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Once upon a time hollywood press conf.

The Joker Coming October.

Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Avengers-Infinity War, Review: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Avengers-Infinity War, Review: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

#Book of Common Burial Prayer, 1662: Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.

#‘Ashes to ashes, funk to funky’ Artiste: David Bowie,

Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), 1980.

From all appearances, a large number of Marvel’s Avengers and their partners in common cause have become ashes by the time the film ends. Whether any of them will be Resurrected is a billion dollar question that only Stan Lee and the team of wordsmiths at Marvel Comics will be able to answer.

Following the destruction of Asgard, Thor, Loki, and Hulk are powerless to stop Thanos and his adoptive children Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive as they intercept the ship with the surviving Asgardians, to extract the Space Stone from the Tesseract. Heimdall uses the magic rainbow bridge Bifröst to send Hulk to Earth, and is then killed by Glaive. Thanos kills Loki and takes the Space Stone. He needs a total of six such stones in his gauntlet to wield even greater power than he does.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum where Stephen Strange and his Master martial artist Wong in New York City, and reverts to his Bruce Banner alter ago. After hearing of Thanos' intention to kill half of the universe's population, Strange enlists the help of Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone that is in Strange's possession. After a battle including Peter Parker, Maw captures Strange; Stark and Parker pursue Maw's spaceship, while Wong remains to protect the sanctum. Banner contacts the other Avengers.

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and Thanos by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin (in Iron Man, 1973) and The Avengers: Infinity War is written by Christopher Markus (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World) and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter, Thor: The Dark World Captain America: The First Avenger). Somebody counted the heroes on this 149 minutes saga and settled for the respectable figure of 70.

When you factor in the generous footage allotted to the 70mm villain Thanos, the screen time averages out to about two minutes per superhero. Which raises a major issue: did we need 70 brave-hearts to combat an admittedly super-hyper-villain, or would the cause have been better served if a fewer number of crusaders had out-smarted, if not ‘out-weaponed’, the figure that makes Hulk look like a dwarf? The answer comes in the end, when all of the avengers face the clear prospect of disintegration, and some actually find themselves going back to their origins, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In Avengers: Infinity War, the ‘madalomaniac’ Titan, Thanos, not the Avengers, is the protagonist of the film. “You could call this movie Avengers: Thanos if you wanted to,” declared writer McFeely.

Some touches of wit and humour are welcome. Vision is asked what are the chances of their winning against the formidable foe, Thanos. He peeps into the future and finds millions of outcomes, but only one in which they defeat their adversary. Bruce Banner struggles endlessly to turn into the Hulk, without success. When Strange is introduced to Peter Parker, he quips about the oddity of the suggestive name, before revealing that his own name is Spiderman. There is more banter, all of it worth it. Thor getting a new eye for the lost one, and a weapon that is anything but a hammer is funny too, all the more when the first words he utters after putting the eye in place and says that the vision is too dark. Actually, the exterior is indeed dark at that moment, for no shortcoming of the replacement eye.

Thanos’s villainy is startlingly simple and even deceptively noble: he wants to eliminate half of all population in the universe, in order to solve the food crisis, permanently. He believes that the universe, including earth, is overpopulated, and that is the root cause of all misery. He has already eliminated half the population of Titan, and he is delighted to see the children there always smiling, with full bellies. Earth is his next target.

No wonder co-director Joe Russo described Thanos as a "Darth Vader for a new generation." For all his formidable strength and weaponry, Thanos v/s the select 70 should have been evenly fought contests. Sadly, they are not. Except for two fleeting moments when the armada seems to get the better of him, it is Thanos who throws ammunition after ammunition and punch after punch. After they are sent crashing back for the 70th time, it does get terribly predictable, and the length begins to creep up on your roller-coaster ride. As consolation prizes, the gallant slay all the side-kicks and adoptive children of the Thanosphere.

Josh Brolin acts the part with aplomb, if that is possible from inside a costume and ‘facial’. The introductions of Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland and Chris Evans were greeted with whistles and applause at the preview where the press was shown the film, at a Mumbai suburb. This film marks the initiation of Peter Parker (Spiderman) as a full-fledged Avenger, blessed by Stark.

In the cast:

Chris Hemsworth

Mark Ruffalo

Scarlett Johansson

Benedict Cumberbatch

Don Cheadle

Tom Holland

Chadwick Boseman

Paul Bettany

Elizabeth Olsen

Anthony Mackie

Sebastian Stan

Dave Bautista

Zoe Saldana

Vin Diesel

Bradley Cooper

Gwyneth Paltrow

Benicio del Toro

Now for some spoilerless hard truths.

Before we reach the end of the story, Bucky Barnes, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Maximoff, Parker, Quill, Strange, T'Challa, and Wilson would have…...

Nebula and Stark ….

Bruce Banner, M'Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor ….

Wait till the credits end, you must, even if this $300 m movie rolls down 1,00,000 never-ending credits. There’s Nick Fury and Maria Hill, who….

I did not reveal any spoilers, so there!

By killing off so many adored heroes, the makers are playing with fire. Simultaneously, by glorifying a barbaric demon, they are adding fuel to fire. But don’t forget, this is a super-hero fiction genre. Coming back from the dead cannot be ruled out. How many will survive? How many will re-integrate? You won’t have to wait till infinity—all will be revealed in May 2019.

Rating: *** ½


Coming-up: Daas Dev


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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