Podcasts of the Week Ending May 11


More or Less :: Avengers: Should We Reverse the Snap?

The economic impact of losing half the earth’s population, and possible negative impact of restoring 4 billion lost souls.

Memory Palace :: This Story Climbed Mount Washington

The history of Mt. Washington’s Cog Railway and early tourism potential.

Radiolab :: Dinopacolypse Redux

How did the dinosaurs die, and more to the point, how quickly did the dinosaurs die after the earth was hit by an asteroid?  Newly discovered evidence is updating the theory of what happened and when in surprising ways.

30 for 30 Podcasts :: Back Pass

Building on the US Women’s National Team’s success at drawing crowds to the 1999 Women’s World Cup, a new professional soccer league was born.  WUSA folded after three seasons, but this documentary shows that the league was far more sucessful than we’ve been lead to believe.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)


Title: Avengers: Infinity War
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

Avengers 3 or Marvel Cinematic Universe XIX is the big crossover spectacular you’d expect.  It brings together both factions of the Avengers with Doctor Strange, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and all of Wakanda (including Bucky, now known as The White Wolf) to attempt to prevent Thanos from acquiring all of the Infinity Stones and destroying half of all the life in the universe.

With 21 main protagonists plus villains and minor characters,  it’s impressive that filmmakers are able to streamline their overlapping storylines and give everyone adequate screentime (although this is not a movie you can watch with no previous knowledge of the MCU).  I particularly like how people from different groups are matched up to work together, such as Thor with Rocket and Groot, and Doctor Strange with Iron Man and Spider-Man (and latter those three work with the remaining Guardians and Nebula).  I feel there were moments in the movie where typically the camera would hold a shot for a heroic beat, but instead there’s a quick cut to another storyline, as if the editors are just trying to fit in everything possible.  And that’s okay, because it keeps the movie from feeling bloated.

The movie does a good job of showing a more tender side of Thanos, albeit I’m still unconvinced that he’s capable of love.  I also question if he’s really thought his plan through (see spoilerly thoughts below).  I’ve not seen Doctor Strange before, but I immediately loved him when he called Tony Stark a douchebag.  The character most poorly served in this movie is Vision, who I thought had terrific character development in Civil War, but seems to be reduced to a bland plot device here.  I love that they cast Peter Dinklage as a giant.  Thor, Spider-Man, and Groot steal every scene they’re in.  Despite the grim subject matter this movie is very funny. Except for the ending which is appropriately solemn.

Avengers: Infinity War is not a great movie, but it is a great action adventure blockbuster, which is all we can ask of it.

 

Some spoilerly thoughts and questions:

  • It’s convenient that the superheroes that survive Thanos’ plot are the same ones from the first Avengers movie. Presumably, Hawkeye also survives and will rejoin them. I suppose that will make that sequel a bit more focused, though.
  • Too bad Doctor Strange doesn’t survive since he choses to be vague about what he saw in the possible futures.  May have been better if he’d said nothing at all.
  • It’s kind of a cheap move that Thanos survives because first Peter Quill takes the bait and ruins the plan to take the gauntlet, and then Thor waits until it’s too late to use his Thanos’ killing ax.  Those kind of tricks don’t make for good storytelling.
  • Does Thanos really eradicate half of all the living things in the universe? Half of all the ducks, half of all the trees, half of all the paramecium? Or is it just half of all the bipedal, sentient humanoids?  The latter would make more sense because destroying half the food sources and disrupting ecosystems would be contrary to Thanos’ belief that he’s doing a mercy to stop starvation.  But where is the line drawn between species that are halved and those that are left untouched?
  • If the eradication is truly randomized, there’s a 50% chance that Thanos himself would be disintegrated.  For a moment, I thought that was actually going to happen, and Thanos, his mission accomplished,  would be content to see himself disappearing.  I think that would’ve been an amazing twist and would’ve set up the next movie to be less “Let’s fight Thanos for 2.5 hours” and more “OMG, Thanos is gone, how are we going to reverse this?”
  • Red Skull’s appearance seems kind of … random … but hey, when your squeezing in almost every character in the MCU, why hand out a bit part to an unknown?
  • If the heroes lost in Infinity War are brought back by Stark sacrificing himself, I’m good with that.
  • Are Natasha and Bruce going to be able to rekindle their romance?

Rating: ***1/2

Previously Reviewed:

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)


Title: The Avengers
Release Date: 4 May 2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Production Co: Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Action | Adventure | Science Fiction | Superhero
Rating: ***

On a sultry summer night my family and I escaped to a cool pub for supper.  The Avengers was on the tv with the sound off and my wife soon found herself relating the dialogue to the children and explaining what was going on. The next day, my son – who often proclaims that he does not like to watch movies – asked to watch the whole movie with the sound on.  So we watched and were introduced into the Marvel Universe.  As someone who knows little to nothing about comic book superheroes I felt that I got a basic sense of the characters, although I’m sure people who’ve watched all the movies get a lot of references.  All the actors are strong in their roles and are entertaining, funny, and suitably conflicted.  The theme of a team of rivals needing to find a way to work together is well-done without being hit over the head too much as well. On the whole, it’s entertaining, brainless fun.

One unexpected thing is just how militaristic the SHIELD/Avengers world is.  It’s a bit unsettling considering the unrestrained military spending in the real United States to think that in a fictional world there would be need for another whole level of secret military forces.  I also felt that the superheroes are immortal makes the non-stop fighting among themselves and against Loki rather lacking in drama.  The only thing at stake is the amount of collateral damage suffered in human lives, buildings, and vehicles.

A couple of nice touches at the end of the film address this.  First, the Avengers are physically and mentally exhausted after the battle (leading to the famous post-credit shawarma scene).  Second, is the montage of news reports showing some people celebrating the Avengers as heroes, but others questioning whether their responsibility in bringing such devastation to the Earth.  It’s good to have the film’s premise questioned onscreen even if it’s a small bit.