A review of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War

While my blog has distinct areas of focus and associated principles, I like to leave room for movie reviews. As stated in my bio, I have a love for Science Fiction and Super Hero movies going back to childhood. This review will thus focus on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) much anticipated Avengers: Infinity War which assembles the majority of the Marvel Comics characters brought to life on the movie screen including: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Black Panther, and others. The exceptions are Antman and Hawkeye which weren’t in Avengers: Infinity War Part One.

I’m going to try to write this review up without any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen the Avengers Infinity War Part yet, and I’ll facetiously start by telling James Cameron to eat his heart out. Leading up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War Part One, the legendary director of: The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic and Avatar, voiced his hope that movie goers eventually get ‘Avengers Fatigue’. I’m going to rebut Mr. Cameron by saying that I hope that we don’t get Avengers Fatigue. I’m personally having a lot of fun with the MCU’s movies, their characters, and the actors who are playing them – a run that I hope goes on for quite some time.

Now in terms of Avengers: Infinity War Part, after seeing it twice, I’m going to do something different and focus on the movie’s villain; Thanos played by Josh Brolin. What’s fascinating about Thanos and pretty much all of the MCU’s villains is that they aren’t evil simply for the sake of being evil. There is a level of sophistication and complexity to all of them which just happen to make them the enemies of the protagonists.

Similar to Killmonger in Black Panther, while we know Thanos’s quest to obtain all six of the “Infinity Stones” is what our heroes want to stop, in a way his motivations are noble and visionary. Talk show host Tommy Sotomayor actually pointed out that the “balance” Thanos is looking to achieve in the movie has real world implications – that is it’s speculated that world leaders and governments actually do ponder population density control – something that’s in a way very scary.

While I’m still on villains, for laughs I recommend any curious readers go lookup the “How It Should Have Ended” (HISHE) series on YouTube which parodies all of the Super Hero/Science Fiction movies and gives them alternate endings. The producers actually created a spinoff called the “Villain Pub” where all of the famous villains from numerous movie franchises socialize and conspire including: Thanos, Emperor Palpatine, the Predator, the Alien, the Joker, and Voldomort, among others. All of HISHE’s parodies are very, very funny, and they recently created one for Black Panther.

Overall, I was pleased with Avengers: Infinity War – the culmination of all of the MCU’s films starting 10 years ago as shown to us in the “Marvel Studios” logo at the beginning of the film. One thing that occurred to me after Avengers: Age of Ultron was that something particularly heinous might happen to Vision who up until this movie wears one of the Infinity Stones on his forehead, so I was on the lookout for that particular thread which does factor heavily into the plotline. There were also numerous other elements which surprised me.

I expected to see Steve Rogers and Tony Stark reunite and find some sort of closure following Captain America: Civil War – particularly after learning that Tony made a new prototype shield for Captain America in Spider-Man: Homecoming. With Thor, Thanos, and the Guardians of the Galaxy all being from other worlds, this movie allowed the writers to not only leave the planet earth, but also break the teams up that we were used to seeing, and then putting unfamiliar characters together side by side – something that actually worked quite well.

Based upon what I saw in the trailer for the movie, I was fooled by what actually played out on the screen. In the trailer for example, there is a scene where multiple Avengers are in Wakanda, and are sprinting (and flying) towards the screen most likely against Thanos and his minions. In the back we can see the Hulk as a part of the attack – something which he didn’t do a lot of in Avengers: Infinity War. This was either a deleted scene or, it’s a scene that will appear in Avengers: Infinity War Part Two.

In terms of the next film, I’m not sure what to expect which is cool. While Thanos’s goal is alluded to throughout the movie, the ending does take you by surprise in an ominous sort of way – at least it did me, in addition to its “Easter Egg”. In addition to a new character that was hinted at in the Easter Egg, I suspect we’ll see Hawkeye, and the Antman and the Wasp in the next Avengers: Infinity War Part Two.

Thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you enjoyed this one, you may also enjoy:

A review of Marvel’s Black Panther
A review of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok
A review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming
A review of Marvel’s Dr. Strange
A review of DC’s Justice League
A review of Bladerunner 2049
A review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If you enjoyed this review, please do click the like button, leave comments, and share it. If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right hand column in this post and throughout the site. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. My Twitter handle is @BWArePowerful, and you can also follow me at the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

A review of Marvel’s Black Panther

I’ve written numerous movie reviews on my blog. In the current review, I’m once again teaming up with my brother Amahl to discuss Marvel’s Black Panther. According to Yahoo, the film has already made an estimated $192 million over three days, putting it on track to surpass its $200 million production cost, and smash other box office records. Black Panther is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) latest offering leading us up to the Avengers: Infinity War Part One over the summer which will bring most of its characters back to the big screen, and will heavily involve the Black Panther himself and his home of Wakanda as seen in the theatrical trailer. In Marvel’s Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman returns to play the now King T’Challa/Black Panther along with an all-star cast including: Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forrest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, and many others. The following are our thoughts on the movie.

Amahl Dunbar: I think Black Panther could’ve alternatively been called ‘Wakanda: Episode 1’, because the script seemed to describe the hero’s home country versus solely describing his individual journey as is the case in most comic book movies. In the Marvel Universe, the beautiful African country of Wakanda is a highly technologically, and politically sophisticated nation. The oligarchy, government, and military work in unison to resolve major issues and maintain cultural harmony though one principle; Wakanda must not be influenced by outside forces in the form of colonists and immigrants.

The way it was written, Black Panther is subtle in its social commentary, never talking down to the audience. Most social and political messages are done with a laugh or a wry smile. As a matter of fact, none of the elements in the movie were overdone. Recently in the genres of ‘Science Fiction’ and ‘Action’ movies, the final battles between the heroes, the boss villain, and the other villains, involve turning up the speaker volume in theaters, coupled with quick fight scene editing to extend scenes, making the audience believe they’re seeing more than what they’re actually seeing. Not in Black Panther. All of the action scenes down to each shot are purposeful and meaningful because screen time is precious to audiences who can easily get bored.

Again I think the strength of Black Panther was that Ryan Coogler’s production team took the approach of building a world around its hero versus focusing solely on the hero’s journey. I look forward to the Avengers: Infinity War Part One, plus Black Panther 2 and 3. Marvel’s next challenge will be finding a foe formidable enough for King T’Challa of Wakanda.

Anwar Dunbar: First I would like to acknowledge the Donna M. Saunders Foundation for Breast Cancer Education and Support for hosting a private screening of Black Panther at the AMC Hoffman 22 in Alexandria, Va. It was an amazing event. The foundation does a lot of great work in terms of helping breast cancer patients and their families. The foundation gave attendees numerous collectibles and surprises before the movie started including: Black Panther posters, comic books, and work books. Prior to the start of the movie the foundation also gave us an additional surprise – an introduction by author Jesse J. Holland who authored Who Is The Black Panther?, a novel about the Black Panther’s history. Mr. Holland signed copies of his book after the viewing of the movie.

Leading up to the its release, Black Panther was unique from the other films produced by the MCU in that it appealed to two different audiences. Featuring a mostly black cast and production crew, it created a buzz and drew viewers other than the usual Super Hero/Science Fiction ‘junkies’ like my brother and myself. One could argue that movie for Black America was actually a cultural event as much as it was a movie debut – a source of controversy leading up to its release. The excitement leading up to film was unlike anything I’d ever seen before and was the result of brilliant marketing by Disney and Marvel who strategically scheduled Black Panther’s release during Black History Month.

In terms of my review of the movie, I have to admit that growing up reading mostly DC Comics, I didn’t know that there was a Black Panther character in the Marvel Universe. Five years ago, a friend mentioned that Black Panther was going to get his own movie which was my first time hearing about the character. My first time actually seeing the character in action was in Captain America: Civil War almost two years ago. Coincidentally, consistent with the MCU’s seamless storytelling, Black Panther picks up where we left off in Civil War where T’Challa was trying to avenge the death of his father T’Chaka whose decisions as a younger king to protect Wakanda, drive the plot and story throughout the current movie.

The movie was amazing in terms its acting, action and visuals, but what stood out to me most were the messages in it. As I stated on Twitter shortly after seeing it, it wasn’t the typical light-hearted action adventure with a teachable moment like the MCU’s other movies. It had definite political and social commentaries/messages built into its script which actually had me pondering things like: economics, foreign policy, and immigration as I was watching the film. In addition to having a mostly black cast, there was a strong female presence in terms of Wakanda’s military and scientific innovations. Shuri played by Letitia Wright turned out to be my favorite character.

Similar to some of the other reviews I’ve heard and read, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther didn’t feel as though it was completely about T’Challa/Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger also commanded the screen in a very significant way, and actually won the sympathies of many in the audience. I look forward sequels to Black Panther and also seeing how Wakanda factors into the Avengers: Infinity War. Based upon the trailer, there is going to be a huge battle involving Black Panther and his home of Wakanda. I’ll give Black Panther an –A on the basis that it didn’t dovetail back into the MCU’s overall story arc in the same ways the other movies did – perhaps due to the fact that Wakanda is an isolationist society in terms of its story. That said I will see it multiple times, and purchase a copy when it’s released on Blue Ray and DVD.

Thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you enjoyed this review, you might also enjoy:

A review of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Part One
A review of All Eyez on Me
A review of Hidden Figures
A review of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok
A review of Marvel’s Spider Man: Homecoming
A review of Marvel’s Dr. Strange

Our Twitter handles are @amahldunbar and @BWArePowerful. If you liked this review, please do click the “like” button, leave comments, and share it. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right- hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

A review of Marvel’s Dr. Strange

As described in my bio for the Big Words Blog Site, both my brother, Amahl Dunbar, and I are “Fanboys” and have a love of science fiction and superhero feature films such as those produced by DC and Marvel.  In addition to having an abundance of books in our home at an early age, we both developed a love for comic books.  These books were important tools for both of us continuing to learn how to read, speak, and even to think, imagine, and ponder subjects like science.  While I ventured away from this love in high school when basketball became my love, and then later salsa dancing, Amahl never strayed from it.  He even started exploring the worlds of animation and visual effects, and eventually contributed to the production of the film The Space Detective produced by the Swamp Media Group.

His sticking with it actually allowed me to come back to the comic book/science fiction world in my early 30s when he turned me on to DC’s classic graphic novel, Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid; featuring the brilliant illustrations of Alex Ross.  I loved that book and had never seen anything like it.  Amahl also shared DC’s The Watchmen with me prior to the movie adaptation.  I also have a copy of the Dark Knight Returns which I’ve yet to read because of my busy schedule.

Over the years we’ve developed a ritual of watching these movies, sometimes independently and sometimes together, and then convening afterwards to discuss what we saw and thought of that particular film.  Our debriefing sessions are either in person or on the phone, but we have them nonetheless.  We’ve thus decided to try our hands at conducting our very first movie review for publication.  The movie is Marvel’s Dr. Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  The following is our candid review, thoughts and reflections on Marvel’s latest film.

Anwar: Well Bro, I’ll start this off and we’ll just see where it goes.  As you know, when we were younger, I was more of a DC guy and was heavily into Batman and the Justice League International.  G (our best friend Gabriel Smith), was more of a Marvel guy.  In fact, I remember him always going on and on about Captain America.  You were kind of a jack of all trades with knowledge of both the DC and Marvel universes, and amazingly, you sat in the middle with knowledge of both.  I’m saying this to say that aside from Spiderman, who was heavily featured in numerous TV cartoon series throughout our youth, and even The Electric Company back in the 70s and early 80s (snippets with real life actors), much of what I know about Marvel and its characters today, I’ve learned through their movies.  And I love The Avengers films.  I would say Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark/Iron Man, is my favorite character.  Indeed, their entire cast of actors and characters is stellar.

I’d heard of Dr. Strange and seen images of him, but I didn’t really know what to expect when I walked into the theatre other than the fact that there would probably be an Easter Egg at the end of the movie – a hallmark of the Marvel movies, in addition to cameos by Stan Lee.  We both saw the movie, but can you give an overview of the story?  To any readers, if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to stop reading here.  This might spoil it for you.

Amahl:  Sure.  Marvel’s latest film offering is Doctor Strange, a blend of Jedi-style sorcery, with world shifting special effects. Benedict Cumberbatch leads an ensemble cast as Dr. Stephen Strange, an elite trauma surgeon who becomes a magic wielding superhero.  The film has the typical hero’s journey similar to The Matrix or Harry Potter.  Cumberbatch is smart not to play Dr. Strange in the same way that Robert Downey, Jr. plays Tony Stark.  The mature cast seemed specifically chosen for their ages and educated appearances.

Dr. Strange’s photographic memory and speed reading ability allow him to move through his sorcerer training at an accelerated rate.  If you’ve ever met someone who can speed read or has a photographic memory, you realize how special they are because they can operate at almost a computer-like level.  These two attributes allow Dr. Strange to quickly become a powerful sorcerer.

The role of the mystic teacher is brilliantly played by Tilda Swinton, as The Ancient One.  She steals every scene she’s in with clever philosophy, comedy, and good hearted unpredictability – the unpredictability that’s required to keep adult students, like Strange, interested in learning.  Swinton’s Ancient One is as good a science fiction mentor as Morpheus, Yoda, or Obi Wan Kenobi in the Matrix and Star Wars franchises.  She takes her mentorship one step further than other mentors by telling Strange and the audience exactly what he needs to do to be great versus good.

Anwar:  Interesting.  What stood out to you about the film?  For me much of the imagery and special effects reminded me of Inception, starring Leo DiCaprio – with the moving and shifting scenery and landscapes.  The costumes and the whole sorcery piece reminded me of the movie The Last Airbender.  I also recognized some of the characters from Spiderman: The Animated Series from the late 1990s such as Mordo, portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Dormammu, voiced by Jonathan Adams, the ultimate antagonist of the film.  I really liked the travel through the dimensions, and seeing Dormammu initially was definitely pretty scary with the two ominous eyes in space-time looking on.

Amahl:  I think you hit several of the main points.  What stood out to me is how these sorcerers were presented, and knowing that Dr. Strange would eventually join the Avengers or help them.  Again, these sorcerers were portrayed kind of like the Jedi.  Dr. Strange was likened to Obi-Wan Kenobi without a light saber.  Their manner of dress had an Asian nod to it.  They were not just sorcerers, but also martial artists as well.  Typically when you see Dr. Strange, he’s always wearing his red cloak.  Seeing him without the cloak, underneath it looks like a Jedi-like costume.  So there was a lot of thought given to what they were going to wear and how they were going to be perceived – not as Harry Potter-type sorcerers or like witches and wizards from other franchises, but a very specific kind of a warrior-sorcerer look.

Anwar:  I had to get used to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch as a hero because I’m used to seeing him play a villain, such as when he played Kahn in Star Trek: Into Darkness, or playing some kind of high-ranking government operative/spy/politician.  It was similar to when I first saw Robert Downey, Jr. portray Tony Stark/Iron Man.  It was like, ‘Wow.  Robert Downey, Jr. is a hero.’  I was used to seeing him play so many other things – especially in the 1980s in comedic teen movies like Weird Science, and then later as a villain in US Marshals.

Amahl:  Absolutely.

Anwar:  I also had to adjust to watching Cumberbatch exhibit humor.  In every Marvel movie there’s usually huge element of humor in their scripts, though I wasn’t used to seeing Dr. Strange being absent minded at times, and trying to be funny and witty.  I won’t give it away, but his solution to stopping Dormammu was definitely creative, and funny.

Not long ago, we also talked about the fact that in the comic books, Dr. Strange has more of a Latino or Asian look.  Is that correct?

Amahl:  Some friends of mine who know more about the Marvel Universe than I do, told me months ago that the character is supposed to be Latino, which gives a whole new perspective to viewing the film – knowing that the character in the comic book is Latino versus the character in the movie being European or British.  That’s not to say that the movie wasn’t good – it would’ve just given the movie a completely different spin – seeing that character played by Michael Peña who was actually in Antman or Philip De Blanc – any good looking Latino actor – it would’ve given a completely different vibe to the movie.

Anwar:  As I was watching the film, I noticed that The Ancient One told Dr. Strange that The Avengers were the guardians of the non-mystical world and they themselves were the guardians of the mystical world, and I was in fact wondering if this particular story would fold into the upcoming Infinity War.  As per usual Marvel gave a nice Easter Egg during the credits and it turns out that it is going to be a part of the larger story that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is constructing – they’re all going to come together at some point and they’re all going to fight Thanos, I would imagine.

Amahl:  There’s also a shot of the Avengers’ Mansion at the beginning of the movie.  I think the movie opens with Dr. Strange in surgery where he practices medicine.  In the following scene when they show him getting ready to go to the party, there’s a push-in shot in the city and you see the Avengers’ Mansion in the mid-ground.  It’s not in the foreground, nor in the background.  It’s in the mid-ground and it’s large enough for you to see it.  And that push- in shot goes into Strange’s apartment and it shows that he actually lives close to the Avengers’ Mansion.

Anwar:  As per usual with these little details, I completely missed that.  Okay Bro, I think that wraps up this review.  You have a lot of experience working with visual effects, and you’re currently working on your own Superhero trailer right?  How long have you been doing that?

Amahl:  Well, I have been working on a Justice League trailer probably for about two years in my spare time.  Most of it has been during mornings and early afternoons before I go to work while I’m either eating breakfast or lunch.  During those times I figure that the 10-15 minutes that I’m actually eating is time that I can do this; it’s the best time for me to work on it.   It involves ripping footage from DVDs, organizing the footage, and editing it down to shots.  I’ve had to figure out which shots from these movies to use – the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, the Michael Keaton Batman movies, some of the latest Christian Bale Dark Knight movies, and finally Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman television series.

I’ve taken shots from each of these movies and shows, and I’m going to try to tell a narrative through a trailer.  The trailer could also be viewed as a “Visual Treatment”.  A “Treatment” in Hollywood is basically a description by paragraph of what a movie or TV show would actually be.  You can view this trailer as a treatment – of what my ideas would be for a Justice League movie.  I’ve included some of my own visual effects, and there is also some 3-D animation so that every shot that you see isn’t directly pulled from a movie.  Some of the shots have actually been edited or enhanced to further tell the narrative that I’m going for.

Anwar:  When it’s completed it will be on your YouTube channel?

Amahl:  Absolutely.

Anwar:  And will people be able to access that through you Twitter page?

Amahl:  Yes, the links will be available in places where people can easily see them.  I’m actually looking forward to connecting with some Comic Book stores here in the Buffalo area and saying, ‘I’m a local artist and I think you would find this very interesting.  Here is the link.  If you like it, share it with your customer base.’

Anwar:  Making trailers is actually a pretty big deal on YouTube.  There are people making trailers and videos about their favorite franchises just for the hell of it, and sometimes leading up to the release of the next movie.  A lot of fan trailers were made leading up to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, for example, and that’s very impressive.

Amahl:  Absolutely.  If fans have their own episodes or even make their own movies, this is a new way for them to show their appreciation for the franchises.  It’s not just, ‘I’ll buy a movie or I’ll buy a t-shirt or I’ll buy a DVD collection of the show,’ but fans can show their appreciation of the franchise by making their own short videos.

Anwar:  Well Bro, I guess that wraps it up.  Hopefully, there are some readers who enjoyed this.  Star Wars: Rogue One is actually coming out in a couple of weeks.  We’ll have to reconvene and talk about that one after we see it as well.  What’s your twitter handle just in case other enthusiasts want to follow and interact with you?

Amahl:  It’s @amahldunbar.

Anwar:  I also have a personal twitter handle, but I’m trying to grow a following for Big Words so I’m going to offer up @BWArePowerful.  If you’ve read this review and like it, please do leave comments and I’ll respond.  It could be something as simple as saying that you enjoyed our discussion.  Thank you and we’re signing off.

Thank you for taking the time read our review.  You may also enjoy:

A review of Marvel’s Black Panther
A review of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok
A review of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming
A review of Marvel’s Dr. Strange
A review of Hidden Figures
A review of All Eyez on Me

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.