Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Vuvu rating: 7

Fans flock to see Avengers Infinity War.                                                   Photo: Sanet Oberholzer

Avengers Infinity War has left audiences aghast since it was released in theatres on April 27. The storyline breaks the familiar formula of many superhero movies and leaves the viewer with endless questions of what this means for the future of the Marvel franchise.

The movie is the culmination of all the previous movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is the third of the Avengers movies and flows particularly from Captain America Civil War, Thor Ragnarok, and to a lesser extent, Black Panther. Essentially the movie can’t be viewed and understood without knowledge of the previous Marvel films.

As what was to be expected, Infinity War brings together most of the Marvel superhero cast – 27 characters to be specific – to fight the super villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) who has set out on a mission to collect all six infinity stones which have been referred to in previous movies. Together, these stones bestow on the bearer infinite power. For Thanos this means the ability to wipe out half of the universe’s population with the snap of his fingers in order to bring about what he views to be a “balanced world”. To him, this is essential to sustain life in an environment which is becoming increasingly limited in resources.

Captain America Civil War movie ended with the Avengers going their separate ways, while Infinity War sees many of them come together again to fight a common enemy – Thanos. Although Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) aren’t seen fighting alongside each other in the movie, the superheroes make a return on a quest to save the universe.

It’s the first time various casts of the MCU are brought together. Most notably, the Guardians of the Galaxy are introduced to fight alongside the Avengers as is the cast of Black Panther and Dr Strange. Following from the tone of the latest Thor and The Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the characters from these movies bring the comic relief. Spider-Man is introduced into a bigger role and officially becomes an Avenger. We also witness a few deaths of notable characters.

The movie did well in blending 27 different characters from nine different movies: The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther. It does a good job of portraying human elements of loss, loyalty and connection. It is the first time I’ve seen the villain showing elements of humanity and emotion which is something I feel contributes to the viewer’s understanding of his motives. The film makes a powerful statement about earth’s finite resources and while Thanos’s means don’t justify his end, with some thought you can understand his justification.

It’s already largely assumed that an Avengers 4 movie will be coming out in a year’s time. As with all these movies, there is a post-credit scene which gives a clue as to what is to come as Captain Marvel, the MCU’s biggest and strongest superhero, is introduced.

One possibility of the outcome of this movie is that the MCU will take on a new face into the future but I think the more likely scenario is for Captain Marvel’s upcoming movie, and possibly the next Ant-Man movie, to lead into Avengers 4. I cannot think that Marvel is likely to leave its franchise where Infinity War left off. Without introducing a spoiler, there is too much money to be made from various franchises that have recently been introduced; these movies won’t be dissolved now. To devastated viewers, this will sadly mean another year before we see where Marvel plans to take the MCU.

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Movie Review: Five Fingers for Marseilles

Cast: Vuyo Dabula, Kenneth Nkosi, Warren Masemola, Zethu Dlomo

Director: Michael Matthews

Vuvu rating: 6/10

Five Fingers for Marseilles has made history as the first South African western film and is due to premiere in the US later this year. It is the first feature film by South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) acclaimed director, Michael Matthews.

The film, which opened on April 6, follows five young friends who fight against the brutality of the apartheid era police officers in their small rural hometown, Marseilles. One of them, Tau (Vuyo Dabula) kills two police officers and is sentenced to 20 years in prison. After his release he returns to Marseilles to find that the rest of the five have taken up prominent positions in the community.  A new threat has taken control of the town forcing a reluctant Tau to band together with the five friends once again to save Marseilles.

The film explores themes of friendship and betrayal. It provides sharp social commentary on corruption, colonisation, and land, making it particularly relevant given the current land reform debates. It’s also a visually stunning film. Matthews emphasises the natural beauty of the town and rural Eastern Cape where the movie was shot, through sweeping establishing shots used throughout the film.

The movie takes easily recognisable tropes from western films and gives them a South African twist. The classic western saloon is replaced by a shebeen. There are fast draw shootouts, outlaws, and cowboy hats and riding boots which are worn next to Basotho blankets. The effect is a refreshing take on an otherwise outdated genre.

Five Fingers benefits greatly from having a strong cast and there are standout performances from Dabula, the lead, and the talented Warren Masemola, who brings much needed life and energy to the film.

While the movie is a visual feast, the story is lacking. The convoluted plot line is difficult to follow, making the film’s gory climax more confusing than emotive. The film also falls back on the lazy South African convention of pretending that language barriers don’t exist, so white Afrikaans speaking police officers are able to perfectly understand seSotho and isiXhosa that are spoken by other characters.

Perhaps the biggest sin of Five Fingers is its female representation. Lerato (Zethu Dlomo), is given substantially less screen time than her male counterparts, despite being one of the titular five. She is used as a catalyst for the main plot and then not given much else to do until the very end.

Despite its flaws, Five Fingers for Marseilles is a film to see if one wants something local and different.

FEATURED IMAGE: A poster of Five Fingers for Marseilles which is being screened at Cinema Nouveau at the Rosebank Mall
Photo: Naledi Mashishi

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