Avengers: Endgame (2019)

avengers endgameIn the history of cinema, there are movies that have broke the mold. Movies that change the landscape of the business. Examples include The Great Train Robbery (1903), Modern Times (1936), Jaws (1975), Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), and Iron Man (2008). Don’t get me wrong, there are many others, but the point I’d like to get across is that these films are milestones in history. They are markers to the amazing feats that were once thought impossible in film. This past weekend, audiences witnessed one such film. Avengers: Endgame is a milestone in the history of cinema.

Avengers: Endgame marks the end of the first three phases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The fourth film to feature a massive cast of superheroes is the culmination of 22 films that span 11 years. It also signifies the end of the story arc of the original cast of Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye.
In Avengers: Infinity War (2018), audiences were shocked when evil doer Thanos fulfilled his destiny to collect the six infinity stones and eradicate half of all the living creatures in the universe. Fan favorites Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and many others were reduced to a pile of dust.

avengers endgame2Now, the remaining Avengers must deal with not only the fallout from half of existence turning to dust, but also the heavy burden of trying to fix what Thanos had done.
Avengers: Endgame is a rather long film. The run time is 182 minutes (3 hours, two minutes). However, the film never feels that long. There wasn’t a moment where I was squirming in my seat, bored, or pulled out of the narrative. For me, the three hours seemed to fly.

Just like Captain America, this film packs quite the punch in the emotional department. Having seen it on opening weekend, the audience clapped and cheered, sniffled and cried at various moments in the film. The film doesn’t just deliver on an emotional level, it delivers in the action department as well. If you thought the fight scenes in Avengers: Infinity War was amazing. Just wait until you watch Endgame.

Another fascinating thing about the film was the story. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything here. Having spent an entire year crafting theories and listening to others, I was surprised by what actually transpired over those three magnificent hours.
Having said all of this, there were a few things about the story that I felt could’ve been better or handled a little differently. However, I can’t discuss those things without spoiling the plot. Those few miniscule details don’t change my overall feelings about the film.

Avengers endgame3Having grown up reading Marvel Comics, Avengers: Endgame was the closest to actually recreating one of those epic, universe altering comic book series. The amount of fan service, call backs to past films, and nods to the comic books just shows how much care the directors, screenwriters, and producers took in handling the last 22 films.
If you’re a fan of comic book movies, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Avengers: Endgame. Even if you’re not a comic book/superhero fan, you’ll find something to enjoy while watching this epic.

The film is Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language. If you’re wondering whether or not this film would be appropriate to take your children to, then I would suggest that if you’re comfortable letting them watch the other Marvel films then you should be fine.

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Us (2019)

When I was younger, I loved the films by M. Night Shyamalan. It was the twist endings that really did it for me. First it was The Sixth Sense(1999), then Unbreakable(2000), and finally Signs(2002). My affection for the director finally began to wane when I watched The Village(2004). It wasn’t that I hated the film, but it was the expectation of the twist. I went into the film looking for it and found it quite easily.

The same can be said with Jordan Peele’ssecond film, Us(2019). Having watched Get Out(2017), I went into this new film expecting and looking for the twist. I didn’t have to look hard for it either and found it rather quickly. Having said that, I found the film enjoyable, thought provoking, and a solid thriller with a side of comedy.

The story of Us begins with an unknown tragedy involving a girl wandering off by herself at a beach in 1986. Flash forward to the present and we find that the girl has grown up and has a family of her own. They are traveling to the same location, Santa Cruz, where that traumatic mystery took place. The family of four is soon assaulted by a doppelganger family. It’s kill or be killed for the family as they try to survive and figure out what provoked this deadly family reunion.

The first thing that convinces me of the quality of the film is the acting. Each actor has a killer clone, meaning that the actor plays two completely different roles, sometimes in the same scene. This onscreen duality is down right creepy. There is a scene where the mother, played by Lupita Nyong’o, has a discussion with her evil twin. Even though the characters share the same face, the voice and mannerisms are completely different. Nothing can be counted against the film where acting is concerned.

The film is listed as a Horror/Thriller. In the Horror department, it gets all the checkmarks. When it comes to a Thriller, that’s where the film falters. I ended up laughing more than I felt suspense or was scared. While laughter is greatly appreciated, and necessary, in a thriller it should only be used after a big scare. As the tension builds, the big scare is the climax of that tension. Afterwards, humor is used to put the audience at ease. Essentially, humor primes the audience to be scared again. In Us, it’s heavily used even during the tension building. The father, played by Winston Duke, is a prime example. Duke plays an excellent typical all-American corny joke spurting father. The problem is that during scenes where he should be scared or fighting for his life, he’s cracking jokes. Instead of the audience feeling dread that the father may die, the audience is laughing at the well written jokes.

Getting into the meat and potatoes of the film, the theme of UsI can’t really give you an accurate evaluation, for two reasons. The first reason is that I don’t want to spoil the film for you. There is more than one twist to this film which are interesting and thought provoking. The second reason being that I would like to view it a second, and possibly a third, time. This is one of those films where you really must be open and mindful throughout the film. Even then, trying to fully understand the meaning behind what Jordan Peele created will most likely take a second viewing.

Even though this film is based around a family, it is certainly not meant to be viewed by a family. The film is rated R for violence, terror, and language. There is only suggestive sexual content, but the film is highly violent with scenes of murder and other violent acts. There is also a high content of profanity. Us is not considered to be family-friendly.

Overall, I thought that Peele’s second entry into the Horror/Thriller genre was a solid one. However, it was plagued with too much humor and a predictable twist. If I had to give some advice to the director, I doubt Jordan Peele will ever read this, I would advise him to be careful to not fall into that trap that Shyamalan fell into where the endings were so predictable that it made the films unenjoyable. Uswon’t be the greatest film of 2019, but I’ll wager that it’ll be in the top twenty. In fact, I’ll put five on it.