Christopher Markus

Avengers: Endgame

Fist Hit: A long swan song with highly predictable scenes and very little cohesive clarity.

I’m glad it’s over, and I hope I don’t have to see another Avengers film in my lifetime. Yes, that is how I feel after sitting there for three hours and one minute just to give everyone, in the Avengers franchise catalog, a scene where they could shine a little.

Were there good parts? Yes, a few. I did think Thor (Chris Hemsworth) getting fat from drinking too much beer and lying around playing video games was slightly amusing. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) was showing his age while fading graciously into the great beyond was poignant.

Everyone had their day in the sun in this story. This includes but not limited to; Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and at least twenty other known Avengers, fighting Thanos (Josh Brolin) who had destroyed one-half of the people on Earth as a way to have the inhabitants wake up.

The petty fighting between factions in this group of Avengers was brought forth and forgiven. Simmering mistrusts were rectified. Everything seemed to be tied up in a beautiful neat bow.

But the story was rather meek and dividing up the defeat of Thanos by the various personalities and powers diluted the entire reason for the franchise.

I won’t bother calling out a group or sub-group of actors and their performances as there are too many people to name. Overall, there were no outstanding performances. Everyone did what they were supposed to do, make their screen time be about their character’s strengths and weaknesses, no more no less. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote this overly ambitious screenplay: Make every Avenger have a say in the story and its ending. What they forgot about that this sort of story loses focus, the audience cannot attach themselves to a single hero, and it makes for a really long experience in mediocrity. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo co-directed this, and in the end, they did what the producers wanted.

Overall: I couldn’t wait for the end because the movie came across as an amorphous mass of ideas.

Avengers: Infinity War

First Hit: Poorly conceived film because someone thought that putting every conceivable character under the sun into a single film was a good idea for a story.

Action for action’s sake is a waste of time because after a few minutes there’s no story to engage with and all the audience is doing is watching visual tricks on a screen. And, although I enjoyed the quips shared and pointed towards particular characters, in the end, it isn’t enough to make me want to recommend anything about this film.

I couldn't get into the plot of this film because there were so many small subplots and sidebars that I the real story became distractingly meaningless. However, my guess at the plot is: Thanos (Josh Brolin) was seeing his world fall apart because there were too many people, therefore by killing half the population in the universe, things will be peaceful and life would be able to support itself. The Avengers don't want this to happen.

To have the power to make this desire come true, Thanos needs six stones that are being held somewhere in the universe, a few of them are in possession of superheroes. So he goes about finding the stones and doing anything to get them.

To stop his quest, all the Avenger superheroes loosely come together to fight the good fight to defeat Thanos. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland), Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) just to name some.

You can see from the above listing, along with another ten superheros, having this many characters makes for a confusing mess because each has to have their day in the story. This is exactly what we get - confusion.

Most all of the actors do their superhero thing and do it well enough. However, with everyone one splitting screen time and with minimal roles, it was difficult for anyone except Chris Pratt (As Star-Lord/Peter Quill), Downey, Hemsworth, and Cumberbatch to standout.  Ruffalo was also funny trying to turn into the Hulk. The rest was more like having them do cameos of their characters to show that everyone was onboard to fight Thanos. Brolin as Thanos was strong but it is hard to show the depth of character he was attempting give the audience through the heavy makeup. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeely wrote an over ambitious screenplay that melted under the number of characters they had to bring in. Anthony and Joe Russo co-directed this mess and it showed. The use of effects was good, but effects to no make a film, characters do and shortchanging so many of them was its downfall.

Overall: I only went to this film because of the strong audience attendance and I cannot believe that the millions walked away satisfied.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

First Hit:  The story didn’t hold together and was simply a place to display CGI’s.

The best character parts of the film were in the interchanges between Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). And although Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, brought a level of sophistication to his part, this film was all about creating HUGE computer generated imagery and having people do battle with the images.

The other interchanges that were engaging were with Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Captain. Didn’t have the same sense with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and other characters – he seemed removed from them (or the story) although he was a key piece. I had no interest in the story about CGIs because they are non-characters – only machines.

The film appeared to feature the technology that was being created but so what – it was uninteresting. Was any part of this story believable? Yes, the greed and lust for power. But, after just 12 hours of seeing the film and writing this, I can’t remember anything positive outside of what I’ve mentioned.

Evans is a good but the screen play written for him is rather lame and uninteresting. The scenes with his co-star Johansson were the best part of the film. I suspect it was Johansson that made those scenes work – she was really good. Mackie was perfect as Evans’ right hand guy. Redford was good with what he had, which wasn’t much. Jackson just seemed like he was in a film of his own. Although the scenes included him, he also seem detached from them. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote a week character screen play while the direction by Anthony and Joe Russo seemed disjointed and without life.

Overall:  One of the worse Marvel produced films – they cannot make CGI be a character in this way.

Pain and Gain

First Hit:  This film didn’t know what it wanted to be and I left wondering what the point was.

A film that has to tell you about 2/3 the way through that it is still a true story, means it didn’t do its job. It didn’t make it believable.

It was hard for me to believe that the real life weightlifters Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyal (played by Dwayne Johnson), and Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie), would have seen themselves as comically stupid as these actors portrayed them to be. No matter how hard these actors tried to be serious in these roles, they exuded a humorous vein of the stupidity the real life characters couldn’t discern.

What the audience ends up with is some really funny stupidity scenes and the grossness of idiotic violence gone badly. Only Wahlberg seemed capable of portraying believable stupidity but only occasionally. These three guys are tired of their "just getting by existence" so they decide take all of Victor Kershaw’s (Tony Shalhoub) money and assets. T

hey eventually get the money and Victor, who survives the attempted killing by these goons. The cops don’t believe Victor’s story so he’s left to try to get his money back by himself. Then he happens to get ahold of a retired detective named Ed DuBois (Ed Harris) who believes him and begins to unravel the caper.

The boys run through their ill-gotten goods quickly and decide to hit another and, of course, this one falls apart quickly and they get caught.

Wahlberg is the most believable of the actors but the film’s direction didn’t have a clear vision. Johnson is OK but I didn’t buy his character's addictions and therefore I didn’t buy his character. Mackie was the weakest of the three and that might have been the intention because his real life character might have been somewhat wishy-washy. Shalhoub was good as the arrogant tough guy first victim. Harris was one of the better things of this film. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote this script from a true story. Michael Bay misdirected this as the film never seemed to find a center.

Overall:  This film just didn’t work very well although there were some really funny bits.