Tag Archives: Marvel

My (spoiler-free) Thoughts on: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Wow.

Wow, wow, wow, and once again, wow.

That was BEAUTIFUL.

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of a story that began all the way back in 2008 with the first Iron Man. The MCU has since grown to consist of 22 films (including Endgame) and has redefined how comic books can be brought to life. While covering the rise of various heroes (and villains), the MCU had also told, piece by piece, the story of Thanos the Mad Titan. Endgame is the final result of EVERYTHING that has happened in the MCU, even more than Infinity War. There were so many plot threads that went into making this story that it could have easily become overwhelming or confusing.

But it didn’t.

Endgame does an admirable job of setting up the stakes for this final battle. It is made clear what needs to be done and WHY it needs to be done. There is some beautiful cinematography along the way, I would even dare to say that some of my favorite shots in the entire MCU belong to this film. The last act alone is a dream come true. If the film has one flaw, it’s that you need to have seen most of the MCU prior to seeing Endgame, or certain little moments in the film aren’t going to make sense.

Musically, Alan Silvestri knocks it out of the park once again. If you listen carefully, you can hear musical callbacks to multiple past MCU films, reprises of certain themes, all building to the perfect climax in the last act. Just like Infinity War, the music of Endgame takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride, but in a good way.

I said at the beginning that Endgame is a culmination of everything that’s come before, which also means it’s, in many ways, an ending. The film does an excellent job of resolving all of those plot threads. And yet, at the same time, the door is left slightly open for several stories to continue. The MCU will definitely continue (it makes way too much money to end now) but it will never be like it was before. That story has come to an end.

But what a story it was. I’m not sure we’ll ever see anything like it again.

And that’s my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you had just as much fun watching the film as I did. Let me know your spoiler-free thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Avengers: Infinity War-Review (no spoilers)

My thoughts on: Black Panther (2018)

Film Reviews

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Brian Tyler scoring session for Iron Man 3 (2013)

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured musical scores from a number of composers, but some of my favorite work comes from Brian Tyler, who to date has scored three films in the MCU: Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3.

The thrilling conclusion to the Iron Man trilogy features some dark and stirring music that’s on full display in this recording (to be completely honest, I’m not sure if this is from an actual scoring session or a later re-recording for a soundtrack, but it’s pretty much the same setup as a scoring session so that’s what I’m calling it). Brian Tyler is one of those composers who also conducts and it’s always fun to watch him at work. From the moment the music starts you can tell he is completely into what he’s doing.

 

I love sharing these recording videos with you because I feel like it’s only once you see and hear the music being performed separate from the film that you can truly appreciate just how much work goes into putting the score together. Action scores (and often superhero scores) can get a bad rap but I really feel like the MCU has changed what a superhero film score can be in the 21st century. These scores are organic, breathing things, and I think this clip really shows that.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy watching Brian Tyler at work with Iron Man 3. Let me know what you think of the clip in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Brian Tyler “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” scoring session (2007)

Brian Tyler scoring Partition (2007)

Brian Tyler talks War (2007)

Brian Tyler talks Rambo (2008)

Brian Tyler “Law Abiding Citizen” scoring sessions (2009)

Brian Tyler “Dragonball Evolution” scoring session (2009)

Brian Tyler talks The Expendables (2010) 

Brian Tyler talks Fast Five (2011)

Brian Tyler “Battle: Los Angeles” (2011) scoring session

Brian Tyler “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2014) scoring session

Brian Tyler conducting and scoring Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Brian Tyler “Power Rangers” scoring session (2017)

Brian Tyler conducts The Mummy (2017)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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My Thoughts On: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

*note: To be fair I’m trying to keep spoilers to a minimum

I have a confession to make: while I’ve seen the original Spider-Man trilogy and I enjoy Tom Holland’s performance in the MCU, I’m actually not the biggest fan of Spider-Man (not sure why, it’s just not my first choice when it comes to picking a superhero movie to watch). On that basis, I was nervous going into the theater, because despite the critical acclaim surrounding the film, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Now after having seen it, I can definitely say that I *do* like, love and enjoy Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but it took me a little bit to get into the film.

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I’m convinced that I must suffer from secondary embarrassment (feeling someone else’s embarrassment/awkwardness as if it were my own), because without fail, every time I see a superhero go through that awkward phase where they’re trying to figure out what’s happened to them (like what happens with Miles), instead of finding it funny (which I think we’re supposed to), I find it all very awkward and hard to watch. Happily, the film doesn’t linger on this part for too long. But before I move on to what I loved about this film, I have to make it clear that I found the sequence (after Gwen loses some of her hair) where Miles is overwhelmed by the fact that the entire school knows what happened and is laughing at him to be very triggering for me (having gone through extensive bullying and isolation during grade school). Again, I’m happy and relieved that the film didn’t linger on this aspect.

Now for what I loved, which is quite a lot: first, I love the animation style of this film, especially after Miles is bit by the spider. Once Miles begins to change, the film resembles an actual comic book, down to thought-bubbles and commentary boxes. It’s incredible to watch and for the first time I felt like a studio had actually succeeded in bringing a comic book to life.

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Second, I’m in LOVE with the other Spider-People. To be honest, apart from Spider-Gwen, I didn’t really know anything about these other versions of Spider-Man but I loved all of them. Seeing Spider-Gwen in action makes me really excited for the Spider-Women spin off (which will include Gwen, Spider-Woman and Silk). I loved Spider-Ham a lot more than I thought I would (especially when he whips out the anvil and mallet during the final fight). I’d never heard of Peni Parker but it was cool to see a character drawn in an anime style

Third, the film certainly does not lack for surprises. In hindsight, I should’ve seen the outcome of that first Spider-Man fight coming. Anytime you hear a character say “No matter what happens, I always manage to get back up” that should tell you something bad is coming. I also was not expecting Liv to be revealed as Dr. Octopus (to be honest, that was the first moment I really began to enjoy the film). But the surprise that got me the most was the reveal of the Prowler’s identity. Composer Daniel Pemberton wrote a heart-wrenching piece of music for this moment that makes it just so devastating.

 

A full-length review of Into the Spider-Verse‘s score will have to wait until I have a chance to listen to it again, but I can say the score is amazing. Daniel Pemberton did a fantastic job creating a score that is engaging and keeps you engrossed in the story. I also like that the score includes rap and hip-hop songs (meant to represent the music Miles would listen to).

In conclusion, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic film, and I can see why it’s being called the greatest Spider-Man film ever made. Let me know what you think of this film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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My thoughts on: Avengers: Infinity War (spoilers!!)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Alright, this is it, this is the post where I hold nothing back about Avengers: Infinity War. This means a TON of spoilers are about to come out so if you have no seen the movie yet STOP NOW, do not go any further. You have been warned!!

Still here? Alright, let’s do this!

I have never heard a theater sit so quiet after a Marvel film ended in all my life. In the few minutes it took for the credits to play and reach the post-credits scene you could’ve heard a pin drop. And small wonder! We’d just seen the MCU as we know it completely turned on its head and destroyed!
I already talked about in my previous post how impressed I was with Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos. I believed going in that Thanos was this completely evil villain that merely wanted to destroy half the universe…just because! But I was wrong, I was very wrong! Thanos is an example of Machiavellianism taken to the extreme. From his point of view, wiping out half the population will lead to more resources and living space for those who remain so everyone left will be much better off. Technically this IS true, however, that does not erase the fact that you have to kill untold trillions of people to make it happen! Despite this, Thanos genuinely seems to believe that he is doing the universe a favor, but I wonder if deep down he has any guilt about what he’s done, especially given what he had to do to get the Soul Stone.

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When it came out that the Soul Stone was on the planet Vormir, a planet we’d previously never seen or heard of, I was a little disappointed. It seemed nonsensical that the one Infinity Stone we’d not seen until now would just show up on a random planet. But then Thanos (with Gamora) arrive on the planet and the scene becomes something else when it turns out the guardian of the Soul Stone is none other than…Red Skull!! I’d wondered, like others, if we would ever see this character again after he got sucked into a Tesseract-formed wormhole in Captain America: The First Avenger and it felt awesome to see this plot thread finally resolved. It seems that 70+ years of exile on a distant planet has humbled Red Skull mightily (though I’d love to learn how he found out about what the Soul Stone needs to be unlocked). And speaking of…the moment Red Skull said you needed to sacrifice someone you loved to receive the Soul Stone I knew what was about to happen and Gamora not realizing it at first made it all the more painful. This is the moment that fully humanized Thanos for me, because despite everything he’s ever done, he really does LOVE Gamora and it pains him to do this but he wants this goal more than anything…so she dies. Now whether she’s dead permanently…I don’t know for certain, I’ll get to that argument in a minute.

 

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I need to talk about that ending, that hauntingly perfect ending. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it on here, but for the last several months leading up to the film, I had a suspicion that they might go with the “kill everyone and bring them back with the Infinity Stones” approach but deep down I didn’t think they’d actually do it. Well, they did it alright; granted they didn’t kill everyone, but it was close enough. Actually, after Thanos snapped his fingers (a very awesome moment that caused me to actually cry out “No!!” at the same time as Thor) and then disappeared to parts unknown, I actually thought the people had already disappeared, because it was so quiet!! And then Bucky disintegrated and I realized oh no….we have to watch this happen…and my heart got torn into a million pieces. Because suddenly heroes were dropping left and right: Bucky, Falcon, T’Challa (that one HURT because it was so sudden), Drax, Mantis, Groot (not Groot again!!), Star-Lord, Doctor Strange and…worst of all…Peter (Spider-Man). The moment Peter clung to Tony in absolute terror of his impending death destroyed me inside. And I could tell it destroyed Tony too because he’s the one who got Peter into this in the first place and now he’s had to watch him die. Even when this is undone, it’s probably going to stick with Tony for the rest of his life. And that final shot of the surviving Avengers on Earth sitting there numb with what’s just happened…that was a shock to the system because no Marvel film has ever ended this way, with the villain triumphant and the heroes in disarray. Normally there’s some type of closure, but we haven’t gotten it, and we won’t get it until next year!!

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Now then, I said “When this is undone” because you know not all of these characters are going to stay dead. There’s a Black Panther sequel in the works, Spider-Man has a new movie coming, etc. so we know most of these characters are coming back. The big question is, HOW? The last we saw, Thanos has retreated to a distant planet with the Infinity Gauntlet, and as long as he holds it intact, no one can really stop him. Which is why I wonder if some guilt in Thanos will eventually come into play because as things stand, he won’t undo what he’s done. The other question is, who CAN come back? I figure anyone who disintegrated at the end is eligible, but what about those killed before? Like Gamora, Loki, Heimdall, most of the Asgardians (I’m a little confused as to how many survivors there are from Asgard now). I’m pretty sure Loki isn’t coming back as I believe Tom Hiddleston’s contract is up, but at this point anything is possible. And speaking of Loki…what did you think of him dying via Thanos breaking his neck like that? It almost felt…anti-climactic given everything he’s gone through, but then again it’s also fitting as he tried to pull one trick too many with those magic daggers. If that was the last we ever see of Loki, at least he died showing Thor that he really does care about him.

Now for some final thoughts:

-I love that Thor kept calling Rocket Raccoon “rabbit”

-Peter Dinklage’s scenes are perfect

-The fight with Thanos when the Guardians are working with Tony, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange is great and pretty funny considering everyone keeps popping in and out of…time holes? I’m not sure what those are called but I love them.

-It’s interesting that after Hulk gets beat up by Thanos he refuses to come out fully for the rest of the film. Could the Hulk be…scared?

-I want to know how the directors picked which heroes disintegrated and which didn’t. There had to be a rhyme and reason behind it and I want to know what it was!!

And those are my spoiler-filled thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War! What did you think of this film? Were you stunned when the credits rolled? Let me know what you think in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Avengers: Infinity War-Review (no spoilers)

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Avengers: Infinity War-Review (no spoilers)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

*note: I will try to keep any and all spoilers out of this review but just in case I slip up here is the standard “possible spoilers from the movie may follow, do not read unless you have seen Avengers: Infinity War.”

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Wow. Wow. Oh my god they went there. It’s been just over 12 hours since I sat down to watch Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of a story that began with Iron Man in 2008 and my head is still reeling from everything that happened. This will actually be the first of two reviews I do for the film. This one will just cover my general impressions and try to avoid all spoilers. Later, once it’s safe to discuss the nitty gritty details, I’ll post another review where I discuss everything.

 

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First of all, believe the hype about this movie, this is everything we were promised and more. There are surprises you will not see coming, some are awesome, some…not so much. I’m still in shock over where the movie left us. I mean, I speculated that they might do this, but I didn’t actually think they would, but oh my god they did (and that’s all I can say for now on that).

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It was thrilling to see all the different character interactions. Tony’s interactions with Doctor Strange and Star-Lord are everything you’d expect them to be (and are indeed some of my favorite funny moments). And speaking of funny, there are a number of humorous lines in this story that definitely does not feel like a 2 hour and 40 minute film. It was also great to re-visit Wakanda so soon after seeing Black Panther.

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What I want to talk about most right now is Josh Brolin’s performance as Thanos because he completely blew me away. There is such a depth to Thanos as he travels to collect the Infinity Stones that I never expected to see. Despite being a mad Titan, in many ways he’s very human and he quickly became a favorite character in the story. Like Loki and Erik Killmonger (two of my favorite Marvel villains), there are layers to Thanos and he has his reasons for being the way he is. The most frightening thing about this villain is he genuinely believes he’s doing the right thing, that the universe will thank him when it’s all over. That’s downright scary (and a complete contrast to Loki who, it was noted by Coulson “lacked conviction” during his assault on New York City). Thanos does not lack conviction.

I think that’s all I can talk about for now, I don’t dare spoil this film for anyone (that would be cruel). All I can say is, go see Avengers: Infinity War as soon as you can and prepare to be amazed. It shouldn’t be too long before I’m able to publish a full review that talks about everything, so for now, do NOT let me know what you thought about the film in the comments (I want to avoid spoilers at all costs) and have a great day!

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My thoughts on: Black Panther (2018)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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*caution, spoilers ahead*

It has been a very long time since I went to see a film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Due to burn-out and other situations, I believe the last film I went to see was Avengers: Age of Ultron all the way back in 2015. I truly thought I was permanently burned out on the MCU until I saw the first teasers for Black Panther late last year. Something about the film kept drawing me in, as much as I tried to ignore it. Then, when the first reviews came out critically praising the film as a masterpiece, I knew that I would have to go and see for myself.

The critics are right. Black Panther IS a masterpiece. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the best film in the MCU to date (though Avengers: Infinity War might claim that title once it releases in May).

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As far as I can tell (my knowledge of the MCU timeline isn’t the best), Black Panther picks up about a week after the events of Civil War, during which time T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda, was assassinated in an explosion at the United Nations. His son T’Challa is set to be crowned king and fully come into his rights as the Black Panther that protects Wakanda from the outside world. A beautiful prologue explains that Wakanda was built over a huge meteorite of vibranium that crashed into the Earth. Because the vibranium allowed Wakanda to build and work with technology that far outstripped the rest of the world, the nation hides in plain sight, posing as a Third World country while it is actually the most advanced on Earth.

I think my favorite scene in the whole film is when T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning to Wakanda with Nakia (an ex-girlfriend) for his coronation. The ship they’re flying on appears to be heading straight into a mountain when at the last second it’s revealed to be a hologram! The facade melts away to reveal this beautiful city full of flying ships, mag-lev trains and of course the enormous vibranium mine (overseen by a huge panther statue). The entire city is a perfect example of Afro-Futurism, combining traditional African designs with futuristic technology (it’s sheer perfection to watch).

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Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), my new favorite villain in the MCU (sorry Loki). Erik is introduced as an associate of Ulysses Klaue (whose vibranium stealing exploits have been a thorn in Wakanda’s side for thirty years). It turns out that Killmonger is actually the son of T’Chaka’s brother. When Eric was a young boy, T’Chaka confronted his brother over helping Klaue steal vibranium and was forced to kill him. But the real tragedy of the situation emerges when it is revealed that T’Chaka chose to leave his nephew behind, rather than take him back to Wakanda. Is it any wonder that Erik is bitter and seeks to rule Wakanda as its rightful king?

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Killmonger fascinates me because his motives are so complex. He genuinely believes that he knows what’s best for Wakanda. The young king, knowing who Erik is, doesn’t want the truth coming out in front of his council, but it does anyway. Aside from being stunned to learn that there’s a royal cousin that nobody in Wakanda knew about, they agree that Erik is fully within his rights as a royal prince to challenge for the throne by ritual combat. And this led to my other favorite scene: as Erik and T’Challa fight, Erik spells out why he is the better king for Wakanda, revealing that he has killed many, many times (and for each kill there’s a self-inflicted scar on his body).

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I found the clash between Erik, who grew up in America, and the culture of Wakanda to be enthralling. Now I understand the article titles I saw that mentioned the conflict between African-Americans and Africans. Even though they have a common origin (in Africa), the way they grew up almost guarantees they’ll be nothing like each other, and so it is with T’Challa and Erik.

Another part of the film that I absolutely loved are the Dora Milaje; an all-female squad of elite warriors that protect the king of Wakanda at all times. They’re led by Okoye (Danai Gurira, aka Michonne on The Walking Dead!), an absolutely bad-ass warrior who will not hesitate to attack her enemies with a spear. Their fighting style is thrilling to watch; they move with such precision and grace that you can’t doubt their lethal abilities.

Aside from T’Challa himself, I absolutely loved his little sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Though only 16, she’s in charge of Wakanda’s technological developments, which also include providing updates to the Black Panther’s suit and weapons. It’s hinted that she can fight as well, but it doesn’t come out until the big fight at the end when she emerges with Nakia in fighting armor and wreaks havoc on the enemy. I definitely want to see more of Shuri (and Wakanda in general) in the MCU.

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Final thoughts: Black Panther is without a doubt the best film produced for the MCU yet. It’s a compelling story, without any flaws that I could find. Definitely go see it!

What did you think of Black Panther? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂 As always, thank you for coming by and checking out the blog, your support means everything to me!

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See also: Film/TV Reviews

Film 101: The MacGuffin

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

If you’ve ever read in-depth about films, you’ve probably come across some variation of the following statements:

“The hero chased a series of MacGuffins for the entire story.”

“The plot twist revealed yet another MacGuffin…”

But what is a MacGuffin? Well, MacGuffin’s are plot devices that originated in literary fiction and have long since moved over to film as well. They appear as some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist) pursues, very often with little to know narrative explanation as to why they desire this thing. It should also be noted that a MacGuffin’s importance comes not because of the object itself, but rather how it affects the characters and their motivations.

In most films where a MacGuffin appears, they’re usually the main focus of the film in the first act, but thereafter decline in importance, often being forgotten by the end of the story (though sometimes it will magically reappear to aid in the climax of the plot).

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There are many examples of MacGuffins in film but one of the most popular would be the search for the Death Star Plans (held by R2-D2 and C-3PO) in the original Star Wars film. From the beginning of the film (when Darth Vader chases down Princess Leia’s ship), almost to the end (when the Falcon escapes the Death Star to head to the Rebel base on Yavin 4), the plot is driven around obtaining those plans for either the Empire or the Rebellion. This is an almost identical scenario to the one in The Force Awakens where both the First Order and the Resistance are seeking the last map piece to locate Luke Skywalker.

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The Infinity Stones could be described as the ultimate MacGuffin of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, as possession of these objects (the Tesseract, the Aether, the Mind Stone, the Power Stone, the Eye of Agamotto) has driven a large number of the films, with the threat of Thanos coming to collect them himself growing ever larger. Just for a refresher:

-The Tesseract: Captain America: The First Avenger; Thor; The Avengers; Avengers: Infinity War

– The Aether: Thor: The Dark World; Avengers: Infinity War

-The Mind Stone: The Avengers; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Avengers: Infinity War

-The Power Stone: Guardians of the Galaxy; Avengers: Infinity War

-The Eye of Agamotto: Dr. Strange; Avengers: Infinity War

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Another MacGuffin example that appears both in literature and film is the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. If you think about it, for the most of the story the Ring doesn’t really do anything except lie on a chain around Frodo’s neck. The entire plot revolves around destroying this Ring of pure evil before the Dark Lord Sauron can get his hands on it or before anyone else can claim it for their own, but we never really get to see it used to its full potential (though admittedly hints are given as to what it can do).

Possibly the most famous MacGuffin of all cinematic history comes in the classic Citizen Kane, when the reporter attempts to track down the meaning of Kane’s last whispered word “Rosebud.” To this end, he interviews countless former friends, lovers and associates, all in an attempt to find where this one word came from (I’m not going to tell you because the reveal is something everyone should experience for themselves).

And that’s my explanation for what a MacGuffin is. Having read through the examples, do any MacGuffins come to mind that I didn’t list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

Film 101: Archetypes

Film 101: Deus ex machina