Monday 29 April 2019

Movie Review - Avengers: Endgame

With a remarkable and previously unheard of $1.2 billion worldwide global debut, this year's Avengers: Endgame proves once again just how popular the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become since its inception with Iron Man back in 2008. Countless new box office records are set as soon as the film is welcomed into cinemas and many more are certainly on the way; it's clear this finale to the largest franchise in the history of film is making a huge impact across the world at a brisk pace. Does this insane net profit reflect on genuine quality? Most would say so, and I'm one of them.

Endgame of course won't bring the truck sized franchise that is the MCU to a permanent conclusion; instead, it acts as a finale to the primary storyline focusing on the Avengers since they gradually began to assemble over a decade ago now. Carrying on from Infinity War, those who survived the destruction Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally unleashed after gathering the six Infinity Stones must unite to restore balance to the ruined world; whilst simply moving on may seem the easy path to peace for some, the long term damage still remains, and it's clear in the end that action must be taken to bring true justice.

Avengers: Endgame does essentially need to bring forth a time travel plot of sorts in order to advance its story; most may have speculated such a thing considering how Infinity War ended with Thanos achieving his goals and defeating the Avengers in quite a sinister manner. The way it conveys this plot is thankfully creatively executed, linking back to storylines established in previous MCU films and building upon the mythology in a manner that doesn't feel too contrived. What follows with this is a gripping ensemble adventure as the most iconic heroes in Marvel's history tackle a number of unique challenges that cleverly link back to previous MCU films in the process; it's clear a lot of thought was put into establishing this as a true finale to this phase of the franchise.

Endgame's runtime is amusingly a topic of much discussion; at 181 minutes, it's easily the longest Marvel film to date and one of the longest superhero films ever, and even brings forth numerous recommendations from fans of the most ideal moments to rush to the loo if necessary. Yeah. Regardless, this runtime for the most part works without too much sluggish pacing; perhaps it's the first hour that hosts some of the film's weaker moments, such as repetitive humour which in turn leads to some awkward tonal shifts. Whilst it's great that Endgame never goes down an overly depressing and dark route in terms of its overall tone, perhaps there's times where said goofy (though to be fair very funny) humour doesn't quite know when to step aside; a common issue with many MCU films I've noticed to be honest.

The outstanding cast give it their all and of course deliver superb results as is expected; Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, the lot, and especially of course Josh Brolin as Thanos, arguably one of the best villains in Marvel history, once again spectacularly brought to life on screen via outstanding motion capture effects. It goes without saying that Endgame is a visual marvel (sorry) throughout; I'd be here all day listing individual visual praises, so all that has to be said is that it's as aesthetically resplendent as one would expect and more, and when these rich visuals, superb performances, as well as an exceptional score by Alan Silvestri are blended together during the film's many set pieces, they themselves become some of the best you'll ever see in a modern action film. As a whole, with all these aforementioned praises, it's certainly fair to say Endgame is one of the MCU's strongest instalments, and a fine conclusion to another of its epic storylines.

Friday 12 April 2019

Movie Review - Dumbo (2019)

Yet another of Disney's many live action remakes arrives in the form of Dumbo, though this time round we have a finished product that differs in many ways from its animated counterpart; consequently, one might want to consider it a new story partially inspired by Disney's 1940 classic. In Tim Burton's newest production, you won't find any mice specialising in one to one coaching, storks delivering newborn baby elephants, and certainly not any racially offensive singing crows smoking enormous cigars. Instead, we have story of a financially struggling circus and a family living and working within it enduring their own hard times, all taking place following the first World War.

Of course, our eponymous elephant is indeed in here somewhere. Colin Farrell stars as Holt Farrier, an amputated war veteran and widower. The travelling circus he works within and returns to following army service is also home to his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins); the circus itself finds itself in a state of financial decline, but following the birth of a newborn elephant with strangely oversized ears, takes an interesting turn that nobody involved could have anticipated.

The cast also features the likes of Danny DeVito as circus owner Max Medici, Michael Keaton as the greedy Vandevere, owner of an amusement park who eventually strikes his own business deal with Medici, and Eva Green as Colette Marchant, a charming and experienced trapeze artist employed by Vandevere; this entire cast performs brilliantly, primarily Keaton in his sly yet funny villainous role, though on the other hand it is a shame DeVito is somewhat underused given his inevitable comedic charm. The effects used to bring Dumbo himself to life are as refined as one would expect from a modern blockbuster, particularly one in the hands of Disney, and he finds himself blended seamlessly into the live action world around him. The actors themselves of course deserve praise when it comes to their interactions with Dumbo, bringing forth some heartfelt and similarly funny scenes, well executed considering the character wasn't there to start with, as well as praise toward their performances within the film's several entertaining set pieces.

Dumbo does find itself somewhat flawed when it comes to its storyline, which of course, as previously said, was stirred up dramatically from the animated original to be more fitting for a live action premise and of course to justify a longer run time. But even with this new material, the near two hour length is still a bit much, making the film somewhat repetitive as it goes on and occasionally quite boring as we near the middle. Dumbo as a character is fairly entertaining to watch, certainly funny and the centre of some touching moments once again, but in general isn't overall memorable and regrettably has moments of being slightly annoying; when it comes to repetitive moments, Dumbo's fear of flying is definitely something to mention. This is all in all an entertaining film for the most part, appealing for older and younger audiences, and of course boasting some superb visuals, but it's also a film that needed to focus a bit more on streamlining its narrative into something a bit more focused and much less samey.