Spoiler Free Review of Avengers: Infinity War

The latest installment of the MCU has finally been released and I have just returned from the theater and the feels are all over the place. I did my best to turn off my speculative fan fiction super powers so as not to potentially ruin the film with all my crazy fan theories and my viewing experience was much better off in that regard. With this sentimentality in mind, I shall do my best to review Avengers: Infinity War in the most spoiler free format I can muster.

First off, if you are wondering whether or not you should see the backlog of Marvel films before heading off to see Infinity War then I recommend that you see at least a few of them to get a better feel for all the characters. Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2, and at least Civil War should be fresh in your memory to best avoid questions of who is that character and what can they do. If this is your foray into the MCU I’m honestly questioning your logic behind that decision. However, Infinity War does a good job of setting up the main antagonist of Thanos.

So let me take a moment to talk about the mad Titan known as Thanos. For my last review, I was practically gushing with feels over Black Panther’s portrayal of Erik Killmonger. He was relatable and evil at the same time with wicked lines and action sequences throughout the film. Clearly, Michael B. Jordan is now in the pantheon of those actors who survived a bad case of Fantastic Fouritis and came out stronger because of it. Thanos is harder to discern since this is basically a CGI purple/blue big dude voiced by Josh Brolin (who you will see more of as Cable in the upcoming Deadpool film coming out in a few weeks). Brolin’s voice is hauntingly deep and his essence carries well unto the villain. Not to give anything away but this isn’t the Thanos from the comics. The end goal may be the same but his purpose isn’t for a twisted love/infatuation with a metaphysical personification. Near extinction at a universal scale is treated as borderline logical, making this version of Thanos that much scarier. The quirky band of minibosses that accompany the main baddy are borderline forgettable by the time you reach the end but while they are on screen you are fully aware that each of them is a unique threat for our heroes to overcome before the titan emerges to confront them.

The story itself is complex and yet completely attainable throughout the entirety of the film. For two and a half hours plus you change in focus between 4 branching adventuring parties composed by pretty much every character in the MCU (Antman and Hawkeye being the exception though their absence is explained). Even with all the shifts the plot doesn’t get lost between the transitions and by the time you hit the finale you wouldn’t believe that almost three hours have passed. Every character gets their moment in the spotlight and I applauded with the rest of the theater whenever each of them had their turn to shine. Action sequences are varied and crisp as individual arsenals of attack are showcased.

The dialogue is as always witty and quick. Thank goodness for Spanish subtitles in PR theatres because I know I would have missed several lines during the moments of laughter/cheering. Even though you get a lot of narrative exposition it’s done in a way to avoid the sense of boredom in the audience. Something is always happening so you never feel that a scene is some degree of filler. Likewise, while you may be yearning for deleted scenes I personally did not feel like moments were taken away due to time constraints. While I would have loved for certain characters to interact more (or even at all due to the branching story paths) Avengers: Infinity War does its job well when it comes to storytelling.

Speaking of feels, get ready to go through a veritable gamut of emotions. Not to spoil anything but be prepared to gasp, cheer, laugh, and cry multiple times. The ending is beyond words for me to describe even if this review was filled with spoilers. Fair warning, this is not a happy go lucky movie like many of the other installments of the MCU. I will go so far as to say that if you aren’t exactly in a good spot emotionally speaking I would wait before you go and watch it because your soul will not be the same after watching this. The super post credits scene does a good job of reminding you that more installments in the series are coming but odds are you will remain deflated.

Final verdict/ tl;dr of Avengers: Infinity War

This is a wild ride of a film and a must see if you are a Marvel fan. A myriad of emotions will be felt along the way as you end the viewing experiences with eyes red from tears, hands stinging from clapping, and sides sore from laughing, all the while gasping for air. No spoilers but just trust me that this should have been called The Tragedy of Infinity War to borrow Shakespearean sexy title making. Still, go watch it and bring some friends, you are going to need someone to talk to about everything that happened. Not sure if I have the time to see it again but I’ll certainly try.

If you want to talk about the film please comment below but let’s try to stay spoiler free until Monday at the least so that people have the weekend to try and watch it for themselves.





What Hamilton Taught Me about Protesting

My students are currently in the midst of writing their fancy papers in which they apply critical theories to their analysis of the Broadway musical, Hamilton. Since it is a fairly recent work, I have decided to write a few things up for them as potential outside sources that can aid in their thought process. There are myriad things that one can discuss about the eponymous orphan/bastard/soldier/statesman/founding father but for this entry I want to take a moment to think of Hamilton the negotiator and how short term and long term goals are fought for.

In “My Shot” we see how Alexander delineates his plan of action for education and how the financial situation of the nation needs to be addressed alongside the major revolution for freedom. Washington himself states in “Right Hand Man” the importance of logistics as he recruits our protagonist for his skills as a writer and thinker rather than his abilities as a soldier and chides him later on for being more predisposed to die in the battlefield than to survive. Here we see how Hamilton’s desire for glory beyond himself supersedes his own survival instincts during the war and will later cloud the decision making process of his political pursuits as well as his own family life.

This almost primal need to be remembered for great moments is echoed in other forms of media and storytelling to the point that small victories and minor strides of progress are so tiresome that they are almost not worth fighting for. I see this sentiment echoed once again in my current setting as the University of Puerto Rico system (as well as the rest of the education department) is once again on the chopping block in the name of financial austerity measures. Students, teachers, and many members of the community march and protest these decisions but those in charge continue with these unpopular decisions. Because these actions of resistance do not equate to reactions the battle and the ideological war seems like an all for naught situation for many activists. Because the big victories are the ones that have the most impact, many see these matches of will as sprints rather than as marathons and many do not come equipped with patience necessary for the long haul.

A quick glance at the timeline of history shows how even the most obvious of injustices took years to upend between the mobilization of people and the eventual changing of a particular law. Looking back to Hamilton, we remember not just how the war for independence of the USA took many years but that the drafting and ratification of the constitution itself took time as well. For Hamilton as Treasury Secretary we can see that his own fight to implement his financial system took some time as well. While we see that a few songs elapse between “Cabinet Battle #1” and “The Room where It Happens”, the audience interprets that the process took the length of the summer that Hamilton spent alone as his family went upstate on vacation. However, if we look at the years (1789 when Jefferson first arrives and 1791 when checks to James Reynolds were dated) it actually took at least more than a year for the great negotiation to have been completed. Hence, it takes a long time to set up the proverbial knockout punch.

One particular line that stands out in “The Room where It Happens” is when Hamilton chides Burr for not knowing how “to play the game” of politics. “If you’ve got skin in the game, you stay in the game / But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game” (3:43-3:48). The problem lies in that in order to “play in the game” one must accept the rules as given even if they are quite unfair. The rules of politics for example, greatly favor those that are already in power and hinder minority voices from being acknowledged, much less implementing change. We see how march after march takes place and yet the debates are tabled for later and progress becomes deterred once more. This is in large part because those in power stick to old school rules. They will ignore trending hashtags and other elements of social media due it not being how they played the game beforehand. Young people in particular are ignored because the worst they can do is vote for a fringe party candidate and that means that a vote that they weren’t going to get anyway doesn’t go to their main opponent; hence, no big deal.

With this in mind I propose a few ideas to make today’s protests have more effect. First off, you need to grow the movement beyond just yourselves. Politicians will look at rebels who need haircuts the same way almost anywhere. Even with a unified front, students are perceived as people who don’t live in the real world and teachers will complain regardless of the ruling party. In order to get those in power to react you need to go back towards what scares them most: actual families. You as a student need to get the support of your own families from your hometowns on your sides, thus spreading your level of influence. Second, people can ignore emails but phone calls and snail mail have a more lasting impact. Call and send letters where you clearly indicate your premise and how your family back home has your back. If your family is loyal to the party then threaten to cut them off from future campaign contributions or to jump ship altogether. Third, start small. La Junta won’t pick up your call but your local representative and mayor might. The mayors who have UPR campuses in their cities are strangely quiet even as they are aware that the financial loss of one will reverberate to the other. Have them take an official side and serve as an amplifier to your cause.

So identify your local representative, find their office numbers and address and take the time to make your voice heard. This was legit homework for my students last year during the huelga and I might just make it a tradition for all the future #ProfG pupils.

If you agree, disagree, or have more suggestions feel free to comment below.