Antagonist, Thanos, is the Centre Piece of Avengers: Infinity War

I’m an outsider to the Avengers universe. Where have I been? I don’t know, somewhere else. Superheroes and lots of crashing, bashing and blowing things up in space aren’t really my thing. But there was a big build-up to Avengers: Infinity War so I felt I had to see it.

In this film Thanos, the baddie, is up against pretty much every other character that features. He spends his time going around from planet to planet wiping out populations so as to restore some balance to the overpopulated universe. And to make himself master of it of course. Thanos is not an all-out baddie. He’s complex. Despite his enormous, ugly size, he’s soft-spoken. And his soft-spoken arguments for genocide seem, well, nice: he simply longs for a return to peace and harmony. But sacrificing millions of living beings for that serenity is what sets up the tension with the goodies. Unlike Thanos, the goodies care about individuals. They’re the characters that I think Marvel fans have come to love. So they, and the people they strive to protect, matter. They’re Thor, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Spider Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, the lovely Guardians of the Galaxy, and others I couldn’t identify.

But does Thanos really care for no-one? The answer to this question adds to Thanos’s complexity and is the catalyst for a devastating outcome that I’m not allowed to say anything about.

To help him in his quest to be master of the universe, Thanos sets about collecting the six infinity stones. With them ensconced in the special glove he wears on his left hand, Thanos will be unstoppable. (Much like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings would have been had he snatched the ring of power from Frodo Baggins). Seeking out and taking the infinity stones (named time, space, reality, power, mind and soul), through lots of battling, is what comprises the plot of Avengers: Infinity Wars.

I thought the mind-boggling array of important characters would detract from the movie, that they would fight for the limelight and that this would somehow dilute the story. But it doesn’t. Also, the humour in the film is a lovely touch and keeps it from becoming too dark, serious and – well – boring.

To the movies then! Avengers: Infinity War opens at South African cinemas on 27 April 2018 in 2D, 3D and IMAX.

If you need help understanding the lead-up to this latest film, watch this:

Hamlet Oozes with Energy

A review by Brenda Daniels and Sharon Emmerich.

A Feast of Tales began the year with a review of The Imitation Game, a film in which Benedict Cumberbatch delivered an outstanding performance as Alan Turing. As we draw to the close of 2015 A Feast of Tales features a review of another excellent Benedict Cumberbatch performance – that of  Hamlet, with Cumberbatch in the title role.

HAMLET by Shakespeare, , Writer - William Shakespeare, Director - Lyndsey Turner, Set design -Es Devlin, Lighting - Jane Cox, The Barbican, 2015, Credit: Johan Persson/

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. Photo: Johan Perrson.

Hamlet is a popular Shakespeare play, certainly the one I have enjoyed the most, and this adaptation is very accessible, partly because of its costumes which have a 1930s look. The ghostly, gothic house setting, which gives the play a Victorian feel, also has the effect of updating this 500-year-old play.

The National Theatre Live performance 0f Hamlet opens with a short interview with Cumberbatch the person before immediately switching to the filmed version of the play. It was interesting to note the difference between Cumberbatch the person and Cumberbatch the performer. This difference was further highlighted by the scene in the play in which Hamlet uses a play (within the play) to sound out his murderous stepfather/uncle, Claudius (a very good Ciaran Hinds). In fact, Cumberbatch’s entire energetic and tortured rendition of Hamlet accurately portrays a character struggling to find truth in fabrication, both within himself and in others. An “imitation game” of another sort…

Hamlet releases on South African screens from Saturday 7 November for four screenings only: on 7, 11 and 12 November at 7.30pm and on 8 November at 2.30pm – at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.

Hamlet comes heartily recommended. But it is long (running time is three and a half hours including an interval) so brace yourselves!

The Imitation Game will possibly be the best movie of 2015

A review by Brenda Daniels

With 2015 only a month old it might be a little early to say this, but here goes: if you watch one movie this year, watch The Imitation Game. The film tells the fascinating story of how mathematician Alan Turing helped to crack the German Enigma code machine during World War II. His work had enormous ramifications for the war and beyond, forming the foundations for the development of the modern computer.

His struggle to relate on an interpersonal level, and to find acceptance in a society which outlawed homosexuality, forms a backdrop to the main plot. This latter is portrayed with sensitivity and levity, leaving the viewer with nothing but sympathy for the brilliant but lonely Turing.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the part of Turing with such finesse and depth and is eminently worthy of his Best Actor Oscar nomination.

The plot is an exciting one with Turing and his team (including Keira Knightley as the intelligent, pragmatic Joan Clarke) working against the clock. As this group of Britain’s “best mathematicians” experiment with Turing’s code-cracking machine, soldiers and civilians on the front line are dying.

MI6 agent Stewart Menzies, a character played by Mark Strong, introduces the element of espionage or game playing, a theme which runs throughout the film, even after the code is cracked.

The year 2015 marks 70 years since the end of World War II (visit World War II 70th Anniversary on Facebook). Perhaps this accounts for the timing of this war-time release. In any event, if The Imitation Game is anything to go by, certain aspects of this story were only recently revealed.

Viewed from the vantage point of seven decades later, The Imitation Game has much to teach us about war and human nature.

The Imitation Game released in South Africa on 23 January and is currently showing at Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. He has been nominated for Best Actor for the 2015 Oscars. Photo: Creative Commons

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. He has been nominated for Best Actor for the 2015 Oscars. Photo: Creative Commons

The final Hobbit resounds with a fitting and exciting finish

A review by Brenda Daniels

Image supplied by Ster Kinekor

                                                              Image supplied by Ster-Kinekor

The Hobbit, a book by J R R Tolkien, was written for children. But this fantasy adventure moves beyond a simple child’s tale into a grand adventure incorporating elements of war, greed, loyalty, bravery and friendship.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the final instalment in the film trilogy, based on the book, and directed by Peter Jackson. And it includes everything the book does and more.

In this movie, the audience sees the surprising result of the death of the dragon Smaug: a converging of several armies, all wanting a part of the massive treasure contained in the Dwarves’ old home of Erebor. Elf, man, dwarf and wargs meet on a huge scale at the foot of the imposing stronghold and fiercely battle for supremacy.

Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the little band of dwarves becomes obsessed with his reclaimed treasure and subsequently neglects his duties and relationships. To avert the catastrophic consequences of war Bilbo the Hobbit uses his magic ring, a precious stone, and a good dose of bravery to broker a peace between man, elf and dwarf. And in the process deepens an important friendship.

The film version incorporates a number of elements of the The Lord of the Rings, tying the two stories together nicely and forming a well-rounded prequel to the brilliant, hugely successful Ring trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a resounding and fitting end to the The Hobbit films and is Peter Jackson’s best. Enjoy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases at Ster-Kinekor cinemas and IMAX nationwide on Friday, 12 December. The running time is two hours, 24 minutes.