Avengers: Infinity War – Review

Imagine you are going for a meal. A fancy meal – one that you have anticipated for a while. See, over the course of the year, you’ve been sampling little bites of it. Tasters that linger with different levels of flavours covering your palette. Teasers of what to come in annual bits that have transcended over a decade.

Imagine you are sitting down, ready for that meal that is going to satisfy your every needs. The sweet, the sour, the bitter, the savoury. It’s enough to make you drool with its tantalising promise. Imagine sitting down for that juicy succulent meal that is smothered with your high expectations. Imagine it.

Now imagine being the chef.

I start this way because the enormous task cinematic genius the Russo Brothers had to face was to craft a hearty, adventurous, intriguing, and impeccable meal that had to be brilliantly marinated with all sorts of seasoning and spices.

With all these elements going on, have the Russo Brothers cooked up a satisfying film?

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Avengers: Infinity War is the film the rest of them have been leading up to. All the stories and all the characters from MCU are featured in this grand comic book film spectacle. They all face off against their biggest foe – Thanos. This evil villain is on a mission to collect all of the Infinity Stones that have been scattered across the Universe. If he succeeds, he could harness the power to wipe out half of existence. It is up to The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, and many, many more to help stop him.

You have to marvel (pun fully intended) at the ingenuity of the Russo Brothers here. Taking the reigns of the franchise after the success of Winter Soldier and Civil War, the pair had the mightiest of all tasks in weaving this story to appease audiences everywhere. Yet they wield their cinematic skill with great responsibility to craft an enormous and mind-blowing cinematic phenomena. This is ginormous in every sense of the world and not one second is wasted. Here the characters all have to meet, form an alliance, trust one another, and we all have to be invested in this. And it works. It truly and impressively works.

The design here is magnificent and the action sequences breath-taking. Yet there’s still rivers of emotion that ebb with the explosions and there are actually stakes here, mounting with ferocious energy alongside your heartbeat. It’s kinetic, energetic, and empathetic with every single character (including Thanos.) It is charged with electricity that’ll flow through you, pounding away in your head like pulsating excitement.

The biggest issue here is that it’s a lot to take in, especially in the first half. Mounds of exposition and character interaction amount to threads of story-line that spindle off in different directions until they are pulled back for the finale. Complex and impressive that is to watch, it certainly leaves you stuffed and overwhelmed by the plates of plot you have to stomach. This, sadly, means there are some of your favourites you’ll invest in less. That’s no problem in the overall scheme of things, seeing as there is a fourth film on it’s way very soon, but for those hankering over their favourites, it’ll be disappointing when you don’t get the right helping.

A small note but there is also a giant CGI mishap that affects bits of the film.

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Quibbles aside, Infinity War is amazing entertainment with the right pinches of every ingredient to make sure every audience member flummoxed by the action, the emotion, and the scale of this super-hero movie. The Russo Brothers have to be applauded for tackling this vicious beast and giving you a ridiculously good time.

As you leave the cinema, cheeks puffed out and your belly bloated from gratification, I can promise you that you’ll be licking your lips for seconds.

Avengers: Infinity War is out 26th April! 

Wildling– Review

In her follow up to The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Bel Powley loses her teeth, reneges on vegetarianism and has a nail problem. Not Emily Blunt’s nail problem (see A Quiet Place) but one entirely resistant to varnish.

Wildling is that low budget film you’ve never heard of that suddenly ended up in multiplexes on the third week of April, to follow last year’s Unforgettable. Co-written and directed by Fritz Böhm, it is one-third Room to two thirds Ginger Snaps with Powley as Anna, a teenager, imprisoned by her elderly father (Brad Dourif) desperate to arrest her development, who is rescued after she asks to go to ‘a better place’ – the hereafter, not the inevitable sequel to John Krasinski’s smash hit thriller.

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With skewed movie logic, Anna enters into temporary custody of local sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler) who lives with her kid brother, Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet). ‘I found you,’ Ellen explains in what is the strangest case of ‘finder’s keeper’s’ I’ve ever heard. There is the obligatory catching a teenage boy in the shower scene, then Anna goes to school, to watch women undertake track and field through chain link fencing.

Ray has problems with two drug-taking bullies and Anna comes to his defence. She gets invited to a party and Ray comes with. ‘I was going to cook,’ pleads Ellen who is all too insistent that Ray is her kid brother. (It is okay, Liv, you can play moms in movies and still look like the star of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty.)

We then have the inciting incident in which a boy ends up fatally wounded. Anna discovers who she is and why papa kept telling her to fear the Wildling.

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There is one good plot twist, but the story arc is heavily sign-posted. James Le Gros turns up as a guy dressed as a wolf who warns Anna about the animal traps. They bond over some meat, which makes a change from social media.

Writ large is a metaphor for the transformative aspect of female sexuality, but we’ve seen it before. The drama is shorn of modernist trappings on account of the difficulty getting a mobile signal in the remote forest location.

On the scale of pubescent horror flicks, Wildling is no Carrie. I half expected it to be a remake of a Scandi horror flick, as it has a When Animals Dream vibe (a similarly themed Danish film that screened at Cannes in 2014).

Powley is immensely watchable in a role that requires her to get down and dirty – literally. Wildling offers efficiently delivered if bland horror thrills with a welcome, if unchallenging, return to cinemas screens for Liv Tyler.

Wildling is out in cinemas now!