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How do you follow an epic tragedy in which the world’s biggest A-list stars traverse the universe facing the most dire of movie stakes? How do you continue after the bummer-cliffhanger of seeing an all-powerful despot succeed in his plan to mercilessly wipe out half of the entire universe? You bring the LOLs! It serves as welcome respite, but essentially Marvel has followed its most consequential movie with its least.
Almost all films starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (or ‘Dwock’, as I will now call him, for ease) play on the fact that he is an impossibly-shaped human with overinflated balloon arms that are at constant risk of bursting and jettisoning his screeching cannonball head around the room. Not to mention that he acts like a small child that has somehow Freaky-Fridayed with his favourite He-Man figure and doesn’t know how long he has left to make the most of it. As such, Dwock always plays larger-than-life characters in larger-than-life films. Skyscraper, however, sees a return to relatively more serious action. It’s still an overblown, ludicrous mess, but it’s genuinely refreshing to see a film like this played with such sincerity. Such ridiculous, idiotic sincerity.
As is the tradition for all Hollywood classics, completion of principal photography on Captain Marvel was officially announced at the weekend with a Twitpic of a graffiti-ridden slate and a homemade calendar drawn on to a scrap piece of paper. But look a little bit closer and we can start to glean some plot details and clues about what lies ahead for the MCU...
With more than a decade between Toy Stories or Finding Fish Characters, Pixar’s recent run of belated sequels is clearly part of a canny business plan rather than a sign of creative exhaustion, because these franchise returns do the job of appealing to both the original fans and a whole new generation of toy-demanders. If this has always been the strategy though, Incredibles 2 takes home the trophy for longest audience payoff of all time. Because, with the original film invoking everyone’s childhood fantasies of wanting to be
superpowered, this sequel - delivered 14 years later - teaches those of us that have become parents in the meantime that our wish has been fulfilled: we now are
Four films in four years of this newly rebooted output from a galaxy far, far away, and it’s safe to say that Star Wars fatigue might be setting in for some. While, in that time, there’s been plenty of new reasons to love and embrace and cheer on the franchise, does anyone still get the same goosebump thrill from yet another momentous money-shot moment for the Millennium Falcon? Does anyone still audibly chuckle as loudly as they used to at the mention of an obscure character thrown in the script just because
? It’s ok to admit it. We’re all still fans. No one’s turning to the Dark Side and there’s no hate or anger here. But is anyone else getting the sense that their enthusiasm for Star Wars is being a little... diluted?
If there is one movie trend that I just don’t understand, it’s the continuing popularity of generic horror. I don’t know if it’s because there’s comfort and familiarity in the formula or because some people just want to see blood and gore no matter what laziness gets them there, but there is obviously a massive audience for clichéd carnage. These are the kinds of people who think freaky masks are cool, who actively root for key characters to die horribly, and who think that the prey/pray pun in the title here is really quite clever.
In every way that matters – and it matters in every
way – Avengers: Infinity War is basically the biggest movie ever. Ten years in the making, producing some of the highest grossing films on record and some of the most recognisable characters and franchises in the world, it’s astonishing that this climactic crossover event combining all of them in one big-screen adventure is even possible. What’s more astonishing is that it somehow meets every single impossible expectation you have for it.
If I could have had a small, green, wise mentor teach me the ways of online film criticism, he probably would have instilled in me a respect for the balance between objectivity and subjectivity. He would have told me that uninformed criticism is what binds the entire internet and that I should always try to be mindful of hype. But, halfway through my training, I would have still no doubt run off unprepared to face what is easily my greatest weakness: Star Wars.
There’s a lot that could be said about Taika Waititi being hired at this stage of the MCU. Is it a risk to give a giant special effects blockbuster property like Thor to a director known for off-kilter, low-budget comedies? Is it merely a cynical move in an attempt to mimic the quirkiness of the hugely successful Guardians Of The Galaxy
films? Can a unique creative tone even shine through within the confines of the strict Marvel model? And does Waititi’s brand of humour even translate to the big-budget world of EXCEPT IT TOTALLY FUCKING DOES AND YOU CAN FORGET ALL THESE THINGS BECAUSE THIS FILM IS SO MUCH FUN.