Some (mostly indefensible) Films I have Seen Recently

Andrew Stephens, Wednesday the 30th of May, 2018 in Films, Science Fiction

A random grab-bag of recent-ish films, most of which I caught on flights.

Bright

Bright PosterI got halfway through Bright - a throwback mismatched-cops-against-gangs film that somehow got mixed up with an episode of Angel and somebody's kick-ass roll-playing campaign - when I realized two things. One, Bright is exactly the kind of film I would end up making if I had 90 million dollars of Netflix's money to play with. And two, Bright is terrible and I should never be given that kind of money.

What on paper probably sounded like a cool idea is spoiled by an lack of spirit and genuineness, like a career criminal's apology letter read out in court. the film says the right things but you can tell from the tone that it really doesn't mean them. It's a shame, because Will Smith is likable as the Will Smithesque lead and the guy playing his Orc partner is great.

Bright did make me more sympathetic to the plight of the Orcish minority, which is good. But on the other hand, I am now more racist towards Mexicans. So it is somewhat of a mixed bag, message-wise.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok PosterI pretty much had to see this as a loyal New Zealand citizen, since it was directed by Taika Waititi.

Thor, the son of King Oden, learns that his family has a secret history and he is not the rightful heir he thought he was. The first in line turns out to be a total dick about things but this is nothing a bit of punching and a CGI battle can't sort out.

It is very much Waititi's film, all sorts of crazy stuff happens and the interaction between the dimwitted optimism of Thor and the world-weary acceptance of Banner makes for amusing scenes. Of all the Marvel films, this is the one that gets closest to the wackiness of the original comics - Thor is just such a ridiculous character that he needs a ridiculous plot to match.

Its very slight but of all the airplane films I've seen recently I enjoyed Thor the most. But that might be the lack of oxygen at 20000 feet.

Black Panther

Black Panther PosterT'Challa, the son of T'Chaka, learns that his family has a secret history and he is not the rightful heir he thought he was. The first in line turns out to be a total dick about things but this is nothing a bit of punching and a CGI battle can't sort out.

Hey, wait a minute...

A much more serious film than Thor: Ragnarok but nevertheless enjoyable. T'Challa is a wet blanket of a lead but all the supporting characters really shine and even the bad guy gets some good moments.

Sadly, for all the talk of Black Panther being some sort of revolutionary act of film making due to its themes, it is a pity that the actual plot is pretty much the standard Marvel fare with a big fight scene at the end. After a truly great two thirds the film kind of loses its unique energy and reverts to type just when I was hoping it would go its own way.

Which leads to:

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers Infinity War PosterThis is it. The culmination of the 19 previous Marvel films and what the last 10000 years of human culture have been leading up to has finally arrived.

In some ways A:IW is not even a real film, there is so much shoved it that most of the scenes could be played in a different order and it would make no difference to the plot.

The film makes no concessions to viewers who haven't seen the lead up films. I've seen most of them, and even I was sometimes confused. But it doesn't matter, because this is not a story about the good guys, rather the star of the show is the villainous Thanos and his motley sidekicks.

Most Marvel films have great first and second acts but lose it towards the end. A:IW started slow but managed to sustain the crescendo right up to the end as Thanos monologues his way through the plot and it all leads up to what I consider to be the best ending to a film ever made.

I actually hope that somehow Disney goes bust in the next 12 months and that they never release another Marvel film because that ending is the perfect capstone to the whole Marvel edifice.

Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 PosterA worthy successor to the original Deadpool, the little movie that could. I was surprised and delighted to see Julian Dennison (aka, that kid from The Hunt for the Wilderpeople) in a big role, but everyone looks like they are having a good time.

Somehow the producers have managed to create two film that are both incredibly filthy and genuinely funny, a combination not often seen. They obviously had a bigger budget than the first film but spent it wisely. Deadpool 2 resists the temptation to go big and decides to go entertaining instead, to everyones benefit.

There are things I could quibble about but Deadpool 2 makes up for any unevenness with an amazing mid-credit scene that I am still chuckling over.


For those keeping score: