Avengers: Endgame | Review (Spoilers)

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Over the weekend I saw Avengers: Endgame. I had a hard time figuring out what I thought about it. There was discontent between my writer brain and my fanboy brain.

As a movie, Endgame was pretty good. The action scenes were well done. There was a nice balance between humor and emotional scenes.

I did have a problem with how Old Man Cap was able to arrive in present day Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to the movie, if you remove (or add) something to the timeline, a new parallel timeline is created. If Captain America stayed in the past, it should have created an alternate present and he’d just stayed in that timeline. Some might say that he used the “time GPS” to return but then he should have appeared on the platform.

It also disturbed me that all the returned people were now five years behind everyone else. Ant-Man ended up missing five years of his daughter’s life.

img_2674Then there was the ending. As a writer, the ending was OK. I knew from how Marvel set up the world’s rules and the characters that someone had to die. But, as a fan, I wanted Iron Man to live and just retire with Pepper and his daughter. I know. This ending is more realistic. The hero had to sacrifice to return everyone. Etc.

Also, I felt like it ended with more questions than answers. For example, what about Loki stealing the tesseract. Sure, the tesseract from 1970 was return thus resetting the timeline but Loki still stole it after the New York invasion. The Avengers never returned that tesseract. And if Old Man Steve managed to rejoin the MCU timeline, does that mean tesseract Loki will eventually catch up too? Thor joined the Guardians of the Galaxy–does that mean Loki will show up as the villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

The reason I became interested in superheroes is because they offer hope. Life has its problems–illness, injury, loss of a job, and so on. In the superhero world, there is the villain that causes problems. The hero does suffer and sacrifice but eventually wins. They show that no matter how bleak things get eventually it gets better.

Life is sad enough without it being thrown back at us at the movies. Sometimes you want to go to the movies to escape. You want the good guys to win and there be a happy ending.

It also felt like the crew had changed the movie to please the “trends and trolls.” When the MCU started, the movies were more lighthearted, but then people kept saying, “None of the characters die,” and “Time travel? Ugh, lame.” It seemed like things were different in Endgame–even Captain Marvel and the new Spider-Man movie seem to lean more towards how the movies were at first.

But then I realized that I was troll-feeding in my writing. I was changing the story to try to get more views or reads. I kept trying to fit the story to the wants of others instead of telling the story I wanted. I mean, you do need to compromise some–like changing something because your readers are confused, but the problem comes when you change the core of the work. If you start changing what made your work special in the first place, it starts to fall apart.

I also realized part of this discontent was a fear that the following movies would follow suit. I was worried that the rest would be all gloomy. I also realized that part of the problem was that I’m getting superhero fatigue. On my way home, I noticed that Captain Marvel was still playing at the theater. There were two superhero movies from Marvel at the theater. Take a breather now and then, Marvel.

I also suffered real fatigue. The movie was just too long. It needed to be about 30 minutes sorter…maybe 15.

Finally, I remembered that Endgame was like a series finale. It was the moment to say “good-bye” to all the characters you’ve gotten to know over the last 10 years. It was supposed to be sad. Also, Endgame was the culmination of 10 years of build-up, it needed to live up to the hype.

So, there were a few problems, like plot inconsistencies and an ending I didn’t enjoy, but as a movie…it was pretty good–I really enjoyed it up until the ending. The acting was well done as were the effects. You cheered when certain moments happened and you cried at other moments. I also enjoyed how the movie did what movies should do–make you think and make you feel. After the movie, I kept trying to figure out why I felt “out of sorts” about it.

I have to give the Avengers: Endgame a 4/5 and a 3/5. It was good from a movie perspective, but not so much from just my personal preferences–I’d much rather Tony live and retire and have the time skip to have only been a couple months to a year.

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Sparks of Rebellion has been released!

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Infinity War Review

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In the new Avengers movie Infinity War, most of the Marvel heroes we’ve encountered (I noticed a surprising lack of Hawkeye and Ant-Man) join together to take on the big, bad rock collector himself, Thanos.

This movie definitely changed from its earlier counterparts. The movie was much darker with less joking (there still was plenty of jokes, such as Spider-Man and Star-Lord arguing over pop culture references and Dr. Strange’s “fake name”) and more torture…and screaming. Not to mention a lot of death…and I mean A LOT of death.

I liked that we got to see more of Gamora’s past, namely how Thanos came to adopt her. And I enjoyed that they didn’t paint Thanos as a complete evil jerk who only wants to destroy the universe because he’s got a crush on Death. You actually see that he has somewhat of a heart. Go figure.img_2674

One of my main questions was why did Thor need to get another hammer (axe this time)? I thought he learned in the last Thor movie that the power was inside him all along (cue image of rainbow and sweet music). But he doesn’t use his lightning until after getting the axe. I understand that an axe does more damage than a fist and that you would need something sharp to defeat Thanos for good. But it just seemed like Thor had reverted back to his hammer dependence.

I am really glad that they added the four mechanical spider arms (or waldoes, yes that is a thing–look it up) to Spider-Man’s Iron Spider suit. And Iron Man’s nanotech suit was pretty awesome too. I liked how they made the suit look streamline, like it formed to Tony instead of being a clunky piece of armor. I also liked the addition that it could create all sorts of weapons and seal openings.

The costumes of Captain America and the other outlaw heroes looked just as you’d imagine for a group who’d been on the run for two years. Thanos’ outfit made him look a lot like the comic book version. There were some movie style tweaks to it; but overall, it looked like he’d come right off the page.

Finally, Thor’s costume during the final battle was pretty epic (and say what you will, but I kind of like short hair Thor better). But I have to say Dr. Strange’s cloak is still the best, especially when it started mocking Tony as he lectured Spider-Man.

I did have a problem with Thanos and his use of the Infinity Stones. He didn’t seem to use them much, other than the power and space ones. I expected him to do more like he did on Nowhere where he turned Drax to stone and Mantis to ribbons or at the very least teleport around the battlefield like Goku. I guess he wanted to fight the heroes in order to test them because whenever one got a good hit in or did something unexpected, Thanos would say something close to, “I like you.” And he did adopt Gamora because she was a fighter.

And, of course, there was the trope of Dr. Strange using the time stone to check out all the possible outcomes of their battle with Thanos, which he says he checked like 14,000 or so and only one ended in victory. I groaned and rolled my eyes at that point. Just once I’d like them to say, “Oh no, there was like five ways we could win.”

But, I have to say my favorite part of the movie was not in the movie but in the theater. It was almost more fun listening to the audience cheer when Thor made his entrance at the final battle or their gasps when Thanos stabs Iron Man than watching the actual movie.

So to wrap things up, I have to give Infinity Wars a 4.8 out of 5, mainly because it was a two part movie and now I have to wait about a year to find out what happened.  I mean, come ON MARVEL!! GAH!!

One last note, I do have to give the movie crew credit for being able to do a movie where there are multiple setting shifts (one minute you’re on Titan with Iron Man and his team then next you’re with Thor and Rocket and then back on Earth with Captain America and the rest). Normally, I can’t stand this kind of flopping about, making it seem like there are too many characters and plots going on to keep track of, but the Infinity Wars crew did an excellent job of timing the shifts and not overwhelming people with new information. The shifts seemed seamless. GG everyone, GG.

PS (okay so one more thing): I like teen Groot better than baby Groot. Disinterested, mouthy Groot is so funny. Plus, he’s a gamer–bonus points, Groot.

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In other news, the next installment in my eBook series “The Life of Ace Journeyman” titled Alliance comes out May 8. Pre-order now from your favorite eBook retailer. Or you can purchase one of my other eBooks (also available at many fine online retailers).

I am Groot Vol. 2

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Peter and gang return for more cosmic comedy in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In this sequel, the Guardians discover who Peter’s father is while on the run from gold-skinned aliens.

I found the make-up and character designs to be better than the first. But in some close ups of Gamora, I could see places where they missed a spot. However, in the comics (and the Telltale Games Guardians series), Gamora is seen with flesh colored circles around her eyes, so I could give this a pass…though it got weird that in one scene the rings were there and in others they weren’t.

I did find the make-up work for the golden aliens to be amazing: gold skin, gold hair, and gold eyes. It didn’t look like they just slapped in some gold colored contact lens, even the whites of their eyes had a golden tint.

I found the swearing, crude humor, and sexual innuendos to be a big much for a comic book superhero movie. All the killing scenes were also a bit much: the bodies floating in space, people being sucked out airlocks, and bodies falling in slow motion. But, they weren’t out of place. It wasn’t like it was Batman going around killing people. It made sense to have villains shoving people into space or Yondu killing people with his arrow; he’d done it in the first movie so there was no big surprise.

Guardians still had plenty of sarcasm, jokes, and “they’re all idiots” moments. For instance, Yondu uses his arrow to lower himself to the ground. Peter tells him he looks like Mary Poppins. Yondu asks if she is cool and Peter replies, “Yes.” At this point, Yondu then boasts, “I’m Mary Poppins, yo!” Only Guardians characters could deliver a line like this seriously.

The delivery of the line showed the skill of the actors. The person playing Yondu knew who Mary Poppins was and understood the joke, but he delivered it as if he didn’t. It wasn’t done with a twinge of “I really know what’s going on because I’m an actor.” He sounded like he really believed it.

The cosmic craziness that is the Guardians of the Galaxy continues with a giant 8-bit Pac-Man appearing during the final battle. I won’t tell you how or why it happened (you’ll just have to watch the movie).

During the battle with the golden aliens, the Guardians discover that the ships coming after them are drones. The scene than shows the pilots controlling the drones while video arcade sound effects play; they even include the death sound effect.  Once a pilot was defeated, they would rage quit. At one point there is only one pilot left and the others have gathered around him cheering him on to get a high score. Who knew advanced alien races like video games?

I found the graphics to be great but for the most part the same as the original, except for Yondu’s arrow. The blur trail effect was much better. The coloring and glow made it stand out and added some flair to the movie. It seemed to match Yondu’s personality too. This effect made the arrow seem more high-tech and more like an object you’d see in a sci-fi or comic book movie instead of being completely realistic.

I enjoyed the character development moments. I enjoyed the fact that we got to see more of Rocket’s character. He wasn’t just an angry, greedy, thieving genetically modified raccoon. You could see that he had feelings and cared about other people. Also, it was awesome to watch Rocket take out squads of Ravagers on his own.

I missed Rocket’s orange outfit from the first movie. The outfit for this movie made him look like he was naked. It made him look more like a wild animal, but to be fair, he acted like one for most of the movie.

I had a problem with Nebula’s character change because in the last movie she was portrayed as this crazy, murdering, sadist (and she still was to a point), but then she’s like “I just want a sister.” It seemed like a strange switch, but her “mellowing” out doesn’t come till near the end of the movie. It wasn’t like one second she was a psychopath and the next doling out hugs. It was still believable that she could change. It was nice to see that she could be more than just stab, stab, kill and we got a peak into why she is the way she is.

The characters seemed to be more mature in this movie. They still made jokes and teased each other, like when Peter calls Rocket a “trash panda,” but it seems like their personalities were more flushed out. They had become more than just jokes, eye rolls, and sarcasm.

Like from Peter. I got the sense that he’s been the leader of the Guardians for awhile. He has grown into the role and is a bit more responsible. He even tells Rocket not to play music during a battle, while in the first movie Peter constantly played music whenever he did anything.

This maturity could be said about the rest of the Guardians. Though they continued to bicker, they still seemed to acknowledge Peter as the leader. They also seemed to function more as a team.

My biggest problem with the movie was Peter’s father being a Celestial. It seemed over the top or out of place. It made Peter seem too important. I felt like the movie would have the same theme and plot even if Peter was still the prince of Spartax instead of a god. It made it seem like Marvel was trying too hard to make the movie like other movies; they fell into a trope instead of breaking tropes.

What I mean by breaking tropes can be seen at the beginning of the movie. The Guardians are getting ready for a battle with a cosmic beast. This amazing and frightening monster alien shows up and you’re expecting to see this epic battle, but instead you watch Baby Groot dance while the Guardians battle in the background.

Another example of trope-breaking is during the final battle. The Guardians strike a pose and epic hero music plays as there are explosions and such behind them…and then one character gets hit in the head.

They also make fun of the “characters walking slowly towards the camera” trope.

But having Peter be the son of a god seemed like they were giving in or they thought, “We need some kind of twist that’s going to shock all the comic fans.”

But all in all, I still say Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s best series. Mainly because of the credits. Every now and then the credits read “I am Groot” and then switch to the English translation. Not to mention seeing the various character dance. And finally, the during and after credit scenes; you get multiple ones. You also get to see teenage Groot who stays in his room all day playing video games and leaves his vines all over the floor.

I have to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 4 out of 5 Groots. I enjoyed it and most issues were forgettable annoyances. But it was the fact that they made Peter’s father a god when they really didn’t need to really lowered the score. Also, they should have had more Cosmo the Dog and Howard the Duck.

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