It’s tough to form an opinion on Avengers: Infinity War. As the culmination of 10 years and 18 movies of building the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s more of an event than a film, certainly the most anticipated movie of the year, and probably the most hyped since Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Everything has been building to this, a chance for all (or most) of the characters we’ve come to know and love so far to come together to face the villain that’s been teased since the first Avengers movie. Of course, we’ve been through this before in 2012, though on a smaller scale, with that first joining of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but things have grown so much since then. The scale of Infinity War is such that it’s easy to lose track of the fact that you’re still watching a movie, and a movie that just happens to be the first of two Avengers films a year apart which were filmed back-to-back. Occasionally, Infinity War forgets that, itself, getting lost to exposition or action that feels more like setup for the future rather than its own moviegoing experience. It hops from moment to moment with a feeling of inevitability, as though this was the predestined conclusion rather than a natural or organic culmination of everything that came before. But oh, those inevitable moments are still spectacular, thrilling, funny, and emotional, and when people look back on this Marvel Cinematic Universe experiment, Infinity War will be one of the defining pieces of the grand whole.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was perhaps my biggest surprise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. While Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere with its unconventional style and Ant-Man managed to impress despite its troubled production, The Winter Soldier blew away all of my expectations. I enjoyed Captain America’s first outing, particularly because of its strong cast, but overall I was underwhelmed by its uninteresting plot. I loved what Joss Whedon did with the character in The Avengers, but I never imagined that The Winter Soldier would be so thrilling. The Russo Brothers brought a very specific cinematic flavor to Captain America, which combined with a witty screenplay, the best action sequences in the MCU, and a willingness to overthrow the establishment to give us a movie that works on many different levels. Following that success, the question of Captain America: Civil War became not “Is it any good?” (because with Marvel’s track record at this point, they have the benefit of the doubt) but “Just how good can it be?” What could the team that brought us The Winter Soldier do with a larger roster of heroes in what could just as easily have been titled Avengers: Civil War? The result is another excellent entry in the Marvel series that, while perhaps not reaching the top tier of what Marvel has to offer, shows that there is still plenty of fuel in Marvel’s tank. Civil War is an exciting, emotional ride with interesting things to say, that is willing to take our heroes in new directions, reshuffling the cards for the next hand that Marvel will deal over the next few years.
Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions. I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct once again (that seems to be what I always get [seriously, I didn’t even have to edit this sentence]). There are some tight races this year, but also a few sure things, so it’s bound to be an interesting evening. I can’t wait to see how Chris Rock tackles the shocking lack of diversity among the nominees. And while awards shows always seem fairly out of touch with popular opinion, I’ll always be a fan of the Oscars. So read on for my (dicey) predictions, as well as my picks if I could hand out the statues as I see fit. And then let me know who you think will be a big winner Sunday night!
Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Ave Maria
My Pick: N/A
Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Sanjay’s Super Team
My Pick: Sanjay’s Super Team
This post is part of the Movie Scientist Blogathon, hosted by Christina Wehner and Silver Screenings. Day 1 is all about good scientists, day 2 is for mad scientists, and day 3 covers lonely scientists.
The idea of “mad scientists” is probably as old as science, and it’s certainly been around since the beginning of cinema. There are countless iterations, from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll, and it’s easy to see why the concept makes for such compelling storytelling. They’re often tragic heroes in the classic sense, full of noble intentions but undone by their own ambition or shortsightedness. The mad scientist is of course distinct from the “evil genius”. Where an evil genius is typically the villain of a story, using their knowledge and ability for nefarious purposes, the mad scientist is typically a character with noble intentions who is subject to the tragic flaw of being unable to see the consequences of their actions until they’re too late. (Then there are good scientists who are just kind of crazy or reclusive, whom I wouldn’t typically classify as “mad.) To me, there’s no better use of the mad scientist trope than in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We’ve almost reached the end of 2015, and it was a big year for movies. It’s been a year of long-awaited sequels, broken box office records, and some really fantastic movies. There was a lot to love from the movies in 2015, and a few things that weren’t quite so good, so here are my favorite and least favorite things from the world of cinema this year. I generally don’t do a “top 10 films” list, because I don’t get a chance to see everything, and many of the so-called “Oscar bait” films don’t get wide releases until after the year is over. Of course, the best part of 2015 at the movies was getting to interact with so many great people here on the blog, and on Twitter and Tumblr, but I lack the words to properly express my grattitude for you taking the time to read what I write, comment, and discuss movies with me. So instead I present my favorite (and least favorite) movie-related items from the year, comprised of films, characters, scenes, events, themes, and trends from 2015. And let’s hope 2016 is even better!
Ant-Man shouldn’t work. Just from a conceptual standpoint, a hero who can shrink and who hangs around with insects sounds a little goofy when compared to the exploits of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This isn’t Asgard or SHIELD and there’s no army of alien invaders or HYDRA soldiers with which to contend, so how could it ever feel as important or impactful as other recent Marvel films? Add in the drama over the loss of the film’s original writer/director (and strongest advocate) Edgar Wright, and the resulting film could have been an inconsequential mess, throwing a goofy idea together with a handful of jokes and some cheesy action just to be another cog (about a straight, white male, of course) in the Marvel/Disney machine. That Ant-Man succeeds at all is a testament to the creativity of Marvel’s storytelling and the strength of its cast, but more than that it’s perhaps Marvel’s most flat-out fun film to date.