Tag Archives: Elizabeth Olsen

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers Infinity War

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by) 
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong

The dust has settled, the hype has died down, the fanboys have scrutinised every frame and Avengers: Infinity War has already raked in $2 billion worldwide. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, look beyond the spectacle and obligatory fan-service to assess what is still essentially half a movie (though it’s still a lot better than Age of Ultron). 

I’ve always been pretty dubious over the practice of dividing a single story into two or more separate films. I understood Quentin Tarantino’s motives behind Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 because they were stylistically different. But two Breaking Dawns, two Mockingjays and three freaking Hobbits were just greedy, cynical cash-grabs calculated to prey on fans whose commitment to their beloved franchises gave them no choice but to open their wallets one more time than necessary.

But after seeing Infinity War twice now (once in theatres with everyone else, the second time for this Blu-ray review), I have to grudgingly concede that the decision to make it two movies might be justified (I’ll reserve a final verdict until next year). As it stands, this film has an unenviable task: Include nearly every major MCU character, work them into the film without regulating anyone to a gratuitous cameo while still moving the new story forward (“new” is relative, though…longtime fans have been aware of this coming war for years). 

For the most part, the film is successful, mainly because Marvel has done a pretty masterful job of laying the groundwork during the past decade of MCU movies. So when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) engages in verbal chest-thumping with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the story doesn’t need to spend time establishing their personalities the way a stand-alone film must. Speaking of which, the film’s best moments are when these iconic characters are meeting each other for the first time. Those involving one-or-more of the Guardians of the Galaxy are predictably the funniest, and sometimes surprisingly moving.

The downside, of course, is that anyone not fully up-to-speed with the doings in the MCU will be completely lost. Sure, they could (mostly) follow the story, maybe even a few of the subplots, but will have absolutely no emotional stake in any of these characters. And there’s no other film in the MCU that depends more on the audience’s investment in its characters than Infinity War (especially during the final act).

Even without the burden of character exposition, bringing them all together convincingly takes a considerable amount of time (which Infinity War does by presenting three concurrent subplots). Could the rising action leading to its epic climax have been trimmed-up a bit? Absolutely. Infinity War is occasionally meandering and apocalyptic battles are so standard in this franchise that simply making them longer doesn’t necessarily make them grander. However, the story doesn’t feel gratuitously padded just to squeeze-out two movies. Casual viewers may be impatiently checking their watches after ninety minutes, but it goes without saying that anyone who loves these characters won’t want it to end. 

But end it does, with whopper of a cliffhanger that’s more Empire Strikes Back than An Unexpected Journey. In other words, the story may be incomplete, but not the experience. And if all 18 of the previous entries in the MCU can be considered converging roads leading up to this moment, then perhaps two movies is justified. I guess we’ll all know for sure next year.

Until then, because of its size, scope, references to past events and plethora of Easter eggs, Infinity War makes better repeated viewing at home than the usual superhero film. Nobody but the most dedicated fanboys would be capable of catching everything the first time. On a related note, I’m sort-of surprised at how light this Blu-ray is on supplemental material. The featurettes are entertaining, but mostly promotional and pretty short compared to those included on many other Disney/Marvel releases. 

Wind River (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier 

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Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Elizabeth Olsen

Plot:  A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.

Running Time: 1 hour 47 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 87%   Audience 90%

Why I Watched This: Well look at the 5 from Rotten Tomatoes, it had huge buzz on the festival circuit and the trailer looked good as well.

Random Thoughts: One thing that I should mention is that of course Renner and Olsen are also in the MCU and have done Avenger movies to together but here’s something I knew that but never once thought about during the movie.

Writer Director Taylor Sheridan is on a roll and now that he’s directing he could be a huge player in the near future if he can keep the quality up.

What I Liked: First off this is a very well made movie, top to bottom it’s one of those films that grabs you keeps you in the moment.  I was very happy to find out for myself that the buzz was earned.  This is not only as well written, directed and acted film but an adult film, and I don’t mean language or violence I mean theme and approach.  The film is taunt but it never feels like just a thriller there’s just too much going on.

This might be a little overblown but I think this is Jeremy Renner’s best work, he’s so good here, he never over plays, he never goes for the big moment he plays it small he plays in mostly inside of himself.  He does some great work here with facial expression and his eyes, he’s a damaged man, a man who lost something and he’ll never get it back but yet he goes on and I think that one point is what makes this film special.  We’ve seen a ton of movie about grieve and a lot of time there used as plot points or to show why the lead is the way he is here we see a man who had dealt with something and is living his life and even though the case he’s walked into hit’s home he knows it’s not about him it’s about another family and the scenes where he talks to the father are some of the films best.  The best thing about Renner’s performance is that it feels real it doesn’t feel like showy or Oscar bait.

While we’re talking acting give credit to Elizabeth Olsen cause her role is that of the outsider and we really don’t learn much about her but she breaths life into an underwritten role and does really well. Also nice to see the great Graham Greene, so good and so underused he gets a good role here and he fits in very well, that’s the thing with the film the tone and the structure work very well, this film in almost all areas feels like a well oiled machine. I have to also give credit to Taylor Sheridan he pulled off a rare thing he made a thriller that didn’t seem cheesy or exploitive and a drama that didn’t feel like a cliched melodrama.  I’ve said a lot of good things about this film but I have one more and that this is a very good thriller, it’s tense and it has real stakes and you care what happens to these people and yes the location is great and it does well cold you get the scope of the place.

What I Didn’t Like: There’s not much I have two things one is a nitpick and one is bigger and maybe the only flaw for me in the film.  It’s the finale the reveal of the bad guys, this just didn’t feel right, these villains didn’t feel like real people, they were monsters and we know nothing of them and they go way over the top, I mean they did what they did because why?  Plus there’s more than one so all these guys are monsters, I would have bought if they weren’t thrown out at the end and honestly we know nothing of them, they’re pretty much just stock bad guys who do bad things cause they’re bad.  For a film so well written I excepted more. The other point is that in the end shootout a lot of people are killed and they’re not brought  up and we don’t see the aftermath this film is about lost and a bunch of people lost they’ve lives for this case and we moved on pretty fast to get to our two main characters.

Final Thoughts:  It’s a good film, not perfect but close.  I’ll also give credit for keeping the film under 2 hours and for keeping the pace and tension up.  It’s a must watch.

Rating: 8/10

Wind River (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

Wind River

Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Elizabeth Olsen

Wind River is a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a number of months. In theory, a neo-western with some thriller/mystery thrown in is right up my street. Taylor Sheridan, the man responsible for Sicario and Hell or High Water’s great scripts, had written it and that probably played a large part in my anticipation. His writing talents are still undeniable, but he’s no Denis Villenueve (Sicario) in the directors chair. That’s not a scathing criticism as such because there’s not many who are.

In terms of story, it focuses on Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) for the most part. He’s a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent (a fancy term for a hunter/scout) who’s out tracking a livestock mauling lion and its cubs for his in-laws when he finds the frozen body of Natalie Henson (Kelsey Chow); a young, eighteen year old woman. Now, gruesome as it is, that in itself wouldn’t be so mysterious. Until you factor in that she’s discovered six miles from the nearest settlement, without proper gear (it’s Wyoming in the winter), barefoot, bloodied and seemingly having been raped.

The investigation into the murder begins in earnest when FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson), an inexperienced rookie based in Las Vegas, is sent out to determine whether the case is a homicide. She quickly finds herself completely unprepared for the wintery conditions she encounters or even able to make her way around the vast mountainous area (how did she become a special agent?), which leads to her enlisting Cory for his scouting skills and extensive knowledge of the land. And off they go, through an autopsy, on many a beautifully shot snow speeder journey, a tense shootout and a raid on a drug den, slowly uncovering the details of what happened. Emphasis on slowly.

Jeremy Renner is a fine actor and one that I really admire. He was fantastic in last years Arrival and he’s every bit as good in Wind River. It’s very much his film, the plot revolves around Cory, and of course, when it comes to finally apprehending the killer it’s him that grabs the bull by the horns. Cory is something of a tragic figure and the personal tragedy revealed in the middle of the film adds a degree of poignancy to his arc, that along with the personal connection to Natalie’s family, fuels his desire to see revenge meted out.

I was incredibly disappointed with Elizabeth Olson’s role in this film. I expected her to be the Josh Brolin or Del Toro from Sicario, the Ben Foster or Jeff Bridges from Hell or High Water. I.e. A meaty supporting role that was in someway meaningful. Sadly though, in terms of story or a meaningful role, she had neither, very little to work with and was largely portrayed as something of an incompetent irrelevance. A point only underlined by the ending when she’s manoeuvred out the way.

Gil Birmingham had little more than an extended cameo, but managed to put plenty of emotion into the few scenes he had and I felt genuine sadness for the characters loss. A loss further exacerbated by his only son turning to drugs. I’ll mention Bernthal purely because he’s the man and kicked the shit out of three or four guys single handedly, but it was the briefest of cameos.

So what exactly led to my earlier negative appraisal of Sheridan’s directing? Firstly, I felt that the pacing was out, especially in the first half and it took far too long to find and apprehend those responsible for what was a brutal murder. The reveal of the killer and what actually happened felt rushed, came in the final half hour and justice wasn’t served until practically the final scene. I did enjoy the scene nonetheless. Thematically, it definitely had a similar vibe going on to Hell or High Water with its frankly brutal analysis of modern U.S. life, this time focusing on an Indian reservation, but the decision to delve into that for the first hour or so definitely had an adverse effect on the pacing, something that was a real strength of the former.

Ultimately, I did enjoy Wind River and it was a solid enough film with a brilliant performance from Renner. The script was solid enough and it continued Sheridan’s highlighting of the disenfranchised elements of modern society. The frustratingly slow burn nature of the story for half the film, chronic underuse of Olson and poor pacing let it down in the end though.

Still, I’d certainly recommend giving it a watch.

Rating: 3/5