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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cats > Infinity War

May 8th, 2018 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Ballad of a Small Player (Fiction, Lawrence Osborne, 2014) After a bout of unearned love, an expat Brit in Macao confronts the worst fate that can befall a baccarat addict—a run of preternatural luck. Mordant contemplation of the most cosmically punishing of the self-destructive vices, permeated by damp local ambience and intimations of the supernatural.—RDL

Kedi (Film, Turkey, Ceyda Torun, 2017) Documentary follows the doughty street cats of Istanbul and the humans who feed and admire them. Soothing and gorgeously photographed, this is the apotheosis of the cat video.—RDL

Good

The Avengers: Infinity War (Film, US, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2018) Thanos (Josh Brolin), an enormous purple Malthusian, seeks the six Infinity Stones as the Avengers, et. al. (Robert Downey, Jr., et. al.), try to stop him. The first half of a five-hour action movie released alone perhaps could never be that great as a film, even if it didn’t try to shoehorn three dozen characters into spotlight moments. To the Russos’ credit, they have many better ways to shoot superhero fights than the very tired “clash of incompetent CGI armies” and often cut to that something better. Brolin is as good as his mocap millstone lets him be, and Downey sells his own exhaustion with the franchise convincingly enough as Tony Stark’s. But at the end of the day, this is a movie that feels pretty much exactly like reading a too-long superhero crossover comic series. –KH

Beware of the Trains (Fiction, Edmund Crispin, 1953) This collection of mystery short stories mostly starring Crispin’s detective don Gervase Fen sets up some excellent puzzles and solves them with Crispin’s usual flair. However, the difference between a detective best suited for novels (like Fen or Lord Peter Wimsey) and a classic short-story star (like Sherlock Holmes or Nick Velvet) really comes into focus when you read the one in the other form. –KH

The Great Wall (Film, US/China, Zhang Yimou, 2016) Western blackguard (Matt Damon) finds his inner hero when he stumbles onto the latest round of an eternal battle between a colorful legion of wall defenders and the iguana-dragon horde that wants to eat the empire. Yeah, this misses a character beat or three on its hero’s selfishness to altruism arc, and fell prey to a colossal expectations mismatch on its initial release. Go in expecting a Harryhausenesque CGI romp where Zhang gets to indulge the wildest edges of his color sense and you’ll get your Saturday matinee money’s worth. —RDL

Okay

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 (Television, US, Marc Guggenheim & Phil Klemmer, 2017-2018) The team undergoes personnel changes and engages in player-character-like hijinks while trying to prevent the materialization of a plummy-voiced time demon. Wildly uneven season starts out incredibly shaky, redeems itself with the giddily splendid multi-show crossover event, then settles into a groove. (Not Good + Pinnacle + Good) / 3 = Okay. —RDL

The Outsider (Film, US, Martin Zandvliet, 2018) In 1954 Osaka, American ex-soldier Nick (Jared Leto) helps yakuza member Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano) escape prison, and gets adopted into his yakuza clan. Its simplistic A-to-B plot recalls the yakuza films of the 1950s without their emotional depths or stylistic heights. Zandvliet films the ample bloodshed in a low-key, even flat affect that perhaps reflects the cold sociopathy of Nick and his milieu, but (also like Leto’s Nick) it barely holds the viewer’s interest even while it’s on screen. –KH

Incomplete

The Avengers: Infinity War (Film, US, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2018) Marvel heroes think they have the upper hand over Thanos, but then they don’t. Marvel heroes think they have the upper hand over Thanos, but then they don’t. Marvel heroes think they have the upper hand over Thanos, but then they don’t. No protagonist, no ending, not a movie.—RDL

2 Responses to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cats > Infinity War”

  1. Allen Wilkins says:

    Robin,
    IMO, Thanos *is* the protagonist of Infinity War. “No ending” is fair; though back in the Shire, Thanos certainly *thinks* there’s an ending.

    • Keithh says:

      Agreed, Thanos is the protagonist though with a weak character arc. Something about learning to sacrifice for what matters?

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