Tag Archives: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Fanboy Movie Review #7 — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

[Note: I do not consider myself a movie critic. What follows is just one fanboy’s opinion based off of a single double viewing of the film. Oh, and there are SPOILERS ahead, so take heed.]

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back for Vol. 2! Has it really been three years since Volume 1? Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and Baby Groot, plus a number of new and returning characters — the gang’s all here.  Here are my thoughts on the latest installment.

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Yaaaaaas!

First Impressions:  I really enjoyed the first Guardians of the Galaxy. That movie was such an unexpected treasure. It wasn’t without its flaws, but it stands as one of my favorites in the whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. James Gunn has returned to helm this new Guardians adventure, so I’m definitely onboard. Let’s see how it goes.

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I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!

What I LIKED:

  • YONDU! I think the whistling, blue-skinned Ravager stole the show. Michael Rooker nails it. We haven’t lost many characters in the MCU (so far), so I think that this is the most saddening loss we’ve seen so far. I’m Mary Poppins, y’all! *sniff, sniff*
  • Chris Pratt! He’s as funny as ever, but this is some of the best acting I’ve seen from him. The moment where Ego puts stars in his eyes, his entire physicality changes, and there is an alien sadness and wonder to him that’s fantastic.
  • Awesome Mix, Volume II! Once again, a great pick of classic hits to shade and nuance the story. Fun Fact: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” album is one of my favorite of all time, so I loved hearing “The Chain” during that critical battle was awesome sauce.
  • Kurt Russell! By his very name, Ego is a pretty over-the-top character. The same could be said of many aspects of the story, but I’m okay with OTT in both because it’s Guardians of the Galaxy, AND because Kurt Russell has played two of the most OTT characters in all of cinema: Snake Plissken and Jack Burton. Seeing him in this story was a treat.
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Little did we know that Ego stuck around on Earth, became a truck driver, and had many adventures on the ol’ Pork-chop Express.

  • Drax’s continuous laughter. He was such a dour and serious character in the first film. Seeing him give bellowing, Herman Munster-esque laughs at almost everything was both funny and a testament of how the character has moved past his incredible grief.
  • All the scenes with Drax and Mantis. The best is when she touches him and is immediately overwhelmed with emotion while Drax sits calmly, smiling. I love this scene.
  • Baby Groot. I will miss him when a moody, Teenage Groot is there instead.
  • The art direction in this movie is off the rails. From the golden appointments of the Sovereign, to Ego’s psychedelic landscape, Volume 2 is a visual masterpiece.
Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol.-2-trailer-4

Somebody’s about to start singing “Goldfinger” or “Xanadu.”

  • All the after-the-credits stingers.
  • The end credit sequence, which looks like old album art, and random names that change from “I am Groot.” And Zaadu Hasselfrau, er…David Hasselhoff singing “Guardians Inferno.”
  • Minimal meta-plot. I went in expecting the Guardians to snag another Infinity Stone, but the main story (thankfully) had nothing to do with Thanos. The story could be its own thing rather than being a validation of what has gone before and a setup for things to come (the main problem with Age of Ultron.)
taserface-in-the-latest-trailer-for-guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-2

IT’S ALLEGORICAL…no, wait.

What I DIDN’T Like:

Nitpicks:

  • Maybe it’s just my Dungeons & Dragons roots, but I don’t like it when they split the party. The Guardians are all together at the very beginning and at the end. For most of the movie, they aren’t together.
  • It felt like a few characters were underutilized, like Drax and Mantis. I really liked the scenes they were in, though. Drax’s only real combat scene was at the very beginning, and that was secondary to Baby Groot’s dance number.
  • Speaking of which, I liked the Volume 2 opener, but it seemed like a CGI explosion rather than the fun, live-action dance number at the beginning of Volume I. I will say that it was a good introduction to the spirit of the movie, however, as Baby Groot doing his thing was the focus rather than the battle going on behind him. Battles weren’t the point of this movie.
Guardians-Galaxy-2-Baby-Groot-Trailer

Daaaaawwww….

  • Rocket stealing the batteries. They tried to justify this a few times, but there was really no reason for him to do that, except that he had to have them for the end sequence. That felt like a stupid and unnecessary thing to do, even it was pretty funny.
  • The Sovereign, themselves. Gorgeous as their all-gold appointments were (Goldfinger anyone?), with a classic arcade drone pit, I don’t think they added much to the story other than to be another threat. Even though I know it’s a completely different actress, I swear that Ayesha looks like she’s played by Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner.
  • Taserface. I didn’t find that gag all that great. The disappointed look as a golden-faced lady laughs at his name was pretty funny, though.
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What? No Tango and Cash reunion?

Unresolved Questions (At This Point):

Was Ego a Celestial in the sense of what was established elsewhere in the MCU (the immense armored figures shown in Volume I), or is ‘Celestial’ more of general classification of godlike beings? It’s a little odd that Ego was a giant brain that built a planet around itself, whereas Knowwhere, the home of the Collector, was a severed head of a Celestial, which was itself the size of a planet.

Quill might not be immortal now, but he’s still a half-celestial. Does that mean that he might still have some latent powers because of it? Will this come into play when all the Infinity Stones are brought into one place?

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Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film

Also, what part will Nebula play in the coming battle against Thanos? When will Adam Warlock make his grand entrance? (Truth be told, I thought they were going to hand Adam’s role over to Doctor Strange. Guess not.)

What happened to Quill’s ship, the Milano? Did the Ravagers take it with them since their ship, the Eclector, was large enough to accommodate several ships of that type (like the one taken by Nebula), or is it still left in half repair in the forest on Berhert?

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Guardians….gather!

Conclusions:

While I would have preferred to see the Guardians together as a team throughout the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed Volume II. Marvel movies are normally billed as action-packed blockbusters. Volume II has some great action sequences, but it chooses instead to focus on the characters, and how there is more to them what’s simply on the surface.

And what better group to do this than the beloved characters of Guardians of the Galaxy? In focusing on the people rather than action, we get a chance to hang out with these characters for two hours. The emotion is there, from start to finish, and that is the real victory of Volume II.

And that’s the way this fanboy sees it.

(We Are Groot!)


Fanboy Review #5 – Captain America: Civil War

[Note: I do not consider myself a movie critic. What follows is just one fanboy’s opinion based off of a single (let’s be real here) double viewing of the film. Oh, and there are SPOILERS ahead, so take heed.]

This is the year of heroes fighting heroes. Batman and Superman. Daredevil and the Punisher. And, of course, #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan. Here are my thoughts on this pivotal moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War.

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What’s so civil about war anyway?

First Impressions: I was not a fan of the Civil War comic book arc, and I could not wait for Marvel to hit the proverbial reset button on it. Furthermore, I’m not generally keen on superheroes fighting each other, but I understand why it happens. So, I’m already a ‘hard sell’ going into this, but this is the Russo Brothers we’re talking about, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier was excellent. Let’s see how this turns out.

What I Liked:

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UNDERROOS!

– I think the ideological conflict between Captain America and Iron Man is well argued on both sides. I can see why Tony believes that the Avengers need to be accountable to the nations of the world, and why Cap thinks that giving up the freedom to choose is a bad idea. I was afraid that the arguments would all be for Cap (since it’s his movie), but I felt drawn to both sides of the conflict at different times.

– SPIDER-MAN! Wow, Tom Holland totally nailed it. The scene between Peter Parker and Tony Stark may be my favorite scene in the entire movie. I am really looking forward to Spider-Man: Homecoming.

– Ditto for BLACK PANTHER! Chadwick Boseman was incredible as T’Challa. I can’t wait to see him in his own movie.

– The action set pieces in this movie are eye-popping. The fight at the airport is one of the best superhero action sequences I have ever seen on film. Full stop.

– We got Giant Man at last. 🙂

– Even the heroes that didn’t have much screen time all had their moments. Colonel Rhodes, Vision, Antman, Hawkeye…every single performance was outstanding.

– I loved Falcon’s new gadgets and how he used his wings as a shield to ward off bullets.  Also, his little drone “Red Wing.” Nice Easter egg there, guys.

– The moment when we see Tony firing his repulsors directly into Cap’s shield in slow motion. It only lasts for a second, but that scene is visual poetry.

– The Feels. I genuinely care about these characters, and watching them fight is rough. Heartbreaking, more like.

– These heroes at least try to talk to one another before coming to blows, unlike another much-publicized superhero showdown this year.

What I Didn’t Like:

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So was I…

– The VILLAIN. He seems completely superfluous, and is easily the weakest part of the story. The clash of ideas here was strong enough that they really didn’t need a puppet master behind the scenes. And this guy’s master plan requires far too much to go exactly the right way (factors he can’t possibly control) for it to go off.

– The villain’s plan actually works. Not completely, mind you, but he does a good enough job of splitting the Avengers to the point where it will take some time to get them back together.

– The underlying theme of blaming the heroes for stepping in to stop horrible things from happening. If an arsonist sets your whole city block on fire, and you lose your family in the blaze, would you really blame the firemen for not saving them? Or would you blame the arsonist who set the fire in the first place?

– How quickly Tony Stark turns on Cap and Bucky – again. I understand that Tony sees Bucky murder his parents, but it has been said time and time again that Bucky had been brainwashed to do it, that he was clearly not in his right mind. I understand the anger, and the feelings of betrayal since Cap knew about it and said nothing, but to immediately attack the both of them? That seemed like too much of a stretch.

– I find it a little hard to believe that the Avengers would have just packed up and left after Sokovia, and not stayed around to help with search and rescue efforts. In fact, we hear Tony mention the ‘Stark Relief Foundation’ after his rumble in the Hulkbuster armor. So, it sounds like the Avengers don’t just shrug their shoulders and peace out after one of their epic throw-downs.

Conclusions:

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How did it come to this?

I really liked this movie. When the MCU gets it right, which it does more often than not, it is a wonder to behold. The characterizations are all spot on, the acting first-rate, and the action gorgeous without being empty spectacle. I rate this newest offering right up there with the first Iron Man, Winter Soldier, and the first Avengers. It sets my little fanboy heart all aflutter. I hope to catch it another time or two before it leaves the theatres.

Hopefully, we are done with the heroes-fighting-heroes trope for a while, or worse yet, heroes being punished for doing right thing, risking their lives for others, and taking the blame anyway. We don’t need that kind of Christopher Nolan-esque crap in the MCU.

And that’s the way this fanboy sees it.

 


Brian’s Comic Contemplations II — The Miles Morales Syndrome

[Brian is a HUGE Spider-man fan. In all my travels, I have never encountered a bigger fan of the wall-crawler. Here are some of his thoughts and opinions on the State of the Spidey.]

Now that my first rant about Deadpool is ancient history, I thought I’d offer Matt another break from the blogging grind with another guest submission before he changes his mind. So here are a couple of similar issues that leave me bewildered when it comes to the comic book world.

Watch out, here comes the Spider-Man...

Just your friendly neighborhood…yeah, you know the rest.

At a point several years ago, Marvel decided they needed a new, more modern Spider-Man. One that reflected the cultural realities in the U.S. population. So, they introduced a new Spidey. A boy named Miles Morales. They then “killed” the character Peter Parker.

This is something that really chaps my Boo Berries. Look, I realize that comic book and movie companies are influenced by marketing departments. And I know we live in a politically-correct, inclusive society. Hey, I welcome that. Not complaining. But why slough-off the development of multicultural characters?

Why take the cheap route? Once again, indolence, I assert.

All this back and forth with the Spider-Man identity prompted some good things in the comic world. Notably, the Spiderverse storyline and, by some extension, The Superior Spider-Man tales. But it also spurred on the dubious debate as to which Spider-man would be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). With the huge success of the Iron Man Franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers, Marvel had its mouth watering to reclaim the legendary web slinger and (perhaps correctly) add him to the already impressive MCU roster.

He's got radioactive blood...

As it should be.

Of course, this is all after Sony pictures launched and failed two cinematic iterations of the character. (Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield). Regardless of what you think of those movies, Marvel thinks they can do better. And their current box office track record may make for a compelling argument. At last look, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe had grossed an astonishing $7.787 billion at the worldwide box office. (And that was before Ant Man.)

But then the debate started as to which Spidey they would add to their upcoming Captain America: Civil War film – as an introduction back into the MCU.

What?

The “debate” has long since been settled with Marvel finally deciding that our old buddy Peter Parker would get another kick at the can instead of Miles Morales.

Don’t get me started about the casting. (Tom Holland, Asa Butterfield, etc.) I have no idea what the logic was there, but suffice to say, this wall-crawler, for better or worse, will be more akin to a Spiderboy than a Spiderman. Going back to the era when Spidey/Peter Parker was a high-school teen is a decision that may or may not work. I started reading Spiderman comics at about Amazing Spiderman #40 with the late, great John Romita Sr. back in the late ‘60s, and by then, he was becoming a Spider-MAN, but I won’t quibble with the youth-movement approach to the MCU story, because I DO understand the tactic. And it does bear continuity with the early stories. So, fair enough.

Take a look...overhead...

Spider…um, man?

But a while back, I read a blog by an, evidently, selfish individual who submitted that there was no place for a white Spider-man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – clamoring, “Enough Peter Parker!”  Well, Sir, THAT is YOUR opinion. Yes, I’m sure there are others who may share your view. Lord knows, I’d certainly hate for you to have to take into account the opinion of someone who has been rooting for ‘ol Petey since I was old enough to read.

Despite being the white-bread character he was originally conceived, Mr. Parker became, arguably, the most popular Marvel superhero, and has remained so for over 50 years. That’s focus group testing you can’t ignore.

Go change the identity of Batman or Superman… leave Spidey alone! (No, I don’t want that either, but you get the point, right?)

You want more ethnic /socially representative characters? By all means! Have at it! But do me a small favor, get up off your cognitive arses and use your imagination!

Here’s a novel idea: Create! Make up a new character – See Female character rant below. Don’t just “mail it in” with a convenient reiteration. Do the work. EARN your way to popularity. The way that Stan Leiber and his little science nerd did back in 1962.

Spins a web...any size...

So, what do you REALLY think, Brian?

Stop ripping off other people’s ideas. And YES, I’m looking at characters like you, John Stewart!

There’s already fantastic, ethnic characters represented in comics: Black Panther, Falcon, Spawn, Vibe, Luke Cage, Firestorm, Cyborg, etc. – It CAN be done!

BONUS CONTEMPLATION:

Female Versions of Almost Every Character – Why do comic book companies feel compelled, or perhaps obligated, to create a female version of a popular character? It comes off as SOOO contrived… and repetitive – and uncreative. It’s not that I don’t like female heroes. They’re great. But it’s like saying, “Let’s market a pink keyboard.” It takes character creation to a mass-production mentality. I.E; Nice shirt does it come in plaid? Marvel and DC already wallow in a sea of sameness with heroes, why take the easy way out with female characters? Comic writing should be a creative art form. Not a flippin’ mimeograph.

Rant over. Attack at will. 🙂

[Do you agree with Brian about Spider-Man? Yes? No? Let us know in the comments!]


The Golden Age of the Geekosphere

Tonight, I’m going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron (the movie I’m most excited to see this summer). That got me to thinking about the multitude of things that make being a geek/nerd/fanboy/fangirl just so cool these days.

Yes, we’ve got it pretty good, and here are 5 of my favorite reasons why:

1.) Nerd/Science Culture Acceptance

Bazinga!

What he said.

Let’s start with the most general of them. Over the last few years, what has been traditionally ‘nerd’ culture has leaked over into mainstream. Game of Thrones has been instrumental in this shift, along with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Sherlock. While the former has given us our share of fantasy and dragons (historically in the purview of geeks), the latter two have shown us that intelligent characters can carry a narrative, going far beyond the tape-around-the-glasses/pocket protector stereotypes of generations before.

We also have TV shows like Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, where we can see the beauty of science, and why it’s useful. We have websites like Geeks are Sexy and IFLScience. We can watch the livestream of the ISS, see sunsets from the surface of Mars, and use brand-new images of planets from Mercury to Ceres as our computer wallpaper.  We may not have starships (yet), but little by little science is spreading into the public consciousness.

Maybe we’re a long way from mainstream or wholesale acceptance, but it’s a start. I’ll certainly take it.

2.) The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Assemble!

A triumph of the human spirit.

Okay, so you might think this is a big step down from #1, but go with me for a moment.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe did the impossible – it wove individual movie franchises into one big story. Despite its name, it isn’t just about the cinema anymore. We now have TV shows like Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Daredevil, not to mention comic books and cartoons, all of which take place in the MCU.

While this by itself makes the comic book fanboy in me want to do the Snoopy dance, the MCU showed audiences and studios alike that this is viable way to make movies. Marvel has plans for more movies in the MCU through 2020 and beyond.

That means that we will wind up with at least two decades of superhero movies, if you start the clock with X-Men in the year 2000. And the current generation of movie-goers will have had the privilege of living through this era, of seeing all this unfold in the theatre. That’s pretty exciting.

One of these days the MCU might play out, but right now it’s going strong.  Even if others try to emulate the MCU badly (*cough* DC *cough*), we at least got Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy out of the deal, so go us!

3.) The Regeneration of Doctor Who

Vale Decem

You don’t have to go.

The years 1989 to 2004 were a dark time for Whovians. The only Who we got back then was that pretty awful TV movie that was a weak attempt at a reboot. I do admit to liking the style and charismas that Paul McCann brought to the character, and this was the first time we saw Who with more ‘modern’ effects. But… the Seventh Doctor got a punk death, Eric Roberts played the Master, and the story was just plain bad, and clearly written by people who were not invested in the franchise.

In 2005, however, Russell T. Davies rekindled the series with Christopher Eccleston as the title role. Steven Moffat took over as showrunner after David Tennant’s run, and the show is still going strong. I hope the BBC will learn from its mistake in 1989 and keep the show going indefinitely. Now that the ’12 Regeneration Limit’ issue has been addressed, there’s no reason why Doctor Who can’t continue to move forward with new adventures.  Doctor Who is something that science fiction fandom needs, and for the foreseeable future, we have it.

4.) Netflix & YouTube (& All the Social Media)

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I laughed, I cried, I rebuffered.

This is a pretty broad category, to be sure.  Netflix and other video streaming platforms have given fans an unprecedented access to episodes of our favorite shows, past and present. Previously, fans had to make do with a library of DVDs or VHS tapes.  Though there is often a delay between when a program is broadcast and when it ends up streaming, it gives fans nowadays the ability to binge watch whole shows.  It’s just as easy to watch the original G1 Transformers as it is to watch the Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

Youtube has made a great addition to fandom as well. Here you can share fan theories and lateral content, parodies, song covers, and cosplay advice. Some of the fan-made trailers for movies and TV shows are in many ways better than the actual thing. It’s a wide-open canvas for fans to express their creativity. If that weren’t enough, social media sites bring fans news and information with unprecedented speed, as well as giving us a way to connect with the people who make the TV shows, movies, and music videos unlike ever before.  You could Tweet Neil Gaiman, Lindsey Stirling, or Emilia Clarke and they might actually Tweet back.

TECHNOLOGY!

5.) ThinkGeek

Hey, listen!

With or without a promo code.

What’s the surest way to know that geek fandoms are doing well? Merchandising. Manufacturers wouldn’t make a pizza cutter in the shape of the Enterprise, or plush facehuggers if they didn’t think there was a market for them.  Turns out there is.

Marketing licensed merch and cool gadgets is nothing new, but no one, and I mean no one, does it better than ThinkGeek. There are endless places online to find fan-based T-shirts, but ThinkGeek goes above and beyond. They have collectibles, apparel, gadgets, toys, and things you didn’t think anyone would make but you are sire glad that they did.  Seriously, folks, there is a spotlight small enough to sit on your desk that is a miniature Bat Signal.

Beyond that, it feels like the people at ThinkGeek actually get these licenses.  They know what these properties mean to the fans because they are fans of them themselves. Do yourself a favor and go sign up for their email newsletter. When it comes in, read it. Does is it sound like you are being pandered to by people who wouldn’t know a Wookie from a Dalek? Nope, not at all. It’s more like walking into a meet & greet at a local convention. They’re the friends-in-fandom you never knew you had. If haven’t already, go check them out.

A Final Word

There are many more things I could list about the awesomeness of modern geekery, but that would take more than a humble blog post to even scratch the surface.  The upshot of it is: there has never been a better time to be a fan, and I’m glad to be a part of it all.

May this emerging golden age of the Geekosphere Live Long and Prosper.