A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the epic “Avengers: Infinity War,” and the only two films brave enough to open against it “A Swingers Weekend” and “Adventures in Public School.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the superheropalooza “Avengers: Infinity War,” and the only two films brave enough to open against it “A Swingers Weekend” and “Adventures in Public School.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the epic “Avengers: Infinity War,” and the only two films brave enough to open against it “A Swingers Weekend, ” “Adventures in Public School” and the eco doc “Panda.”
In the world of the Avengers less isn’t more. Bigger is better. The newest instalment “Avengers: Infinity War,” the nineteenth in the Marvel Universe, is their most epic film yet. Taking place all over the universe, it pits daughter against father, challenges the true nature of love, all while saving the world from certain destruction.
Set two years after relations soured in the Avengers camp—“The Avengers broke up,” says Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). “We’re toast.”—the new Avengers spectacle sees them put aside their differences to once again save the world. Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and a laundry list more, including all the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), band together to prevent intergalactic despot Thanos (Josh Brolin) from collecting the six powerful Infinity Stones hidden on earth. “He is a plague,” says Bruce Banner. He is the strongest creature in the universe, so pumped up he can toss Hulk and Thor around like they are rag dolls.
With the half dozen gems Thanos can decorate his bad-guy golden gauntlet. Not only fashionable, the artefacts, once collected, will also enable him to bend reality to his will. “The entire time I knew him he only ever had one goal,” says Gamora (Zoe Saldana), “to wipe out half the universe. If he gets all the Infinity Stones he can do it with a snap of his fingers.” Gah! Simply put, “He’s from space,” says Stark, “and came here to steal a necklace from a wizard [Dr. Strange a.k.a. Benedict Cumberbatch).”
“Avengers: Infinity War” is where good and evil and franchises collide. The good guys—essentially everyone but Thanos—put aside their grievances with one another for the common good. From far and wide, from outer space and the mystical realms, they unite, trade quips, kick butt and try to beat the odds. “There are 14,000,605 possible outcomes,” calculates Doctor Strange, “but only one where the good guys win.”
Then there’s Thanos, whose twisted idea of tough love involves a genocidal solution for overcrowding on planets, and his nasty minions. The big man is a get the job done kind of guy but he’s not simply evil. He’s a villain who feels the psychic weight of his evil doing. His conscience doesn’t slow him down much—he still does terrible things—but he is more layered than your usual CGI baddie. Brolin shines in a mo cap performance that gives the character depth despite his cartoon appearance.
Combined they create a primal battle of good and evil on a scale that makes all other Avengers movies pale by comparison.
The sheer number of cast members brings to mind the old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer slogan, “More stars than there are in the heavens.” Iron Man, Thor, Scarlet Witch and the Guardian gang are put to good use but too often the superheroes are set dressing. There are so many characters and interactions that even at two hours and forty minutes the film struggles to find meaningful things for all of them to do. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow does little more than grimace and say things like, “Let’s do this!” Tom Holland as Spider-Man is given a cool new suit and a couple of action scenes but like many others like Falcon (Anthony Mackie) don’t seem to be there for any other reason than to bulk up the marquee. Even the main players check in and out, often disappearing from the narrative for substantial chunks of time.
There has been much speculation as to which characters live and who dies. All I’ll say is that there will be some actors looking for work after “Avengers: Infinity War” opens.
Many of the actors may not get much to do character wise but most are in almost constant motion in some of the largest Avengers fight scenes ever. For the most part they are CGI fests, geared to make your eyeballs dance. They are expertly realized but many of them feel familiar, like larger versions of the smash ‘em ups from the other films. If the fight scenes are your favourite bits of the Avengers movies then you’ll be pleased. If not, look out, they eat up a good piece of the film.
What makes “Avengers: Infinity War” compelling isn’t that it is bigger and louder than its predecessors, it’s that there are high stakes for everyone. Once again the world is in peril but we’re used to that. The powerful work is interpersonal, between characters. No spoilers here, but lives of characters we’ve followed for years are changed and it brings humanity to a film that could have been computer generated overload.
“Avengers: Infinity War” ends with a downbeat cliffhanger that leaves much up in the air. The final scene—after credits so long it seems like everyone in the world worked on this movie—gives a hint of the worldwide consequences of Thanos’s plan but gives no hint as to what’s to come. For that you’ll have to wait until part two hits theatres on May 3, 2019. The dangling nature of the story will be frustrating to some. For fans, however, the movie should deliver in a big way.
It’s awards season, a heady time when the movie biz pats itself on the back for a job well done. Tuxedoes are rented, Botox injected by the gallon and hundreds of miles of red carpets unfurled as industry insiders honour the best of the best with statues and speeches.
But is it really a time for celebration? The movie biz had a record-breaking year, raking in north of $11.4 billion on the backs of, as one industry insider said, “a forgetful fish, infighting superheroes and some intergalactic rebels.”
But for every Finding Dory, Captain America or Rogue One, which all earned good reviews and audience support, there were dozens of others that acted as public repellent, driving viewers away in droves. Those unsuccessful movies are dark clouds hanging heavy over the Hollywood landscape. Metro has some thoughts on how to clear the skies and ensure smooth sailing until Hollywood runs out of awards to hand out.
Let’s spend more time watching imaginative new worlds and ideas brought to life on the screen. Give me more movies from Guillermo Del Toro, Edgar Wright and Andrea Arnold, filmmakers who constantly reinvent our relationship with story and cinema.
Although I’m looking forward to John Wick 2 and Skull Island, let’s cut back on the reboots, reimaginings, remakes and films with numbers in their titles.
Let Kristen Stewart do anything she wants. Her death-defying leap from a Young Adult idol to indie star has been inspiring to watch. She digs deeper and deeper with every role, distancing herself from the teeny-bopper image that defined the early part of her career. Her choices are wild and woolly and you don’t know what to expect next from her. More please.
No more ‘interesting’ movies from Will Smith. His overthinking has done more collateral damage to his once towering career than his last film, Collateral Beauty.
More convulsive belly laughs triggered by thoughtful, interesting jokes please. That means fewer films that mistake politically incorrect “did he really just say that?” jokes for actual humour.
Can we have more reliance on the human touch on screen; directors like Jim Jarmusch, Mira Nair and Barry Jenkins who use instinct and experience to create their art.
Let’s have less studio reliance on branding, formula and script algorithms like ScriptBook, ScripThreads and Slated. Successful movie ideas don’t come from marketing departments or mathematical analysis, they come from the hearts and minds of interesting storytellers.
We need more films that pass both the Bechdel Test (does the movie feature a scene where two women discuss something other than a man?) as well as the DuVernay Test (do the African American and other minority characters have fully realized lives or are they just scenery in white stories?) If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you’ll have more films that better reflect the world we live in.
Finally, it’s time for Hollywood to be truly egalitarian. We need to see an end to white actors cast in non-white roles. It’s not knee-jerk political correctness — it’s justice for years of whitewashing in Hollywood. Recently in Doctor Strange, Gods of Egypt, Aloha and many others caucasian actors were cast in roles written or conceived for people of colour. Let’s stop that in 2017.
In today’s world it’s not enough to simply be a hero. Now you must be a superhero. Unlike the old days when square-jawed movie stars rescued damsels in distress or battled cold-hearted landlords, today’s champions won’t get out of bed for anything less than the threat of complete world annihilation. Liberating a cat from a tree or performing the Heimlich Maneuver is considered HeroLite™, the work of lesser lifesavers.
Today it’s all about averting the apocalypse. In Captain America: Civil War the idea of how to police and ultimately save the world is at the heart of the action and X-Men: Apocalypse’s bad guy has grandiose plans to “cleanse mankind and create a new world order.”
This weekend the heroes of Independence Day: Resurgence join Mystique, Quicksilver, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Captain America and legendary do-gooders Batman and Superman in some good, old fashioned world saving.
The twenty-years-in-the-making sequel to Will Smith’s mega-hit sees aliens from outside the Solar System attack our planet. It’s life and death on a planetary scale, a premise that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
It’s not a surprise the stories are getting larger and louder. Audiences want a big bang for their buck and Hollywood is pleased to oblige with high stakes situations that provide frenetic action and happy endings (unless, of course you’re rooting for the bad guy). These days Hollywood also looks to overseas markets for mega-revenue and presenting globe-spanning stories helps to attract crowds in other countries.
Business aside, why have audiences embraced world-on-the-brink movies?
Films, says Dr. Norman Holland, Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar Emeritus at the University of Florida, work on different parts of your brain.
“The parts that turn off are the parts that plan action because you’re not going to act on what you see on the screen in front of you,” he says. “You turn off the systems that plan, that look ahead that evaluate futures. That explains the phenomenon of the willing suspension of disbelief. You accept the most improbable things, like Stars Wars or Spider-Man or whatever. At the same time the lower centres of your brain are generating emotions like mad in response to what you’re seeing. This is the peculiar phenomenon that you can feel and care about these people on the screen while at the same time knowing they are nothing but a fiction.”
In other words, it’s what legendary purveyor of thrills Alfred Hitchcock said. “People like to be scared when they feel safe.”
We live in unsettling and troubled times and going to the movies can provide an escape. In these heroic tales good almost always wins out, a comforting antidote to the nightly news where stories often don’t have happy endings. It makes us feel good, but, as Dr. Holland notes, it’s also restful.
“As you know they are redesigning movie theatres with recliner chairs so you can sleep through the movie,” he says. “Yes, it is relaxing. This is the part of your brain that worries, that plans for the future, that is concerned about the state of your body. All that shuts down. It’s restful, no question.”
Going to the movies is restful? Good for us? Seems like in our busy, stressful world it’s the films that are the heroes, not the characters.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases,the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster” and the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash.”
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Occasionally an image seen on line or in a magazine will burn itself into your brain. HoC guest George Zimbel has taken his share of memorable photographs but his 1954 snap of Marilyn Monroe, standing on a subway grate, skirt flying up around her waist is not only one of those memorable pictures, it’s one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century. Listen in and find out the story behind the photo. Also stopping by for a chin wag is Emily VanCamp, co-star of Captain America: Civil War. Find out who she supports, Iron Man or her love interest Captain America. The answer may surprise you!