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Friday, May 4, 2018

Infinity War: the Detox Review



“The object of fiction…[is] to make the reader welcome and then tell a story...to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all.”


“I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event which is to say character-driven.”


                 -Excerpts from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


Courtesy of Screenrant

Welcome one and all to a massive therapy session. Leave your pride and embarrassment at the door next to your shoes and bags. The week was heavy, long, and soul-sucking. The usual doctor is not here, but I think we can carry this weight together.


It’s time to detox and discuss Avengers: Infinity War.


I know, I know...I am asking a lot. The residual feelings still hit like wave after wave of nausea, but only by facing Infinity War’s brilliance and pitfalls can we hope to recover.



Heads up, these next few lines are your final chances to backpedal before we dive into spoilers. If you have not seen the movie, run to the nearest circuit box now, flip the switch, and enjoy darkness.





Alright then. Here we go.



Admitting You Have a Problem


Any pureblood Marvel fan knows that the original six-issue the Infinity Gauntlet was not a mere comic arc; it was an event of cosmic proportions. Thanos, the “Mad Titan,’ longed for Lady Death’s affection and was willing to wipe out half of the literal universe to do it. Readers knew why Thanos wanted the Infinity Gems (called Stones in the MCU movies), but the war itself forced the galaxy’s mightiest heroes to converge, fight, and, for the most part, die.


I knew this when I walked into an AMC Theater last Friday. I knew that the comic’s Sensational” She-Hulk suffocated, Thor shattered, and Terraxia tested her ground ‘n’ pound game on Spider-Man. I expected heroes to fall before Thanos’s newfound, albeit overpowered, might.


I did not anticipate caring.


It’s one thing to know about death, and another instance altogether to experience loss first-hand. Groot vanished before our eyes. T’Challa faded in painful irony as he tells Okoye “...this is no place to die.” And Spidey… Peter Parker is not just begging Stark to help him; he is pleading with us because he does “...not want to leave.” He’s sorry he failed, but we are burdened by our inability to protect him.


Moviegoers left the theater slack-jawed, shaken, and heartbroken-- mourners in a funeral procession they were unprepared to attend.


Why?


Why am I sitting here, almost a week later, still wading through the emotional abyss Infinity War left me drowning in?


Remember this from our pre-therapy chat last week?


“A masterful storyteller does not lay words like bricks. They weave audience’s emotions, like fine threads through a river of characters. At first, we can only see the setting, the individual players. We are drawn in by the aesthetics alone. Then, the fishing hooks drive in and catch us off guard. We are no longer bystanders watching a movie or reading a novel; we are friends, lovers, enemies, family members of the characters themselves.


We cross the lines of fantasy and reality.”


Finding the Source


MCU screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely spent ten years and nineteen movies building the tower to Infinity War; the movie owes most of its success and gravitas to the character-centric focus and the cast’s ability to make our heroes/villains believable.  Without that emotional connection, Infinity War could not succeed in the harrowing manner it has.


Take James “Bucky” Barnes, the White Wolf, formerly the Winter Soldier. Our introductions with Bucky began in 2011’s Captain America: the First Avenger. He is Steve Rogers’s best friend, defender, wingman, confidant, cheerleader, and one hell of a fighter. If you are looking for the true definition of “squad goals,” Bucky is the living embodiment of the phrase. Their friendship is pushed beyond its limits over the course of three films, one hundred years, brainwashing, losing an arm, and unconscious betrayal. When Steve thinks Bucky is dead, we grieve. When he finds Barnes alive, but is forced to hunt him down, we too struggle with the idea of turning in our closest friend. Even if it means putting the hurt on another pal.


The Winter Soldier and Cap't Wombo Combo; Property of Marvel Studios/Disney


By the time Cap and Bucky regroup in Infinity War to protect Vision from Thanos, the audience knows nothing will bury this friendship. Then, with a snap of Thanos’s fingers, the one true constant in our lives is gone. Dissolved to dust in the wind. True to his word, Bucky is “...with [us] to the end of the line...” and we are no longer the audience. Or Captain America. We are Steve and our last rock of an era just joined our late parents and girlfriend.


Sigh. I need a moment.


*****



Feel that? That desolate weight and sorrow stems from McFeely and Markus’s storytelling. We are Thor losing his brother, Okoye losing her King. The characters steer the story’s reigns in the MCU, and that skill gives Infinity War its impact.


Seeing Your Fears, Facing Your Failure


Alright, breathe. In...out. There, just like that. You can do this. Congratulations are in order, as we powered through the toughest part of our therapy session. I know you are still hurting, but what if I told you that we just lived out our worst fear? Or, rather Tony Stark’s worse fear…


Part of Tony Stark's vision from Age of Ultron

Remember this?


In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlet Witch taps into Stark’s personal demons and thus displays a nightmare: The core Avengers laid to waste all around him and his inability to save them.


I am not sure if the Infinity War team meant to do this, but their effective use of foreshadowing brought the series, and therefore Iron Man, full circle. Twice now, Thanos threatened the Earth and Stark cannot forgive himself for failing the first time. Round two is a personal vendetta. Stark desires vindication and absolution from what he perceives as past failures. Yet, despite Drax, Mantis, Dr. Strange, Nebula, and Spider-Man’s help, he’s forced to swallow defeat again, and hold guilt in his arms.


It took an enraged stroll, several cafe brainstorms, and a bus ride rant for me to realize how essential that near-credits scene is to the movie’s prestige.


One by one the audience watches loved ones die, but for Stark, he’s witnessing this twice, and his reality blanches his nightmare. Infinity War is not a happy-ending story. The whole point is to pull the audience to the same depths of despair as our heroes.


Coming to Terms


Commercially, Avengers: Infinity War is an absolute success. Financially too; as of Wednesday, May 2nd, the movie raked in over $800 million USD. We might have left the theaters emotionally unstable, but that is more a testament to outstanding storytelling and fan-service. With that said, I do have a small gripe with the plot, specifically Thanos’s motivation to achieve his end game.


Marvel vs Capcom Infinite depiction of Marvel's Lady Death Incarnation



As previously mentioned, Lady Death is Thanos’s raison d’etre. In the Infinity Gauntlet, she is the one that tasks Thanos with destroying half the life in the universe to begin with.


So why the hell was her character not introduced once in the MCU leading up to this? For those that have not read the comics, I will not go into excess detail here, but her presence is pivotal to the battle with Thanos too. For the trivia hungry, she matters outside of the Infinity arc as one of the Merc with a Mouth’s former lovers.


Yes, Wade Wilson has courted Death literally and figuratively.


McFeely, Markus, and the Russo Brothers expressed their united reasoning for this in a chat, as covered by Vulture and although I understand it, not including her still rubs me the wrong way. I pitied the MCU Thanos as he threw his beloved daughter to the wayside to acquire the Soul Stone, by I could not stop myself from muttering under my breath “the only thing Thanos ever loved was Death.”


But hey, maybe that’s more of an “obsession is not love” debate. Cannot argue there.


So, Now What?


Well, how do you feel? Was Avengers: Infinity War all you had hoped for? I feared it would not live up to the hype, but I am happy that it exceeded my expectation-- even if hearing the echoes of Spidey’s pleas still destroys my heart. For now, all we can do is wait with bated breath for a year and look forward to Thanos’s comeuppance.


He WILL die for Loki’s death.


Until Later Guys,


^_^

TW: @Xminess
IG: @Xaimisyte

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Infinity War: Pre-Game Impression

Pre-game post: I thought I was ready



A masterful storyteller does not lay words like bricks. They weave audience emotions, like fine threads through a river of characters. At first, we can only see the setting, the individual players. We are drawn in by the aesthetics alone. Then, the fishing hooks drive in and catch us off guard. We are no longer bystanders watching a movie or reading a novel; we are friends, lovers, enemies, family members of the characters themselves. 

We cross the lines of fantasy and reality.


For Avengers: Infinity War to harness the full gravity of this event in the Marvel universe, Kevin Feige and Co. wove our feelings into each character's tapestry and fleshed out a story that die-hard fans know the outcome for, but still will leave the theater gasping for breath.


I will wait until next week to give an in-depth review of Infinity War, but for now, let's just say your time will be well-spent if you check it out.


Until Later Guys,


^_^ Xaimi


Have you seen it? Share your hype, rage, or woe with me.

TW: @Xminess

IG: @Xaimisyte

Today's musical inspiration: 


"I got demons inside me. So I'm faced with a choice. Either try to ignore them, or I give them a voice."


Mike Shinoda- "Crossing the Line"


Monday, December 11, 2017

Road to Albuquerque Adventures

Happy Holidays!

I have spent almost two wonderful months in the Land of Enchantment! Those of you keeping up saw my experiences and sights recount Albuquerque and Star Trek last month. If not, do yourself a quick favor and check it out! You will learn about more than food places and tourist sites. 

The rest of you can enjoy this treat: a photo gallery account of my Road to Albuquerque, New Mexico. All photos were captured by me with an iPhone 5.

Enjoy and come back next week for more photo memories!

Until Later Guys,

^_^


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