Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Isle of Dogs Review


It’s time to look at the Isle of Dogs. This film looked worrisome from the get go for a plethora of reasons, but the main 2 were the stop motion animation (The worst form of animation) and the fact that it revolves around dogs. Unfortunately the film goes above and beyond what I had thought it would do and turns out to be one of the worst films out there. Brace yourself because this film is brutal!

So, the film takes place in the future and dogs have all been found to be dangerous since they are contaminated with a disease. The government banishes the dogs to a lonely island where they will all end up dying. One kid heads there to find his lost dog, but this will be a difficult quest. There are robot dogs after him to ensure there are no survivors and we also have an election going on in the background. Can the kid find his dog?

The film was doomed early on as there is a ton of animal violence. I can’t think of the last time I saw this amount of dog violence in one film. It’s almost constant as they get bit, die, and undergo a lot of injuries. While the bulk of them are on screen the film also makes sure to remind you on many occasions that they’ve also already had many more injuries. The film tries to be very dark and gritty throughout its run. The movie succeeds on this, but of course that isn’t a good thing.

Not only do we get all of this happening, but the stop motion intentionally makes all of the characters look disfigured and bruised as much as possible. It’s to the point where it’ll be hard to look at the screen for most of the characters since they just look so messed up. This is the case for about 90% of the film so it’s not like it was just a quick scene or two. The injuries stay on the characters continuously in part thanks to the fact that the stop motion is keeping the same character models for so long. You’ll be cringing for the entire movie, just not in the usual cringe like when a character says something painful. It’s just because you can’t bear to see what’s happening.

Usually stop motion films can be fun for the very rapid fire styled dialogue where the characters go on and on with burns and comebacks. There is less of a chance for that here because of how seriously the film tries to present itself. There is never a chance for happy conversations like that. The cast of characters is also pretty bad. The main kid is just a nuisance the whole time as he tries to assume command of Duke when he should be worrying about getting off the island alive. He wastes time going on rides and playing fetch and generally acting like he doesn’t have a clue. The kid’s a terrible character and just not very smart to the extreme.

I don’t need to go into much detail on the animation since I already expressed that it wasn’t very good, but the main reason behind that is that it’s always very choppy. The scenes quickly jump around and there’s no time for any real detail. The film just makes everything look grotesque, but as a result there naturally aren’t any good visuals to be enjoyed. The soundtrack was all right I suppose. I can’t really fault the film in this area since it wasn’t bad. The music would work well in a better film since some of the tunes had potential. It’s nothing to write home about, but it worked well enough.

Aside from all of the dogs running around we had the political subplot as I mentioned. That plot is dreadfully slow and most of the scenes are just about the American transfer student trying to show everyone that the mayor is corrupt. The problem is that nobody really seems to care and her plans don’t go anywhere until the kid and the dogs actually appear. Otherwise all of her efforts would have been futile so her plot really didn’t end up amounting to anything.

I also have to say that keeping the languages untranslated was a terrible decision as well. You could have characters talking for whole minutes and you can’t understand any of it. It’s pretty obvious what they’re saying but it ends up being a waste of run time if you ask me. The film could have used that extra time to do anything else. It’s just a design choice that I think really didn’t work and just added to the list of woes for the film.

If I had to choose a best character it would be the Chief since he was pretty tough. It’s a shame that by the end he was forced to be more tame though and ends up going through a rather predictable character arc. The other dogs were good enough even if their resolve wasn’t quite as good. The villains are fairly generic and just evil for kicks. The last minute change of heart wasn’t all that believable so you were still ready for them to go to prison.

Finally, the film is also too long. It’s a little over an hour and a half with very slow pacing. It feels like nothing much really happens in this film. Most of it is the kid traveling with the dogs until they ultimately arrive at their destination. Any time you may try to get invested in the film you will be knocked back out by a dog scene. It’s impressive that the film got so many big names into it, but that’s not enough to actually earn the movie any consolation points. I’m afraid that it’s all over for this film.

Overall, Isle of Dogs is definitely a film that you will want to give a hard pass. Whatever message is was going for ends up getting completely lost among all of the senseless violence and cringe character injuries. I don’t think the film ever had much potential with its general plot though and if it wanted to be good it would have needed an entirely different story. I can say with confidence that this is always a really bad sign. Perhaps better animation could have helped as well, but not enough to really matter. I’d highly recommend watching a film like Air Bud instead.

Overall 0/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ghost in the Shell Review


All right, it’s time for another Sci-Fi film. Fortunately this one embraced that side of things a lot more than Power Rangers. From the start you can tell that everything is a little more on point from the attire to the backgrounds. The whole movie takes place in a very futuristic NYC (Basically) which was instantly a good sign of things to come. The second half starts to lose focus a bit and I would have liked for Major to be a little tougher, but overall it was a pretty solid film.

Major is the first human to have had a full transplant into a machine body. Essentially, only her brain is still the real deal. Everyone else has dabbled with cybernetic implants though and normal humans are basically extinct. It’s all about Big Business and corporate money now as everyone tries to get richer and richer. Society has essentially fallen to the slums despite the enormous wealth to the top 1%. Major is an assassin who takes down all of the targets that she’s ordered to eliminate. The government has a lot of targets of course, but a hacker has surfaced who threatens the status quo. Even the Major isn’t immune to the hacking, but she decides to look into this anyway. She is being haunted by visions in the meantime though and is there something that the scientists aren’t telling her?

So as I mentioned, the costumes here are pretty good. I’m iffy on the Major’s since the costume has no real design. It also felt like it was basically just there for fanservice. I liked her black cloak that she wears for part of the film though as it’ll remind you of Mirror’s Edge or Sword Art Online. The trench coat that her sidekick wears is also really good and will remind you of Final Fantasy. Everyone just looks really cool and this is what a futuristic sci-fi is all about. FF XIII did it better than most and you can see a lot of similarities between the two. The city also looks great and the advertising also makes sense. The place has truly sunk even more as the ads are not for kids, but I can easily see this kind of thing happening.

The film doesn’t really have time to talk about all of the scientific advancements, but I’m fine with that since such an explanation would take an incredibly long amount of time. The effects are also pretty good like Major’s camouflage mode and the fight with the giant robot. Major’s suit has a nice energy feature to it where you’ll see it glow more as she exerts herself. Every part of the film felt like it had a good budget.

I was also pretty satisfied with the writing. It was pretty good and the characters stayed serious while not all sounding like high school delinquents or being over the top. They followed orders and just completed the missions efficiently. The movie even made the old boss pretty hardcore as he can apparently fight despite being at least 70-80 years old. The scene of him getting out of the car and shooting everyone was really quite good. Even the shooting scenes are better than the average film as they aren’t violent or anything. You can feel the impact without the film showing you everything.

I also thought Major was a good character. She makes for a very good assassin and her character arc is good. My one gripe with her is that she tends to get sucker punched a lot and it felt like she lost most of her fights by the end. She’s great in a fair fight, but villains rarely play fair. Giving her a little extra strength and speed would have been nice, but I suppose she’s technically supposed to be a normal robot. It’s her hand to hand skills and sharp intellect that separate her from the rest so that’s why she would be susceptible to a sneak attack.

Batou is a pretty good supporting character and the best one in the film if you ask me. He likes dogs and feeds the strays in the alleys between missions. He may not be as talented as Major, but he’s probably the next best agent on the force and can handle himself in any environment. He’s always ready to stick up for Major even if it’ll put him in a sticky situation and is just a really good guy. I was glad that he got a pretty large role in the film. The agency had one or two other agents, but they didn’t do much. I suppose they couldn’t fit everyone in, but the film did its best.

Cutter is one of the main villains and he’s a part of the shady government. He’s okay with murdering 100 people if it means he can get himself a new weapon. He’s completely evil the whole time, but does a decent job of hiding that for a while. He’s a good villain who takes himself seriously and has some good plans. He’s not over the top and he doesn’t try and take on the robots by himself. Cutter just thought everything through and he also didn’t go out quietly. Honestly I wouldn’t have minded having him as the main villain for the whole film. He was much better than the hacker.

Kuze was the official main villain. He had a cool design and looked like Starkiller II, but once he took off the mask the character died. He suddenly got emotional the whole time and while it was related to his tragic backstory, it destroyed the mystery of the character. I think the film should have just played it straight with this guy trying to destroy the world or something. That would have been neat.

The film starts off with a lot of cool action scenes and just cool moments in general. Seeing Major lead the interrogation was nice as it shows how you do that without becoming a villain in the process. She got her intel and didn’t have to act drastically. The team respected her authority and she earned it. The second half started to taper off as we didn’t get a lot of action and Major trying to find her identity wasn’t quite as interesting. The whole plot was a little anticlimactic and so we didn’t get a big Terminator esque final fight.

I also didn’t like the doctor at all by the end as she become another Professor Hamilton and just betrayed the heroes. So I can’t say I sympathized much when she was approached at gun point. If I have any real negative with the film beyond the lack of action and muddled plot in the second half, it’s that some of the imagery can just be odd and meant to look creepy without having any real depth. Everyone connected to tower, people thrown in test tubed, experimentation everywhere, etc. Fortunately this film was classy enough not to delve into those things as others probably would. It’s a glimpse at how dark the world is, but the film takes care not to go too far. It’s not violent, but the film has a dark tone throughout. It’s finally another example I can use for how you do a good dark tone.

We also get a pointless filler scene where Major has to poke at someone’s face for a while. I didn’t get the purpose of that at all. How I see it, maybe that was because she was wondering whether she was really different from a robot or not, but I don’t get how feeling it would help. Maybe she wanted to feel like a human, but certainly there are better ways. Either way, the scene just felt like it was there to be there, but it had no real purpose in the film.

I don’t know much about the original Ghost in the Shell anime, but I know it’s supposed to be a pretty deep series that tackles themes like humans vs machines and what a soul really is. This movie didn’t really tackle those topics so I can see fans being upset about that, but since there wasn’t a lot of time anyway, I was pretty okay with it. Especially since at this point we likely all have our views on that. You have a soul? Then you’re a person. Game Set, Match. Robots can’t develop souls, but it’s always a nice hypothetical if they could I suppose. It’s just not something I actually believe can happen. Nothing like that happens here either way, but if it did I could still roll with it since it is a Sci-Fi.

It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack is pretty good here. It’s the classic sci-fi themes that you’d expect. Coupled with the visuals, it really helps you get into the film more than you could have otherwise. The long intro felt like something out of Resident Evil, which despite its many flaws, certainly knew how to be epic. It was also able to do this without showing the title off twice during the opening, but I assume Ghost in the Shell did that in case you missed it the first time.

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is pretty fun and it’s a well done movie. I always like the premise of the elite assassin who goes around knocking people off and eventually wonders if it’s the right job. It’s sort of like Jason Bourne, but in this case Major actually has comrades who care about her and help her along the quest. If I had written the film, I would have added in more fight scenes with killer androids and it would have been a total action blockbuster. After all, the fights that we got here were really good, we just needed more of them. I’d certainly be up for a sequel since there’s still a lot of things you can do with this series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then this movie is worth watching.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

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The first Avengers film was one of the greatest movies of all time. I knew that it would be extremely difficult for this film to match up to it. Still, I had high hopes when I walked into the theater and I was ready for anything that the film could throw at me. Would it be able to live up to the hype or would it ultimately crumble and make me go re watch Man of Steel? Also, what happened to Thanos? In the first film, it ended with him getting ready to attack Earth or at least think about it..yet he isn’t in the trailers so what happened. Behind the scenes drama? These questions at the ready…I saw the film!

The Avengers may have split up after they saved the world from the invasion, but they are back together to reclaim Loki’s scepter. After embarking on many missions to find it, they finally find it at a Hydra base. It seems like peace has finally returned and the Avengers can disband once more, but that is when Ultron strikes. Ultron wishes to destroy the human race and the Avengers must now deal with their toughest threat yet!

There is certainly a lot to say about this film so let’s launch right into it! The tone is identical to that of the first film, which is a great thing. There is a nice balance of humor and action in this film, which makes for a very enjoyable watch. Replay value is not a problem either as I could easily watch this film again tomorrow. There is so much action that you will likely notice extra details each time you watch the film.

Following up on that, the writing for the film is excellent. Avengers: Age of Ultron has numerous jokes throughout the film and with bad or even average writing, it would have gotten old very quickly. As it stands, the jokes come at good times in the film and you’ll be sure to laugh a few/lot of times throughout the film. It can be a little iffy to see the heroes joking during life threatening situations, but I suppose that it takes their mind off of what is happening. I would be upset if the heroes were joking around after someone had been killed or if a friend was in mortal peril, but they typically control themselves in those situations. The film even puts some twists on old jokes from the first title by switching things around a little.

As for the soundtrack, it is essentially the same as the first film. I only noticed one new theme, which played during a somber scene. It was a good theme and the soundtrack holds up just as well as in the 1st film. Admittedly, I would have liked some more new tunes, but for those of us who haven’t seen the first film since 2012, it was likely very nostalgic. I’ve seen the original film around a half dozen times at this point so I am very familiar with the music at this point.

Since there is a lot of action, the visuals need to look very good. I can safely say that they are convincing and I have no real issue with them. This film has more energy blasts than usual, which is great since those really make this feel like more of a comic book film. A certain triple attack towards the end looks really sweet as a result. The only time that the CGI may look a little iffy is the Cap vs Ultron scene during the daytime, but it may just be because he looks so lifelike that it ends up being a little out of place. If anything, you can think of that as a positive since it was so realistic.

Time to look at the main characters. Captain America was my favorite Avenger here so let’s look at him first. He is the noble hero that we would expect him to be and I thought that his portrayal was fairly spot on. From his point of view, I can see why he would disagree with Tony Stark on the A.I. issue. While the captain may have overreacted a little after Ultron struck, it was understandable that he would be upset since his history with secrets hasn’t been a good one. A running joke in the film arises from a scene where Captain America reprimands Tony for using a swear word. That was cool because while it was played for laughs, it was nice to see. Superman and Captain America are two characters who I have always imagined to not use such language. The way that the joke ends could have been better though. Either way, fans of the first Avenger will be pleased with how he looks here. Captain America shows off his fighting skills throughout the film and he makes for a very good leader.

Tony Stark is naturally as charismatic as ever and he is my second favorite Avenger. His heart was in the right place for project Ultron, but messing with A.I. programs never seems to end well for our heroes. I was wondering how Iron Man’s role would be since he blew up his armors in Iron Man 3, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. He just continued to build since then and it makes sense since Tony would never give up on robotics forever. It’s his life after all. He gets a lot of great scenes and Iron Man has shown that he still has what it takes to be the leader if Steve Rogers ever decided to give up the position. With Captain America: Civil War coming up, that could happen sooner than expected.

Thor rounds out the main three and he is still the power hitter here. It is nice to see his strength displayed as he takes on dozens of opponents throughout the film. His combo attacks with Captain America prove to be very effective and having someone who’s Hulk level in strength with the ability to fly is extremely handy. His reaction times are also given their due credit as he manages to counter-throw an opponent who had rushed him. Thor has also grown more competitive as he is consistently trying to outdo Tony Stark and the others. Some friendly competition is always fun and it shows that Thor is really getting close to the team.

As for Bruce Banner, I was thrilled with his role in the first film. I thought that it was perfect and that Bruce Banner’s portrayal was the definitive version of the character. I don’t think that he looked quite as good here and he would actually be my least favorite member of the team. What happened to him being able to control the Hulk? It seems like a rather big plot hole here as the Hulk needs to be calmed down by the Black Widow every time and then he is left as an emotional wreck for a little while. It seems to really contradict the first film. He doesn’t get to act rebellious or get nice banter like in the first film, which hurt his portrayal here because that is why I liked him a lot. I really think that Whedon messed up here, but Banner still had his moments. He just wasn’t the hero that I remembered from the first film.

Black Widow has upgraded her tech for this film so that she is ready for the Ultron onslaught. She looks good in the film as she helps out a lot in many key scenes. Widow gets shaken up at one point, but due to the visions it was understandable. How she copes with it is really my issue. The plot between Bruce and Widow really came out of the blue and I don’t think that it was necessary here at all. Widow just acted out of character when he was around, but the ending of the film seems to have rectified that. She is more likable than Bruce here, but I think she could have been better.

Hawkeye ends up being the best Avenger after the big three and his role here was fun. Hawkeye fans will likely be worried at the beginning since he is taken out of action rather easily, but things go up from there. We get to see how professional he is and why he is the lead archer. Hawkeye means business here and he deals a lot of damage to Ultron’s army, but he still knows how to make a nice wisecrack. He certainly gets a lot of character development here and that is sure to help Hawkeye’s character throughout his future appearances as well.

Age of Ultron had a nice amount of guest stars, which was cool. Some of them you may be aware of and others not so much. I won’t mention any names, but each of the big three get a supporting character who gets a decent role in this film. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are also here of course and they contribute. It makes you wonder how this film will affect the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show. It’ll be fun to see how that handles this event. The ending is fun and leaves a lot of potential for future installments. Also, you’ll want to stick around for the end credits scene. It’s rather short, but still really good and gets you set up for Avengers 3.
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Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, let’s look at some of the other characters to appear in the film. First up, we’ve got Quicksilver. After his solid role in X-Men Days of Future Past, it was going to be tough for this version to match up. Luckily, I can say that the character was still fun and his speed was handled well for the most part. He’s rather unlikable for the first half of the film, but he does have some solid moments. It’s easy to root for him as the film goes on and even the accent grew on me. His speed is something that the Avengers didn’t really have an answer for and film writers have to be very careful with it since plot hax can ensue. Some did occur of course, but not too much.

Scarlet Witch has interesting hex powers involving probability, which can be tough to show so the film decided to take a solid approach to this issue. They mainly focused on her telekinesis and telepathy. By using these abilities effectively, she can emit energy and create barriers. I much prefer this to her hex abilities so I’m fine with the change. She’s a better character than I expected and I look forward to seeing her become one of the heavy hitters on the team. I would already say that she could take on Captain America and possibly Iron Man. Her abilities should definitely not be underestimated. I don’t care for her in the comics, but the film version was good so I can safely say that this is one of those rare times where the comics were surpassed. I also did like how the film borrowed from the horror playbook during the scene where Scarlet Witch takes on Captain America. We get a Paranormal Activity stutter step as Scarlet Witch demonically backs up and closes the door. It’s hard to describe, but if you have watched a lot of horror films, you will know what I am talking about here.

Ultron is the main villain here so there should naturally be a lot to say about him. His portrayal will likely be controversial and some will like it while others won’t. As an Ultron adaption, I think you will be disappointed. He is nothing like the cold, calculating machine that we are used too. So, if you are to like him, you will just need to think of him as an original villain. With the…intriguing design, that should make things easier. The film decides to give him Tony Stark’s personality so he is a fun villain, he just isn’t Ultron. As this “new” villain, I liked the portrayal. He has some witty banter to be sure and who doesn’t like a good “eradicate the humans” plan right? His strategy was sound and once again it shows how easy planet busting can be. Just wait until Thanos arrives on Earth someday, the stakes will really get high! Ultron was a little weaker than I expected and I’ll get into this a little more in a second, but he was strong enough to still be a fun villain. Loki was probably still more fun, but Ultron was more of a threat, which is a fair trade off.

All right, we’ve looked at the characters and a lot of the positives to the film. So, let’s look at some questionable moments. One scene that I disagree with is Thor’s hammer being lifted. The actual scene is a fairly important one so I won’t mention who does it. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you see the movie, but I completely disagree with the film. There’s no way that this character should be able to pick up the hammer unless Captain America can. After all, being worthy is something that I can certainly agree with. I don’t agree with technicalities that can sidestep the enchantment…simply isn’t possible if you ask me.

Age of Ultron has a lot of action and it is one of the reasons why it is so much fun. The film starts off with a bang in the epic intro scene and the film rarely lets up as more and more action scenes appear. While this is an overwhelming positive as you will never get bored, most of the action scenes are simply action scenes. Like the first film, the Avengers are dealing with armies and no real 1 on 1 fights occur. When some appear, they are fairly short since the villains can’t handle the heroes. There is a point where Ultron is actually defeating Thor handily, but Ultron had been getting served by Iron Man earlier so I still wouldn’t say that he was immensely powerful. I’m assuming that Thor was simply caught off guard. Ultron didn’t get his iconic power up here so he was only a little more durable than the average machine. I’m assuming that Avengers 3 will finally have the big fights that I’ve been looking forward too so that will be fun. I can see some people listing this as a negative since the climax is very similar to the first film’s, but who doesn’t like a nice invasion battle? It gives the heroes a lot to do.

The 1 on 1 fight that we did get was the Iron Man vs Hulk battle. It was a fun fight and while I still prefer Iron Man’s standard gear for combat, the Hulkbuster looks powerful. I’d say that Hulk is still portrayed as the strongest Avenger by a longshot, but with this new armor, Iron Man can now fight alongside Thor for the second spot. The other Avengers are going to need to keep on improving or they will be left in the dust before long.

I won’t say his name for the fans who don’t know about this character, but a certain other android appears besides Ultron. His abilities are certainly potent and I’m glad that the film kept most of them in. The only one that they didn’t show will likely be shown in a future film. I’m not a huge fan of the character here as his personality isn’t really my style, but he’ll be a good ally to have on the team. His abilities will definitely make him a powerful ally and maybe he’ll grow on me. There’s certainly a lot of time for that since he just joined.

I just finished seeing this film about an hour or two ago so I’m trying to make sure that I get down all of the major points that I wanted to discuss before wrapping up the review. With a film like this, you can’t really get all of your thoughts down on a review so I at least want the big ones to be there. It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend watching a big movie like this one on opening day or the night before opening day at least once for the sheer experience. It is a lot of fun to watch such an exciting film with other fans who are hyped for it as well.

A minor thing, but Quicksilver is probably a little too fast in this film. At the speed that he is going, I don’t think that Hawkeye’s attack should have surprised him or that Captain America could have even hit him. Even when Quicksilver tried to grab the hammer, he should have been able to have escaped since it would have pulled him very slowly even considering the speed of the throw. That being said, he is a speedster so I would always find some plot hax there. The film handled it better than most and the plot hax in general wasn’t that bad. Your usual action hero moments at times where humans dodge lots of point blank energy attacks, but no scenes that stuck out in particular, which was great.

The film seems to be rather unchanged from the trailers, which is good. Unfortunately, one of the changes was the scene where Iron Man is trying to pick up Thor’s hammer. I preferred his old line about ruling firmly, yet in a fair way. I also seem to recall Bruce Banner being in a straight jacket or at least something that resembled that kind of gear more than what was in the film, but I’m less sure about that so it really could have just been a trick of the eyes. A lot of things are set up here for future films so you’ll definitely want to continue watching the solo films to get a feel for what will happen next.

All right, I think that’s a good amount of reviewing for now. I made sure to keep this review spoiler free so if you have a question relating to a topic that has spoilers, feel free to drop a comment since I made sure to avoid those topics in the review. Although, I hinted at some because I wanted to mention my take on them so I merely left out the names when necessary. I highly doubt that any film will be able to come anywhere close to this one from this year’s roster, but it will be nice to see them give their best shot. It is too bad that Whedon won’t be around for the next Avengers film, but I trust that it will be excellent as well.
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Overall, Avengers:Age of Ultron was a great follow up to the first film. The first Avengers will always be my favorite Marvel film, but this one is the second best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It possesses just about all of the same qualities as the first title while having even more action. The only real negative would probably be the plot between Bruce Banner and Black Widow. The hammer scene along with many of the other things that I noted aren’t really negatives so much as things that I noticed. I still find it a little ironic that the Ultron minions had a more accurate design compared to the comic Ultron than the main body, but it helps that point I made earlier about looking at Ultron as a different villain. It was tough deciding between an 8 and a 9 to be honest, but this is the kind of film that really doesn’t come by all that often. I believe that it earned the 9. Granted, I typically score films a little more generously when I just finished watching one in theaters so you may want to take that into account. (I got the full IMAX 3D experience, which was incredible!) Still, I think that I’ll be able to stand by this rating and I will certainly be watching this film more times before Avengers 3. I probably won’t see it quite as much as the first one, but still more than most. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I highly recommend checking it out as the earliest opportunity!

Overall 9/10