Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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"They're Hulk fans, they don't know Ant-Man. Nobody does."
After half the universe was wiped out by Thanos in Infinity War, Tony Stark makes it back to Earth after bumping into Captain Marvel in space and so the Avengers get together for one last battle with Thanos.
Then the rest of the movie happens.
Marvel put out an ad with the cast begging fans not to spoil this movie with the hashtag #dontspoiltheendgame.... so I won't. I wouldn't even try doing a review with spoilers til this movie hits blu-ray.
So.... it's pretty goddamned hard to talk about this movie!
So yeah if you don't want ANY spoilers, stop reading and see the movie, but I won't be giving away the gold here, I'm not an asshole.... unlike the commenters on EVERY single Youtube video, so don't watch Youtube til you see the movie either!
This was a pretty great comic book movie. Just when I thought Infinity War set a new bar for what's possible for visual effects and epic storytelling in comic book movies..... Endgame manages to take it to another level..... and I really mean that.
I'd say probably the best thing about this movie is aside from maybe 2 or 3 out of a hundred moments in this movie..... I could not believe how surprising the story of this movie was. About 10 minutes in they do like 3 things that completely changed how I thought this movie was going to play out.
And over the course of this 3 hour movie they followed every surprising turn with another. You normally find that level of surprise in truly original films, random example I had no clue where Whiplash was going. But I've never been so unable to predict the plot of a comic book movie before. It's nothing but left turns when normally a Marvel movie goes in a straight line.
There's elements of time travel in this movie and what better way to add unpredictability to what is now the 22nd film in a series? I can almost see the writers going "We're probably going to have to work in time travel to come up with more ideas."
The 2nd act of the movie... or 3rd act... kind of a 4 act movie.... but anyway the middle chunk of this movie is where the time travel materiel occurs and I was stunned at how much fun AND emotion they managed to get out of something that might sound like a cheat way to resolve the superbly dark ending of Infinity War. There's practically an entire film here just dealing with the time travel elements. You could almost make it the Thanos trilogy if you REALLY wanted.
But they make it all work inside one film. 3 hours long and it feels like it, but not in a bad way. Nothing feels stretched out, 3 hours really is how long this movie NEEDS to tell this story. Matter of fact there's a shocking number of things that were NOT resolved that made me wish this movie was another half hour LONGER which I can't believe.
The Russo brothers directing and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely writing.... this current era of the MCU might be over but I REALLY hope these 4 guys keep making Marvel movies because at this point I think they're the best at it. The fact that they were able to squeeze so much into these 2 Thanos movies without dropping the ball at any point is unreal. Joss Whedon couldn't even equal his own work when he did a second Avengers movie.
The actors in this movie are all first-rate as per usual.
Robert Downey Jr. continues his insane streak of performances since 2008 with Iron Man and continues to make Tony Stark one of the greatest comic to movie translations to date.
Chris Evans, I thought Cap was shockingly absent from Infinity War, he had like 4 lines it felt like. Well now that Spidey, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy are all dead...... Cap gets some more screen time. And boy do they give Cap some standout moments, both action wise and dramatically. There's one action moment Cap gets that made my theater's audience lose their minds, it was the only moment like that in the movie. They laughed at all the jokes and so forth, the odd gasp here and there. But this one moment I'm talking about produced the loudest gasp I've ever heard watching movies my whole life. Captain America and Chris Evans knock it out of the park in Endgame.
Chris Hemsworth, well.... I don't know what you THOUGHT they were gonna do with Thor in this movie now that he's back to being the all-powerful hammer-wielding God of Thunder..... but I sure as hell didn't expect what his role ended up being. Hemsworth is fantastic in the movie, keeping up his recent work evolving Thor into one of the more interesting Avengers. I will say.... I was genuinely weirded out by Thor in this movie.
Cap, Iron Man and Thor have one fight scene together that really made me smile. I'm surprised it took so long to get that kind of fight scene from them.
Josh Brolin, I won't give away Thanos' part to play in Endgame. But I will say it was possibly the most surprising thing in the movie for me. Like so surprising I almost stepped out of the movie for a moment because all I could think of was "Jeez, that's smart..... dammit, I never would have thought of that!" But suffice to say Thanos remains the best villain in the MCU.
I'd be here all day listing every Avenger and their actor. I'll go quick here and say what you need to know about other actors in the cast. Jeremy Renner is great as Hawkeye. Mark Ruffalo is great as Hulk.... his part in the movie was spoiled by imagery I saw in line for POPCORN but that's another matter. Scarlett Johansson's great as Black Widow. Brie Larson is..... OK let me break off for a sec here.
Boy did they waste a lot of time building up Captain Marvel lemme just say that. Because if you thought Captain Marvel was going to step in and save the day... like I was.... you're mistaken. All that build up for Captain Marvel and ESPECIALLY her role in this movie and I was stunned at how little screen time Brie Larson has. I figured this was gonna be her movie and... yeah it's really not. But Brie Larson's good in the movie with probably about 6 lines of dialog.
And maybe not all that surprisingly Paul Rudd and Ant-Man steal a lot of the show in Endgame. I can't believe the amount of juice they managed to squeeze out of a character whose whole thing is shrinking and growing.
There's.......... so much more to say...... like so..... so.... SO much more..... but you gotta see the movie before I could feel right getting into it. But it all has to do with that feeling of surprise I felt throughout the movie.
So many times in this movie I thought "Perfect.... that was perfect." That's the bottom line with Avengers: Endgame.
Not the end of the MCU of course.... how they can possibly... logistically top this movie I'm almost afraid to think about because.... I don't see it, frankly. If I owned Marvel I'd say, hit the ol' reboot button, recast, work in the X-Men and the Fantastic Four and let's start MCU 2. But.... I mean who am I kidding, they know what they're doing, obviously.
I WISH TO HELL I could say I liked Endgame more than Infinity War... but I can't. Infinity War's the better movie, better story, I would say better action, better pacing, better ending.... that's the whole thing here, Infinity War was Empire Strikes Back and Endgame is Return of the Jedi. I love Jedi but.... it's no Empire now is it.
Also one thing I loved about Infinity War was how big a role the Guardians of the Galaxy had, it was half their movie. And of course they're not in this movie besides Rocket and that's a little disappointing as a fan.
But that doesn't take anything away from how ridiculously entertaining Endgame is. I have no doubt when we hit February 2020 and I'm going over what the best movies, scenes and performances of of 2019 were.... I'm going to be thinking of Avengers: Endgame an awful lot.
The year is still young but I mean..... yeah.... Avengers: Endgame is my favorite movie of 2019 so far.
"Ain't like it used to be but.... it'll do."
The movie that put made Sam Peckinpah synonymous with movie violence til the end of time.
1913, a gang of outlaws led by Pike Bishop goes on the run after a botched bank robbery, chased by a former partner of Pike's who's leading a team of bounty hunters. Pike's men hide out in Mexico and start working for the Mexican army. And things.... get.... bloody.
I was trying to think of what kept coming to mind as I was watching this movie and after it was over. A tagline to sum this movie up and it hit me.
The Last Western
It's like certain comics I like, like Kingdom Come or The Dark Knight Returns where it's about an older Batman at the end of his superhero career and what it means to be at the end of an era. Or of course there's other Westerns like Unforgiven or Shane that tell similar grim realistic Western tales.
It's like Peckinpah wanted to tell a story that summed up a certain moment in time where the age of the gunslinger and the Wild West came to an end.... or at least the end was near. But with our outlaws in this movie sort of unable to return to America and realizing their days of Wild West crime are over, they go out in a blaze of glory because it won't ever get better than that again. I can see why this movie was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for having a really unique Western story.
Fantastic cast in this movie.
The never.... and it really seems like never..... the never not great William Holden who more and more is becoming like a Top 10 actor for me. I saw another film of his for the first time this year Sunset Blvd and now The Wild Bunch and goddamn this guy is good. I'm used to seeing him as a good guy so it was awesome to see him play just an utter bastard. There's a moment where he gets shot in the back by a woman, he turns around goes "Bitch!" and blows her away with a shotgun and that blew my fuckin' mind that Peckinpah gave us a protagonist like that. I mean Clint Eastwood in the Dollars movies was kind of a cold guy but he DID seem to have even a KIND OF morality... not the case for Pike or any of the guys in this movie.
But I love that Holden is one of these amazing actors that got the chance to go from the Golden Age of Hollywood and keep working into the newer age and be part of cinema history, I mean he's in Sunset Blvd AND The Bridge on the River Kwai AND he's in Network AND he's part of one of the bloodiest Westerns ever made! Nice!
The cast is filled out by loads of stellar actors like Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, LQ Jones, Strother Martin. Ben Johnson is kind of just one of the guys in this movie but for some reason he stood out to me.
Edmond O'Brien I'd never seen in a movie before, he plays Sykes this... decrepit old bastard in Pike's gang. Think of Walter Huston in Treasure of the Sierra Madre but without ANY of his charm. The guy's a monster! He's such a freaky, scary looking guy looking like he's never bathed in his life, his black teeth and his constant cackling. He'd be right at home in Deadwood.
But I think my favorite guy in this movie was Robert Ryan who plays Deke, Pike's former partner who went to prison and is now released as part of a deal where if he kills Pike he's a free man and if he doesn't he's back at Yuma Prison. Just that alone is enough for an entire movie.
Now I got an issue here....
I did know this movie was about the end of an era for the Wild West, similar to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where it's about how NOW you rob a bank and they send a squad of killers after you, the kinda sorta beginnings of the FBI in a way rather than say just the sheriff or a posse of locals. So I was THINKING this would be about a team of lawmen going after a team of outlaws, both as skilled as the other. And... Deke's guys are kind of a joke aside from him, very inept and almost comic relief. I really would have preferred it like in Outlaw Josey Wales where it's a proper team of mercenaries coming after our "hero" rather than Deke's guys who are an inch from slipping on banana peels for laughs.
But Robert Ryan was excellent in this movie playing this guy who doesn't WANT to kill a guy who was probably his best friend but he doesn't wanna go back to jail either. He also gets this GORGEOUS moment right at the end where you can see it all playing on his face the realization that seeing the corpses of his former gang he's standing at the edge of the Wild West and he's sort of heartbroken about it. The final shootout is nice but THAT'S a perfect ending for this movie.
About that shootout....
There's actually a lot of action in this movie. We open with this insanely violent bank robbery shootout.... the law VS the outlaws right at the start of the movie....
Good place to mention one movie that came to mind over and over again watching this was Heat. No QUESTION Michael Mann was inspired by The Wild Bunch when he thought of the idea of a movie following bank robbers and the men who chase them.
But anyway the opening shootout my jaw hit the floor with how many civilians got caught in the crossfire. REALLY letting you know up front this is not gonna be a classic golden age style Western. A guy says it "They're really blowing the hell out of this town!"
And then the finale.... Pike's guys have a friend who's been made a prisoner of the Mexican army and... they don't wanna leave without him. So there's this great moment where Pike just looks at his guys and says "Let's go." and Warren Oates says "Why not?" and they all know what the score is. Like Mike said in Breaking Bad "Either all of us are going home or none of us are."
So they load up their guns and march towards certain death, it's a PERFECT Western moment. It's also nice to see it be a group of friends going out like that, it tends to be the one man facing the odds, this is more the Rio Bravo style.
And then after the Mexican general kills their guy... they blow his ass away and there's this silence where nobody makes a move. Borgnine just laughs cuz he knows what's coming, Pike smiles and away we go.
Just non-stop blasting, it's like Black Hawk Down only it's a Western. And it's 1913 so the Mexican army has this fully automatic machine gun and when Pike's guys get their turn with that it's like nothing I've seen before. Just dozens of guys getting blown to bits, that classic machine gun ricochet sound effect which makes it even more epic. Bloody chaos for a good 4 minutes until everybody's dead. It's SO dark!!! Borgnine uses a woman as a human shield, Pike blows a woman away like I said and then gets shot by like a 10 year old kid, it's insane!
Just about every epic shootout made after 1969 owes a debt to that scene and especially any shootout Tarantino's done. I was expecting it to be all slow-mo but no, it's 100 miles and hour, I couldn't believe it.
The Wild Bunch is one hell of a movie, managing to be this poetic story of the end of the outlaws but also this badass epic Western action movie. With an array of great performances especially from William Holden and Robert Ryan. And violence that's tough to forget.
One of the best movies I've seen all year.
"Can you hear this?!"
Django is a gunfighter wandering across the West dragging a coffin carrying a military-grade machine gun. And he winds up in a small town beset by Mexican bandits and the KKK.... and well..... like I said, Django carries around a machine gun at all times.
Obviously the only reason I know about this movie is Tarantino making Django Unchained, but he didn't just take the title and the title song but also bits of the score and QT definitely got a couple scenes from this movie. Django taking on the KKK, we got that in Django Unchained, too.... the KKK didn't exist until after the Civil War which DU is set before so they're called Regulators back then but nevertheless...
90 minutes, not the 3 hours a guy like Leone would put into a Western so it's over before you know it.
Franco Nero... I mean he's got the look. That Man with No Name air about him that Clint Eastwood had. He's very good in this. Unlike Eastwood's character in the Leone movies Django's not at all a bad guy he's much more of a typical Western hero.... aside from his body count.
The version I saw wasn't a very good transfer so the movie doesn't look that great but I could tell it was well made. Sergio Carbucci had a good handle on this spaghetti Western.
Nice and violent, lots of blasting, punching, etc.
Seeing a guy mow down 50 Klansmen with a gatling gun is just plain fun.
And a really great finale in the cemetery after Django's lost the use of his hands
It didn't quite have that.... whatever you want to call it, the it factor Leone's movies had. Leone had Eastwood, Ennio Morricone and of course Tonino Delli Colli's masterful cinematography. Django's like a B-movie version.... of Leone's movies, which were meant to be B-movies themselves.
I've seen better westerns than Django but I've seen worse. Beats the hell out of The Searchers I'll tell ya that.