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Hammerle on... “Avengers: Infinity War,” “1945”

May 16, 2018

bob hammerle movie reviews“Avengers: Infinity War”

With “Avengers: Infinity War,” directors Anthony and Joe Russo have brought us a classic film that will wrap up the longstanding Avengers series. The second part of this wonderful finale will hit the theaters next May, and it serves as a creative memorial to the previous 18 films.

hammerle-rating-infinity.jpgWhat Marvel has done is bring us a film involving nearly all of the Avenger characters who are called upon to fight an enemy stronger than them. Set aside any doubts that you may have that such a film has to be overstuffed with stars to have any chance of working, as it will leave you nearly as enthralled as when Director Peter Jackson brought us the last two “Lord of the Rings” films. On top of that, humor finds a way to permeate much of the film, and you will seldom experience a superhero movie that leaves the audience repeatedly laughing.

All of your favorite characters have a role to play, ranging from Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen as The Scarlet Witch, Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as The Black Panther. Though the size of the cast causes the film to drag a bit at times, it quickly recovers its momentum.

Ironically, it is the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters who serve as the heart and soul of the film. Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista are at their sarcastic best as Star-Lord and Drax, while Zoe Saldana steals your heart in her return as Gamora, a woman with a dark secret that will cause her to dance on the edge of death.

I also must note that it is the Guardians’ interaction with Thor that involves some great comedic scenes. Wait until you see the reaction of Rocket, the raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, when Thor continually dismisses him as a meaningless rabbit.

However, what elevates great science fiction films to an emotional peak is when heroes die. While you are left guessing on that issue until the final film comes out in 2019, it is wise to remember the deaths of Wolverine and Charles Xavier in last year’s wonderful “Logan.” While most of you know that I cry easily, even you hard-nosed cynics should be prepared.

In addition, what makes this film a magnificent cinematic joyride is the fact that it is dominated by a villain known as Thanos, a character so powerful that all of the Avengers lack the strength to conquer him. Played by Josh Brolin, Thanos is an unimaginably despicable force trying to collect all six Infinity Stones so that he can perfect his desire to eliminate life in the universe. Watch for his unexpected family ties to Gamora and you end up fighting a small feeling of sympathy for a Nazi-like character devoid of any concern for others.

At the end of the “Lord of the Rings” series, your heart broke when old friends like Frodo and Bilbo were forced to part company forever. I suspect that we are likely to experience that same emotion when the second part of this series is released next year.

“1945”

“1945” is a film that teaches all of us the importance of remembering the past. Without doing so, mankind cannot hope to eliminate its mistakes. Tragically, all we will do is repeat them.

hammerle-rating-1945.jpgThis film takes place in a small town in Hungary in August 1945. An aging, bearded man and his young companion step off a train and residents of the village quickly become unglued. Given that World War II has just ended in Europe, locals wonder if these two individuals are former Jewish residents who have returned to claim property stolen from them during the Nazi conquest.

This movie focuses on average Hungarian citizens who found a way to justify profiting when Jewish neighbors were arrested and sent away to an unknown fate. As you watch Director Ferenc Török’s film unfold, you are overwhelmed by the reality that the silence of Hungarians and other European citizens facilitated the efforts of the German Gestapo to exterminate all European Jews.

The film revolves around a wedding taking place where the son of the town clerk is marrying a young woman whose former lover has unexpectedly returned from the war. On top of this chaos, the clerk, played in memorable fashion by Péter Rudolf, faces a wife who is disgusted by the unapologetic manner he uses to support friends who had confiscated Jewish property. 

As I watched this movie I was forced to reflect on the silence that has engulfed our country since slavery was eliminated after the Civil War ended in 1865. Think of the memorial that has just been opened in Montgomery, Alabama, which pays tribute to the thousands of black Americans who were lynched in the ensuing decades. Imagine how many Americans were responsible for standing silently by and doing nothing.

“1945” is a film that embraces the principle that acquiescing to racial injustice is just as bad as those held responsible for causing it. In other words, standing by in a crowd and watching a black man lynched from a tree leaves every member of that crowd as guilty as those individuals responsible for putting the noose around the poor man’s neck.

Additionally, this movie serves as a mirror into the soul of America. Imagine if Europeans had treated the Jewish survivors of World War II in the same manner that our ancestors did Native Americans by taking their land and property and then forcing them to live on reservations. Imagine if the returning Jews lived in a society where Europeans supported their version of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws and segregation.

I majored in history when I attended college years ago, and this film represents the reason.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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