Cinematic Spillover: Short Reviews of Avengers: Endgame, Knock Down the House, Family and More 

click to enlarge KIKO MARTINEZ
  • Kiko Martinez

Here are a few short reviews of movies that will be released at San Antonio theaters, on Netflix or on VOD platforms from April 26 to May 1.

Avengers: Endgame

click to enlarge WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
  • Walt Disney Studios
After 11 years, three phases and 22 films, the multi-billion Marvel Universe franchise has finally come to an end – if, of course, you don’t count the endless number of these movies that are undoubtedly going to continue making their way to the big screen for the foreseeable future. But Avengers: Endgame, the fourth film of the Avengers series, which started in 2012, definitely feels like the end of something. The sequel picks up where Avengers: Infinity War left off. Much of the world’s population, including a whole bunch of superheroes, have been disintegrated at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin). Now, the remaining members of the Avengers must find a way to reverse course and bring everyone back to, well, make more Marvel movies. You didn’t really think studio heads were going to kill off someone like Black Panther, did you? Without revealing too much of the plot, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely take some uninspired shortcuts to get the plan in motion. There’s a lot of decade hopping and time travel conversation that doesn’t make much sense unless you want it to, but superfans should be pleased with the way directors Anthony and Joe Russo have wrapped things up. Talk about a curtain call. Other moviegoers not as invested in the franchise might scoff at the fact that after all these years, searching for infinity stones is still the only storyline that matters. Avengers: Endgame opens nationwide April 26.
3 stars out of 5 stars

Body at Brighton Rock

click to enlarge MAGNET RELEASING
  • Magnet Releasing
Body at Brighton Rock is a somewhat effective feature film debut by writer/director Roxanne Benjamin that is helped and hurt by its slow pace and minimalist take on the white-knuckle thriller. Model and actress Karina Fontes (Southbound) stars as Wendy, a young state park employee who is more comfortable hiking up and down the kiddie trails than the rugged terrain. When her co-workers tease her about her lack of outdoor know-how, Wendy decides to prove she’s just as capable as they are by swapping routes with one of them. But when she gets lost deep in the woods and comes across a dead body, Wendy realizes she’s way in over her head. Can she survive the night before a search team can locate her or will her active imagination and the unfamiliar woods make quick work of her and her inexperience? Benjamin sets up the eerie situation Wendy finds herself in with some consistent pacing and solid camerawork that makes the surrounding forest feel like its closing in on our lead character. After she finds the mysterious body, however, the measured pulse of each scene starts to lag more than the last until all we’re left with is Wendy waiting. Before we know it, the script hits a plateau and never recovers. Body at Brighton Rock hits VOD platforms April 26.
2.5 stars out of 5 stars

Family

click to enlarge THE FILM ARCADE
  • The Film Arcade
When it comes to dark comedies about dysfunctional families, Family doesn’t necessarily do anything to change the game, but first-time writer/director Laura Steinel delivers enough vicious humor in small doses to consider it convincing. Taylor Schilling (TV’s Orange is the New Black) stars as Kate Stone, a career-driven financial executive who says the wrong thing every time she opens her mouth. Basically, everyone at her job hates her, but Kate couldn’t care less just so long as they know she’s the boss. Kate is forced to think about someone other than herself when her brother asks her to watch her gawky niece Maddie (Bryn Vale) while he and his wife take care of a family emergency. The message Steinel attempts to get across with the relationship between Maddie and her estranged aunt is that everyone is an outcast in some way – whether you’re a businesswoman who says inappropriate things or an awkward pre-teen who likes Insane Clown Posse and the Juggalo lifestyle. Strangers can ridicule and point fingers all they want, but it’s the people you consider your family who will be there for you when it really counts. It all sounds very cliché (with the exception of the Juggalo storyline), and a lot of it is, but Schilling’s turn as a hellcat in a pantsuit is amusing albeit trite. Family opens exclusively at the Santikos Bijou April 26.
3 stars out of 5 stars

Knock Down the House

click to enlarge NETFLIX
  • Netflix
The documentary Knock Down the House might split its time between each of its subjects – the members of an all-female group of political outsiders running for office during the 2018 U.S congressional election, but let’s not pretend the most compelling sections of the doc aren’t the ones featuring current New York City congresswoman and progressive democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Maybe it’s because of all the women filmmaker Rachel Lears follows during their grassroots campaigning, AOC was the only one to win her election. Still, her story is the most engaging. That’s not to take away from the hard work other candidates put into their races like Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearingen and Amy Vilela. Lears does a fantastic job capturing the hopes, aspirations and heartbreak of all the women trying to pave the way for others like them to take a stand for something they believe in. If a film like Knock Down the House can inspire the next AOC to run for office, maybe the face of American politics can really change sooner than later. Knock Down the House debuts on Netflix May 1.
3.5 stars out of 5 stars

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