The first fifteen minutes of Infinity Wars, in a running commentary that’s as spoiler-free as I can make it

And he went through so much to save them.

Noooooo! 

Sige, Taylor Swift pa more.

Is it over? Is the Gwyneth gone?

Ha! These two with their zingers flying. 

(No, that was not a euphemism.)

These zingers are fun. 

Who wrote these zingers?

Zingers. Zingers everywhere. 

“We’re all gonna die!”

New York City bus drivers, they’ve seen everything.

 

I’m seeing this movie again.

Advertisements

A quick run-through of my initial reaction to the official trailer of Avengers: Infinity War

The official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has been released, and I just realized I feel  the way I used to feel catching a featured music video from an upcoming movie on MTV. Why? because I’m old and music videos used to function as unofficial trailers. Anyway.  It’s here!

I have no idea how many times I’ve hit replay because that thunderous Avengers theme is so emotionally manipulative, I don’t know where to begin. Or maybe I have all the feels because I’m revisiting how much money I’ve spent on the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the past ten years and this April I might end up spending even more. If the movie is as great as its trailer, I just might watch it a couple more times. Or five. It’s like the MCU is a goddamn annual subscription or something, you guys.

(It is.)

So, a few things:

Are we 100% convinced that Thanos is Josh Brolin and not Bruce Willis in Smurf drag?

thanos.gif

Teen Groot!

teen groot.gif

Rocket Raccoon and the fervent hope that Pepper Potts doesn’t appear anywhere in this movie!

rocket raccoon

Doctor Strange as the 1% who want to know where the hell Hawkeye is and his adversary as the rest of us who don’t give a rat’s arse!

stephen strange.gif

And lastly, but not leastly, I expect the mandatory Marvel superhero heaving beefcake shots to be on a strict 1:1 ratio.  Or this happens.

avengers gear up.gif

Sorry, paying customer here. It’s only fair.

Sleeping With Swamp Thing

I was looking forward to The Shape of Water, something Le Hubs and I have been planning to go see, but through a combination of factors – chief of them being apathy because it’s winter – didn’t really get to see until yesterday.

The Shape of Water, which, by del Toro’s confession, came from his obsession with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is the story of what would happen if the girl ends up with the creature. It doesn’t help that the creature – referred to as “The Asset” – looks so much like Abe Sapien from Hellboy, it’s hard to silence the voice in my head screaming “origin story!” (For the record, I wasn’t the only one doing this.)

Set in the Cold War era, Elisa (Sally Hawkins, here a soundless tour-de-force) is a cleaner who works for a top-secret government institution whose main goal is to outstrip the Russians in the race for space dominance. She’s mute, lives above a movie theatre and has friends who are full of spunk: a gay BFF (Richard Jenkins) and a sassy black woman (Octavia Spencer, earning every inch of that Oscar cred) at work. Her life is a routine, and she seems content. Well, content enough. Whatever frustrations she may have are exorcised in her bathtub  before her morning even begins.

A story isn’t a story unless something happens, so of course something happens to Elisa, in the form of a mysterious tank brought in one day by Strickland (Michael Shannon, channeling that intense menace as always) who turns out to be the worst sort of alpha male. Twisted, racist and brutal, Strickland is dismissive of and yet inexplicably turned on by, imperfection.

The tank holds The Asset, an amphibious humanoid (Abe Sapien!) caught in the wilds of the Amazon and dragged to America for dissection because scientists need answers for allowing astronauts to breathe in space. Elisa meets The Asset (Abe Sapien!) and feels sorry for him. She decides to keep him company during her lunch break, and their unlikely bond is formed by  hard boiled eggs and classic oldies. Despite The Asset (Abe Sapien!) having a bulge as unobtrusive as a Ken doll, there are clearly sparks which lead to the inevitable.

Other things happen of course, as they must, because stories have to have beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a beautifully evocative scene involving some towels and taps that are allowed to run. Stripped of everything, The Shape of Water celebrates love in its purest form, where looks don’t matter, shortcomings are overlooked and physical barriers are swept aside, the way humans have improbable sex with dinosaurs in those crazy erotic fiction novels that actually exist.  But having effectively silenced “Abe Sapien Origins!” the voice had popped up again, squeaking things like “monster porn!” and “slimy, slithery, splendid!”, the possible mechanics of this particular scenario so distracting, it messed with my ability to appreciate the movie  for how visually striking and remarkably tender it really is.

Maybe this was because I didn’t go in expecting a love story. That’s on me, for ignoring every obvious marker and breathless movie blurb. To be fair, I never expect a romance when it comes to Guillermo del Toro. Not even when it’s marketed as one. (Exhibit A: Crimson Peak.) To watch a Guillermo del Toro film is to surrender to the clutches of the visionary equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe, even when he goes full-on Technicolor with something like Pacific Rim. It’s the dance of the dark, and the sinister, everything imbued with the sweet scent of rot that seeps through his work. If there’s any sort of romance to be had from del Toro, it’s the deep and abiding love he has for the macabre.

 

Artwork by James Jean, by way of the official website of The Oscars

Justice delayed is still justice. Or something.

It’s official. It took the third movie for me to finally admit it, but Wonder Woman is single-handedly saving the DCU from its moody, emo self.

She’d already made the last third of BvS watchable, even if the rest of the movie was complete shit, similar Martha’s and all. The standalone Wonder Woman movie shone, if only because next to all those duds it was nice to see a DCU movie done right for once… done right, except for the fight scenes, which I wasn’t quite satisfied by, but it’s a minor complaint in a movie that was okay.

Full disclosure: I was fully prepared to dislike Justice League. I had seen Suicide Squad, and that ensemble movie was a complete dumpster fire. The aesthetic of the DCU has never charmed me, and I don’t think it’s meant to be charming at all. Not that every superhero world has to be charming, but if you’ve sat through Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, you’re going to come out of the theatre wondering if they hate their viewers. The world is too grim, its colour palette too dark, its heroes too tortured and there seems to be absolutely no hope of redemption from the cartoon characters who play their villains.

It doesn’t help that DC’s villains have been played in various reiterations by actors capable of truly mining the depths of their character – Heath Ledger’s Joker and Kevin Spacey’s Luthor come to mind. (I realize this is a bad time to celebrate Kevin Spacey, but the man can act. Let’s give him that.) After bravura performances like that, what are their successors supposed to do to avoid being carbon copies? We get Jared Leto as the Joker by way of Hot Topic. We get a motor-mouthed Jesse Eisenberg as a wholly irritating Lex Luthor. They even gave up on having an actual actor and handed us Steppenwolf (still can’t get over that name, my mind goes to Scandinavian metal bands whenever it’s mentioned.) Steppenwolf, for all the vocal stylings of Ciaran Hinds, is the crappiest CGI rendered character sinceRead More »

Thor:Ragnarok is totally, madly, wonderfully skux

There are directors with a signature so unique, there is no mistaking their work for anyone else’s. Martin Scorsese and gravitas. Steven Spielberg and childlike wonder. Christopher Nolan and mindtrips, Wes Anderson and whimsy. Quentin Tarantino and dialogue, Tim Burton and oddities, Joss Whedon and wit… Taika Waititi and sheer unbridled irreverence?

It’s official. Taika Waititi takes nothing seriously, not even Asgard. And it works.

Read More »

Invite Them In

Awesome things come out of New Zealand. Milk. Corned beef. The haka. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Lorde’s debut album. And as if NZ wasn’t already blessed enough, it also has Taika Waititi, of What We Do in the Shadows, the insane romp of a vampire movie about  fanged roommates just trying to get along in the age of the internet.

I’ve  slowly been building up to Thor: Ragnarok by getting familiar with its director’s body of work. So far I’ve seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Happy Birthday, Ricky Baker!) and What We Do in the Shadows. Both have deceptively simple premises, relatively low budgets and the wickedest sense of humour.  If Taika Waititi has brought even half of his sense of the ridiculous to Thor Ragnarok, then I have high hopes for that movie, because I have decided that What We Do in the Shadows is now officially one of my favourite films.

Sharing space with someone else comes with a lot of baggage – it doesn’t just get more complicated the more people share the same home, it gets multiplied tenfold by the kind of people they are. And if you’re a vampire, who lives with other vampires, each of whom inhabits a particular Dracula stereotype… well. That’s what What We Do in the Shadows is all about.

I enjoyed this more than Wilderpeople because Waititi doesn’t just direct. He plays a major role as Viago, a prissy vampire fussbudget who wants his flatmates to lay down newspapers and towels if they’re going to eat someone on his nice clean couch.

Undone dishes. Orgies. Virgins. Sunlight. Partying with ghouls and witches. Google. Skype. Werewolves, not Swearwolves. Vampire bat fights. Victims. Blood. A group of perennial man-children running around Wellington just trying to live their best lives. It’s all very matter-of-fact from beginning to end, and the sheer normalcy in the face of so much absurdity is what makes this movie imminently watchable.

I’ve seen what Waititi can do on a limited budget and an unlimited imagination. I wonder what he’ll do on a Marvel budget, and if he’ll make another cameo, the way he did as a particularly strange priest in Wilderpeople. I hope he does. And I hope it’ll be a hoot.

Here Kitty, Kitty

Perhaps the MCU, having read my mind, decided to up the ante on its latest phase (what are we in now? Three?) and introduce interesting second leads to keep ladies like me – who can only go full nerd for so long without getting exhausted – invested. I know I’m watching Ragnarok for Cate Blanchett. And now I know who I’m watching Black Panther for.

I’m living a fantasy where Michonne breaks up with Rick, cuts off her dreads and moves to Wakanda to engage in some badassery with a staff. The Panther and his problems can take a back seat, because girl can fight. I have faith in you, Michonne! Don’t let us down in February!

I mean come on, how glorious is this?

PS. Also, Angela Bassett (!!!)