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:

The Snowpiercer moves along strangely

A review by Brenda Daniels

I’m always attracted to futuristic films, especially if they’re about a world changed by drastic weather conditions. Snowpiercer is one such example. But this film is more about man’s meddling in both the natural and the social worlds, than it is about earth’s imagined future.

The result is a strange, unsettling film, with surprising violence and oddly paced action.

To counteract the effects of global warming, in Snowpiercer, humans attempt to cool the atmosphere. Their efforts fail, however, and an ice age ensues. The only human survivors live on a high-speed, constantly moving train called the Snowpiercer. Just as the frozen landscape it travels through is a by-product of human engineering, so the social conditions on the train are carefully controlled by humans. Their product is an unequal class system.

The action begins when the low lifes at one end of the train rebel against their squalid living conditions and fight their way to the front. Each coach they move through features a surrealistically different “landscape”.

The fighting is violent and moves through the coaches in a staccato manner that echoes the breaks in the carriages, pausing too long in each one rather than flowing at an even pace.

Most intriguing is the story’s underlying reference to, and questioning of, an ostensibly Judeo-Christian perspective on life. The train, which circumnavigates the earth once a year, is called an ark. Its leader, Wilford, is referred to in mysterious, divine terms. And Wilford determines the destiny of the train’s passengers in a pre-ordained manner that unjustly benefits some while sacrificing others.

At the film’s conclusion we are left wondering if, just as the train moves inexorably round the earth, the cycle of man’s unsavoury influence on earth will simply continue.

Snowpiercer opens at Ster Kinekor theatres in South Africa on 17 October.

Tilda Swinton stars in Snowpiercer. Photo: Creative Commons (Flickr.com)

Tilda Swinton stars in Snowpiercer. Photo: Creative Commons (Flickr.com)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier reminicent and too violent

A review by Brenda Daniels

Captain America faces many foes in this Marvel production of the superhero which is due for release in South Africa this week. The enemies come in several guises and our hero has a hard time telling friend from foe.

Played by handsome Chris Evans, Steve Rogers is, however, able to trust Natasha (a slim, red-headed Scarlett Johansson) and an out-of-shape Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Together they fight the mysterious Winter Soldier, the brains behind this super soldier, and ultimately the threat to freedom itself.

An exciting car chase featuring a battle-scarred Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury is good to watch. Some giant machines designed for world-domination, lots of fight scenes and a good versus evil plot make for entertaining viewing – particularly in IMAX 3D.

But the fighting seemed over the top to me and too violent, even for a superhero. And the Captain’s bemoaning of the good old days at the beginning of the film got a bit tiresome. For our hero the “good old days” meant the freedom that America espoused. It was this that he felt ultimately called to defend; a good bit of “democracy” propaganda I liked least of all.

The film concludes satisfyingly open ended so fans can look forward to a sequel.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens at Ster Kinekor Theatres in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX on Friday 28 March. It carries an age restriction of PG13.

Chris Evans on set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans on set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

 

Scarlett Johansson at a press release for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Scarlett Johansson at a press release for Captain America: The Winter Soldier