Avengers – Endgame : Well, All’s well That Ends well OR Where I Rant Incessantly Around The Bush.

All good things must come to an end we’ve been told, unless of course you’re an Indian politican, just to put things in perspective from a desi vantage point. Turns out, the Avengers are no different, despite all their collective powers. The past decade and this one could be hailed as the age of the superhero in Hollywood thanks especially to Marvel’s inexhaustible repertoire of characters with superhuman skills, out to save the world and fight their inner demons too. Marvel broke ground with Iron Man and hasn’t looked back since. MCU, they called it, and we nodded in agreement. Marvel delivered some of the most memorable characters in pop culture today thanks to some great collaborators behind and in front of the camera. The boundless avenues that technology opened up in terms of CGI too played a huge role in bringing these more or less uncaped heroes – except for Thor and Dr.Strange – and their worlds to the screen exactly in ways they were envisioned in the comic books originally. But at the core, Avengers work for us an audience for the very reason why Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven or Guns of Navarone worked. That and Robert Downey Jr. , I think. There’s that part of our soul that craves to be be saved, literally and figuratively. It’s the very same part, religions have built their instituitions upon since time immemorial. There’s something fascinating about a hero, and all the classic ballads and myths have told tales of awe-inspiring heroes in all cultures and civilizations across the globe. Stan Lee was one amongst the many new age Homers, and one who stands tall too.

I’ve never attempted to review an Avenger movie ever but I’ve indeed shared my thoughts on the random Marvel film and this is not a review either. When it came to the Avengers, I was always at a loss of words, but not exactly because I in awe though. Now that Marvel has ominously bucked the tradition by doing away with the post credit scene, I thought I’d follow suit too. The first Avenger movie piqued interest globally for obvious reasons. I mean, who would’nt want to watch their favorite superheroes come together to save the world? Copyrights and licensing deals did keep Spiderman from joining the party for a while but Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America did a good job at the box office in his absence so much so that he wasn’t missed much. The fact that we had enough Spiderman reboots to last a lifetime is something I’ve briefly pondered over here and was a factor too, from an audience’s perspective. Personally, I had something akin to a withdrawal syndrome, starting with Age of Ultron. All I could recall about Avengers at one point were crumbling skyscrapers and huge spaceships that were crashing down on big cities. The jokes helped much, I do admit.

Marvel kept throwing the one-two punch at the viewers, the hard right hook with the Avengers and the soft left jab with the solo hero outings. But I can’t but help feel that even Robert Downey Jr. could’nt have saved Iron Man 4, if there would’ve been one. Captain America I know only from the Marvel films and his first solo outing was more interesting and engaging than I expected and Chris Evans does deserve some credit for evolving the character into someone who could hold his own on screen beside the effervescent Robert Downey Jr.’s, Iron Man. Mark Ruffalo was an interesting Hulk before Marvel decided to use him exclusively for comic relief in his blown-up CGI avatar though the Edward Norton Hulk remains a personal favorite right behind the Eric Bana one. The next A-list Avenger Thor was more than safe with Chris Hemworth but I’m not quite sure what to make of his “deconstructed” version in Endgame though, I’m expected to laugh I guess. The Black Panther was raved about but when it came to the final showdown, he was merely a set piece, again something which I have pondered on elaborately in the past. Johanssen’s Black Widow and Renner’s Hawkeye are the non-superhero presences alongside Don Cheadle in the Avenger’s inner circle.  Then out of the blue literally came Captain Marvel with a dubious gender history, who is most probably the least interesting but most powerful Avenger who could’ve saved the other Avengers the trouble and Marvel the twenty odd films only if she was’nt busy dealing saving lives “intergalactically”. Yes, of course I have’nt forgotten the Guardians, again of Galaxies. And then there’s Nick Fury aka Samuel.L.Jackson who’s basically handling HR for the Avengers. Okay, now if I’ve missed anyone that’s indeed deliberate because the last time I tried this hard to recall names was at my Chemistry exams and I’m exhausted. The Marvel lineup today could give the Periodic Table a run for it’s money.

If you have watched all Marvel films before Endgame you know that this super villain Thanos has wiped out half of the Earth’s living beings with the snap of his fingers including a few Avengers. Iron Man is floating somewhere out there in deep space and tries this emotional farewell speech bit on you early on but you know that he’s not going go die just yet, but nice try Russos. Like I said, at least for me, there hasn’t been any real emotional investment in the fate of the Avengers post the first film where the gang got together. When Thanos appeared I couldn’t accept him, as a viewer. Maybe it was the corny CGI and how they managed to pull it off despite all the financial and creative resources at their disposal is beyond me. As for characterization, for a franchise that relied heavily on realistic origin stories and real world scenarios for its heroes, here was a made to order super villain who looked like a huge un-chewed Boomer gum strip, ridges intact. He accelerated the disconnect which had already manifested in me. Yeah I know, this is how he was in the comics too but don’t feed me that just yet please. It’s the Marvel Studios not Comics is it not and they have taken more than a few liberties to make sure that it’s not just hard core comic aficionados who walked in to the movie halls religiously when every other Marvel movie was released. To be fair to the Russo Brothers, they have earnestly tried to nullify the effects of every inevitable cliche that was bound to appear on screen for the Avengers to succeed in their mission to save the planet and bring back the lost heroes. The greatest feat is the fact that the director duo have managed to give every hero who’s been a part of every Marvel movie till now at least a second of screen time in this final outing. Marvel tries to make up for the lost cause of feminism in their films in a brief mid battle sequence where all the female superheroes join together to try and bring down Thanos. Obviously, they still haven’t gotten over Wonder Woman, the movie which helped DC stay in the reckoning for a bit more longer in the superhero movie game. In this age where you could trigger wars and genocides with a random share on social media, the success of the final film in the current phase of a franchise as huge as MCU is hardly surprising. Well, in a world where a Marvel film ends without a post credit scene, you have little options but to wake up to the realities around you. Now that Thanos is gone and the Night King is dead, looks like I’ll have to make do with the Indian Parliamentary Election results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Panther: A Cynic Goes To The Movies.

For the longest time, i was divided about Black Panther and hence this outdated post.In this age where we desperately seek political correctness in every gesture of ours in the public sphere, more out of a need to avoid scrutiny and instant blacklash-thanks to the keypad-happy social media hawks- rather than out of actual commitment to a cause, the cynic in me of course sat up with cocked ears when the cash registers at Marvel started to ring again thanks to T’Challa and his solo outing.DC did cash in on feminism to save their sinking ship a while back.Now, its unfair to compare Marvel’s dream run with DC’s sputtering starts and stops but just dont tell me that the executives at Marvel never considered the moolah a movie like Black Panther could rake in, for obvious reasons.Yeah it’s true that  Black Panther’s been around for a while and cinematically as well as  socially this is the best of times for Panther to hit the screens, too.In the same breath, when a movie like Detroit sinks without trace and when Get Out wins best screenplay at the Oscars over Three Billboards at Ebbing, Missouri, to me at least it’s a bit like Trump restoring American economy by asking Apple to shut its plants in China.Enough with allegories and bushes to beat around,let’s get down to brass tacks.

Black Panther has it’s moments but to me personally, as a superhero movie, more specifically an MCU movie it ranks behind many other movies that came before it in terms of sheer entertainment value.You can’t deny the fact that it is the most talked about Marvel movie ever because of the theme and the politics it brings to the screen and ultimately to the minds and hearts of the audience.It showcases African culture with an elegance and a level of sophistication never seen before in Hollywood.Wakanda, the hidden kingdom is the African Utopia and analogy to what Africa could have been if not for the Scramble for Africa by the colonial powers.One would be tempted to call it an exaggeration but might want to reconsider given the fact Birr, the currency of Ethiopia ,an African country that was never colonised by the imperial powers trades  at 27 odd US Dollars in forex.Black Panther by design was destined for box office success as a Marvel movie with its predominantly black cast and an African American director and if i may, the targeted audience.Tell me that never came up in a boardroom discussion.That’s again the cynic in me i guess and my intention is not to undermine the efforts  the writers and the director here.The only other movie that comes to my mind  where I had a hard time choosing whom to root for between the hero and villain was Infernal Affairs which was later remade into The Departed.Michael B.Jordan elevates his character to immortality when he chooses death over bondage like his ancestors and Chadwick Boseman can only look on, literally.

What worked for me more than what i saw on the screen is what i heard,Kendrick’ Lamar’s All The Stars with SZA to be specific.The song has a video that’s as much a visual treat as the movie.The soundtrack of the film is outstanding and has an all star lineup, pun unintended.I wouldntve written what i did if it wasn’t for the music.No Marvel movie experience is fulfilling unless you sit throuh the end titles patiently for the post credits scene.Here you are in for a suprise of sorts when you see Bucky Barnes walking out of a Wakandan huts amidst calls of White Wolf by a bunch of Wakandan Kids.Honestly i dont expect Marvel to come up with another Black Panther solo film for many reasons and if it does happen and generates the kind of rave this one does, I just might admit that the world has changed for good.

സ്‌പൈഡർമാമൻ :മടങ്ങിവരവ് , ഒരു വരവ് കൂടെ വരേണ്ടി വരും.

സ്പൊണ്ടേനിയസ് ആയിട്ടു എഴുതി പിടിപ്പിച്ചപ്പോ സിംപ്ലിസിറ്റി വേണം പോലും .പോരാത്തേന് സിംബോളിക് ആയാലും മതിയെന്ന് .എങ്കി ആയിക്കോട്ടെ എന്ന് ഞാനും….
ഇന്ത്യൻ എക്സ്പ്രസ്സിന്റെ സപ്പ്ലിമെന്റിൽ സ്ട്രിപ്പായിട്ടാണ് സ്പൈഡർമാനെ ആദ്യം കാണുന്നത് പിന്നെ അങ്ങോട്ട് കാർട്ടൂണായിട്ടും സിനിമായിട്ടും കണ്ടിട്ടും മടുപ്പ് തോന്നിയിട്ടില്ല.കഴിഞ്ഞ പതിനഞ്ചു വർഷങ്ങൾക്കുള്ളിൽ ഇത് മൂന്നാമത്തെ സ്പൈഡർമാനെ ആണ് സിനിമയിൽ കാണുന്നത്.നേരെ നിന്ന് ഉമ്മ വെക്കാൻ പോലും വകുപ്പില്ലാതിരുന്ന കാലത്താണ് തല തിരിഞ്ഞു കിടന്നു ഉമ്മ വെച്ച് ടോബി മഗ്‌യറിന്റെ സ്‌പൈഡർമാൻ കടന്ന് വരുന്നത്.പിന്നെങ്ങനെ ആരാധന തോന്നാതിരിക്കും?മൂന്നാമത്തെ പടം ആയപ്പോഴേക്കും സാം റൈമി തനിക്കൊണം കാണിച്ചു സീൻ ഡാർക് ആക്കി തുടങ്ങിയ കൊണ്ട് ആണെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു സോണി പുതിയൊരുത്തനെ വലയിൽ കെട്ടി ഇറക്കാൻ തീരുമാനിച്ചത്.ഗാർഫീൽഡ് പയ്യൻ വല്യ തരക്കേടില്ലയിരുന്നു.ചില സമയത്തു അവൻ ഷാ രുഖ് ഖാന്റെ ആരാധകൻ ആണോ എന്ന് വരെ സംശയം തോന്നിപ്പിക്കും വിധം ആയിരുന്നു പ്രകടനം.ഇടയ്ക്കു എപ്പോഴോ കി കി കിരൺ എന്ന് വരെ അവൻ പറഞ്ഞോ എന്ന് എനിക്ക് തോന്നാതിരുന്നില്ല.പയ്യന്റെ ആദ്യത്തെ സ്‌പൈഡർമാൻ പടം വല്യ തരക്കേടില്ലായിരുന്നു എങ്കിലും രണ്ടാമത്തെ പടം അത്ര മോശം ആയിരുന്നില്ല എന്ന് ഞാൻ പറഞ്ഞാൽ പക്ഷപാതം ആണെന്ന് ചിലർക്കെങ്കിലും തോന്നിയാൽ തെറ്റ് പറയാൻ പറ്റില്ലെങ്കിലും സോണി ഗാർഫീൽഡിനെ വെച്ച് പടം പിടിക്കുന്നില്ല എന്ന് കേട്ടപ്പോൾ ഞാൻ അല്പം നിരാശനാകാതിരുന്നില്ല എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞാൽ അസത്യം ആകും അത് .സിംപിൾ അല്ലേ ഇപ്പോഴും?

അത് എന്ത് തേങ്ങാ ആയാലും ഇനി മൂന്നാമത് ഒരുത്തനെ സ്പൈഡർമാനായി വേഷം കെട്ടിക്കാൻ മാത്രം വേറെ ഒരു മാനും ഇല്ലാത്ത എന്താണ് സ്‌പൈഡർമാന് ഉള്ളത് എന്ന് ചോദിച്ചാൽ ഉത്തരം മാർവെൽ സിനിമാറ്റിക് യൂണിവേഴ്‌സ് അല്ലാതെ മറ്റൊന്നുമല്ല.റോബർട്ട് ഡൗണി ജൂണിയർ അഥവാ അയൺ മാൻ എന്ന സൂപ്പർഹീറോയെ തുറുപ്പു ചീട്ടായി ഇറക്കി എത്ര പടം ഇനി വിജയിപ്പിക്കാം എന്ന ആലോചന സ്റ്റുഡിയോ മൊതലാളിമാർക്കു വന്നാൽ അവരെ കുറ്റപ്പെടുത്താൻ പറ്റില്ല.എതിരാളികളായ ഡിസി ഉടനെ എങ്ങും എന്തായാലും മർവെലിന്റെ അടുത്തു ഓടി എത്തില്ലെങ്കിലും തങ്ങളുടെ ഏറ്റവും പ്രസിദ്ധനായ ഹീറോയെ സോണിയിൽ നിന്ന് കൈമാറി കിട്ടാതെ എം സി യൂ എന്ന ആശയം പൂർത്തി ആക്കാനും സൂപ്പർ ഹീറോ യോണർ കുത്തക ആക്കാൻ മാർവെലിനും ആവുമായിരുന്നില്ല എന്നാണ് എനിക്ക് തോന്നുന്നത്.മിനി സ്ക്രീനിലും സ്ട്രീമിങ് സൈറ്റുകളിലും മാർവെൽ തങ്ങളുടെ ആധിപത്യം ഉറപ്പിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞു.അവിടെയും മാർവെൽ യൂണിവേഴ്‌ എന്ന പ്രമേയം തന്നെയാണ് അവർ പിന്തുടർന്നത്.

കാപ്റ്റൻ അമേരിക്ക : സിവിൽ വാറിൽ അരങ്ങേറ്റം നടത്തിയ ടോം ഹോളണ്ട് സ്‌പൈഡർമാൻ ഇത് വരെ കണ്ടതിൽ വെച്ച് ഏറ്റവും പ്രായം കുറഞ്ഞ സ്‌പൈഡർമാൻ അഥവാ പീറ്റർ പാർക്കർ ആണ്.ഇതിനു മുൻപ് കണ്ട പല ക്ലിഷേകളും മാർവെൽ പുതിയ സ്പൈഡർമാനിൽ ഒഴിവാക്കുന്നു എന്ന സൂചന സിവിൽ വാറിൽ തന്നെ തന്നിരുന്നുവെങ്കിലും അയൺ മാന്റെ രക്ഷാകർത്താവ് അവതാരം എനിക്ക് അത്ര ദഹിച്ചിരുന്നില്ല.പ്രായത്തിൽ ബാക്കി അവഞ്ചേഴ്‌സ് സ്പൈഡർമാനെക്കാളും മൂത്തത് ആണെങ്കിലും ജനപ്രീതിയുടെ കാര്യത്തിൽ അവരെക്കാൾ കാതങ്ങൾ മുന്നിലാണ് സ്പൈഡി. സൂപ്പർ ഹീറോ പടങ്ങളൂം സിജിഐ ആക്ഷൻ രംഗങ്ങളും കണ്ടു പതം വന്ന കാണികൾക്കു പുതുമ ഉള്ള അവതരണവും ത്രസിപ്പിക്കുന്ന സീനുകളും കൊണ്ട് മോശമല്ലാത്ത ഒരു അനുഭവം കൊടുക്കാൻ ഹോം കമിങ്ങിനു കഴിയും എന്നാണ് എന്റെ വിശ്വാസം.സ്‌പൈഡർമാൻ ടുവിലെ ട്രെയിൻ രംഗത്തെ അനുസ്മരിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഒരു ഫെറി രംഗം ഉണ്ടെങ്കിലും അവിടെയും അയൺ മാൻ വന്നു കേറി വല്യേട്ടൻ ചമഞ്ഞതു എനിക്ക് സത്യം പറഞ്ഞാൽ അത്ര പിടിച്ചില്ല.പിന്നെ എടുത്തു പറയാൻ ഉള്ളത് മൈക്കിൾ കീറ്റൺന്റെ റോൾ ആണ്.ബാറ്റുമാനും ബേർഡ്മാനും ആയി തിളങ്ങിയ കീറ്റൺ ആ രണ്ടു കഥ പത്രങ്ങളുടെയും നിറഭേദങ്ങൾ ഉള്ള വളച്ചർ എന്ന വില്ലൻ കഥാപാത്രത്തിന് തന്റേതായ മാനങ്ങൾ നൽകിയിട്ടുണ്ട്.മാർവെൽ സിനിമകളിൽ അല്പം രാഷ്ട്രീയം എപ്പോഴും പ്രകടം ആയിരുന്നുവെങ്കിലും സ്പഷ്ടമായി ഒരു ഡയലോഗിൽ ആദ്യമായി അത് കണ്ടതും കീറ്റൺന്റെ ഇൻട്രോ സീനിൽ ആയിരുന്നു.
ഇതിൽ കൂടുതൽ സിംപിളാക്കാൻ എന്നെ കൊണ്ട് പറ്റൂല്ല .തൽക്കാലം ദിത് വെച്ച് അഡ്ജസ്റ് ചെയ്യണം എന്ന് താഴ്മയായി അപേക്ഷിക്കുന്നു .

Spider-Man Homecoming : The Review.

No other superhero movie has had as many reboots in such a short span of time as the Spider-Man franchise.In fact the 2002 Sami Raimi Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire marked the beginning of the superhero origin story trend in Hollywood which hasn’t died down even a decade and half later.Since then, we have had three actors playing the friendly neighborhood masked man with Tom Holland”s turn in the last Avengers movie setting the stage for things to come.

Marvel movies have always had a political undertone if you have cared to notice and Homecoming opened with the most explicit political statements of all in any of their movies till now when Michael Keaton’s character expresses his angst at the people who get paid to clean the very mess that they made.Micheal Keaton’s presence is significant in more ways than one and his character is almost a tribute to two of his most famous outings as an actor, Tim Burton’s Batman and the more recent Birdman, which ironically was about an actor who loses himself to the superhero character he played.

The Andrew Garfield spidey is a personal favorite because his quirky,neurotic Peter Parker reminded me of SRK for some reason, in the romantic scenes even more so.Though i have nothing against the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, he brought a kind of emotional depth and air of melancholy to the character who has otherwise always been identified with mischief and irreverence, which took a toll on the charm of the character if you ask me.Tom Holland plays the youngest version of Peter Parker to have graced the screen i think and his own age helps him stay truer to the traits of the character, who was originally conceived as an adolescent superhero, for a target readership of that age group.The new Spider-Man is just as tech savvy as your average neighborhood teenager and shares his excitement about all things super-heroic in a video diary and thats just one of the reasons why more teenagers are going to identify and relate to this Spider-Man than his predecessors.Plus he’s more fun too and hardly listens to his elders which obviously adds to his appeal, i guess.

The movie rights for the Spider-Man franchise rested with Sony Pictures who spawned five movies in two reboots and it was only a matter of time before Marvel wanted its most famous superhero back, with its ambitions for the Marvel Cinematic Universe being more evident with every other Marvel movie since Iron Man.Though Marvel has no dearth of superhero characters they have a lot riding on Robert Downey’s Iron Man than they would like to admit and i would be lying if i say that I’m not curious to see how the Avengers would fare without Downey’s charm to keep them afloat.Spider-Man, as a character has had more popularity globally than any other Marvel hero including Iron Man and this could be a reason why the theme of The Avengers playing mentors to Spidey, just because he happened to be the youngest of the superheroes, never went down well with me at least. Well after all this is indeed the guy who figured out long back that, with great power came great responsibility, on his own.

Logan : The Review.

Logan is to the X-Men film franchise,what the “The Dark Knight” is to the Batman films.James Mangold has an impressive resume already and he has delivered a Marvel movie which doesn’t look or feel like a Marvel movie and this film without doubt would definitely be counted amongst his best works.I would go so far as to say that this has to be the best X-Men movie to ever hit the screens, in fact it is one of the best superhero movies ever made, indeed.
Its a welcome change from the mind numbing CGI action mayhem that has been fed to us of late by Marvel and DC.Of course this movie features some of the bloodiest and most gruesome action sequences i have ever seen in any superhero film but it plays out like a gritty action drama and not once do you feel that its an X-Men franchise film that you’re watching, well i may have exaggerated a bit there, but you’ll know what i meant when you go watch the film yourself.

Logan is disturbing, dark and brooding not just for the sake of it and is a classic example of what good writing and visionary filmmaking can do to the most exhausted of themes.Mangold engages the viewer successfully and has managed to connect to an audience outside the cult fan base for the X-Men franchise here, i felt.There are quite a few lighter moments too which doesn’t feel forced at all and here again the credit goes to the writing.
Hugh Jackman plays “Old Man Logan” to the T while Patrick Stewart gets to play a Professor X who’s quite out of character,pun intended.The film does feature child artists in some extremely violent scenes and wouldn’t be surprised if it does raise a few eyebrows,but why should movies be any different in a world where children are bombed in their homes and wash up ashore lifeless.I couldn’t help wondering if Mangold was silently delivering a message too with this film, presenting a “dystopian” future not too far ahead of our times, telling us where we are headed.The self driving trucks were the most obvious of indicators of how close we are to Logan’s world, at least to me.#logan