Review – Avengers: Endgame

“I love you 3000.” – Tony Stark

Josh Brolin is Thanos

Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, and half of all life in the universe disappeared. That’s how last year’s Avengers: Infinity War ended and left us craving for its epic conclusion.

One year later, we are finally in the Endgame. The Russo Brothers filmed this arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back to back and reminds us of the “snap”, as we sit down to witness what’s coming. Unaware of the battle happening in Wakanda, a family is in for a surprise that will have some serious consequences. Not just for them, but for the entire universe that doesn’t know how to move on.

The surviving Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) plus brand new members Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and marvellous Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) set off on a mission to stop Thanos once and for all. Will they find Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) in time to join them on this quest? And if so, what if it all fails in the end and make things even worse?

11 years and 21 films have been leading up to this chapter. Avengers: Endgamesays farewell to characters that have been part of our lives for such a long time, tears are inevitable. Emotions will peak, because movie fans have sat in the backseat for such a long time and got to know these heroes as if we’re part of the team. Plots will be wrapped up (even some continuity errors are being corrected, to make sure everything is correct). Everything is at stake and there is only one solution. This is it.

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s script knows just how to find that balance between science, drama and action. These guys know what they’re doing and find the heart in the midst of all the heroism. The battle of Wakanda was just a warm up – you ain’t seen nothing yet! The Avengers and all of their friends get enough screentime to be remembered with honour or to leave an everlasting mark on all of us. Our superheroes have some extra tricks up their sleeves to keep things exciting. Every one of them gets a moment to shine and the clash we witness in the third act of Endgame is one of the most perfectly constructed and visually mesmerising war scenes you will witness – maybe, EVER! There will be laughs, you will cheer and gasp and you will definitely cry.

After Endgame, there’s a whole new saga to start and an entire universe to explore. But for now, let’s just enjoy the finale to our Infinity Saga and take one last bow to salute them. Thank you Avengers. We love you 3000!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Non-spoiler review originally published on novastreamnetwork.com

Review – The Curse of La Llorona

“She Wants Your Children”

La Llorona is a very well known tale in Latin American folklore. It’s the story of a woman who, after her husband left, drowned her kids in a fit of rage, realised what she had done and took her own life. The legend goes that now she kidnaps children and drowns them, mistaking them for her own. Urban legends and ghost stories are always a good formula for a horror movie, so the ever expanding Conjuring Universe is cashing in on this and making it one of the best chapters we’ve seen so far.

It’s a very impressive film I must say. Having watched all the other Conjuring Universe-films (Annabelle and her sequel, The Nun and The Conjuring 1 & 2), TheCurse of La Llorona or its Australian title The Curse of The Weeping Woman is the best chapter after the very first Conjuring. The cheap scares were more effective, mostly because there’s more build-up and atmosphere, and feels more deserved.

The film starts in the 1600s with Maria (Marisol Ramirez), later known as our titular ghost, taking her children to the lake. We jump to the 1970s, and meet Anna (Linda Cardellini) – a freshly widowed social worker providing for her two children (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen and Roman Christou) – who discovers that one of her clients, Patricia (Patricia Valesquez), has her two boys locked up in a closet. The boys are quickly taken out of her custody and La Llorona strikes, passing on the curse to Anna’s children. Desperate for a solution, she turns to an eccentric priest (Raymond Cruz) to rid their house of its newly acquainted curse.

The Weeping Woman mostly takes place inside Anna’s house, but there’s more layers to the story. Personal grief while trying to take care of children who are also in mourning, the whole stigma around a single mother working, mixed-race kids, and why this Latin American curse hits them. They’re all part of the story and blend pretty well to make it one cohesive tale. Cardellini shows us a side of her acting chops we haven’t seen before, and sells it very well. After her last big film Green Book, where her part was almost non-existent, its nice to see a woman of this calibre lead a horror film and isn’t afraid to take on a different challenge. The genuine fear, but taking charge of her role as a protective mother always feels and looks real.

As far as the rest of the cast, there’s not much to talk about. Cruz as a priest is a little bit fascinating, but doesn’t have a big enough role to get excited about or to leave a lasting impression. The children are mostly screaming or thrown through rooms like dolls by La Llorona.

It might feel a little bit repetitive at times and plays out like a short film stretched out to a feature length film (best comparison I can give you is Lights Out, directed by David F. Sandberg – Shazam!). The best bits of the film definitely include Cardellini and some incredible imagery. But only being 93 minutes long, is more than enough for the story to be told. Director Michael Chaves is also taking over from James Wan to direct The Conjuring 3 (he’s still producing and writing the screenplay), so I guess this director is just getting started and will grow to a larger scale in his next feature. Just don’t rely too much on what other horror masters have done in the past, create your own urban legends and voice.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review – Little

“She woke up like This.”

Issa Rae and Marsai Martin

This modern day version of Big – but in reverse, shows all the good bits in the trailer. So if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what you’re in for. That doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh throughout the film, because it is funny. It’s predictable and had a cute message in the end, that wants you to stay true to yourself. 

Little isn’t anything new, we’ve seen this story multiple times before, in the way of a bodyswap like Freaky Friday or in the ’80s comedy “Big” with Tom Hanks. But it’s harmless fun, mostly thanks to the cast, which seems to try harder than what’s given to them.

Screenwriters Tracy Oliver and Tina Gordon‘s (who also directed this film) underdeveloped script is contrived, full of plotholes and unnecessary scenes that don’t help the story progress. Little is enjoyable when you just focus on what’s in front of you and don’t think too much about all of it.

Regina Hall plays a tough, rude tech mogul who, because of some weird magic trick, wakes up one morning in the body of her 13-year-old self. She then spends the rest of the movie figuring out how to reverse the curse, learning a few useful life lessons along the way. As usual, Hall embraces the role and dives full in. But sometimes, you should say ‘no’ to delivering jokes that seem very outdated and entirely inappropriate. Especially in 2019, transphobic jokes are just not done. Lucky this happens in the beginning of the film, trying to show us just how mean she actually is, but I think this could’ve been shown to the audience in a different way. Hall has worked with producer Will Packer before on hit-comedy Girls Trip, which is one of the better comedies I’ve seen in the last decade.

Issa Rae plays Hall’s long suffering personal assistant and is as charming as she is in her Emmy– and Golden Globe-nominated HBO-series Insecure. Although I thought the more the story progressed, the less screen time she got and kind of turned into a supporting character. As if the writers decided to wrap up her part in the whole story. Very unfortunate, because her chemistry with Marsai Martin is a pleasure to behold.

Speaking of Marsai Martin, she is the star of this movie. As the 13-year old version of Hall’s character, she owns every scene she is in and dominates with a screen presence I haven’t seen from a child actor in a very long time. Martin is a revelation, who might look cute, but turns out to be a performer with first-class comic timing and true acting chops. She might seem Little, but she is enormously talented.

Interesting note is that Martin has become the youngest person ever to earn an executive-producing credit on a major Hollywood production, with this movie. Little isn’t going to make anyone forget about “Big“, Hanks made too much of an impact on that film to erase it from anyone’s mind. But Little just gave us a new star. And I’m happy to have witnessed that on the silver screen.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Originally written for novastreamnetwork.com