Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy

WARNING: Contains Minor Spoilers!!!

So after what felt like an eternity of waiting for it’s cinematic release a group of fellow nerds and I finally watched Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ and right off the bat I have to say… This movie is easily one of the top 3 projects Marvel has ever executed. I mean I went in with some pretty high expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised when Guardians surpassed all I could have hoped. Though whether or not it is in fact the best Marcel flic ever depends on how it holds up to a re-watch next week.

What really struck me was the sheer amount of talent that Marvel drafted for this movie! And I’m not just talking about our protagonists, but rather, every second character was an A-List, if not popular B-List, player! I mean John C. Riley and Glenn Close as a Nova Officer and Nova Prime (respectively), Come on! It felt like every two-three minutes I was going – “Holy shit it’s that guy” And it wasn’t like they were thrown in willy-nilly either – Each one of them blended seamlessly into what was just one great piece of story-telling.

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Black is White – Day XXII – NaPoWriMo 2014

I see things that aren’t there                                                           Amidst the shadows
Hidden within your very stare                                                                     There is light
You may not see                                                                      For those who are ready
Past your own hair                                                                              To stand and fight
But I see those things                                                              Never falter, never shake
That aren’t there                                                                      For your very soul’s sake

Madmen speaking heresies                                                                    But never easy
That’s what they called those that did see                                                     Is the road
The things that were                                                                        It is full of hardships
But couldn’t be                                                                                 Stocked with woes
Just because                                                         But if you are strong, you’ll succeed
Their minds were free                                   And reap reward for the blood you bleed

An outsider, maybe, to some                                                                            Open up
Is what, perhaps, you will become                                                   Your fastened eyes
If you refuse                                                                                         And see the truth
To keep mum                                                                                              In its demise
In front of doubters                                           Twisted by those that were to protect it
Who, your way, come                                   But in its name, they went and wrecked it

But this is the price we pay                                                                          Break away
To see not what is, but what may                                          Their shackles and chains
To say we saw                                                                                   And we shall build
That glorious day                                                                              From what remains
When none were blind                                                           A new hope. A new world
To the sun’s rays                                        Where black and white, is a lot less blurred

And thought sometimes I may be scared                                                          Only you
To face those who cannot bare                                                                  And I remain
To see one                                                                                             To fight this fight
Whose sight is rare                                                                               So we must train
I am free                                                                    The day comes, and it comes fast
So I do not care                                                                  When we will be, free at last

Movie Review – Man of Steel

*** WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS ***

There’s always pressure on a reboot to perform, especially when its a second attempt, so I was genuinely happy to see the brilliant job done with the new Man of Steel after the 2006 attempt (Superman Returns) failed to live up to the hype.

Right off the bat one has to notice that unlike Superman movies of the past, this one takes a lot less for granted. There is an extensive look at the back story, as opposed to the normal 5 minutes of a spaceship in a barn, a blanket with an ‘S’ on it and then Brando’s “Kal-El, you are my son”. We really get to go into the death of Krypton and the reason for Kal-El’s presence on earth. There is also a significant amount of time given to character development, albeit through the generally hackney tool of flashbacks (though they were blended quite well here). It shows you glimpses into his childhood – dealing with the responsibility of having superpowers and deciding to hide them because the world was not ready for him.

But Supes wasn’t the only one. I was also quite pleased with the treatment of Zod, our main antagonist. Unlike the prior incarnation, where he was simply a egomaniacal baddie, this new vision saw him as a driven soldier, bred and created for the sole purpose of ensuring Krypton’s survival, even at the cost of the human race – which puts him at odds with Kal-El who comes to the decision that “Krypton had its chance”. At the same time though, you can see that this is not a decision made lightly, and his hand is forced by the opposing forces of the surviving Kryptonians and the human armies, neither willing to share, as Jor-El envisioned. The friend that I watched the movie with was rather disappointed with the choice of Zod for the villain, but I beg to differ. I think for the story that they were trying to tell – Superman’s origin and reconciliation of his two identities and final acceptance of Earth as his true home – Zod was the obvious choice.

But character development doesn’t mean they skimped on the action – not at all! The fight scenes are rather brilliant. And thankfully they are quite watchable, as opposed to the Transformers/Iron Man trend of everything moving so fast you can barely tell what’s happening. It’s always cool to see super-beings go up against each other and Zod second in command, Faora-Ul was particularly bad-ass! I wonder though if the next movie will address the issue of collateral damage – its something superhero movies don’t usually touch on – who pays when a fight Superman levels half of Metropolis

Shout out to the brilliant casting for this flic. Russell Crowe kind of stole the show most of the time with his wise yet bad-ass Jor-El. While no one could ever really replace Brando in his iconic portrayal, Crowe has definitely reset the bar high. Similar props for Henry Cavill. Christopher Reeves, the real life Superman, has been a role that no one has been able to touch in decades so its a real testament to Cavill that he absolutely nails it! He’s broody, yet good-old-american boy, with a little angst and turmoil thrown in – perfect Superman recipe. And lets not forget Michael Shannon, the man who done an impeccable job in the role of Zod – I actually felt for the guy – that’s saying something for a super-villain!

While I thought this movie was quite awesome, I will point out that there are some things that purists will probably take issue with.

  • Lois Lane’s hair – While strictly speaking she’s still a brunette (I think – the 3D glasses made the screen really dark!) she doesn’t have the classic jet black, but rather Amy Adams’ almost redhead locks.
  • Perry White, Editor-in-chief of The Daily Planet isn’t white – The role went to Laurence Fishburne, who I think, for the 5 seconds of screen time that he had, did a great job.
  • No Jimmy Olsen?!
  • Jonathan Kent dies! (Rather dramatically too might I add) – In teaching his son yet another lesson, Jonathan Kent sacrifices himself to protect his son’s identity, knowing that the world has not ready for his powers, or perhaps it was his son that was not ready? Disappointing – I really like Kevin Costner
  • The suit – Now in our classic Superman its mama Kent that makes him the suit, using the blanket he was wrapped in as a child (thus the ‘S’/Kryptonian symbol for the house of El) – But here it’s presented to him by Jor-El (more correctly a computer program emulating him) as some form of battle-suit?
  • No spit-curl – Oh but how will Clark Kent’s brilliant disguise work now?

Personally, I don’t think any of these changes affects the movie at all. But you know how we Geeks are, we fill find a reason to complain ; p

All in all, while I’m not going to get in line right away to watch it a second time like I did for Dark Knight, I definitely think its merits a second watch. And a word of advice – watch in 2D if you can – there’s nothing in this movie that makes it a must watch in 3D so enjoy a cheaper ticket and more comfortable watch instead.

EASTER EGG – Let’s see if you can spot this one – during one of the fight scenes Superman gets thrown into a sign at a construction site that says “160 DAYS SINCE LAST ACCIDENT” (or something like that)  and the 1 and 6 get knocked off as he collides with it so that, for a fraction of a second, the sign says 0 days instead – I only barely caught this one. My friend did not, which is why he was wondering why I started chuckling in the middle of a fight scene.

Easter Egg Hunt

As exciting as it is to find chocolate covered in glitter and paint in the middle of a patch of grass, those aren’t the easter eggs I’m talking about. I’m talking about the virtual kind. A lot of you might be familiar with these, even if you don’t know it. A virtual easter egg is basically a hidden message or image tucked away in a movie, TV show, computer program, video game, crossword, heck anything really. They’re usually left behind by the author as a little joke or just a nod to rivals or deserved predecessors. The term was apparently coined by Atari – legends in the arcade game industry (who sadly filed for bankruptcy earlier this year).

For fans they are a lot of fun indeed. In fact for those of us who just don’t seem to get ever get tired of watching great movies – like the Avengers, Indiana Jones, Kill Bill, Star Wars (the original trilogy), Die Hard, Back to the Future – and a million others, it’s a real kick to catch these little hidden images or references. It’s like an extra dollop of hot chocolate on your sunday or (if you are so inclined) sprinkles on top of your scoop. It’s also fun to see that the creators themselves have a sense of humor. Sure this is phenomenon more common to more light-hearted genres, but easter eggs are abound in movies you wouldn’t have even thought of. I can just imagine a software designer or director chuckling to himself as he throws in a joke most people would not even notice – only the worthy (and the unbelievably obsessed).

Some quick examples of my favorite easter eggs before parting:

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – In the beginning of the movie we see our hero visiting a night club called “Club Obi Wan”! Classic example of George Lucas having some fun with some cross-franchise homage.
  • Pixar with its constant references to its other movies – The little girl from Monsters Inc. with her Nemo doll and the Pizza delivery car from Toy Story which was in almost every other Pixar flic!
  • Thor – Ok this one is pretty subtle. In the movie Portman gives Thor her ex boyfriend’s clothes – his name being Donald Blake. Those more familiar with the Thor comics will realize that this is actually Thor’s alter ego, his human identity.
  • Stan Lee – Ok this man is a legend! And if you pay close attention, you’ll realize he’s in like every Marvel movie. He’s the man reading the paper who almost gets run over in Daredevil, he’s one of the security guards leaving the facility in the beginning of the movie in Hulk (along with the original big man himself, Lou Ferigno), he’s in the crowd as the balcony collapses in Spiderman, a mail man in Fantastic Four – ok you get the idea!
  • The episode of HIMYM where Marshall’s dad dies – It was somewhere around No. 42 I think that my friend and I realized their was a countdown, prompting us to go back to the beginning and yell out loud every time we found the next number. Great easter egging, though around No. 3 I remember thinking, oh no, oh crap, something bad is gonna happen…

Right so maybe I’ve helped open your eyes to a whole new world! Or maybe I’ve just given you a few funny examples. Or maybe I’ve contributed absolutely nothing to your life whatsoever. Well it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows can it sonny?

Then again, maybe you got more than you know. Close followers of my blog might realize that there may just be a few hidden eggs here and there, if you’re really looking ; )