Friday, 10 October 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Review

by  on AUGUST 1, 2014
Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy, a review
Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn, clocks in just over 2 hours and stars Chris PrattZoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, (voice of) Vin Diesel, (voice of) Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro and bunches more in what I’m about to call this generation’s equivalent to the Star Wars franchise. A fun equivalent because the chemistry and action had that feeling.
Rather than move forward extending the stories of the known Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to date, they’ve decided to introduce us to a new set of characters. Characters that when I first heard about, I didn’t think I’d care or like.
Happily, I have committed to supporting most of Marvel’s movies and was planning on seeing the film. And as time went on and I started hearing good things about it, I stood by my decision to see it.
Good call.
The film starts out in the mid-80’s on Earth, when we watch the very young Peter Quill go through a very tough emotional moment and right afterwards, finding himself, of all things, abducted by aliens.
We then jump to the present and watch Quill (Pratt) searching for something that he’s been contracted to find, and as soon as he does, other folks sent by Ronan (Lee Pace) show up looking to take the item from him.
Quill is more or less just a man with a few gadgets and a wily sense of survival, as he gets out from under that situation, and lands on Nova Prime to turn over the object he had been hired to snatch.
But when he tells his contractor who he alluded back at the planet, he wants nothing to do with Quill, and kicks him out.
Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy
Enter the sexy but deadly Gamora (Saldana), who is there to take the object from Quill, in addition to Rocket (Cooper) and Groot (Diesel).
It’s an all out scuffle that’s pure fun to watch and we learn quite a bit about everyone just before and during this scuffle, which eventually lands everyone… (edited out for spoiler reasons).
And the tale of “Starlord” and his “pelvic sorcery” goes from there. (That will make sense when you see the movie later.)
This is a tale of bad or questionable people who are for all intent purposes, are good at heart, but just don’t want to admit it. As our band of questionable characters find themselves placed in situation after situation, forcing their hands upon a destined path of being the good guys, the evolution of the characters does not seem forced. And they have to save the galaxy, since Quill lives in it.
Many folks are calling this movie summer fun, but the story hits on many levels, from loss to revenge to dealing with our losses, and rebounding back and finding there’s more to this friends and family thing that meets the eye.
Along the path of this story we meet the fifth member of this team, Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), then later Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), The Collector (del Toro), Thanos (This is our first real look at Josh Brolin playing the big, evil purple guy. And I must say, it’s a well played casting.), and a slew of other good, bad and indifferent characters.
We get a pretty good (or better) look at more things that The Collector seems to have under his belt, and to be honest, you’re going to be in for quite the surprise.
I predict Groot is going to become another secret success story like Hulk. And I was surprised to see a gun-toting raccoon actually not annoy  me, but make a few pretty powerful moments in the film.
It’s a wisecracking story peppered with serious moments of action and it was all put together pretty well to deliver one of the funnest two hours I’ve ever had in a theater. I can’t say it’s the best Marvel movie ever, as some of the advertising soundbites suggest, considering I loved The Avengers and Iron Man, but it did not fail in entertaining me.
On the action scale of reviews, I’d suggest that if the previous Marvel movies entertained you, you’ll do just fine here as they introduce these new Guardians, along with Nova Prime (Close) and that culture (which I hope leads to our human rocket in some later film) and I’m sure, others that I’ve missed.
It is completely worth seeing. It’s light hearted, fun with just enough serious to make it worthy and I award it a popcorn-9!
– – –
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY MOVIE SPOILERS
The Wolverine warns about spoilers
What’s to spoil from GotG? Not much so these are pretty light, but I wanted to say something.
The venerable Stan Lee shows up pretty early in the film.
Gamora is the “daughter” of Thanos, as well as is her “sister,” Nebula (Gillan). Both of whom are at odds with their status as “daughters,” as it seems more like kidnapped.
That 70’s music we’ve always heard in the marketing is in the film. It comes from a Walkman that his mother gave him before she dies, and it’s his treasure, his memory of her. (Wow, those batteries last a long time!)
Yondu Udonta (Rooker) was the one who kidnapped the young Quill, on orders of Quills father, (That will make sense later) and you have to, HAVE TO stick around for the end-credits scene.
There’s a list of names in the credits that make no sense. The names seem to be taken from the characters in the film, but I’m not sure… I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Dang it!
For another, I got a kick out of the disclaimer that no raccoon-like or tree-like creatures were harmed in the filming of this movie.
The light-hearted humor continued, even in the credits.
But the magical moment for some,
BIGGER SPOILER
Is when we see The Collector sitting on the floor with a dog licking his face, and he’s told by Howard the Duck that he finds that disgusting. Yes, Howard the Duck. Hmm. I’m guessing we should not be surprised if we see a HtD film in the near future.
-

Is AGENTS OF SHIELD Better The 2nd Time Around?

by  on OCTOBER 7, 2014
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 00
When Agents of SHIELD premiered last year, there were a ton of expectations by the fans of what to expect. Many were looking forward to it very much. As it stood, whenever Agent Coulson showed up in an MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movie, a ton of cool, talented bravado showed up and filled the scene perfectly. Agent Coulson showed up in ThorCaptain AmericaIron Man…  and his mellow and commanding presence was something to enjoy.
So when it was announced that Agents of SHIELD was coming to ABC, there was much anticipation as to what the viewing audience was going to see.
But there was a problem that became evident after the second and third episodes.  The show had to pace itself out and kill time and filler episodes while they built up a story that culminated with events in the second Captain America movie. And this time killing practice turned into a horrible experience for the viewers and the show.
They seemed to use different writers per episode who were following a cookie cutter template for their stories and it was very hard for the viewers to want to keep up with the show.
Yet for those of us who did, the payout in the last third of the TV season was fantastic. After Captain America The Winter Soldier screened, events from that movie spilled out into stories in AoS and things got good. Events started to take shape that impacted the characters and it was fun. The tie-in to Cap 2 was nice and we suddenly had a show to watch instead of some serialized cookie-cutter stories. We had a show connected to the MCU and stories were becoming more magical and enticing.
And this continued on into season two of Agents of SHIELD, as the now fragmented SHIELD agency is having a heck of a time pulling itself back together, not knowing who to trust, and not being trusted themselves.
In other words, their job just became tougher.
And with Agent Coulson now being director of what is left with SHIELD, the team dynamic is starting to change and I’m not sure I like it or not. That’s not a bad thing. Good character writing should elicit like and dislikes amongst fans.
BUT…
After the first few episodes I am not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but we’re starting to see what I am calling the “forced quips of Marvel.”  In other words, characters are spouting potentially funny quips, but are doing so often enough that the impact of the subtle humor is getting lost in the distraction of these quips seemingly needing to happen once or twice between every commercial break.
It used to be, for example, that when Coulson showed up in an MCU movie, his quips of subtle humor were minimal and amazingly effective. Funny without being humorous.  But effective and to the point.
Not it feels like every time he’s on-scree he has to mutter some cute quip.
Not only is that annoying, it is distracting and it is worrisome that the production team is returning to the canned story outlines mode they had in the first half of season one.
Honesty folks, (in the production team), stop. It looks like the show is being written around these quips that HAVE to happen rather than letting it flow.
I hope the show continues on its strong rebound from the debacle that wasAoS last season. And so far, it does seem to be retaining its momentum. I just hope the quip-a-minute routine fades from view. Keep the drama, add the rare quip, and move on folks.

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