Friday, 18 December 2015

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Below the picture you will find my thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This will be a spoilerific discussion, so if you've yet to see the movie and what to go in clean, go away now. Otherwise read on.

"This will begin to make things right" utters Max Von Sydow at the very beginning of Episode VII. It is the very first line of the movie. He is talking about the map fragment that will allow his resistance brethren to locate Luke Skywalker. But more than that, director J J Abrams is speaking directly to the fans.

We all know that the prequels didn't live up to the hopes we had for them. I don't ardently hate them as some do, but they just don't feel like they exist in the universe of Star Wars. They were characters with recognisable names, but weren't those characters.

From minute one Abrams makes it his mission to return the franchise to form. A massive Super Star Destroyer fills the screen, just as it did in 1977, as a cute droid - on which more later - is entrusted with secret plans as the movie's Big Bad marches in, all guns blazing.

It is impossible not to be mentally transported back to the corridors of the Tantive IV as you see Kylo Ren first search Poe for the data, and then take him captive, just as Vader did with Princess Leia all those years ago.

From here the movie doesn't let up on its nostalgia kick. We knew that it would be exciting to see Han and Leia back, but to see Han in such a key role was just excellent. From the first moment he and Chewie run back onto the Falcon, it is not just they, but the audience too who sigh happily. We are home.

This isn't just a nostalgia movie though, playing on the blue print of A New Hope, but an entity which works unto itself as well. A New New Hope if you will. A New Hope for A New Generation. This relief comes in the hands of John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and most importantly: Daisy Ridley.

Ridley, a practical unknown (she has done some minor television roles, but nothing even within the basic realm of this kind of film) is a revelation as the scavenger girl Rey. She is one of the most finely drawn characters the franchise has laid eyes on, and even early on in proceedings as we see her beat up two aliens who try to mug her for BB-8 it is clear this isn't a damsel in distress.

She takes charge, and despite the assumptions one might have from the trailers, it is her and not Finn that will carry the franchise. The Force which is awakening is within her. She is a Jedi, and must find her place in the universe. As Lupita NYong'o's Maz Kanata tells us, her future is with Luke, the lightsaber has chosen her. Luke's lightsaber. Anakin's lightsaber. She is so incredibly important, and to see a women at the head of the franchise - in a way that arguably even Carrie Fisher never was - is a truly special moment.

It is clear that despite her relative inexperience however that she can more than hold her own, and she steals every scene she is in. Whether she is crying out over the death of Han; taking control of the Falcon through a spellbinding TIE Fighter battle on Jakku;  openly weeping over Finn's body; or battling Kylo Ren in what will go down as the finest saber battle in all 6 films, this is an actress who can command the screen.

It is not just Rey who captures attention here though, but the simply wonderful BB-8. From the very first quarter second clip in the original teaser a year ago the fanbase watched in wonder as this little guy rolled his way into our hearts. Here in full the beauty continues forthwith.

He has several genuine laugh out loud moments as the movie goes on: from his rolling and falling around the ceiling of the Falcon as it flips around; the excellent lighter thumbs-up; and his clear respect for R2D2.

Its nice because J J hasn't simply forgotten R2 and C3PO, but gives them the roles of veteran's showing the new guy the ropes, just as Han and Leia do for our new cast. BB-8's adventures moving forward will be of great interest.

I could go on all day about everything that was right about this film. John William's score, to Adam Driver's dark, brooding, anger filled Kylo Ren, there isn't a hair out of place in the whole film.

To say it the only way I know how I will say this: J J has woven a tale worthy of the name. If the prequels struggled to maintain the identity of the original trilogy then allow me to pay The Force Awakens the greatest compliment I can give it: This is a Star Wars film. And a damn good one at that.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

NXT Nottingham Review

Below you will find my thoughts on the NXT tour show at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham last night. For the first international tour for NXT anywhere outside the states, its clear that the young men and women of the third brand (it seems silly to call it developmental now, it is a third brand) wanted to pull out all the stops and put on a great great show


Even before the show got started the crowd was hot, with various chants circling the busy arena. And then, as 7:30 rolled around, and Greg Hamilton made his way to ringside to get the show on the road, the NXT chant got rolling fully, and the crowd rose another notch.

The show opened with Enzo and Big Cass Vs Blake and Murphy. They had a really solid tag match, with Enzo carrying most of the work for their team, taking the beating from the heels, bringing the already loud crowd to their feet as the How You Doin’ and SAWFT chants rose louder and louder until Cass could finally get the hot tag and clean house. It was a really great opening match, getting the crowd pumped.

After the match, as Enzo went around high-fiving the front row, it was immediately noticeable that he wasn't just slapping them and moving on as you would usually see, but taking the time to stop with anyone with a camera for a selfie, or anyone with a sign which he could sign. It was clear he wanted to make this night special for as many fans as he could, and despite being such a little thing, it gave me a huge deal of respect for him

Next up it was the turn of Bull Dempsey and The Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger. After the hard hitting first match, this was a far more comedic affair, with Bull playing off his Bull Fit gimmick, star jumping in place (and even trying - and failing - to cartwheel), but the centre piece was a moment towards the end of the match where, after Dillinger had been getting his 10-10-10 chant going, Bull flattened him, and then proceeded to roll across the ring back and forth, straight over Dillinger’s chest. He did it, you guessed it, 10 times, as the crowd counted, ending in the loudest 10 chant of the match, and with Dempsey taking the win.

Moving along was Apollo Crews Vs Samoa Joe in what was undoubtedly the hardest hitting match of the night. With both men building towards big matches at Takeover, they looked to get one up on each other at every turn, throwing punches back and forth, and with Joe even kicking out of Crews’ standing moonsault, which came as a surprise. This was the first time the crowd had really felt divided too in who they wanted to win. Joe has long been a favourite in the UK from his TNA days, while Crews - as Uhaa Nation on the indies - had wrestled for our local Nottingham promotion Southside a few times before making his way to NXT, so fans were on both sides. In the end a mustlebuster from Joe would secure the victory, finally giving a bad guy the win. 

The last match before intermission was a Womens division tag match, with the team of Emma and Nia Jax taking on Asuka and Bayley. If the crowd was raucous before, the entrance for Bayley was something else. As the music hit, the place just came unglued, with everyone on their feet, dancing and singing along.

Even Asuka got in on the act, as you’ll see in the video I posted last night. They went to the ring wearing each others tshirts, and actually functioned really well as a team. Although one assumes once she eventually drops the womens belt that Bayley will make her way up to the main roster, I wouldn't be against her and Asuka actually forming an alliance on TV, because on the basis of tonight they have great chemistry, and it allowed Asuka to show a brighter, different side of there than the usually mysterious vista we see on television.

As for the match itself, as should be expected it was something of a barn burner. Nia Jax in particular stood out to me as someone to watch - perhaps because I hadnt had too much experience with her, up to now, but it feels like she has good heel instincts, and knew just the moment to strike against her opponent at which it would draw a response. It goes without saying of course that Asuka and Bayley were also incredible to witness in person, and that after a Bailey to Belly on Emma, they would walk out victorious.

As a sign of honour to her Japanese friend, Bayley bowed in the centre of the ring to her partner, who reciprocated, before again the wacky waving inflatable tube men rose into the sky and the dance party recommenced into the interval.

Just as the first half had, the second half got started with a tag team match, this time pitting tag team champs Dash and Dawson against Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. I cannot stress what I am about to say any other way than this: Jordan and Gable are the most over entity in the entire company. I am including the New Day, I am including Bayley, I am including anyone you can think of. They are Daniel Bryan immediately before WM30 over.

As they make their way to the ring the chants reach a crescendo that they will not reach again all night. The noise is deafening, and all but drowns out their entrance music, and as the match begins it doesn't let up for even a second. They go on to have the match of the night, in a match that would make old school WRESTLING fans proud.

The heels cut off the ring, with Chad Gable being stretched and contorted in various holds while Jordan on the outside rallied the fans to their aid. Every attempt at the tag was thwarted, bringing the anticipation level that little bit higher, until as either Dash or Dawson (I feel really bad not knowing which is which) is going for a power bomb Gable hops over his shoulders and dives into Jordan. Its nice not to see a hot tag come from a double knockout as has become the default method recently, and added to the explosion as Jordan makes his way in.

This being a house show of course the belts couldn't change hands, but in one last stroke of excellence the heels actually cheat to win, with one of them tripping gable as he attempted a duplex from the apron into the ring, before holding his foot in place without the ref noticing while the 3 count fell.

While it is Enzo and Cass who will get their title shot in London, one has to assume Jordan and Gable’s time is coming. They are a powder keg ready to explode, and all it is going to take is to strap the rocket to them because they will go to the moon.

Carmella and Alexa Bliss had the unfortunate job of following this tag team clinic. The girls actually did a great job, but the crowd were just tired from the 15-20 minutes of non stop screaming they had just taken part in, so as good as the in ring work was the match felt rather flat, and very very quiet in comparison to the rest of the night.

Finally it was time for our main event of the evening. By now pretty much everyone had worked out that it was going to be Baron Corbin Vs Finn Balor as the only two major stars who had yet to appear, but when Greg Hamilton announced it would be a Triple Threat for the NXT title suddenly the crowd realised there was someone announced for the tour that they were forgetting, and the Ole Ole Ole chants began.

First came Corbin, then the champ, both of whom got great pops, but then - and it was produced perfectly, with just a split second of black screen and the lights dimmed, the letters SZ flash across the screen and the roof came off the Capital FM Arena. While we knew Sami was on the tour, it had been assumed that London might be the only show he actually worked on (as is the case with several superstars - the Hype Bros and Vaudevillians among them), but as the Montreal native made his way to the ring we realised we were in for something special.

What followed was admittedly slightly less hard hitting than I might have hoped, it was a match clearly meant to ease Zayn back into his duties. Indeed there was a rather drawn out section in the middle of the match in which (having thrown Corbin out to the floor), Sami steels Finns leather jacket and tries it on much to his dismay, before Finn in turn stole a jacket and hat that Sami had worn to ringside (the chants of Put The Hat On rising up throughout the arena. It was handled well though. In some peoples hands this could have turned into a farce, but they did more than enough around the comic moments to make up for it. One particularly great spot saw Finn gut punch Sami, throw him head first into Corbin’s arms before dropkicking Corbin, basically making Corbin DDT Sami as he fell backwards. Its difficult to explain but trust me it looked awesome.

In the end it was Balor who stood victorious, putting the cherry on top of a great night as he and Sami stood in the ring hugging, before congratulating Baron on a great performance too (they shook hands, only for Corbin to shove Sami, causing one last ruckus ending in a big Helluva Kick from Sami, sending everyone home happy.

I’ve been to plenty of house shows in my time, but it must be said I cannot remember the last time the crowd was this hot, and it made the entire night just feel so incredibly special. If I wasn't already excited to head to Takeover tomorrow, I sure am now.

And remember, you too can catch NXT Takeover London on the WWE Network for just (say it with me:) 9.99!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Doctor Who - Hell Bent - Review

Just like that, another season of Doctor Who is over, and what a season it has been. From the excellent Zygon double bill, to last weeks episode - which I have maintained is the best of the Doctor Who revival - there have been a whole host of great moments. Not to be outdone though, Steven Moffatt has saved the biggest reveal for last. Following on from last weeks incredible Heaven Sent, Hell Bent sees the Twelfth Doctor finally make his way home to Gallifrey.

Returning to the shack from which he ended the Time War all those life times ago, he finally does what he knows had to be done: relieve the President of his duties. The last time Rassilon and the Doctor did battle in End of Time the Time Lords were banished back into the war, and here The Doctor’s mind once again trumps the President Rassilon.

He does not turn weapons on him, or even suggest his life should be paid as penance for all those lost - something he knows the President would do if the roles were reversed - but instead forces the Gallifreyan army to lay down arms and banishes the President and the council.

Capaldi’s cool calm delivery of “Get off my planet” shows just how far he has slipped into the role over the course of this season.

He is far more sure of himself now, far less reserved. He has a swagger which makes him seem almost like a rockstar - fitting given all the references to his guitar playing over the course of this season - right up to its climax.

It is the return of Clara Oswald though that will be the most divisive thread of the episode. I have already read thoughts from some that bringing her back so soon diminishes the impact of her death. I must disagree though. Her end point in Face the Raven felt rather rushed, almost the after thought of what was already a high concept episode. A building block which would allow the story to go through Heaven Sent, but not a true conclusion in the way we are accustomed to seeing companions leaving the show.

The revelation that The Doctor and Clara as a combination are The Hybrid paves the way for a proper goodbye. We learned in Heaven Sent that he would do anything to get Clara back, even if it meant waiting 4.5 billion years, whereas Hell Bent gives us the real end point of their story together. One must forget the other, or neither can move on.

He is willing to see the entire universe - and the planet he spent so long searching for - burn if it means he can have her back. In the same way he inspired recklessness in her, she too inspires it in him
. They are simply not good for one another anymore, so they must go their separate ways and in the end he must forget her if the show is ever to move forward. 

I will concede however that their story should have ended with the Doctor playing his song for a woman he doesn't realise is stood beside him, before walking into the TARDIS and seeing the Run You Clever Boy message, with Clara then returning to Gallifrey immediately. The fact we know she has time left, and is going to travel with Ashildr for a while in their stolen TARDIS before finally facing the raven does rather raise the question: What is her death for? If she can continue like this for the foreseeable why not just keep travelling with The Doctor?.

It is here that Steven Moffatt has clearly struggled with the way out. He has given Clara her proper goodbye, but somehow still can’t shut the door entirely, instead trying to have his cake and eat it too. The idea that she is still running around out there doesn’t allow the viewer to properly get the closure the episode went back to give her. You almost feel that she could cross paths with him again down the line should Jenna ever wish to return, during this undisclosed period of time while she keeps running.

It is a small quibble on a brilliant episode though, and doesn’t dampen the enjoyment any - at least on an initial watch. It is just a shame that what could have gone down as an all time classic is let down slightly by its very final act, without which (i.e with the bittersweet ending it should probably have had) the episode would jump from good to great in an instant.

All of that said, roll on Christmas and Twelve’s first meeting with River. That should be a true sight to behold.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Gig Review - The Libertines @ Rock City Nottingham

A decade ago - among a mess of drugs, arrests and one of music's greatest fallings out - one of the finest British bands in a generation, The Libertines went their separate ways. What a difference time can make, as following on from their triumphant Reading and Leeds headline sets, the likely lads are well and truly back and better than ever.

Kicking off their intimate pre-album show with a rollicking rendition of Horrorshow, Pete, Carl, Gary and John look like they've never been apart, marching on stage before the lights even go out, as the crowd go mental.

Given that the tour was only announced a week ago today, it is a testament to the band that they have completely sold out every venue they're visiting this week, but I don't think it would be possible to match the energy that was felt running through the veins of everyone in attendance at Rock City.

By the time they reach Can't Stand Me Now four tracks in you've barely taken a breath, bouncing so hard your feet feel like they might fall off, and your voice already becoming hoarse.

Every last minute is worth it though, as the sheer ground swell of support brings forth the feeling that this moment is something special. This band, which has been through so much to come out the other side, have found a peace that they can now share with everyone in the building.

"Everyone I spoke to outside told me the last time they saw me I was totally fucked up." muses Pete Doherty, "I don't remember what happened Rock City, but this time lets have fun and play beautiful music together" he continues, before running into one of the nights biggest sing alongs Music When the Lights Go Out. After the hardcore moshing going on, this is a welcome change of pace, as the crowd sway their arms back and forth, continuing into the bewitching and beautiful What Katie Did.

Never a band to exactly stick to the rules, both Pete and Carl light up cigarettes during the set to ovation from the crowd who at this point I'm pretty sure would explode if they just sat and read the phone book.

The sold out crowd didn't just know every word of every song, but they knew every song by its first chord. It would not be unfair to say that this was a party - nay a celebration even - of everything that made the band great to begin with all those years ago. Their sound is raw, and not completely polished, but its all the better for it.

You can hear the meaning in every word Pete and Carl sing, and as the band explode into their grand finale - Don't Look Back Into The Sun - the crowd become totally unglued. This was a crowd who have waited years for this tour, unsure if it was ever coming, or if the rare festival appearances would be their only chance to see the boys in all their glory.

Thankfully with new album Anthems for Doomed Youth out later this week, and this intimate tour selling out in seconds we can only hope that there will be more to come from the Boys in the Band.

Until then we will have the memories of one of the most raucous, exhilarating gigs to grace the Rock City stage in many years. And what memories they are. What Became of the Likely Lads you might ask? Well they're back! Thats what!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Four Horsewomen - The Future of Women's Wrestling is Now

In July of 2015, Stephanie McMahon, one of the name owners of WWE, announced that she would try and ignite a revolution in the long suffering Divas division, breathing new talent into the roster, and giving the women a chance to run with the ball. For too long the WWE has concentrated on looks for its women over in ring ability, and this was finally going to begin to change for the better, as three young upstarts - Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks joined the main roster.

The so called Divas Revolution didn’t actually start here though, but almost 16 months earlier, and it is this year and a half long piece of story telling that would climax in Rich Brennan proudly proclaiming last night that women’s wrestling is back. 

On May 29th 2014, Charlotte faced off against Natalya at the very first NXT Takeover, and only the second live special NXT had done at this point. The match was lauded by many in the online community, and it got Charlotte’s name out there as one to watch. Her connection to Ric Flair was the initial grain of interest to get fans watching, but it was her undeniable talent that would have them talking by the time the match was over and the NXT Women’s Title (not Divas Title - an important distinction) was being lifted above her head. 

For the first time in years fans were talking about a women’s wrestling match in WWE as not simply a cool down match, or time to grab a snack at the concession stand, but as a bone-fide Can’t Miss attraction that any wrestling fan worth their salt should be searching out if they hadn't seen it live.

This could have been a flash in the pan one off experience, were it not for three other women - Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch. These four women - under the tutelage of NXT trainer Sara Del Ray - made it their mission to be seen as more than simple models. These were wrestlers. 

Sasha Banks has spoken about how when she first arrived at FCW (WWE’s old development system before NXT was formed), she had been told to “act and wrestle like a Diva”, pulling hair and the like. Let us be glad that she - and her compatriots - did not heed this advice, and instead set out to prove that not only were they on a par with the men, they could be more important. They want to headline shows, they want to headline Wrestlemania some day. They just needed the opportunity. 

Paul “Triple H” Levesque, head of WWE Talent Development, and de facto show runner for NXT clearly agreed they deserved it, because their booking was getting stronger and stronger as time would go by. 

Across the next several Takeover events - as well as on NXT television - the Four Horsewomen as they call themselves appeared in a series of matches - some one on one, some tag, as well as a huge Fatal Four Way earlier this year. The chemistry between every combination of the girls was a sight to behold. They were gaining respect from the live crowds, and to say their stock was rising with the smart fans online would be an understatement. 

These women were achieving their goals - NXT live events and television tapings were headlined by women’s matches for the first time, each being rated better by the viewers than the last. Still though they had not been given the honour of headlining a Takeover special. Could the WWE universe really get behind a women’s main event? Well with Sasha making her jump to the main roster before dropping her NXT Women’s title, it was time to finally find out. 

Skip ahead to August 22nd 2015, wrestling fans the world over witnessed the final piece of the puzzle, in this momentum shifting saga for sports entertainment. Bayley and Sasha Banks, went out to co-headline the NXT Takeover Brooklyn PPV, and would steal the show in a match that is sure to have wrestling fans talking for months and will be on everyones lips come Match of the Year discussions in December. 

These two wrestlers gave it everything they had, telling a story in the ring, working a match that felt like it had been constructed by two wily ring veterans, much less two wrestlers so early in their two careers. Every near fall had the crowd on its feet, every big spot brought out the reaction, and when the final Bayley-to-Belly suplex hit, the largest crowd in NXT history came unglued. It didn't matter that they were women, it mattered that these two had gone through a war and put on the best possible show for the crowd that night, and the crowd gave them the standing ovation they so richly deserved.

It would be impossible for anyone who has seen just how far these girls have come to not get choked up as the four of them stood in the ring at the end of the match, taking their curtain call. This was more than just a match, it was the end of a 16month struggle for respect. We must not forget though that the battle goes on. They have conquered NXT. Now they must take it to WWE proper.

Three of them might be moving on to the main roster (with Bayley hopefully not too far behind), but we have seen that to their very last breath these girls are going to keep fighting the good fight. They will not stop until once and for all we can say women’s wrestlers, not Divas, are back. They will headline Wrestlemania, or they will die trying to get there. So to Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, and anyone else in a position to have an affect on these girls careers: just get out of the way and let them run with it. 

These four girls, these so dubbed Four Horsewomen, are about to set the world - and the whole WWE Universe - on fire. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Review [SPOILERS]

What follows is a heavily spoiler filled account of the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so if you've yet to see it and want to keep the many surprises the film has in store intact: DON'T READ BEYOND THE PICTURE. You have been warned .

From the very beginning, this second Avengers movie is a take no prisoners assault on the senses. We are wasting no time explaining who these people are, or where they fit in the story arc of the Marvel universe. Joss Whedon deftly trusts that his audience will keep up, and instead of talking down to them treats them with respect, offering not just an explosion fest, but a story with meaning and dark humour which will sit with you long after the credits roll.

The initial battle, destroying a Hydra base, reveals that this is far from our heroes second rodeo. They are a finely tuned fighting team who have worked to take Hydra down completely, while also trying to get back Loki's staff, which was stolen by Hydra after SHIELD fell. It also sets up perfectly what is to come throughout the film, introducing us to new characters Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, the latter of whom in particular sets the story in motion by manipulating Tony's mind into believing he had to protect the world from another alien attack or his friends would die. It - and all of the mind control sequences that follow it - are incredibly visceral, and are made to seem as real as possible, which is almost as scary a concept on screen as it is for the characters who are experiencing it. 

This instalment is also not afraid to shy away from the universes' more minor characters. Everyone from Don Cheadle's War Machine, to Falcon, to Stellan Skarsgard's scientist are all back and in pride of place here. Cheadle in particular gets some great comedic scenes as he tries to impress people at Tony's party, only to realise that as cool as War Machine is, he's no Iron Man or Captain America.

People looking for more of the same from Whedon's second crack at the Avengers may be disappointed in as much as this is a very different movie. It feels simultaneously a hundred times bigger in its scope, traversing the world, from Korea, to South Africa, this doesn't feel like just another New York monster movie. At the same time though there is tiny but beautiful sequences too which put the entire fight into perspective. From a heart warming sequence which will see anyone who has ever complained about Hawkeye eat their words (myself included), to the bitter sweet conclusion of the Black Widow and Hulk romance, this is a movie not afraid to shy away from its most human moments despite the superhuman surroundings.

On that subject, it is wholly refreshing to see superheroes actually saving people, rather than just beating CGI enemies up. The entire final battle sequence of this film is set not just around defeating Ultron, but around ensuring not one civilian is harmed along the way. Its not just the big picture of saving the world, but the smaller one - returning a trapped boy to his mother, or ensuring the city is fully evacuated before the battle gets under way - that separate this and rise it above things like last years Man Of Steel, where the destruction and loss of human life off screen is enormous and almost unthinkable given the fact these heroes are meant to be saving the world.

This feels like the most deeply ambitious and thought provoking entry yet into the MCU, picking up where The Winter Soldier left off, asking questions about the price of war, and whether or not trying to shield the world from conflict entirely can actually cause greater issues. It's a film in which no one has all the right answers. Things aren't just tied nicely with a bow and sent on their way. The team disagree on things, and come to blows, and the audience is asked ultimately to make their mind up about who's side they end up on. Knowing what's next, with Captain America: Civil War around the corner, this acts as both a continuation of the saga but also a jumping point for what will no doubt become the focus of Phase 3 - getting our heroes back on the same page before they can finally take on Thanos in Infinity War in a few years time. 

Speaking of Thanos, it turns out (despite just about everyone disbelieving him) there really isn't a post credits scene for AoU, but just a brief mid credits stinger. Thanos has the Infinity Gauntlet, and has vowed to finish the job that neither Loki nor Ultron could complete. We already know the location of four of the 6 Infinity Gems - so it will be interesting to see how and when the next two turn up, and what effect Thanos will have in the upcoming films in his attempts to gain them before the final all out war to come. 

In short, this is not just better than the first Avengers movie (itself a fantastic piece of work), but this is the best all around film of the entire MCU to date. It brings an incredible amount to the table, and under a lesser director this might feel like a jumble. Here though it feels like a well choreographed dance. Every sequence flows into the next, building to the inevitable conclusion. And oh what a conclusion.