The Avengers: Infinity War poster
Film

Movie Monday: Avengers – Infinity War (2018)

Eighteen. Although there have been many more movies featuring Marvel comic book characters or that have been made by Marvel Studios, there have been 18 ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ movies since the studio began Phase One of its ambitious, interconnected franchise plans in 2008 with Iron Man. That’s more than an entire season of the average US TV show these days.

Getting to the end of your first season without getting cancelled is impressive enough. Getting this far with a relatively consistent continuity, despite numerous writers and directors, is even more impressive. But getting this far with at least some really good movies coming out of the endeavour is nothing short of amazing.

The key to the MCU’s longevity is that while some characters hop around and appear in other movies, each movie has had a different roster of superheroes to play with, ensuring a different tone and freshness to each one (hopefully). In addition, each main character’s franchise has stopped after three movies: it’s not Iron Man 18 we’re watching in cinemas, since we stopped at Iron Man 3, and Thor, Captain America and co have similarly bowed out after three movies or fewer in favour of new arrivals such as Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

However, one important feature of the MCUs is its periodic reunions of characters from all the franchises, both past and present, for something typically Earth-shattering that requires a combination of superheroes to defeat. These movies cement in the audience’s mind the idea that the MCU is truly interconnected and that missing out on one film is possible, but it’ll be like missing an episode of a serial TV show if they do. Iron Man might not have got a fourth movie, but he’s shown up in The Incredible HulkCaptain America: Civil Warand Spider-man: Homecoming, too. And that’s before we even get to the ensemble The Avengers movies, in which everyone turns up, whether they’re dead or not.

Which is where we get to the problem. Movies aren’t TV series. Sure, you can stretch them to three hours or so if you want, but if you’ve got literally dozens of regular characters in separate movies, when you bring them all together in one movie, how do you give them enough screen time to properly service them as characters while still having a decent plot?

Avengers: Infinity War

The Avengers: Infinity Characters

When Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, I suggested that writer-director Joss Whedon had done just about as well as anyone could be expected, given how many characters he had to squeeze into his script. In retrospect, my review was probably a bit more generous than the movie deserved, since it hasn’t held up so well on repeated viewings chez TMINE. But it’s still not bad.

One area I was also wrong about was in suggesting that Whedon was about the only person who could have pulled it off. Whedon was, of course, the king of Marvel’s Phase One, but since then, some unexpected new royalty has hit town: the Russo Brothers. Improbably picked to direct Captain America: Winter Soldier following their work on the paintball episode of Community, they immediately hit the ball out of the park with what to my mind is the best movie of the entire MCU – and a damn fine spy/action movie in its own right. No small surprise then that they got its sequel, Captain America: Civil War, to direct as well. That movie can also be considered The Avengers 2.5 in its own way, given how many MCU characters are in it, and while it wasn’t as good as Winter Soldier, it was still a really good movie.

Hopes were therefore high for their Avengers: Infinity War, the first of two movies designed to polish off the first three phases of the MCU – the season finale, if you will. By contrast, the once box-office transforming The Avengers and The Avengers 2‘s character rosters feel more like a small piece of local theatre, given there are probably twice to three times as many characters for them to juggle, both old and new. Infinity War also had to round off the massive storyline that’s been building since as far back as Thor.

No pressure, then.

Fortunately, they’ve certainly risen to meet the challenge, managing to out-Whedon Whedon himself.

Avengers Infinity War

The story so far…

For those of you who haven’t been following the linking storyline – and it does get explained in Infinity War, you’ll be glad to hear – there are six great big McGuffins known as Infinity Stones that have been popping up all over the MCU in the likes of The Avengers, Thor: Dark World, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Each of these has a different mega-power and the Big Bad of The Avengers, Thanos, wants to collect them as he’s basically an intergalactic Thomas Malthus – believing that life outstrips resources, it’s his mission to wipe out half of all life in the universe so that the survivors never have to worry about starvation, overcrowding et al ever again. If he gets all six stones, he can kill everyone with a single wave of his specially made Infinity Gauntlet (guess what that’s for).

Naturally, Earth’s mightiest heroes – as well as Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy – aren’t really inclined to let him. But even combined, can they really take on a Titan who can beat the Hulk in a fist fight, crush a god’s neck with his bare hands and hurl a moon at someone he doesn’t really like? And give that Infinity War is the first of two movies that answer that question, who’s still going to be left standing at the end of this one?

You may be surprised. Both non-spoilery and spoilery reviews after this trailer and then the jump.

Continue reading “Movie Monday: Avengers – Infinity War (2018)”

Corporate Casual Friday
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including Corporate, Carter and Tabula Rasa

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest TV shows from around the world will air in the UK

Just one acquisition this week, Corporate, and that’s already got a premiere date, which I’ll reveal in a mo. But a couple of other, previously acquired shows also have premiere dates now.

Premiere dates

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa (Belgium: VRT; UK: Channel 4/Walter Presents)
Premiere date: Sunday, May 6, 10pm, Channel 4

I know I said a summer airdate, but apparently it’s summer now, for this Belgian show at least. It sees Veerle Baetens playing an amnesiac who becomes a key suspect in a missing person’s case, so has to reconstruct her memories to clear her name. However, her mind fills in the gaps in her memory caused by the amnesia using dreams, hallucinations and nightmares, making the show a bit trippy.

Corporate
(l-r) Aparna Nancherla, Adam Lustick, Anne Dudek, Matt Ingebretson, Jake Weisman and Lance Reddick in Corporate

Corporate (US: Comedy Central; UK: Comedy Central UK)
Premiere date: Wednesday, May 9, 10pm

Without a doubt the funniest Comedy Central programme I’ve ever seen, Corporate is a biting, nihilistic look at working for a giant corporation. Starring show creators and writers Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman as two junior executives at a genuinely evil mega-corporation, the shows alternates between pastiching the soul-destroying, abusive nature of corporate culture and the desire for the sweet release of death from said culture. Also in the cast are Lance Reddick (The Wire, Fringe) as the company CEO and Anne Dudek (House, Covert Affairs) as one of our ‘heroes’ mid-level bosses.

Do yourself a favour and watch what is almost certainly going to be one of TMINE top’s shows of 2018.

Episode reviews: 1, 2-4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9-10

Carter
(l-r) Kristian Bruun, Jerry O’Connell and Sydney Poitier in Carter

Carter (International: AXN; UK: Alibi)
Premiere date: Wednesday, June 13, 9pm

Following on from Absentia, Gone and other “citizens of the world” (ie shows without a real country of origin), we have this new AXN comedy detective drama starring Jerry O’Connell (Sliders, Carpoolers, The Defenders) as a detective on hit US TV show Call Carter who has to return to his hometown after an embarrassing public meltdown in Hollywood. There, he taps into his acting experience to become a real detective, while dealing with all his childhood baggage.

Obviously not a hugely new concept – cf Pulaski, The World of Eddie Weary and The Grinder – Jerry O’Connell is something of a show killer and AXN shows tend to be bland in their desperate attempt to be American, without actually being American, but it might be good.

Even if the trailer suggests otherwise.

Babylon Berlin
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Babylon Berlin, Billions, Zapped, Porters renewed; Bradley Whitford joins Flack; + more

Internet TV

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Careful, strong
Weekly Wonder Woman

Fortnightly Wonder Woman: Justice League #43, Wonder Woman #45, Trinity #22, The Brave and the Bold #3

Every week (or fortnight), Weekly Wonder Woman keeps you up to date on everything involving DC Comics’ premier superheroine

More birthday celebrations last week (and probably work next week because of the Bank Holiday) means WWW is likely to be FWW for the next few weeks at least. Still, given that seems to work for DC, why not for WWW, too?

Not a huge amount of news this fortnight, mind: Patty Jenkins has confirmed that Wonder Woman 2 will be set in the 1980s, while Joss Whedon has defended his own unmade script for Wonder Woman:

But that’s your lot, so let’s head straight to the comics. Just the usual suspects, as far as I know, although of course that number is set to diminish very soon. So after the jump, let’s talk about Wonder Woman #45, Justice League #43, The Brave and the Bold #3 and the final issue of Trinity, #22.

Continue reading “Fortnightly Wonder Woman: Justice League #43, Wonder Woman #45, Trinity #22, The Brave and the Bold #3”