Review: Avengers: Infinity War

avengers_infinity_war_posterIt’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.

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Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

It’s been a long time since we had a good Spider-Man movie, 13 long years in fact. Since Spider-Man 2 back in 2004, a masterpiece of the superhero genre that still stands up as one of the best of all time, we’ve had several attempts to keep the web-slinger going. Spider-Man 3 was a complete mess, overloaded with villains and led by a far-too-old Tobey Maguire, not to mention the horrific emo dance sequence, while the Amazing Spider-Man pair of films tried too hard to update the series for “modern sensibilities” (whatever that means) and the results were uninspired and extremely dull. I’d come to believe that as long as Sony still held the rights to the wall-crawler, one of my favorite comic book heroes, we’d be doomed to mediocre reboot after mediocre reboot, never again having a Spider-Man movie worthy of the name.

So imagine my surprise when a deal was reached between Sony and Marvel/Disney and Spider-Man wound up being one of the best parts of Captain America: Civil War. And now here we are, with Tom Holland’s first full outing in the famous red and blue spider suit, and the results are pretty impressive. Spider-Man: Homecoming is naturally the best Spider-Man movie in 13 years, although that’s really not saying much. It’s a lot of fun, one of the funniest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it gets a lot of things right. It’s not perhaps the home run one might be hoping for, but it’s solidly in the top half of MCU films, getting a lot about the character of Peter Parker right, while managing to tie in cleverly with the larger universe of films. Oh, and Tony Stark is in it, getting a little redemption after his last outing in Civil War.

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Review: Tomb Raider (2013 Video Game)

(Disclaimer: I have never reviewed a video game before despite being a lifelong gamer, and I’m going to approach this more as I would a film, as a means for telling a story.  For reference, I played the Xbox 360 version of the game.)

Lara Croft, wealthy young archeologist, is off on her first expedition, to find the lost Japanese kingdom of Yamatai, along with a shipful of assorted characters.  They’re heading into the Dragon’s Triangle, a dangerous area of the ocean that’s the source of many strange rumors, when a violent storm appears and causes their ship to sink.  Lara plunges into the sea, scrambling to shore, pulling herself up on the sand.  She spots the other survivors further down the beach, but as she calls for them an unseen attacker strikes her head, knocking her out.  She awakes hanging in a cave by her ankles, bound and unable to move.  She swings herself back and forth, knocking things over and causing a fire.  As she prepares to set her bindings aflame in order to free herself she mutters, “This is going to hurt,” and as the fire cuts through her ropes she plunges into a pit, where she is impaled through the side by a piece of rebar.  She pulls it from her, and she staggers deeper into the cave, trying to find a way out.  She eventually does, but not before struggling with her attacker, creating an explosion that causes the cave to collapse, and crawling on her hands and knees up through the falling rocks towards a point of light that means escape. Continue reading