Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW**

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Produced by Kevin Feige

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

Music by Alan Silvestri

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

My Opinion:

22 movies! I can’t believe I’ve seen all of these. It’s certainly the most films I’ve ever watched in a series. I thoroughly enjoyed each & every one of these MCU films (certainly much more than the dreary DC movies, although they’ve gotten better in the past few years). However, I’m not a huge comic book/superhero movie fan so I won’t pretend that these movies mean as much to me as they do to the hardcore fans. I see them as escapist entertainment. They’re fun popcorn movies. But I can absolutely understand the love for the MCU and think they did a brilliant job setting up so many strong, likeable, and well-developed characters. The films are good (and several are very good) but the characters are great. I can see how fans will feel as strongly about these characters as I do about the characters in Star Wars. They feel like family in a weird sort of way. And Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting end(?) to just over a decade of watching these beloved characters grow & come together as a team.

Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, though, and I can’t even say it’s going to be an absolute favorite MCU movie for me personally. I do think it’s one that may go up in my estimation over time and it in no way hurts the overall legacy but my initial reaction is that I far preferred Infinity War. That ending had balls. To be honest, I kind of wanted that to be the actual end to the whole MCU (that would be a bit dark, I suppose – this isn’t DC!). But Endgame certainly will have been an emotional rollercoaster for diehard fans so I can appreciate that it will be higher on their lists. I expect to feel the same sort of emotions when watching The Rise Of Skywalker.

I just felt that Endgame took the easy way out with some of its characters. I’m obviously trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll just say that, if this is indeed the last time we’re going to see some of these characters, a few had very satisfying “endings” but I was disappointed with the direction they took for a couple of them. Overall, the movie was more predictable than I was hoping. I wanted more surprises but only got a few small ones. I even managed to successfully avoid ALL spoilers for two entire days so was disappointed to get so few surprises.

I’ll keep this short so I don’t accidentally spoil anything. I struggle with reviews for these films as I do feel like they’re the same formula over & over again and Endgame really isn’t any different from what we’ve seen before besides obviously needing & having a darker tone. Luckily, there are still a few funny moments too. The reason I far prefer Marvel to DC is because they get the right amount of genuinely funny humor mixed in with even the most serious films in the series. I’ve ranked all 22 MCU movies HERE, including Endgame. Maybe Endgame will move up in the future but, from my list, it’ll be clear that I prefer the lighthearted & funny superheroes. It’s Guardians Of The Galaxy for me. And, as Thor is my favorite character overall, I think the best decision Marvel made was to make his originally boring (but hot) character funny. Hemsworth is hilarious. I know that not all will agree with the “funny superhero” thing but I absolutely loved the comic relief provided by Thor & Ant-Man in Endgame. It was needed so that it didn’t turn into DC dreariness. But, as I said, I love that Marvel gets the right balance and the serious nature of this storyline was handled very well. To have such a strong mix of characters with very different personalities is what makes the MCU so enjoyable. There’s something for everyone across these 22 films. To make these many films in just over a decade and to bring all these characters together is a hell of a feat. This may not be my favorite Marvel film but I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My Rating: 8/10

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

**SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now)**

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

My Opinion:

If anyone has ever read a review here, they’ll know that all my superhero reviews start with me saying “I’m superheroed out”. This is movie number 19 of the MCU, for crying out loud! But I’ve watched all of them (other than The Incredible Hulk. Oops.) I do enjoy them. They’re fun popcorn movies & characters and, thanks to Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok adding in much more humor & fun, I’ve liked them a bit more in the past few years. I wasn’t overly excited for Infinity War but knew I’d go to it as I do with every Marvel film. I thought it was pretty great! Slow to start but a truly ballsy ending that I loved. In fact, I liked it so much that I want it to be the true ending. Screw Infinity War 2!

I’ve finally ranked all the MCU movies (I’ll post that tomorrow or Wednesday) and had to re-read the plot synopsis for a few of them to refresh my memory. The ones I remember the least are the Avengers ones with loads of characters. It’s always fun to see them all together but the stories become messy and I find that I barely remember the plot afterwards. I mostly prefer the individual character movies.

I expected Infinity War to be just as convoluted and, okay, it probably is a little messy at first while the movie does loads of jumping around from one place to another. But I had a lot of fun with the various small groups of Avengers meeting & working together for the first time. Considering the massive amount of superheroes in this movie, I thought they did surprisingly well with getting the right balance when it came to time spent with each group and with some further character development.

Of the various superheroes meeting for the first time, the Guardians of the Galaxy & Thor are the absolute best. They made a fantastically funny team. I want them to team up for good and make spin-off movies together! Okay, I admit that Thor & Groot are my two favorite characters and the Guardians movies are my favorites but seeing these characters bond was exactly what I wanted. Loved it! I also loved that a lot of characters who’ve had smaller roles in previous Avengers films (or no role at all) had more screen time here. I really liked seeing the Guardians, Thor, Doctor Strange, Vision & Scarlet Witch given important things to do. Especially Doctor Strange – I don’t know if he’s exactly a fan favorite but I think I’m a fan. I find his abilities far more interesting than those of some of the other characters.


Not that our usual Phase One characters have nothing to do – we still get plenty of Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, etc etc. But I’m glad they slightly took a backseat (As presumably they’ll have the biggest roles in part 2. If alive. I’m not saying!). Iron Man still has a large role in this one and I’m now really liking his growing fatherly friendship with Spider-Man. I actually thought there was too much Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming but now see that it really help set up their relationship for this film.

I’ll wrap this up before I accidentally give away a massive spoiler or something (although the biggest fans will have made sure to see this by now, I hope!). It was hard to avoid spoilers for this one and I’m glad I managed to for two whole days as I think it made me appreciate this film even more. I’ve not mentioned all the characters but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in this (or that they’re dead!). Maybe no one dies in this. Maybe they do. No one really dies in superhero movies, though, so I guess that’s why I’ve never become a massive superhero movie fan. I can’t take them too seriously. It’s not like Han Solo or something – I’m never getting him back! As I said, these Marvel films are just fun popcorn movies to me. Infinity War was actually far more enjoyable than I was expecting and, at the moment, it’s one of my favorites of the 19 MCU movies. But Part 2 could change my mind… I hope it doesn’t undo the good that the end of Part 1 does. I want a superhero movie to do something truly unexpected for a change.

My Rating: 8/10



I love Thor.

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes. Of course? No mid-credits scene, only one at the very end. Yes, you have to stay for it. For once, not ONE person left my cinema before the end credits scene. It only took 19 movies for people to finally figure out that they need to stay through the credits for Marvel movies…. 😉

My Top Ten Movies With Different Titles Outside The U.S.

With the release of (the hugely disappointing) Zootopia, being renamed Zootropolis in the UK & other parts of Europe, I’ve been thinking about all the movies with different titles in the US & the UK.

I understand the reason for some title changes, often due to different spellings or the name already being used for something else in another country. But some of the changes are just bizarre. With Zootopia, I believe it’s because it’s the name of some zoo that’s being opened soon in Europe?

I haven’t done much research into the reasons for the name changes in this list but I’ve put the reasons if I know them. And I’ll only be listing the titles in the United States & the United Kingdom as those are the ones I’m most aware of (I’ll start with the US title). As usual, I’ll just rank these according to what movies I like the most that happened to have different names in different countries.

So, counting down to my favorite movie, these are My Top Ten Movies With Different Titles Outside Of The United States:

10. Neighbors
UK Title: Bad Neighbours
Name I Prefer: Bad Neighbours
Why The Change?: Probably because of the Australian soap, Neighbours, which is shown on TV in the UK.

9. A Brilliant Young Mind
UK Title: X+Y
Name I Prefer: X+Y
Why The Change?: Not sure but the US title is closer to the name of the documentary the director made before making this movie.

8. Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
UK Title: Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies
Name I Prefer: Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies
Why The Change?: Because White Castle isn’t a restaurant in the UK.

7. The Avengers
UK Title: Marvel’s Avengers Assemble
Name I Prefer: The Avengers
Why The Change?: I read why somewhere but I’ve forgotten & don’t care enough to look it up again. 😉

6. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone
UK Title: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
Name I Prefer: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
Why The Change?: I’m not sure but I think it had something to do with them thinking that Americans wouldn’t understand what a “Philosopher’s Stone” was. Stupid title change!

5. Joyride
UK Title: Roadkill
Name I Prefer: Joyride
Why The Change?: I think it’s because a “joyride” in the UK refers to when a car is stolen (often by young males) and then abandoned (and often set fire to) at the side of the road. The name Roadkill does actually make more sense for this movie… (which is a guilty pleasure of mine).

4. The Peanuts Movie
UK Title: Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
Name I Prefer: The Peanuts Movie
Why The Change?: I assume because Peanuts isn’t as well known in the UK but everyone knows who Charlie Brown and Snoopy are. Because Snoopy RULES. 🙂

3. The Road Warrior
UK Title: Mad Max 2
Name I Prefer: Mad Max 2
Why The Change?: I believe because the first film didn’t get a wide release in the US so they didn’t want to promote this film as a sequel.

2. Breakin’ & Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo
UK Title: Breakdance & Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo
Name I Prefer: Breakin’, I suppose
Why The Change?: No idea! Guess they just wanted to be more specific in the UK.

1. Adventures In Babysitting
UK Title: A Night On The Town
Name I Prefer: Adventures In Babysitting
Why The Change?: I have no idea but it appears to now have the US title in the UK. Both names aren’t great but A Night On The Town really sucks.

Some Other Title Changes:
These are all the movies I could think of but I found a list with more at Wikipedia if you’re interested. There are some funny ones I didn’t know about, like Bonnie And Clyde originally being called Bonnie And Clyde…Were Killers! in the UK.

US: Zootopia UK: Zootropolis

US: Perfect Catch UK: Fever Pitch

US: Pirate Radio UK: The Boat That Rocked

US: Dead Alive UK: Braindead

US: Tomorrowland UK: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

US: Reindeer Games UK: Deception

US: Encino Man UK: California Man

US: Harry And The Hendersons UK: Bigfoot And The Hendersons

US: Howard The Duck UK: Howard: A New Breed Of Hero

US: The Professional UK: Leon

US: Point Of No Return UK: The Assassin

US: Hoosiers UK: Best Shot

US: Live Free Or Die Hard UK: Die Hard 4.0

US: The Mighty Ducks UK: Champions

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

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My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

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So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

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I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

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Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 7/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

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The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10