Avengers: Infinity War

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It was very nearly six years ago now that The Avengers came barging into theaters around the world like the Kool-Aid man. I remember seeing it the day of its release and thinking, “I need to see EVERY. SINGLE. FILM. that has anything to do with superheros EVER.”

That feeling lasted about a day.

Marvel has a fan base that is — for lack of a better term — overwhelming, in a lot of ways. There are people in the world who will verbally deliver you to Hades for questioning Captain America’s intentions or speculating on the relationship between Bruce and Natasha.

There are grown men and women who know more about the Marvel Universe than the actual one they exist in. And good for them! I think at this point, that place is safer.

No matter whose corner you’re in, Marvel has something for everyone. For me, Marvel and Taika Waititi gave me my favorite character, Korg, in Thor: Ragnarok. They know their audience — a good portion of the planet — and seem to have an endless supply of what I like to call Movie Crack; an extremely addictive plot device/story/character/score that you simply can’t get enough of it.

This review is going to be scant on details because I would never dream of potentially spoiling a single detail for any of you.

Avengers: Infinity War is centered around a villain who thinks he is a hero named Thanos (Josh Brolin). His goal is to collect all of the Infinity Stones — that look a LOT like Sonic’s Chaos Emeralds — and destroy half of the population of the entire universe.

This installment of the franchise is billed at 2 hours and 40 minutes long. That only seems long. When one considers all of the story being jigsawed to form a whole, the movie — realistically — could have been longer.

In the first 10 minutes or so, we get follow-up on that Ragnarok credits scene featuring a hammer-less Thor (Chris Hemsworth) followed by catching up with Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and Tony & Pepper (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow) back on Earth.

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Bruce is running the Thanos warning down to NYC in the style of Paul Revere warning of the British. Somewhere on a fieldtrip, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his spidey sense get wind of the doom about to befall the city and he swings into action. I don’t quite get why Tony Stark doesn’t like the lad, but I enjoy the banter.

Meanwhile, somewhere in space, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the rest of the Guardians crew are cruising along when they, too, learn of Thanos’ impending arrival.

I’d like to take a moment here to say that, as a wrestling fan, I can not only relate to the fandom of the superhero genre, but every time Dave Bautista — who plays Drax — was on-screen, I had a big, stupid grin plastered on my face.

Over in Europe, Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) have their first run-in with Thanos’ soldiers, the Black Order; they are ruthless and loyal to their gigantic overlord and willing to do whatever it takes to get the stones he seeks.

Still to come are, of course, a bearded Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a blonde Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), and — off in Wakanda (forever) — are Bucky (Sebastian Stan), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), his tech-savvy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Okoye (Danai Gurira).

Honestly, there are so many people in this movie. I think I’m in it at some point. It’s an impressive feat. Hearing folks say things like, “I’ve been waiting for this movie for nearly a decade” is pretty cool. It’s going to be a surreal experience for them.

Anytime you get this many stars in one film, it’s going to be explosive. For me, I imagine it’s like a Royal Rumble in the wrestling world, with men and women. Literally every superstar they’ve got. And they’re all just doing what they do best.

I can’t speak on the intricacies of the stories behind every character. I never read the comics and I’ve seen a handful of the movies leading up to this one.

That said, I think Anthony and Joe Russo absolutely nailed it. My writer brain took to picking apart scenes that I thought could have been funnier, but they don’t pay me to write these movies. Yet.

Truth be told, writing a Marvel movie seems like an incredibly tall order. My regards to Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well.

Infinity War is a movie that is written, with love, for the fans. It is brimming with effects that will melt IMAX moviegoers’ faces off of their heads. Alan Silvestri composes the score to accompany the on-screen maelstrom, giving the audience a submursive experience fit for the fan who has patiently awaited this moment.

Your diligence leading up to Infinity War is about to pay off in spades. If I may make a couple of suggestions — bring some tissues and a stress ball. You’ll be learning the fates of characters you’ve invested your time and emotions in. In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts — my mother is a massive Robert Downey Jr. fan and I’ve refused to tell her what happens.

Enjoy!

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Blockers

The Pact

They’ve finally done it! They’ve finally made a film about high schoolers that isn’t centered around 2-4 white males and their token black acquaintance!

But, a movie called Blockers — what could that be about? The invention of BluBlocker Sunglasses?

Surely not.

John Cena becoming the coach of an all-girl football team? I might’ve liked that better.

Were it not for the surreptitiously placed rooster on the film’s poster, we mightn’t know that — in fact — this movie is about cock blocking.

Happily, the film doesn’t focus on three white men. This time, it’s two white men and one white woman. There are SOC (spouses of color) in the film, which is progress, I suppose.

We’re getting somewhere.

When Julie, Kayla, and Sam (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon, respectively) become friends in grade school, they form of a lifelong bond. Or at least a bond that lasts until the summer before college.

Forming a fellowship of their own, the parents of the young ladies, Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter (Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz, respectively), lean on one another for emotional support when their girls become women in the blink of an eye.

Hatching a #SEXPACT, Julie, Kayla, and — reluctantly — Sam decide that prom night is THE night to become deflowered.

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Deflowered, if you’re wondering, is a term that was used in the dark ages to describe the process of a woman losing her virginity before anybody was ready to admit women have vaginas.

When the ‘rents get wind of the #SEXPACT, they set out to — you guessed it — cock block the children. A Superbad-esque romp ensues, replete with gallows humor seemingly written by a stoned 13-year-old.

I don’t know if the writing in this movie was — at times — actually funny, or if it was just the comedic prowess of Mann, Cena, Barinholtz, and a few other heavy hitters popular in the genre that I won’t spoil for you.

Director Kay Cannon — who has dabbled in the Pitch Perfect sequels and a generous handful of 30 Rock episodes — flexes a very distinct voice she’s developed over the years. She was ideal to have in the driver’s seat for Blockers, as she’s able to capture the voices of people objectively, without injecting tons of testosterone into films like this one, which could easily fall into that trap.

Blockers could have easily fallen into so many trope categories, but seems to have avoided such an unfortunate circumstance. A film like this could easily use absurdity as a crutch, as they often do. That said, this one dips its toe in the silliness-bordering-on-totally-unbelievable pool and nothing more — and it works!

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Newton, Adlon, and Viswanathan are three young actors I’d be paying attention to, if I were you. I felt about them the way I felt about Emma Stone when I saw Easy A; they’re all going places in a hurry and have exciting careers on the horizon.

It’s a switcheroo from the typical teen-dramedy fare that doesn’t take itself too seriously or drone on and on for far too long. I guess the takehome message is that, if you truly love your child, you’ll chug a beer with your butt. Thanks, John Cena, for your service.