3 Stars Movies

Avengers: Infinity War collapses under the weight of its own continuity

Like a teeter-tottering pile of mint-condition, unread, bagged & boarded collector’s edition comic books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is quickly collapsing under the weight of its accumulating continuity.

Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War may be an edifying experience for the dedicated fan who’s seen all 19 or so preceding movies, and paid enough attention to the details to be able to follow what’s going on. But were it not for Tom Holland adding some levity as Spider-Man, and Josh Brolin as the relatively interesting villain Thanos (atypical for the superhero genre, to say the least), there isn’t much substance here beyond callbacks to previous installments and teasers for the next round of punch-punch boom-boom.

The Avengers: Infinity War
The Avengers: Infinity War is one part lunchbox, one part Wikipedia entry.

Picture the little kid coming to this for the first time. She is enamored by the idea of Spider-Man swinging through New York City, Captain America punching out baddies, and Iron Man fighting crime with his neato gadgetry. She has read and re-read her handful of comics, and is excited that her parents are taking her to the movie theater to see her heroes come to life on the big screen. Imagine how she feels when what she gets is more of a Wikipedia entry than a story.

It’s the same paradox that affects all indefinitely ongoing comics: the more pages that pile up, the more complex the continuity, the more impenetrable it comes, and before you know it the only people reading comics are grownups.


The 9 Worst Movies I Saw in 2007

Just like Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Before Sunset, it’s the sequel that no one asked for! After the warm fuzzies of yesterday’s list of the Best Movies I Saw in 2007, it’s time for a little meanspirited snark.

I might be committing professional suicide for publishing this list, for five out of nine of these movies may or may not have something in common (a something which could lead to the aforementioned professional suicide if revealed). So with a little judicious self-censorship, onward!

A new low in probably my most-hated film genre: the musical biopic. Once again, the life story of an important musician is told by filmmakers who obviously don’t care about the music and would much rather tell a story about drug addiction (and not only that, the same drug story every time: q.v. Bird, Ray, Walk the Line, etc.). Bladder-bustingly long, amateurishly over-edited, and the ostensible lead [name of hollow-cheeked latin pop star withheld] is shoved aside by [name of latina pop star famous for magnificent gluteus maximus withheld] as she tries to make it her story.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.jpg

Fantastic Four 2 somehow manages to be better than the original in many ways, and yet less funny (the original at least had humor on its side). Who cast Mr. Whitebread as Dr. Victor Von Doom, the Eastern European dictator of Latveria?

The fantasy genre leaves me cold, so it was a minor miracle that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens made three Lord of the Rings movies that could turn genre grumps like me into fans of elves, dwarves, and wizards. [name of movie company withheld] tried to recapture the magic with [name of first-installment-in-projected-fantasy-franchise withheld], but forgot the magic. Humorless, self-serious, and wastefully expensive, [name of first-installment-in-projected-fantasy-franchise withheld] is full of awkward shifts in tone (for a more kid-friendly movie than Lord of the Rings, it turns shockingly violent at one point) and spurious plot twists (the most annoying instance being when the king of all [name of large white arctic mammal withheld] pledges his life to a [name of annoying little girl withheld] with no evidence that she’s anything special).

I pity the children for whom this will be one of their earliest moviegoing experiences. My generation had E.T. and Time Bandits. This one gets… lame Department of Homeland Security critiques and Intel-Inside bunnies? Oh, and let’s not forget the horrific song by [name of psychedelic rock dinosaur withheld]… could this be the man that cowrote [name of fifth best selling album of all time withheld]?

A premise that could have been fun if not treated with such grim self-seriousness. Wannabe thriller directors would do well to remember that even Se7en and Memento had a little wit. Memo to [name of rubber-faced & formerly overpaid actor withheld]: you proved you could branch out into dramatic roles that still played to your comedy skills in [name of underrated movie directed by Peter Weir withheld] and [name of masterpiece directed by Michel Gondry withheld]. How about some more of that, please?

Resident Evil: Extinction

Not much I can say about this one. It’s on this list because I saw it and it’s bad, but I didn’t really get worked up over its badness as much as these others. The setup is actually not that bad, at least until the zombies attack… and attack… and attack.

Porn for NRA-joining latent psychos who applaud when movie heroes shoot people. What on earth were [name of actor that reportedly turned down [name of famous fictional British spy franchise withheld] withheld] and [name of rightly revered character actor withheld] thinking when they signed on for this? Hot Fuzz is everything that this piece of shit is not.

Spider-Man 3

It pains me to list this movie here more than any other. Spider-Man 2 was one of my favorite movies in recent years, and I frequently rant to friends about how it’s a paragon of what Hollywood ought to be doing: like Lord of the Rings, it’s a mass-market genre entertainment that thrills, entertains, and moves. So this mess of a sequel depressed me all out of proportion to its only mere badness.

Transformers movie poster

Funny enough, it’s a pretty entertaining movie until the eponymous robots show up and start speaking, and shortly thereafter, fighting. Then it somehow becomes punishingly stupid, and considerably less fun.

Coming up next: The 10 Most Disappointing Movies I saw in 2007!

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