The Rise of Skywalker

Here is a no spoiler look at the final installment in the original Lucas Star Wars Saga.

It has been a rather tumultuous time in the Star Wars franchise since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012. They started their full feature length films with Episode VII in 2015. that film was a success for Disney but wasn’t without its detractors. Disney followed up with the excellent back story on the mission that got the rebels the Death Star plans in the opening scene of the original episode IV back in 1977. “Rogue One” told that tale in 2016. It looked like Disney was off to the races ready to cash in on the $4 billion dollar investment. But things were about to get real squirrelly. In 2017 they released the much anticipated “Last Jedi.” They had taken a little bit of heat by introducing Luke Skywalker only in the final waning moments of the previous film. But that may have been a moment of genius had they followed up with something better than a trash can script and clunky story in episode VIII. Last Jedi was just awful for a Star Wars movie, easily the worst of the bunch. But the fans showed up on opening weekend eager to see Grandpa Luke. I reviewed that movie with mixed feelings. Some of the scenes were memorable and even ‘LOL’ funny. But there was little cohesion and the story was crap. In 2018 Disney gave us “Solo.” The fans were still pissed off over Last Jedi and many simply didn’t show up. Solo was actually a pretty solid movie, middle of the pack in my opinion but it turned out to be the worst performing Star Wars movie of all time. That all led up to this moment. December 20th, 2019.

Well I am happy to report that this film is much better than the other two in the third batch of the triple trilogy. It does not rise to the levels of the original three movies but is at least as good as most other Star Wars films outside of the first three. One of the big problems with all of these Disney versions of Star Wars is that they tend to be predictable, formulaic to a fault, and they practically cut and paste scenes from the original trilogy. I wrote about this in the “Force Awakens” review.

All of that on the table JJ Abrams took the story and material he was given and did about as much as possible with it. I went into this film with nothing but the trailers in my head and after watching it I read a few professional reviews that are largely negative. This was not a bad film at all and is worthy of your time and money to see it in the theater. The end of the film does reserve some unspoiled reveals about who Rey is and who she is not. They did a nice job wrapping up the arc of Rey and Kylo Ren. There is a sub plot of redemption and some genuine bad ass Jedi / Sith force powers that are almost worth the price of the ticket all by themselves. It seems Disney was able to get back on track and focus on the Star Wars story instead of a social indoctrination. This film is a real beneficiary of that decision.

Here is my totally subjective and likely to change in the future list of the best Star Wars movies.

  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 ★★★★★
  2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977 ★★★★★
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983 ★★★★☆
  4. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, 2016 ★★★★☆
  5. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker, 2019 ★★★★☆
  6. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015 ★★★★☆
  7. Solo: A Star Wars Story, 2018 ★★★★☆
  8. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999 ★★★★☆
  9. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005 ★★★☆☆
  10. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, 2017 ★★★☆☆
  11. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002 ★★★☆☆

 

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The CW has put together its biggest crossover event ever, and it is pretty good so far. This is a five episode event that began on Sunday the 8th with the scheduled Supergirl, followed by Batwoman and Black Lightning on Monday and the Flash today. The finale will come on January 14th.

The “crisis” is based loosely on the comics crossovers and the multiverse theory that there are infinite universes representing all of the possible outcomes of time and space. The CW has done a good job integrating the various DC Comics TV shows into a congruous “Arrow-verse.” The shows are Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and the latest, Batwoman. The idea here is a universe ending apocalypse that will require all the heroes from across multiple universes to fix…. or not. I guess we will find out next year 😉

CW has done these crossover events before and they have always been solid, but this one seems to really take the cake. It is a busy mess with lots of characters… seriously Infinity War levels of super heroes. Somehow through all of the chaos, the thing seems to come together and it is now a daunting cliffhanger through the holidays. Rumor has it this is the very last season of Arrow which is the show that started it all eight seasons ago! It seems like this is a bit of an Arrow-verse finale.

I will avoid any spoilers in case you haven’t seen these episodes yet. I would definitely watch though, this has been good and what is really special are the sheer volume of cameos and special ‘versions’ of various DC universe characters including some from other networks and eras. I’m serious, think Smallville, think all the way back to the 1960s… yes Burt Ward is in this thing, Burt freaking Ward! And just for the ultimate nerdgasm Will Wheaton has a cameo appearance that is hard to miss. You will see all the stops pulled out for an ‘Easter Egg’ hunt for the ages. That alone is well worth the time to watch.

The actual plot and story of Crisis is decent but not the greatest tale ever told, but it is an epic event and offers enough fun, drama, and superhero kick ass mixed in with a twisted villain plot to keep you entertained across what should be five hours of episodes.

Good stuff.

 

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Disney Plus off to a Robust Start

Disney’s new streaming service got a massive boost with the new show called “Baby Yoda.”  No wait, that’s not it, it’s actually called ‘The Mandalorian.” The Mandalorian is the darkest Star Wars so far. This show is not a light-hearted romp with Jango and Bobba. But the star of the show has quickly become a tiny little “Baby Yoda” that has no speaking lines but crushes it with the billion dollar face. Disney will likely make that in Christmas merchandise on this character alone this year!  Edging against the dark themes is this adorable 50 year old baby that looks like Yoda did 900 years ago.  ‘When 50 years old you reach, look as cute you will not.’ 😉

Star Wars fans have been raging against the Disney juggernaut since they bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for a reported four billion dollars. They managed to put out a respectable film in “The Force Awakens” but then went down the rabbit hole and managed to piss off the fan base to the point of those fans ignoring the Han Solo movie out of pure spite. For the record: Solo was a decent movie. It was much better than ‘Last Jedi’ which was by far the worst of the franchise.

The Mandalorian is an excellent show. Even without this adorable, seemingly intoxicating baby Yoda character the show is solid. It is set in the time period after the fall of the Empire (after the events of Return of the Jedi) but before the rise of the New Order leading up to Disney’s concluding trilogy for the franchise. Yoda is dead so this little guy is likely a clone or an heir apparent.

The Mandalorian doesn’t feature any light sabers or teams of force enabled Jedi versus the evil Sith, nor does it have massive armies of white clad storm troopers. It really has none of that. What it does have is a look at the dirty underbelly of the galaxy and remnants of the old Empire lurking about, up to no good we presume. I do not know if this series will make any tie in to the upcoming film “The Rise of Skywalker” but hopefully they will find a tie in somehow despite the gap of some 20 years between the timelines of two.

The Mandalorian is solid TV friends, this is a great show and worthy of the price of admission which is less than $7 a month. There has been 4 episodes thus far and I am not sure how many more are to come, but Disney hit a home run here, and they needed it, they really needed it. The fans that were raging against the machine, calling Disney the murderer of Star Wars and worse suddenly can’t get enough of Baby Yoda. This one character that has been on the screen for large pieces of four episodes but hasn’t spoken a word has captured the hearts of the base and that may just save Disney from losing a ton of money on the next Star Wars movie due out this month on the 20th. It seems baby Yoda has redeemed them, for now. Genius.

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This Movie is no Joke

Minor spoilers ahead: My son, Nolan and I saw Joker today and it is a heavy dramatic film. I expected this to be a movie to be a bit of a dramatic affair as it has been well described as a deep character study and it was all of that. But was it any good?

Well as a “comic book” movie it was a little bit off the reservation, the Arthur Flack version of the Joker has been told in the comics but as is expected with the gang at Warner Brothers, a great many liberties were taken in the film adaptation of this character.

Arthur was a clown, literally a performing clown, and aspiring to be a stand up comic. The movie focuses on his rather creepy relationship with is “mother” and his existing mental issues that are revealed as the movie progresses. This film is rather dark and the character of Arthur Fleck, AKA the Joker is well fleshed out.

A great deal of praise has been heaped upon Joaquin Phoenix for his deep portrayal of a truly disturbed individual. This praise is well placed but this movie was incredibly well directed as well. Todd Phillips uses a series of camera techniques to present this gritty film, but his use of the tight close up evokes Sergio Leone’s style in “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” and it works in Joker to outstanding effect.

From a pure comic book stand point this movie falls a little flat, and if you like a little comic relief with your jet black dark stories you get little such relief here. This one sucks the life force out of the most jovial of souls. But Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix give us a dark and disturbed character that we can actually feel empathy for. As Arthur slips deeper into the darkness and begins his truly delusional ride down the rabbit hole into the persona of the Joker we see senseless and horrific murders. But a few of the murders are almost justified. If you don’t for at least a second or too feel a bit of satisfaction when Arthur takes his first two lives then you may have missed the whole point of this heavy film. No I do not condone the murder of people who are assholes, but this movie, just for a second or too lets you feel Arthur’s pain, and in that brief moment you get it, then you go whoa, too dark… too dark and you pull back on reins… that is enough darkness for me. And that is the difference between sanity and lunacy… I am apparently still sane.

Thomas Wayne is featured in the film and we see a very different version of the Dark Knight’s father here. At first I was taken back, what? That’s not Thomas Wayne, NEVER! But then I realized this entire film is viewed from the perspective of the Joker and the downtrodden of Gotham in the deepest of despair. The noble and benevolent version of Wayne was always shown from the perspective of Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and the Gotham elite. Here we see the other side of the society and their view of the wealthy and powerful of Gotham City during a rough economic cycle. This is a brilliant spin on the classic perception of the Wayne family.

The movie is a bit of a period piece taking place in the early 1980s, there is a great deal of Hollywood period blunders, but I forgive them, 90% of the production crew was likely not born yet in 1981. Overall I really like the setting, the mood, and the style of this movie. Mr. Phoenix delivers a chilling and Oscar worthy performance as our frightening mental case character study and Todd Phillips delivers camera work and pacing to keep this thing in the green for two hours. Be advised, this is a heavy drama, seriously D-R-A-M-A. There is little in the way of comic relief and there is little in the way of action. Mr. Phillips dives into the dark and damaged soul of a truly disturbed man which yields at the end the Clown Prince of Crime AKA the Joker.

Leave the kiddies at home parents, seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you. And yes, it is a very good movie.

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There’s a new Bat in town.

I have been a bit incognito lately but I watched the pilot for CW’s new Batwoman series and it was pretty solid. I will be seeing ‘Joker’ this week as well and will report on that later on.

Batwoman features Ruby Rose in the lead playing a lesbian character struggling with family issues as well as relationship issues partly associated with her sexual ‘status’. The pilot touched on the conflict between her and her dad and the differences in perception regarding their relationship. The character is based off a legit Batman DC comic as she is Kate Kane cousin to Bruce Wayne. This character first appeared in the DC universe just recently in 2006 after the DC Infinite Crisis. In the Batman series, 2006 is VERY recent since Batman first appeared in 1939!

None the less Kate Kane, AKA Batwoman is sort of “filling in” in the absence of Bruce Wayne / Batman who disappeared three years earlier. The pilot gives some backstory on the character, and follows through a discovery of sorts regarding Bruce Wayne and the Bat.

I like what they have done with her abilities. Like Batman, she has no real super powers. She has serious martial arts training and is somewhat fearless. She is not shown to be overpowered and in fact she has notable and believable vulnerabilities that are exploited to some extent by the bad guys. So far she seems well cast in this role and they have set the stage for a major villain to emerge and likely be the season long antagonist should the show get a full set of episodes.

I don’t mind one bit that TV and movies are trying to be inclusive of the LBGTQ community. A small but still significant portion of our population identifies as LBGTQ and for many years were left out of stories and plots or were added in a trivial or even comical fashion. These modern, more serious, and leading characters that are a part of the LBGTQ community can be important to society at large in bringing all of us together rather than creating divisive lines. I say they can be, because done wrong they can be just as divisive as the exclusionary practices of the past.

I think that they have a tendency to overplay the hand a bit. In Supergirl there was the coming out of Kara Danvers stepsister that became a central theme for two seasons overshadowing the story line of the title character: Supergirl. This overplay can become counter-productive and TV and Movies have taken it to counter productive levels at times. I hope that Kate Kane’s sexuality does not become the primary theme but rather an anecdote to her broad personality. She should be much more than just another lesbian. No one should be defined by their sexuality yet in Supergirl, the CW has done just that with Alex Danvers. Alex Danvers is an awesome character that need not be either gay or straight to be awesome. I feel like they overplayed the lesbian part of her character and I hope they don’t repeat the mistake here with Kate Kane.

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Spiderman: Actually I felt Right at Home

Spiderman: Far From Home opened today across America for a long 4th of July Holiday opening weekend. I went into this movie with lower expectations than typical for a film produced by Marvel Studios. Now hold on, before anyone starts writing a Sony / Marvel relationship and movie rights comment, I am aware that Sony / Columbia Pictures still owns the movie rights to Spiderman and associated characters. However beginning way back with Captain America Civil War, Marvel Studios signed a deal to use Spiderman in the MCU for a series of films. Tom Holland’s appearance as Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman, since have all been in films produced by Marvel Studios. The stand alone Spiderman films, Homecoming and Far From Home were produced by Marvel Studios and released by Sony / Columbia. These are Marvel Studios productions and I set the bar pretty high for Marvel produced content. Previous film presentations of Spiderman were Sony / Columbia produced movies under exclusive license with Marvel credited as copyrighted creators.

OK all the legalistic BS aside, I was happy with Homecoming, but not over the moon. There was something about it that was somewhat ho-hum another day at the office in the MCU. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, better than either of Sony’s mediocre “Amazing Spiderman films with Andrew Garfield behind the mask. OK then, what about this new film?

Well, this movie surprised me. I was expecting more of Homecoming and what I got was much, much better. As usual I will avoid spoilers but I will not be able to avoid identifying Marvel characters or the plots of recently run Marvel movies such as Avengers: End Game. If you are one of the 12 people on this planet that has not seen End Game, stop reading now as I do have End Game spoilers and get your ass down to the theater and watch it.

This movie picks up after the events of Avengers : End Game. Peter is having a hard time dealing with the loss of Tony Stark and the whole new world order with half the universe missing five years of their existence an event referred to as “The Blip.” So if you didn’t get the way they dealt with time travel and had no “universe ending paradox” Members of the Avengers go back in time, steal the infinity stones before Thanos gets them, return to the future aftermath post Thanos, re snap the fingers to bring everybody back, then rerun the stones back to pre-Thanos so he can fetch them all over again, thus the mighty loop of time is preserved. That by the way was one of the best time travel plots I have ever witnessed.

The result of this is that everybody returns as they were, but five years later into a post End Game world. The half that remained is five years older than the half that was “blipped” from existence. So this film has a tall order to sort of bring this post-Avenger world into focus all the while creating a new super-hero and villain plot to entertain us for a couple of hours. Damn, they pulled it off my friends, they pulled it off. This is a brilliant movie that will likely find itself pretty high up on the ‘ole Super Hero Movie Chart.

We get a villain that the comic fans will immediately identify but the non-comic folks will likely be caught unaware. I think the plot for this movie is actually better for those only loosely familiar with the Spiderman comics of the 1960s, because being fooled makes the plot twist stick in the second half. This movie is so well done, you never feel like the pace is too slow or too fast and the story weaves and bobs through a series of twists and turns. This is Marvel flexing its muscle and delivering top quality entertainment… again.

As is a bit of a Marvel trademark, we get some side character interaction to entertain us and make us laugh. This time it is Spidey pal Ned and and another spidey ‘girl’ from the past never explored much in previous silver screen Spiderman appearances. They have some hilarious interactions throughout the film with excellent Marvel dialog we have all come to know and love that breaks up the action sequences and keeps us chuckling.

Near the end of the film we get some genuine homage to some past Spidey appearances outside the MCU and they are neatly wrapped up in the conclusion. The end of this film definitely sets up the next web-slinging adventure, and the after credits tell us something about Marvel Phase Four so stick around to the very end.

I think I still like the first Spiderman back in 2002 the best and it was the supporting characters in that movie that made the difference. Willem Dafoe as Goblin was excellent, J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and even Bruce Campbell’s cameo as the ring announcer, love that movie 😉 I am gonna watch that one again and maybe I’ll change my mind, who knows?

Spiderman : Far From Home, hit a home run today.

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Jessica Jones Season 3

Netflix released season 3 of Jessica Jones a week or so ago and I managed to quasi binge it this week. There are some minor spoilers ahead.

Jessica Jones is a great character and the show takes us for a bit of a ride in season three. Netflix gives us even more insight and development of the title character and also takes us on a side story of Patsy Walker complete with backstory flash back scenes. This third season takes the cute and perky Patsy (Trish) to a very dark place… Frank Castle dark. Is this the MCU version of “Hellcat?”

This excellent season continues the streaming services record of producing excellent Marvel content. Jessica Jones has been one of the better series of the 5 they have produced.

We are introduced to a new villain, a serial killer named Salinger that takes photographs of victims just prior to death to capture their “truth.” Salinger is a highly educated and even reasonably capable physically. He proves to be quite a challenge for Jessica and even Trish as she discovers her own powers.

I really like this season, the story is less predictable and has some solid plot twists. It is officially the end of the series on Netflix but the very final scene is highly suggestive that we have not seen the last of the bourbon guzzling super hero. This series is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so maybe Jessica is part of Marvel’s Phase 4.

Overall Jessica Jones was a well done show and streaming services can push the boundaries which is needed for a character like Jones. It was nicely done and I’ll miss Netflix contributions to the MCU. This third installment of Jessica Jones has found itself near the top of my favorites among the Netflix produced shows.

  1. Daredevil I
  2. Jessica Jones III
  3. Daredevil II
  4. Jessica Jones II
  5. Jessica Jones I
  6. Daredevil III
  7. Luke Cage
  8. Punisher
  9. Defenders
  10. Punisher II
  11. Iron Fist II
  12. Iron Fist I

Marvel has done an outstanding job across a variety of platforms to bring a contiguous experience that simply cannot be compared to any television or motion picture franchise in the history of the medium. It is truly remarkable what has been produced over the last dozen years, how well connected all of this content is and for the most part completely congruent with 22 motion pictures and 13 television shows from ABC to Netflix and Hulu.

You may not realize what Marvel has accomplished here, but it truly is the most successful cinematic franchise in history and I do not think we will ever see this level of entertainment greatness again.

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Dark Phoenix: an End and a Beginning

I managed to make it to Cinetopia… a er, I mean AMC to see Dark Phoenix. They have re-branded the whole theater in AMC red, accept the entrance marquee still says Cinetopia 23. Oh well on to the movie, shall we?

This is the finale for 20th Century Fox and the X-Men. Recently the Mickey Mouse Club annexed Fox, I mean, Disney acquired Fox to get the rights to an assortment of Marvel  based intellectual property, oh and some other stuff like the Simpsons, Family Guy, Married with Children, you know quality family programming in the spirit of Walt Disney. Wait a minute… that can’t be right, can it? Yes, yes it is as a matter of fact.

Ok anyhow, this is the swan song for 20th Century Fox and the X-men, the last of a long string of films, some pretty good others not so much. Now from high above us in the lofty heights beyond the pearly gates, Stan Lee is grinning… The reunification of the Marvel Universe is nearly complete.

Wow I am off on tangents today, pulling back to center now… So Dark Phoenix is the conclusion to the retro-boot semi-prequel series of films about the X-men. So remember Fox gave us X-Men in 2000 a film that has slid down the list over the years but is still a solid movie. Then they did a sequel X-Men 2 in 2003 and that was a great movie. It is hard to go wrong with a pair of knighted actors in the protagonist / antagonist roles, you know?  Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto. The the third film introduced us to the Dark Phoenix in 2006 and they kind of botched the story of the Phoenix but they had the control and dark side well vetted.

Anyhow this film isn’t really a part of those films is it? In 2011 there was a retro-reboot-prequel series of films starting with the absolutely brilliant X-men First Class, the best X-men film ever made. I just couldn’t get enough of Kevin Bacon’s delicious villain. Followed by X-Men Days of Future Past in 2014 which was a mediocre film but I still like it because it blended the old guys with the new guys pretty nicely and it had some genuinely funny moments. The third installment ‘Apocalypse’ shows us a peeksy at Jean Grey’s growing power in 2016 but it was nothing like the comics and that movie wasn’t really that good.

Now we arrive in 2019 with this finale. No big spoilers but a few tiny spoilers ahead.

We start with a back story in 1975 of little girl Jean Grey and an incident in which she was inadvertently the cause of a traumatic accident. She ends up in the care of none other than young Professor X, complete with a full head of thick, long and wavy hair. Fast forward to the present, which is actually the late 1980s near as I can tell and Jean is a full grown woman and a member of the X-men. Now if I’m honest, I liked the movie but there are some serious plot holes. First in the previous film they kind of suggested she already had the Phoenix Force with her unleashing to end Apocalypse, yet in this film they almost ignore the end of the last film and show her merging with the phoenix Force properly (as per the comics at least).

I don’t want to bash on this movie because I do kind of like it. But it is not really up to snuff with several of the previous installments and definitely rides the mediocrity bus to the finish line of the Marvel based films from 20th Century Fox. I’d like to say the film needs more ‘cowbell’ but in this case it needed Wolverine who was rather conspicuous by his absence.

I said in the title it was an end, described above and a beginning. Well since Marvel now owns the movie rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. That sounds like a helluva new beginning!

Take a look at the all time list you’ll find this one floating about somewhere near the middle.

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Game of Thrones Forces the Finish

For those yet to see the finish I’ll avoid any spoilers. One of the most epic television shows in history came to an abrupt end Sunday night as HBO’s adaptation of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book series finished its eight season run in a seemingly anticlimactic finish.

The last episodes were for the most part filled with high production value epic battles and such, but the measured pace that made the first seven seasons among the best television has ever produced, was totally absent in season 8. This final six episode run seemed rushed and forced. It felt like it was a bit of hurry up and end already. That seems a shame since they spent a reported $15 million per episode to finish the series out and that is a tremendous amount of money for TV episodes even for HBO. That works out to $90 million for the final lot of them. I think ten episodes at $9-10 million each would have been better.

Game of Thrones spent 7 seasons paying attention to the fine details in the sets, the characters, and the story. They went to painstaking effort to develop the characters with a depth rarely seen in movies or TV. We know these characters, we empathize with them, we hate them if need be, they are as real as a fictional character can be. And yet in the final hours of the show they just gave up on meaningful development.

Many fans are screaming for the producer’s head over the way things ended, but honestly, I am NOT among them. The final two books have not been written yet. HBO has improvised the story since they ran past the novels in Season 5. Sure they could have ended it differently with different characters in different situations, but they had to choose a path and end game for all the characters and I felt like they did a great job at that part. I don’t think too many fans saw this end coming for some of the characters. There was some irony, some shock, some predictable outcomes, and a few legitimate twists and surprises. So how they ran the characters to their close is fine by me, and if you think about it, the door is open for more Game of Thrones later. It wasn’t a Shakespearean end, well for some of the characters at least 😉

Where they failed in my opinion is pushing the story too fast. This is something they managed NOT to do for 7 brilliant seasons. What happened? Why the ‘rush’ to close it out. Why now did they decide to abandon the excellent measured story telling and deep emotional, and personal character development?

To be fair, this was not a terrible season, but it definitely was not as good as most, if not  all of the others. I felt like most of the episodes fell a little flat. I like the 3rd episode and how they handled the Knight King. I am disappointed that they used three episodes to tell a story that needed at least five. I really didn’t mind most of conclusions for the primary characters. It just seems like the whole thing ran out of gas at the finish and they coasted it across the line. That is quite possibly why so many fans are irate.

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What a Finale!

Marvel Studios has managed to wrap up the Infinity War saga that they spent the whole of the last decade building. This ‘Endgame’ was the culmination of nearly two dozen setup films. We might easily think that “patience” and “perseverance” is well understated when used to describe this body of work. Even if Marvel threw in the towel today and called it a career, that is a first ballot hall of fame effort, and bronze is not the metal we are using on this bust. Marvel Comics spent most of its ‘heyday’ in what is referred to as the “Silver Age of Comics.” But this series of films and other superhero genre films over the last 15 years may very well be referred someday as the ‘Golden Age’ of Superhero Movies.

Avengers: Endgame has put me in one of those rethink the superhero list mindsets. It has shaken me to the core, how the hell did they pull this off? By now you have figured out my sentiment towards this grand finale to the epic saga of the Avengers. This movie was nothing short of brilliant; it is a masterpiece in the genre of super hero films and is good enough to transcend the action movie sphere.

There were a great many reviews suggesting the movie was long. But was it? Making reference to its length tends to lead the reader to believe that it dragged on. This film does not drag on, not at all. Never once during the entire 181 minutes, yes friends that is a minute beyond the three-hour mark, did I get that feeling of “this is a long movie.” Not one time. Is it a long movie? No, no it is not. It is a three-hour movie that blows by like a two-hour movie.

I still can’t wrap my head around everything they were able to convey without losing the audience and without overwhelming it either. I have to say that the scene stealing in this movie is from an unlikely character. The Hulk literally steals the show. Thor is amazing as well but he is not what you expect this go ’round.

I will have to view it again to really soak it all in but I will say it was not a perfect film if there ever is such a thing. Hollywood loves to do stupid stuff and Endgame is no exception. Tony shows up in an Audi E-Tron which is an all-electric vehicle and it is like other electric vehicles, silent. The director decided to have a roaring engine noise dubbed over for “effect.” But Audi’s E-Tron badge is enormous and in no way subtle, so it is just STUPID to have it roaring in like that! There, that’s my complaint 😉

It is hard to compare Endgame to movies in the past as I have the advantage of having seen those films before versus when I walked out of the theater after seeing Ironman in 2008, there was no Avengers to compare it to. I was comparing it to the movies that had come before it. Ironman was the first of the 22 films in the Avengers MCU Saga. Part of how these movies rank in my view is how I felt about the film after first seeing it. But also it is about how I feel about it later on, even years later. I still love Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, THIRTY YEARS LATER! That is why that film still rates so high on my chart. This movie however is tough to gauge because it is not a stand alone story. It stands on the shoulders of 21 films that came before it. It is also in effect, a “Part II” of the Avengers Infinity War. I feel like a major shakeup is coming on how I view these films and the impact they have. There are better films than this one if we separate the films from their companion films and look only at its stand alone value. Part of what makes this movie so good is the reference we have from the previous 21 films. When we look at the film as part of the totality of effort across all the associated and supporting content, Endgame is absolutely, Top Tier. All by itself however, not as much. But therein lies the reality, it does get the benefit of those prior movies.

I still feel that Guardians of the Galaxy flows better and is more “fun.” But this movie isn’t supposed to be fun, is it? Yet in spite of the gloomy atmosphere that is the post Thanos Infinity Stone apocalypse, this movie is in fact fun. The movie will pay homage to the 21 MCU films that preceded it with a variety of scenes scattered throughout. It is rare to see an action oriented film that can produce moist eyes from tears of both joy and sadness as well as laughs like it is a good stand up routine. The movie weaves the plots of previous films into this film using what is likely some cutting room footage and it all manages to tie together nicely. Although there are a few hopelessly predictable scenes and outcomes, there are some genuine twists in how the Avengers manage to “undo” what Thanos had done. During the process of “fixing” things, Marvel manages to create some amazing scenes that are homages to the past, the way past in fact, and I’ll leave it at that since the movie is still fresh. I do not want to induce any spoilage in the experience.

This movie feels like an end, it really does. Yes, I know there is a Spiderman movie this summer and there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy III and a whole “Phase 4” of MCU, but it is a bit of an end. This film genuinely wraps up the whole MCU into a delicious burrito, dripping with cheese, and soaked in spicy sauce. And we the audience, just ate it all up. In the immortal words of Porky Pig… “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks.” There were no special scenes during or after the credits roll. There will never be another original “Stan Lee” cameo. There is an almost foreboding finality to it. This really brings to close what may someday go down as the greatest series of motion pictures ever made. 22 films over 11 years all collectively formed into one epic saga the likes of which we have never seen before. It is quite possible, we will never see anything like this again. WOW what a ride! Thank you Stan Lee, may your stories and characters remain forever entwined in our hearts and culture.

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