This summer was a summer of movie watching and videogame playing (and book reading), especially since my family had to binge all of the Marvel movies before moving on to Infinity Wars. So as summer comes to a close, I want to take a blog post to do some quick reviews on pieces I didn’t have too many thoughts about (hence the reason there aren’t books on this list). I mean hey, if you don’t have a lot of thoughts about one movie, why not just shove ten others together?
As usual, all spoilers will be corralled off into their own individual sections.
1) Avengers: Infinity War by Marvel
Entertainment: 5/5 Intellect: 4/5 +1 for imagination penetration Overall: 10/10
This movie comes close to being one of my all-time favorite movies, and was definitely worth the price of admission. It gets a +1 for “imagination penetration” because, well, I started fantasizing about the Marvel universe after spending years and years fantasizing about the DC universe. DC tends to have better TV shows, and I haven’t fantasized about the Marvel universe since X-Men: Evolution back in middle school.
First of all, I think we were all worried about how they were going to fit dozens of characters into one movie in a satisfying manner. Who gets the most screen time? Do we have time for that many character arcs? Well, during the movie I never once got the feeling that a character got too much or too little screen time, or that there were locations still to be visited, or that some characters play bigger roles than others.
I also have to say that I didn’t see the ending coming. I had an inkling that it might happen, but I certainly didn’t expect the movie to end just there. I thought that there just had to be more to it, but then the credits started rolling. Was I upset? Shocked? Angry? Well…
Small spoiler section:
I thought it was a fantastic way to end the movie. I wasn’t even upset that they killed off my favorite hero, because he got the longest and most emotional death scene (I don’t feel so good…).
The intellect wasn’t the strongest I’ve ever seen, but it was a lot stronger than most Marvel movies I’ve seen so far. Mostly, the intellect points come from the heroes’ debate over whether or not to destroy the infinity stones. On the one hand, if you break the stones, he can never insta-kill half of the universe. But on the other hand, he’s still been successfully going from planet to planet slaughtering billions, so it might be wiser to use an infinity stone to try to stop him permanently so that he could never return to earth in the first place.
That alone is enough for a good intellect point, and I’m going to give a pass for the times that the time stone should have given the heroes a huge advantage (I’m assuming Dr. Strange knows what he’s doing…). I was also going to have Thanos’ goal as contributing to intellect, but his reasoning actually is quite flawed (I know, a shockingly original observation on my part.). He thinks along the same lines as Thomas Malthus, in that population growth is a major concern and causes much suffering. However, slaughtering half a planet’s population also causes quite a bit of suffering. Additionally, if you have the power of the infinity stones, there are LOTS of other things you could do to solve this problem without throwing society into complete chaos, like sterilizing half the population or shrinking everyone or just allotting the resources more efficiently. I’m actually making another blog entirely on that point…
2) Prince of Egypt by Dreamworks
Entertainment: 5/5 Intellect: 3/5 Overall: 8/10
This is a really beautiful adaptation of the story of Moses and is definitely worth a watch.
This movie has incredible animation, music, and pacing. I only knew certain parts of this story before, so I actually found the plot quite interesting, as well. The writers still managed to put in plenty of humor even while covering a religious story (which are notoriously difficult to cover in a popular children’s movie).
My only complaint is that while some of the songs are still stuck in my head, one or two of them seemed pretty pointless (mostly All I Ever Wanted. It seems like it’s just there for a reprise).
I think most people would want to give this movie a higher score on intellect because it’s critically acclaimed and deals with religion, but neither of those things automatically equals intellect. The movie comes close to addressing quite a few issues, and I’ve got to hand it to them for capturing Rameses’ reasoning perfectly: he won’t let the slaves go, not necessarily because he doesn’t care, but because he’s worried that it’ll lead to the downfall of his empire and everything his parents ever expected of him. So in the meantime, he tries to trick himself into thinking he’s doing nothing wrong, and only ends up destroying himself in the process. However, that’s not enough to merit extra points in intellect, so Prince of Egypt just remains a very beautiful movie.
3 + 4) Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War by Marvel
Entertainment: 3/5 Intellect: 3/5 Overall: 6/10
These movies are both pretty similar in that they’re titled as Captain America movies but have more to do with the Avengers as a whole, or else setting up a future Avengers movie. They also both come agonizingly close to covering an intellectual topic but fall short at the last minute.
These were decent movies. My main entertainment came from wondering exactly why and how the Avengers would turn on each other in Civil War, but I was disappointed. I thought it was pretty out of character for Iron Man and Captain America to pick the sides they did, and the civil war seemed to center more around loyalty to Bucky rather than the actual issue of vigilantism (which btw doesn’t come back into play in Infinity Wars except as a plot device to have the team split up). I honestly remember almost nothing from Winter Soldier, even though I only watched it a few weeks ago.
They both come preeeeeeetty close to addressing some real issues (government surveillance and vigilanteism) but never really look at the valid points on each side. It’s more of a…the characters already know what they think is right or wrong from the beginning, and they spend the rest of the movie physically fighting people to solve those issues. So the Captain America movies all seem to be inching towards that morality stuff, but falling just a little short. I know Marvel can do it: they had it in Black Panther! And I think in the first Iron Man, if I recall correctly…
5) Portal by Valve Corporation
The Portal games are pretty famous, with references to the portal gun appearing in gifs, cartoons, and animations far beyond the reaches of the world that knows what the gun is actually referencing. But how is the actual game?
Entertainment: 3/5 Intellect: 3/5 +1 for imagination peentration Overall: 7/10
Honestly, I just love the Portal gun. And yes, that’s what the game is mostly about, but I was never really addicted to playing the game itself. Once the game showed me the mechanics of the guns, I really didn’t need the game to satisfy me anymore. The portal guns/powers are now in my fantasies, but I never got up in the morning and said to myself, “Wow! I can’t wait to play Portal!”
And I think this reflects the fandom as a whole, seeing as how the portal gun itself is what’s referenced in popular media outside of people who have played the actual game. For instance, the first time I saw a reference to Portal was in a little emoji on DeviantART back in middle school, where a character was going through one portal to come out the other. So all in all, the portal gun is a really cool idea, but the game itself does not necessarily add anything to it.
Portal didn’t really try to be intellectual, and that’s all fine. But I do wonder: if GLADIS released a neurotoxin to kill the humans controlling her, where are their bodies? Did the Party Escort Bot take them somewhere? If so, why could the bot not have chased Chelle down or looked for her? And how long has GLADIS had Chelle? It seems like she’s been there a while, since Chelle supposedly has no idea what’s happened outside and she obviously has no memory of GLADIS kidnapping her (indicating she volunteered before the staff were killed off). But if that’s the case, then why would Chelle not remember that there are supposed to be humans around, and how did GLADIS feed her? And why was she not testing before? The only explanation I can think of would be cryogenic sleep, but why would the original researchers put their subjects under like that? And what escapee wrote the exact directions out on the walls but then didn’t break GLADIS? Where did they get the cans of beans from? I NEED ANSWERS!
6 + 7 + 8) The Thor Trilogy by Marvel
I feel like it’s safe to put “trilogy” considering what happened in the third movie.
It’s hard to give these movies a united rating since each movie in the series is pretty unique. There isn’t really any intellect that I can remember, but I do love Thor and Loki. I think Loki is the best villain of all the Thor movies, which made the first movie the strongest, in my opinion. The other villains are just kind of “I want to destroy Asgard because ____.” Who even remembers Malekith? And Hela’s motivations are kind of ambiguous. I mean, how quickly can one culture erase its own history? Was there no one on the planet older than Thor and Loki to be able to remember the Hela times?
I did also hate how Jane Foster just kind of up and leaves in the third movie. I understand that the actress isn’t there, but at least make up a better excuse than “we broke up.” Maybe she’s stranded on an alien planet with hopes of returning, maybe she was one of Thanos’ victims and they only find out months after she goes missing. Idk, but not just an offhanded “yeah we broke up” that you would miss if you blinked.
9) The Incredibles 2 by Pixar
Now while my score for The Incredibles 2 is probably lower than most fans would give, I did still like the movie, and I think it’s worth seeing. I also found it a satisfying followup to the original movie, which I watched a few weeks before the sequel came out.
Entertainment: 4/5 Intellect: 4/5 Overall: 8/10
Like I said, this was a good movie, and it was entertaining. I thought the villain twist was a bit obvious, very unlike the first movie, but it was still a fun ride seeing how they would reveal it and how the villain was getting around being captured. It was also incredibly fun to see Mr. Incredible handle the kids, though the kids’ arcs themselves weren’t as interesting (apart from Jackjack, of course). My favorite scene had to be the one with the raccoon, though the whole time I was thinking about rabies…
Honestly, this movie almost had me stumped on intellect because the main issue (of vigilantism being outlawed due to extensive property damage) is exactly the same as in the first film and whose negative consequences get a little swept under the rug. Do I give this movie points for having the same intellect as the first one? Yes, because it is still a good stand-alone film and I should treat it as such.
Additionally, I thought that the villain’s motivation was interesting. It’s original and slightly flawed, also like the first film’s, but I found it interesting nonetheless:
Small Spoiler Section:
Screenslaver (awesome name, by the way) says that people nowadays are living vicariously through things and people they watch on TV and the Internet, trading “quality for convenience.” I think this is an interesting point and I would have loved to see it explored more. I don’t normally give intellect points for touching on an issue and then not resolving it, but in this case I think the villain’s take is original and enlightening enough that it counts. Are we trading quality for convenience, or is the quality the same on a screen? Is the quality even better on a screen, or is it a lie (like in staged reality T shows)? And if we’re trading quality for convenience (and let’s not forget a lower price) is that necessarily a bad thing, or does it allow more people to enjoy attractions that they might not otherwise have the time or money to experience firsthand? I never would have even thought up any of these questions without that one little line, so props to the movie for at least coming up with it.
10) Kubo and the Two Strings by Travis Knight
I know this is going to be a very unpopular opinion, but I don’t think Kubo is worth watching.
Entertainment: 2/5 Intellect: 3/5 Overall: 5/10
Kubo and the Two Strings is a stop-motion kids’ film taking place in fantasy feudal Japan. It’s theme centers around the power of memory and its story centers around a young boy whose grandfather is a god who is trying to turn him soulless and immortal just like him. From what I’ve heard, most people absolutely adore this movie, but I guess it just wasn’t for me.
This doesn’t normally happen for me, even in a kids’ film, but I was bored by the movie. I don’t know why, but I kept checking my watch and seeing how much longer the movie would take. The animation is so incredible it’s hard to believe it’s stop-motion, the story is extremely original, and there are lots of creative bits in it like the origami magic, but something in it just didn’t click for me.
I think it’s incredible that the story is an original screenplay and not adapted from a real ancient myth (because it really feels like one), and I’m sure most audience members got a nice kick out of finding out what the two strings are and what happened to the parents (I called both of those ahead of time), but I just didn’t like it for some reason.
Most watchers probably also get the sense that the movie is quite intellectual because of its emphasis on the power of memories. And throughout the movie, I felt like I had a real smart treat coming my way. But in the end, the message is just that: memories are powerful. Period. Nothing more to be said. Well of course they are! But oh well.
Overall, I think it was a good summer. I read a lot more books and watched a lot more movies than I’d anticipated, and I even got to play a few games for once. There were some wins and some losses, but I crossed a lot of media off of my to-watch/to-read/to-play list and don’t regret how my time was spent. I’m especially looking forward to the Infinity Wars sequel.
Lead image via Pexels