FRED Watch Franchise Reflection: The Marvel Cinematic Universe in Anticipation of Avengers: Endgame (2019)

THE END OF THE GAME!

I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today, I’m anticipating the release of the epic Avengers: Endgame

Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

With the grand finale Avengers: Endgame finally upon us, and as much as I am thrilled for an epic three hours, I cannot help but look back on the unprecedented journey that has led us to this moment. I don’t think any of us fans had a clue in 2012 with The Avengers, or even with 2008’s Iron Man, just how enormous, important, or groundbreaking the end of this story was going to be. To be fair, we probably didn’t expect a story anything close to the one we got. It would have been a passing thought, a pipe dream Marvel fans would wonder on, take a beat, sigh, and move on, giving little further prospect to it. Yet here we are, twenty-one films, eleven years, and eleven franchises later, preparing to watch the biggest cinematic event in history. Maybe that is arrogant of me to say, but can you even remember a time when a film’s release was, for lack of a better term, this big of a deal?

The worldwide premieres of Endgame have been highly anticipated ever since the credits of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) rolled. No film franchise has ever successfully incorporated this many storylines and characters from different films into one giant and cohesive narrative. Endgame is so huge that the directors themselves have to actively campaign and release written statements asking their fans not to spoil the contents of the movie. The trailers broke view records on YouTube, and ticket sales records were smashed when the public were finally able to purchase their seats for the big day. People online have been selling day one tickets for thousands of dollars. This has never happened before and unlikely to happen again. At least not until the next few Phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) culminate in a similar fashion, hopefully in another ten or more years.

Chris Pratt and Robert Downey, Jr. in 2018’s epic ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (Image: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; edited)

As fans of cinema, comic books, or just superhero movies in general, we should consider ourselves so lucky to be alive to witness this historic event. The stars have aligned so perfectly for mastermind Kevin Feige and his exceptional team at Marvel Studios. Admittedly, not every film in the series has been as successful as the heavy hitters like Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014 and 2017), or Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), but they are not unsuccessful or bad films by any measure. They still make up the pieces of the puzzle that is now known as The Infinity Saga. The Incredible Hulk (2008) introduced us to General Ross, who would go on to play a key role in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Thor: The Dark World (2013) gave us the second of the six Infinity Stones with the Aether. Iron Man 2 (2010) saw Don Cheadle take over as Rhodey, who finally got to suit up as War Machine. Each of the twenty-one MCU films thus far contains moments, Easter eggs, and essential information that brings them all together.

And it was last year’s Avengers: Infinity War that saw the beginning of the end, the start of the payoff for all of this incomprehensible hard work over so many years. Watching the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy meet for the first time, and fight each other before realising they were on the same side, was a beautiful homage to the first instance a crossover took place in the MCU; when Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), and Captain America (Chris Evans) fought epically and hilariously over possession of the God of Mischief, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was the original reason the team was formed in the first place. Of course, we knew he was a pawn in Thanos’s game. The Mad Titan has been controlling the board this entire time. The look on Tony Stark’s face said it all when Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) told him that Thanos (Josh Brolin) was the mastermind of the Battle of New York; and again later whilst arguing with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), he yells that Thanos has been inside his head for six years. This culminates when Tony Stark—Iron Man himself and the reason we have this universe at all—faces off against Thanos on Titan and exclaims, ‘My only curse is you.’ When he was running through with his own tech by the being he most fears, the audible gasps in the theatre were filled with so much shock. I remember thinking to myself, Okay, this is it, and prepared to lose the original hero of the MCU. It seemed poetic for it to end like that.

Brie Larson, as the title heroine in ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019), will reprise her role in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019). (Image: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; edited)

However, we now must remind ourselves that Endgame is the part two to Infinity War, and it truly is the end of the storyline, the end of an era. Now is the time for poetic endings. It’s horrible to consider, but Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and Bruce Banner are all on borrowed time. There has to be a reason the original six members of The Avengers survived The Decimation. They have all been through so much: The Battle of New York; The Fall of S.HI.E.L.D.; Ultron; The Sokovia Accords; The Destruction of Asgard; and Thanos and The Decimation, which was where all of these intertwined stories were destined to meet. Now somehow, they will undo the destruction he has caused and bring back to life the half of the universe that was lost. Millions of people around the world are currently filled with a mixture of excitement and fear. We will come together once again to witness the wondrous spectacle of the MCU and share in the joy, the thrills, and no doubt the grief that Avengers: Endgame has to offer.

These films are so much more than just movies; they do so much more than entertain. They inspire us, give us hope, they are a reason to live for some. They have us chatting by our water coolers like mad conspiracy theorists. They have our children running through the playground dressed up like their favourite superhero, and not just the most well-known ones. The boys want to be Star-Lord or Black Panther, the girls want to be The Wasp or Captain Marvel. And this is just the start. The upcoming Phases of the MCU will see new characters introduced and new stories told. The Infinity Saga is only the beginning—and what a beginning it was. I am going to be truly sad no matter the outcome of Avengers: Endgame. No one likes saying goodbye. Yet I am filled with much eagerness to find out exactly where Mr. Feige and Marvel Studios are planning on taking us next. My guess? It will be fantastic.

 

In cinemas from 24 April 2019.

 

Let us know what you are looking forward to most about Avengers: Endgame in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Kendall Richardson and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED VIDEO: Non-Scripted Ramblings #35: Avengers: Endgame Trailers Discussion ⬇️

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FRED Watch Episode 16: Beautiful Thing (1996)

SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL!

Film4 Productions

For this month’s FRED Watch podcast, Wayne introduces Phillip and special guest Kendall to his all-time favourite queer film—Beautiful Thing (1996).

Groundbreaking in its representation of a same-sex relationship between two teenagers, will the team still find Jamie and Ste’s love story a beautiful thing?

Listen to their review here:

 

Check out the theatrical trailer:

Starring: Glen Berry, Scott Neal, Linda Henry, Ben Daniels, Tameka Empson, Jeillo Edwards, Anna Karen, Sophie Stanton, Julie Smith, Terry Duggan, Garry Cooper, Daniel Bowers.

Director: Hettie MacDonald | Writer: Jonathan Harvey | Producers: Tony Garnett, Bill Shapter | Music: John Altman | Cinematographer: Chris Seager | Editor: Don Fairservice

Available: DVD.

 

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

You’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

 

RELATED EPISODE: FRED Watch Episode 5: I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) ⬇️

 

RELATED REVIEWS: Read quickie reviews from the FRED Watch team ⬇️

#16: Roller Coaster Tycoon 2

Beta Test

I was 16, he was 15. It was at the top of the building, outside the L, and S blocks. I had just put my visual diary into my locker,  to get out my ham cheese sandwich (which I had every intention of throwing in the bin so I could get a burger from the canteen instead). He sidled over, clutching it in his clammy hands. ‘Is this it?’ he croaked, acne laden face staring at me. It was. It was everything and more. It wasn’t my first. But somehow I knew this time would be worth more than anything else I’d had in my short life. ‘Yes’ I breathlessly whispered. He held it out and I grabbed it from him. Laughing with glee over my new prised possession. A Pristine copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack!

…Three years later I lost the disk and downloaded it on steam instead.

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Hello my Angry, Hungry Guests. I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a mere hot dog merchant in the fungus woods, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.

First and foremost I have to apologise to an absolute legend of a friend of mine. Joel, you gave me a game that I loved, and I’m so sorry I lost the disk. Also you didn’t have bad acne. Also I made that sound like some sort of weird summer romance, which we both know wasn’t the case because I was very in love with *you know who* at the time. Anyway, thank you for the game, sorry I’m the person I am, and sorry you have to put up with me telling the world about our awkward shared High School experiences….Still friends yeah?

I’ll be honest. I put off writing this or a solid three ours because I got stuck in a time vortex, looking at all the memes. I don’t even want to write this any more, I just want to become an RTC2 meme generator. Would I get anything out of it? No; Would it fill the ever gnawing void in my soul that can only be filled with images of guests drowning? I THINK FUCK YES.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, Developed by Chris Sawyer Productions, and published by Atari, is a theme park based Tycoon game where you are given scenarios for parks around the world. The game boasts hundreds of roller coasters and side shows that you can customise, create, and build yourself. The parks vary from level to level, with some ranging from a span of 6 months (in game time) to 4 years (In game time. A solid 3 hours. I’m not a sadist).

This is an old game. This game was around before Facebook. This Game is old enough to get a job, and have sex in some states, and drink underage at a friend’s birthday party (with alcohol supplied by the cool older brother that maybe I had a thing for, shut up, god, what do you know).

This game is an early 2000’s creation, and it runs like one. It renders your screen to the bare minimum. If you leave it for a couple of hours and come back, it will have fucked up your computer. Sometimes it crashes if you haven’t saved it in a while. So why do I love it so much? Why is it one of the first games I go to if I’ve had a tough week? Why is this hunk of junk a gold star choice for my head brain?

The answers are simple. Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 offers me great, reliable game play, with no hidden agendas, easy controls, and a straightforward difficulty system. The graphics look (OK, they look dated) great for their time, and even though they’ve aged, they hold up in their own right unlike some games. Early Mario kart, for example was a nightmare of 8 bit pixel hell, this is softer, more readable, I can play RTC2 drunk and not run right off the rails. It also offers me tangible, short term, realistic goals. I can complete a scenario in an afternoon, and leave it at that. I’m not suckered into the next chapter with infinite game play, and as someone who gets major tunnel vision, that’s something I really appreciate. There are also zero consequences for most of my actions. I have a park that needs 1,500 visitors? Better make the wildest coasters and delete the exit. I need a rating of 700? Better drown anyone that doesn’t have a good time. Slip and Slide broke? Delete it.

I adore this game. I will be 80, sitting in some provincial nursing home because my kids are scum that won’t take care of me, watching the nurse robots tut over Mrs.Griffiths playing her old fashioned computer games, and this will be the game I’m playing. It’s one of the quintessential ‘Bethany’ games. Playable at any age.

Because of the absolute mad lad aesthetics, and the nostalgia for early 2000’s computer game technology, I give this game:

2/5 Drowning Guests for style
0/5 Drowning Guests for plot
3/5 Drowning Guests for easiness
5/5 Drowning Guests for Drowning bitchy little guests that are too stupid to find the park exit. Sorry not sorry Susan G.

So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a Roller Coaster of a Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.  If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!

Until next time,

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A Podcast Called FRED #63

Daisy Ridley as Rey from 'Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker" standing in the middle of a desert.

Kendall, Phillip, and Wayne deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Disney+ to debut on 11 November 2019. Hawkeye series coming to the streaming platform with Jeremy Renner reprising his role as the titular character;
  • Shazam! 2 green lit with writers and director returning;
  • Emma Corrin to play Princess Diana in The Crown;
  • Grease prequel, Summer Lovin’ is in the works;
  • and more!

Trailer Park discussions:

Quickie Review:

  • Shazam! (2019)

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss what movies or TV shows they’ve started but never finished—featuring responses from you!

 

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #63 ⬇️

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #62 ⬇️

 

RELATED POSTS: FRED Watch Quickie Film Reviews ⬇️


FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Shazam! (2019)

DC HAS THE MAGIC TOUCH!

I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is DC’s latest superhero blockbuster Shazam!

New Line Cinema / DC Films / The Safran Company / Seven Bucks Productions / Mad Ghost Productions / Warner Bros. Pictures

Courtesy of an ancient wizard, streetwise fourteen-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is able to turn into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). However, he needs to master his new mighty skills in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

The best thing to come out of the superhero saturation of the movie market is the opportunity that has risen to make different kinds of superhero movies. They don’t all have to be carbon copies of each other. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is most known for doing this by crafting a spy thriller with Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), fantasy epics in the Thor (2011-2017) films, and glorious sci-fi adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014-2017). They also have given us two wonderful family friendly films in Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), which is the genre Shazam! occupies fully and without shame or fear.

We appear to be at the beginning of DC following suit by switching things up and exploring brighter and more enjoyable alternatives to the dark and grittiness of the now long-gone days of Zack Snyder. Shazam! works so wonderfully as a family film and we the audience are so happy to reap the benefits. It actually calls to mind family films from the 1980s and 1990s, such as The Goonies (1985) and Jumanji (1995). It captures the magic in a manner that stories were told back then that makes this film feel familiar and welcoming, giving it that much more charm.

Speaking of magic, this is where the story of Shazam! begins. Both the hero and the villain of this tale are born from the wizard named Shazam, the last of his kind, who must pass down his abilities to a true Champion. The villain, Thaddeus Sivana, played by the scenery chewing Mark Strong, is seduced by the evil that Shazam is guarding: The Seven Deadly Sins, who here are depicted as ravenous, monstrous creatures. The hero, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), becomes the wizard’s only hope in stopping Sivana and returning the Sins to their prison. Angel gives a tremendous performance as foster kid Billy, mixing the many facets of his character so well. You laugh when he’s mischievous, you’re frustrated with his stubbornness, and your heart breaks for his loneliness. All he wants is to be reunited with his mother so he shuns his loving new foster family because he knows his real home is with her. Angel’s portrayal is truly touching. Another standout performer in the young cast is Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Billy’s new foster brother who quickly becomes his best friend. You might recognize Grazer from his memorable portrayal of Eddie Kaspbrak in 2017’s It Chapter One. In Shazam! he proves to the audience he is a force of talent to be reckoned with. His comedic timing is simply top notch, as his plucky attitude and vulnerability are displayed in spades.

Although, Grazer would steal every scene he is in, if it weren’t for one Zachary Levi. There is literally no one else on this Earth that could play the childlike hero as good as Levi does. From the moment Billy cries the name SHAZAM! and transforms for the first time into his super alter ego, you will fall in love with Levi. He is no stranger to comedy, or superhero films for that matter, having played geeky Chuck Bartowski in the comedy action series Chuck and Fandral, one of Asgard’s Warriors Three in Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). However this was the role he was born to play. He captures the innocence and larrikin nature of Billy Batson completely, as well as the awkwardness of being a fourteen-year-old in a full grown adult’s body—and with super powers to boot! This is where the best parts of the movie happen: the film’s comedy, the ways in which Grazer and Levi play off each other so hilariously, and even the big fight moments between Levi’s Shazam and Strong’s Sivana. There were moments of laughter so hard your stomach would ache and tears would fill your eyes.

And to think this film was directed by David F. Sandberg who, up until now, has made only horror films, including 2016’s terrifying Lights Out, and Conjuring Universe film, Annabelle Creation (2017). He helms his first blockbuster superhero film with complete ease, controlling the fun tone and the highly entertaining action sequences and special effects like a pro. It seems the man has potential to crossover and be a master of multiple genres. Maybe it is something Sandberg and DC/Warner Bros. can work on together in the coming years, seeing how this is the first huge shift in trajectory for the DCEU, as they finally bring comic book movies back to where they belong: a place of fun for the whole family. 4½ / 5

 

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D. J. Cotrona, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Hohn Glover.

Director: David F. Sandberg | Writer: Henry Gayden (story by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke, based on characters from DC Comics) | Producer: Peter Safran | Music: Benjamin Wallfisch | Cinematographer: Maxime Alexandre | Editor: Michel Aller

In cinemas now.

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Kendall Richardson and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

A Podcast Called FRED #62

Kendall and Fulya deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Avengers: Endgame to be Stan Lee’s last cameo;
  • First Asian Marvel movie Shang-Chi set to film in Sydney;
  • The Umbrella Academy renewed for season 2
  • The Princess Bride becoming a musical
  • and more!

Trailer Park discussions:

Quickie Review:

  • Us (2019)

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss what TV shows they’ve seen every episode of—featuring responses from you!

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #62 ⬇️

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #61 ⬇️

Non-Scripted Ramblings #35

Resident pop culture queen and Marvel Cinematic Universe fanatic Kendall Richardson delivers on her promise to bring you her thoughts and theories on the two most recent trailers for Avengers: Endgame! Check it out ⬇️

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

RELATED EPISODE: Non-Scripted Ramblings #33: Avengers Endgame Trailer 2 Reaction ⬇️

RELATED EPISODE: Non-Scripted Ramblings #34: Avengers Endgame Trailer 3 Reaction ⬇️

FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: The Descent (2005)

ONE HELL OF A HORROR!

I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is the feminist horror The Descent

Celador Films / Northmen Productions / Pathé Distribution

A group of female friends find themselves trapped and hunted in a series of caves by an unknown force…

Neil Marshall‘s feminist horror pic may not completely subvert the genre to the level that it should, but is nonetheless without a doubt one of the finest examples of the sub-genre there is.

What holds the film back a little is that the six central women aren’t given enough time to develop individual personalities; a longer prologue would have been beneficial. Character shorthand (traumatised wife/mother, student doctor, protective older sister, etc…) and diverse accents are utilised to speed up the process and get straight into the action, but Marshall underestimates the power of the material and his own skill as a filmmaker.

This is, of course, a minor quip when considering the overall competence of this sleek production. Particular well done is the exciting and incredibly intense manoeuvring through the claustrophobic cave system… and that’s before the movie monsters (the slimy, human-esque Crawlers) make an unforgettable appearance!

Photographed utilising greens, reds, and silhouettes, the action isn’t always easy to observe, but outstanding creature design and strong female performances across the board (Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza as Sarah and Juno are particularly fine), mean that there’s plenty to enjoy in this edge-of-the-seat, nail-bitting journey. 4 / 5

 

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Oliver Milburn, Molly Kayll.

Director/Writer: Neil Marshall | Producer: Christian Colson | Music: David Julyan | Cinematographer: Sam McCurdy | Editor: Jon Harris

 

Available: stan.

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

Non-Scripted Ramblings #34

Marvel Cinematic Universe fanatic Kendall Richardson is lost for words, watching the third Avengers: Endgame trailer! Check it out ⬇️

Haven’t seen the trailer yet? See what Kendall’s rambling about ⬇️

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

RELATED EPISODE: Non-Scripted Ramblings #33: Avengers Endgame Trailer 2 Reaction ⬇️

A Podcast Called FRED #61

Kendall, Fulya, and Wayne deliver the latest in nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—it’s A Podcast Called FRED!

 

Nerdy News includes:

  • Geoff Harvey dies, aged 83;
  • Angelina Jolie in talks for Marvel’s The Eternals and Jai Courtney will reprise his role as Captain Boomerang in The Suicide Squad;
  • Don Rickles will be Mr Potato Head in Toy Story 4;
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit becomes the longest-running prime time live action series ever;
  • and more!

Trailer Park discussions:

Quickie Reviews:

  • Isle of Dogs (2018)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Popcorn Culture:

  • This week, the team discuss who they think the best Simpsons character is—featuring responses from you!

Check out A Podcast Called FRED #61 ⬇️

Remember to let us know your response to the Popcorn Culture question so you can be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE: A Podcast Called FRED #60 ⬇️

 

RELATED PODCAST: The Monthly #10: Favourite Simpsons Moments/Episodes ⬇️