that even if it isn’t in Imax, it will still be playing next week if I really want to see it.  Or–there’s always BluRay at the end of the summer.  Whenever I do see it, I’ll be sure to do a Mini-Review & add it my Marvel Movie Ranking Post.

Have a great weekend!

Sidney



 

Super Bowl Movie Trailers 2018: Avengers Infinity War

So, I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite Super Bowl movie trailers over the coming weeks.  I won’t talk in-depth about them, but rather will just give my general impressions of the trailer and my level of excitement for the upcoming movie.  This won’t be a “daily” feature (probably), but will rather be intermixed with things related to Writing and (for the next two weeks) the Olympics and any other topics that might come to mind.

Avengers: Infinity War
I fairly excited for this movie as the original Avengers movie is in my top 3 Marvel movies of all-time and was number 1 until it was supplanted by Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I really like the emphasis on team interaction in these movies.  I feel, based on this trailer, and the original one that they released earlier in 2017 that they are going for a slightly darker tone, rather than a humorous one.  While wanted to see that in the 2nd movie (Avengers: Age of Ultron), I’m not sure how much I want it in this one.    Regardless of what I want, it seems, based on this trailer, that the movie will feature a more “cataclysmic”/”apocalyptic” plot and more seriousness than previous films have exhibited.  Perhaps I’m wrong and the trademark humor will still be there, but based on the “worried” expressions of Black Panther and Captain America in the thumbnail for the trailer, it seems highly unlikely that the fun of the first Avengers will be there in large quantities–this seems like an entirely different type of movie based on the tone of the trailers.

Normally, I am super excited for any Marvel movie that comes out, but this has the feel of an era of change.  I’ve heard (don’t know how true it is) that the contracts may be up for a number of the actors, so there might be changes to the line-up in the future.  While I’m not how true that is, Marvel’s roster has expanded quite a bit since the days of the original Phase 1 heroes who helmed the original movies and the anchored the original Avengers movie.

Still, assuming AMC doesn’t do any of there normal tricks, I will hopefully see it when it releases May 4th, 2018 (in America).  Hopefully, my trepidations will be proven wrong and I can report back here on the blog how much of a “grand adventure” it is, rather than the “end of an era” that I’m currently fearing.

I remain cautiously optimistic for this one, however.

Sidney
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Dr. Strange: Mini-Review (No Spoilers)

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Source: ComingSoon.net

MAGIC AND MARTIAL ARTS

This is a really interesting story.  In many ways it is the story that I was trying to write with my own story, I, Magi.  The creators manage to combine Magic with Martial Arts and the results come together surprisingly well.  Now, martial arts movies are a “guilty pleasure” of mine.  I know some of the earlier ones in the 70s and 80s aren’t really good narratively speaking and that the English dubbing is sometimes so awful as to have entered into the realm of cliche, but I love the action, the movement, and the artistry of the genre.  Recent entries, since the mid-90s have been much better and I feel they have come into their own thanks to great actors in the field.  I love (& have seen most of the practicing martial arts actors–male and female–and have enjoyed them immensely, but I have a personal fondness for Jackie Chan, mostly for the outtakes reel that he includes at the end of his movies).  There are two or three centerpiece fights in this movie and add in magic–and well, you have a strong action based movie.

If there is a downside, its that the movie is an origin story, so if you already know the origin of the hero, Dr. Stephen Strange, then you will have a pretty good clue to the first half of the movie.  Still, that is a minor complaint (similar to knowing the origin stories of heroes like Batman or Spider-man.)

A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR

This movie has a pretty good sense of humor as well.  From other reviewers, some of the jokes seemed to be hit or miss for them, but for me, I chuckled at the jokes, even when the set-up was telegraphed a mile away.  There were some truly laugh aloud moments, but the movie didn’t set out to be a comedy.  In many ways, the humor is much more sedate, more dry than say, the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy.  The humor seems on par with Ant-Man.

COMIC BOOK MOVIE FATIGUE

Many reviewers seemed to be noting comic fatigue for friends who they took to see the movie and reported not like it.  I think that they fact that it is also as much of a martial arts movie as a “Marvel” movie also has something to with one’s enjoyment.  If you don’t like Martial Arts movies then chances are really good you aren’t going to like this movie as many of its set-ups and structure follow that genre and its conventions.

In many ways, the director and writers of this movie did what I wished Joss Whedon would have done (if possible based on studio notes) for Age of Ultron. They completely went to another genre–martial arts movies, just as the last two Captain America movies have done to a larger/lesser degree political thrillers.  Imagine if Age of Ultron had gone for a completely “horror” movie vibe with Ultron (and the twins) hunting/eliminating Avengers in pursuit of the “Vision” prototype.

I wonder if it is truly a case of comic book movie fatigue or rather a miscommunication of what genre to which this movie actually belongs.

IMPLICATIONS FOR MY WRITING

Fight scenes need clarity.  As I mentioned above, this is what I’d hoped I, Magi would be like, except that Magic is limited, so they (mages) have to rely on fighting skills to make up for the lack of magic available to them.  In the movie, however, I noticed that the fight scenes were clear.  I think that at times (especially when I try for action scenes) my own description breaks down and it is unclear who is where.

I intend to try to work on that and make might fight/action scenes more clear and more visual in the reader’s mind.

Ranking Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Movies–My Take (2018 Edition–now updated with Black Panther)

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Writer’s Note: Rather than creating a new blog post, I’m going to continually update this one.  You can always tell the latest Marvel movie I’ve seen based on the last movie in the title.  So if X Movie in the title isn’t the latest Marvel movie, I probably haven’t seen it yet. However, the last movie that I’ve seen will be in the title, so hopefully I won’t be too far behind.

Writer’s Note 2: Missing Marvel Movies–So far, I haven’t seen 

  • Thor Ragnarok,
  • Avengers: Infinity War.

A while back, IGN did a feature on ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in light of the fact that Marvel has finished its “Phase II” movie slate.  Mine differs from theirs however, so I thought I’d do my own take on the list.  Now I’m fully committed to seeing the new Fantastic Four reboot, so I will probably assign a new number to it and then “push” all the other movies under it down by 1 number. (EDIT: Still haven’t seen the FF reboot based on reviews–I probably won’t include it here when I do see it as it isn’t technically in the MCU. I’m thinking of doing another list for the non-MCU Marvel movies    (X-Men, FF reboot, etc.), but I’m not sure when I’ll get to it at the moment).

A Note on Spoilers: Now, I tried to be as “Spoiler Free” as possible and not get into too many specifics and just give a general impression of why I felt it belonged where I placed it on the list.  I tried not to go into any plot discussion whatsoever (just in case), but I can’t guarantee that if you haven’t seen the movie, that these listings will be completely spoiler free.

16. Iron Man 2:  On this one, both IGN and I agree.  This one was the weakest of the Marvel Universe films.  IGN says that it is because they were trying to set up other movies in the Universe, but for me, they lost the through line of Tony Stark’s character.  Tony finding out that his life’s work was causing misery in the world in Iron Man 1 was one of the revelations of the character.  Not having that type of character introspection was a missed opportunity.  It was like the filmmakers wanted to do the whole “Demon in a Bottle” storyline here, but decided that it was too dark and then stripped it out while leaving Tony’s erratic behaviors in place.

15. Thor: The Dark World:  Missed this one in the theaters and saw it on Blu-Ray.  For some reason, this one missed with me.  I loved the 1st Thor, but the storyline on this one just seemed to not make a lot of sense.  I pride myself on being able to follow plot, but many of the scenes seemed to lurch from one “element” to another without the tight narrative flow throughout the movie.

14. The Incredible Hulk: I liked this one more than the critics and if not for the strong showing of other Marvel Universe movies, this one would be much higher.  I liked the “Hulk on the run” motif as it mimicked the TV show from the late 70s-early 80s (which I watched religiously as a child).  I also liked the Hulk vs. Abomination fight.  What really sold the deal for me with this movie was the awesome cameo by Lou Ferrigno and the fight choreography that called back to the Playstation 2 era Hulk video game.

13. Iron Man 3: Actually, liked this one quite a bit when I saw it in IMAX 3D.  Several scenes lose their punch when viewed 2D via Blu-Ray, but it is still a great movie.  This one worked better because (unlike IM2) they actually did use elements from the storyline “A Demon in a Bottle” (albeit they substituted PTSD for alcoholism) and that worked to explain Tony’s increasingly erratic behavior.   I didn’t like the Mandarin’s portrayal all that much, but if you are not going to allow Mandarin to have his rings then a significant change to the Mandarin character is necessary.

12. Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron: Okay, I was expecting to like this one a whole lot more than I did.  I think that the final climax and set-piece was fine.  For me, the interactions did not ring as true as they did in the 1st movie.  This one was more set piece to set piece, but the interactions seemed forced for some reason.  Take the hinted Widow/Banner romance for instance.  Widow seemed to have much more of a rapport with Captain America based on the chemistry and camaraderie displayed in The Winter Soldier than she had with her interactions with Banner in both of the Avengers movies.  I think, though, what ultimately I didn’t like is that Ultron was “creepy,” almost horrific like a good classic horror villain.  Just like Winter Soldier was a mix of superhero and political thriller, I think Age of Ultron should have mixed superhero movie with horror movie elements, with Ultron “picking off” the Avengers one-by-one.

11. Spider-man Homecoming: I liked SPH, but I felt that it drifted into just the place that I didn’t want a new Spider-man movie to go: high school.  The high school elements were the worst elements of the previous Spider-man movies and this one was no exception.  I know Peter Parker was portrayed as a high school student for much of his “early” run, but really, Peter Parker is much better as a character when he graduated high school and was working at the Daily Bugle under J. Jonah Jameson.  There are elements of that (without J.J.J.), but it is still a high school narrative and those are probably one of the least interesting tropes for me.  The action was good, the story was pretty good, and the humor was very much in keeping with Spider-man, but at least half of the movie (perhaps more) is about Peter Parker’s high school life rather than Spidey and/or his life outside of high school.  That’s the only reason I’m rating this so low–I actually liked it quite a bit, but not as much as the movies above it (& that’s mainly because of the high school segments).

10. Ant-Man: Now we’re starting to get into territory where ALL of the following movies are good, but it just depends on individual preference.  Even in this grouping, I’m making fine distinctions between the movies.  Let’s just say that if any of the movies from here above are playing on TV and I have the time, chances are good I’d just sit and watch to the conclusion.  I liked this story–it was a fun movie.  It was also a “heist” movie and I’m not personally a big fan of those.  Luckily, the heist was part of the movie’s climax and it was pretty interesting.

9. Thor: So the first Thor movie doesn’t get a lot of love, but it set’s up the first Marvel Avengers movie, it features great performances from the leads (Tom Hiddleston owns the role of Loki), and has some great comedic moments.  I really like the earnest approach to the story–both in terms of acting and the story itself.  It is the “Fall from Grace” story, but because it isn’t a Tragedy (aka GrimDark), the hero is given the chance to redeem himself and learns what it means to be a hero.  The cynic in me says that this why the movie isn’t universally loved–it is hard to be a hero because a true hero isn’t a jerk or an anti-hero.  A true hero has to be willing to sacrifice.  And in America (and the world at large), that just isn’t a very popular idea (Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you).

8. Captain America: First Avenger: I really like this movie.  This is mostly a period piece movie, but I like it more for its message than its out-and-out action sequences.  This the quintessential American movie–the little guy with a heart of gold who becomes not so little and stands up to those who would oppress others.  Again, not a popular sentiment these days.  I didn’t grow up in the time period the movie describes, but as someone who minored in History, I love the period piece behind the movie.

7. Doctor Strange: Okay, I liked this one just slightly more than I did the first Captain America movie, but less than I did the first Iron Man movie.  I think that Benedict Cumberbatch was an awesome choice to play this role because of his time with Sherlock and that gave him the right “timbre” for playing the narcissistic Stephen Strange.  I also thought that the change from selfish to selfless was well earned, and unlike the critics and masses, I liked the conclusion and final fight.  I thought that it was well earned and concluded the story well, but was also darkly humorous.  I loved the special effects and Doctor’s Strange’s cloak was a great character all by itself!

6. Iron Man: This one’s special to me as it is the first time that I realized that Marvel was really serious about “Universe-building.”  I’ve always been a Spider-Man and X-Men reader (on the Marvel side), but it was impossible ignore the other heroes.  I would see references in other comics about Iron Man and had a comic that was the precursor to the Marvel Handbooks that described the tech of Marvel’s heroes.  It diagramed how Spider-Man’s web-shooters worked, how Falcon’s wings and flight apparatus worked, how Mandarin’s rings did their thing, and so on.  As I recall, the comic showed several variants of Tony Stark’s armor, including the “gray Iron Man” suit.  Seeing that suit on-screen and then seeing Tony reworking it into the “contemporary” suit blew my mind!  If nothing else, I realized that this batch of Marvel movies (unlike the 1st batch in the mid/late 80s) intended to get it right and treat the source material with respect.  I was hooked on Marvel’s movies with this one.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy: So this one was one of those movies that I decided that I really loved the Trailer and that I was going to see no matter what.  To understand my reasoning, you have to understand that I had been talked out of seeing World War Z at the theaters by the lukewarm reviews.  When I saw WWZ on Blu-Ray, I loved it and wished that I’d seen it via Imax (as I’d intended before watching/reading reviews).  I made up my mind that if I ever saw a trailer that I liked, I was going to see the movie no matter what.  I saw the trailer for GG in March/Apr. and liked it.  I expected the critics to hate this one or at least be lukewarm with it like WWZ, but to my surprise they liked it and so did I.  WWZ taught me that if I’m already predisposed to like the movie, to go see it, otherwise I might miss out.  I was doggedly determined to see GG no matter its critical reaction–and I’m glad I did.  It was both a good Marvel movie and a good Sci-Fi movie as well.

4. Captain America: Civil War: I thought this would go to number one based on the fact that even though this is a Captain America movie, it is essentially an Avengers movie because the plot line revolves around the fracturing of the Avengers based on ideologies. When I saw this in the theaters (IMAX 3D), it was by far my number one movie.  However, after purchasing it and rematching it multiple times, I’ve found that after the first major scene, the pace really slows until spectacular sequences in the middle.  I think, however, what keeps this one lower than CA:WS and Avengers is the fact that while I liked the ending, the reason why both Cap and Tony fracture, while set up earlier in the movie, seems forced.  It was almost as if I could see the screenwriters pulling the strings in order to put Cap and Tony at each other’s throats at the end.  Neither CA:WS or Avengers gave me that feeling.  I love this movie, don’t get me wrong.  The “airport” scene alone is one of the best scenes in movies, but I just can’t help feeling that the two heroes were “manipulated” into their final fight, not by the villain of the story, but by the screenwriters reaching too hard to wring pathos out of the audience.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier:  If not for the 1st Avengers film, this one would definitely be my favorite.  It had everything that I look for in a movie.  Spectacular fight sequences and choreography, tight plotting, reversals, betrayals, secrets, spy vs spy, secret organizations, two leads who work well together, cats and dogs living together in harmony (okay, so I threw that last one in there from Ghostbusters, but I wanted to see if you were paying attention).  For me, this one paid off the promise made in the first Captain America film.  A man of a different era now has to come to grips with the modern world and all its perceived faults.

2. Marvel’s Avengers: Off all the Marvel Universe movies released so far, this one is my favorite.  It has all of the elements that I enjoy (strong characterization, tension between teammates, heroism, and teammates banding together against a common foe).  The fight sequences were astounding and more importantly, seemed real and engaging, and the character interactions were spot-on.  The final sequence was jaw-dropping in its scale and intensity.  I almost ALWAYS stop and watch this one out to the end whenever I run across it playing on TV.  They got this one perfect for me.

1. Black Panther: So, I’m not sure if this is going to stay here, but for now, this is my personal #1 Marvel movie so far.  Political? Not really.  I’m an Action Movie junkie who secretly wants to marry the action of an Avengers movie, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, with the same heart and skill of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers like Robert JordanTad WilliamsElizabeth Moon, and (my personal favorites) David Eddings.  The number and quality of characters and characterizations really push this one up for me.  If you’ll look at Avengers or CA: Winter Soldier, you’ll see that these stories have a characters who feel real and grounded.  Now take this and multiply it by (pretty much) the entire cast.  Now add in the Marvel trademark humor and action scenes and you have a stellar movie.  I’m also putting it at the top in that it is also “aspirational” for me.  I would like to get to this level of writing for myself (& I would like to see more of a market for this type of story).  I also, from a Sci-Fi point of view, love the Afrofuturism aspect where Africans/African-Americans find a balance through technology and futurism and I really like this and wish there were more stories in this mode.  Characters, characters, characters–then great setting, then great plot, then great action–then characters, characters, characters.  And that’s why Black Panther is my new #1.

There you have it–my top Marvel movies, so far.

Sidney




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