Guardians of the Galaxy: A Review

Title: Guardians of the Galaxy
Producer: Kevin Feige
Director: James Gunn
Screenplay: Nicole Perlman and James Gunn
Composer: Tyler Bates
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Let’s not waste any time and jump right in, shall we? Continue reading

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Snowpiercer

Name:  Snowpiercer
Production Company:  Moho Films
Director:  Bong Joon-ho
Producer:  Park Chan-wook
Soundtrack:  Marco Beltrami
Released:  South Korea (August 2013) and United States (June 2014)

Originally, science fiction fell into two camps. The first camp was spearheaded by Jules Vern. His writing focused on science and technology. The second camp was spearheaded by Isaac Asimov. His writing focused on people’s reactions to and adaptions of technology. Both of these traditional camps have merit and are still alive in the literary world. Continue reading

A Million Ways to Die in the West Review

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I’m a fan of Seth McFarlane. He’s one of those comedians who can truly make me laugh with his dry humor, quick wit and very cynical view of the world. I love Family Guy  and American Dad because I know that something is going to make me laugh and laugh hard. Seth knows what’s funny, but somehow, that same humor doesn’t translate well from the small screen to the big screen. While his previous movie, Ted, felt more like a left-over script from Family Guy (with cut-aways included), I had my doubts on whether or not his second film would be something of an improvement. Continue reading

Day of the Doctor

A disclaimer first. I was never a huge Dr Who fan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great show. It never grabbed me. Gave it a chance and watched an episode a few years back. It had David Tennant as Dr Who. He was charming, witty, funny, and intelligent. He pulled me into every scene he was in.. hell, he captivated me. He’s my Doctor Who, you know?

tv DOCTOR WHOSo when I went to watch the 50th anniversary special, I went in with only cursory knowledge of the series. I’ve read up on the basics of the series… like the Tardis, the sonic screwdriver, and how the Doctor regenerates after death. And believe it or not, I was able to follow everything that happened.

I have nothing but good things to say about the Day of the Doctor.

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So, why did I love this movie/episode?

Accessibility

I was able to follow everything. Like the Moment and the appearance of that old Doctor who acted as the curator of the art museum. The dialogue was more than enough to tell me that there’s a lot of story significance to these characters. The moment the Moment appeared, talking about how she knew the Doctor… wow. I don’t know if the actress was just that good or the writing was some of the best I’ve ever seen… but for someone who has never seen the character before getting chills when she said ‘Bad Wolf’… wow. I knew that statement carried a hell of a lot of meaning. Though what, I have no idea.

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The interplay between the three Doctors

David Tennant and Matt Smith. Dear god. Wow. They played off of each other like old friends. And when you add in John Hurt, the interactions became so much more meaningful.

I’m pretty sure it’s every Dr Who fan’s dream to have the various Doctors meet and team up. Wait… are Dr Who fans called Whovians? Wait… seriously? I mean… seriously? Whovian? Huh. Well anyways, I don’t think there could have been a better fit than David’s and Matt’s Doctors. Both of them were child-like in their own way, wanting to do what was right. David was clearly the heroic type who couldn’t stop sticking his foot in his mouth. Matt was a charmingly awkward, never quite sure of his place in the world. That came through with him forgetting about a surprising amount of things, as if he was subtly rejecting the world and his own part.

Matt_Smith__David_TennantFrom their interactions, I got a good sense of what the Doctor’s regeneration was like. It was easy to imagine Dr Who being this strange and otherworldly being that manifests itself with a new form and personality.

And the way they had the same mannerisms. Oh man. Genius. Pure genius. It added to their charm.

John Hurt added the needed tragedy to the entire episode. His Doctor Who came before David’s and Matt’s. Strangely, John’s Dr. Who did something so horrible that the other two have done everything they could to forget about him. There was something heartbreaking about watching Doctor Who reject himself like that. But without John’s Doctor showing up like that, the episode would be nothing more than fan service rather than making a serious attempt to bring together many Doctors from different eras of the show.

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Guest Stars

I had no idea who that curator was when watching the episode (I looked it up afterwards), but I still got a sense of why he was important.

Watch_Tom_Baker_and_Matt_Smith_s_scene_from_The_Day_of_the_DoctorBringing back these older characters for cameo appearances may have just been for the Whovians (still, SERIOUSLY?? That’s the best nickname you can come up with?), but it gave me something very important as well. Just like everything else, it added to the sense of history and wonder. And since I saw it at the theatre in 3D, the crowd’s reaction made the moment that much cooler.

Oh, and how could you not mark out for this moment here?

all-doctors-day-of-the-doctorWow. Twelve Doctor Whos, all in one shot. Absolutely amazing 🙂

There’s a lot more that I would love to talk about, but I’m really trying to keep spoiler free. So I’ll just try to wrap it up with my final thoughts.

The episode/movie made me laugh, think, and come close to tears. Seriously. There’s one part that is so touching… Matt’s and David’s Doctors coming to John’s Doctor because they don’t want him to be alone when he makes his decision. They were all willing to take responsibility for the decision. What followed from that scene was heroic that had to be worthy of Doctor Who.

And my last thought.. WHOVIANS??????? Are you Doctor Seuss fans or Doctor Who fans?

Thor 2 The Dark World Review

Over the weekend, I had a chance to see the newest installment of the Marvel movies, Thor 2 : The Dark World. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie because it felt rushed and hastily written. So I was a bit hesitant to see the second movie. Would it learned from its past mistakes?

In a sense, yeah…just barely.

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Don’t get me wrong! The movie was good! I loved every minute of it! But having a chance to step back and allow the excitement to die down a bit, I’ve had a chance to really notice the film’s strength as well as its weaknesses.

The story picks up following the events of The Avengers, with Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) battling through the Nine Worlds of the universe as peacekeeper while struggling with the idea of becoming king of Asgard. Thor has no such desire to be as he still longs to be with Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman). His fondness for Jane doesn’t sit well with Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who wishes his son to take his place on the throne and warns him that life with a mortal would be pointless and harsh. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleson) has been returned to Asgard in chains after his attack on New York and is just as bitter and snarky as ever. Sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment, we don’t see much of Loki through the beginning part of the film. Which is strange since we get the sense at the very beginning that Loki is our main baddie.

Not this time around.

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The main villain this time comes in the form of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston),  a warrior-leader of the race of Dark Elves of Svartalfheim who had battled against the forces of Asgard centuries before. Defeated once already, Malekith returns with the goal of finishing what he started by means of unleashing a universe destroying weapon known as the Aether. Which more or less looks like spilled wine or sugary red kool-aid. The weapon was locked away by Odin’s father, but now has found its way to Jane Foster, infusing itself with her and slowly killing her. Through a series of events, Thor must ally himself with his traitorous brother in hopes of saving Asgard and of course, Earth.

For the most part, we’ve seen this story before. Many, many times.  It’s your basic story bad-guy-wants-to-destroy-the-world-with-a-super weapon. This is a cliche formula for your average super hero, so I don’t have much complaint about that since that’s what I was expecting going in. The story has its weak points here and there but it’s still enjoyable. However, I do have an issue with how the main villain was presented in this movie. In so many words, this wasn’t the villain that you exactly feared.

In fact, I hardly remembered him at all.

That seems to be the biggest complaint with most critics and I have to say that I’m one of them. As I’ve said before, at first glance, we get the impression that Loki will be the biggest antagonist. In fact, we see more of Loki than we do of Malekith through out the movie. And Malekith is the one with the evil plan here! Not Loki! I can venture to guess that the movie makers are more than aware of Loki’s huge surge in popularity these days since there is no other explanation as to why the trickster prince must have so much more scene time that the actual villain. Having the focus be more on the secondary bad guy that the actual bad guy doesn’t help the film. It just makes it confusing.

It’s also kind of a let down when you have an actor such as Christopher Eccleston becoming second fiddle. In my opinion, this the guy you want to play your villains! The guy knows how to play evil. I’ve seen in other films such 28 Days Later and G.I. Joe : The Rise of Cobra where he played some really evil dudes. The kind of dudes that you want to hate. Of course, I remember him fondly as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who, and even then Eccleston knew how to give a splash of darkness to an otherwise light-hearted character. So it’s a bit of a disappoinment that the movie makers didn’t play Malekith’s character to the best Eccleston’s strength.

Well, perhaps they did. Recently it’s come to my attention that there are a whole slew of unused scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut. Most of the those scenes consisted of a complete backstory of Malekith’s past as well as the motivation to his revenge. Call me crazy, but that sounds like the kind of thing movie goers would want to see! What makes Loki so popular these days is how he is presented. Tom Hiddleston does a fantastic job at humanizing a man that people should loathe. His motivations for breaking down his brother come from a place that is relatable to everyone, and the writers take great care in that. Had they done the same thing for Malekith, I think this film could’ve been a whole some much more deep and character driven.

So minus ten points there…

It’s not all bad however. There are some good points that the movie that I did enjoy.

One of my biggest complaints in the first movie was how the romance between Jane and Thor was handled. It felt rushed sloppily written to the point that it wasn’t believeable. I’m guessing that the original intent was to make it appear as if it was love at first sight for these two, but it didn’t come off that way. Thor, in my opinion, didn’t seem all that interested until the end and Jane came off as a horny schoolgirl. For Thor 2, however, the romance is handled a bit better.

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I will say this much for the first movie. It helped establish the bond that Thor and Jane have enough that it carries over to the next film and makes easier to feel for them. Thor is truly smitten by Jane and is highly keen on the idea of spending his life with her. And this time around, Jane isn’t practically begging Thor to ravage her. She has a bit more dignity and isn’t sitting back as a weak damsel. She’s helpful and strong-willed and even manages to tell off not just Loki, but Odin as well. The romance doesn’t feel so hammered in, but instead it feels solid and well-thought out. And yes, I can forgive that it took two movies to get us to that point. It’s strange for me to say that half-way in, this action-packed super hero about a guy who likes to hit people with a hammer started to feel more like a chick flick. A chick-flick I actually liked.

And coming from me who isn’t the biggest fan of chick-flicks, that’s a big deal.

Some of the best moments come from the hilarious writing. The dialouge is chalk full of quirky one-liners and jokes and witty observations that you have to be really paying attention to catch them all. The Marvel movies are masters at not taking themselves too seriously and allowing the natural comedy of the actors to bubble through. And this brand of smart, witty comedy shines in the banter exchange whenever Loki and Thor are on screen together.

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I have to give huge credit to Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston’s chemistry. They truly enjoy the roles they’re playing and want to have as much fun as they can with them. The moments that Thor and Loki have together are absolutely enjoyable. For all their hatred they have for each other, they still behave like brothers. Bratty brothers who want to one up the other. Whether it’s moments of them fighting over who gets to fly the giant spaceship or Loki morphing into various people just to annoy Thor, this is what fans like to see.

All in all Thor 2 : The Dark World is a really enjoyable movie. It has some flaws but nothing that makes the film not-likeable. Fans wanted to see more of Asgard, they got more Asgard. They wanted more action, they got more action. Fans wanted more Loki…Lord, they’ll get more Loki. And remember the number one rule when watching a Marvel movie, DON’T LEAVE THE THEATER UNTIL THE CREDITS ARE OVER.

Overall rating : B+

Movie Review: Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is easily one of the most famous Halloween tales around. Who doesn’t know the story of the headless horseman? It’s part of American folklore. Its story of Ichabod Crane, school teacher, and his ill-fated meeting with the Headless Horseman.

Tim Burton approached the tale a little differently in his 1999 movie. He made Ichabod Crane an investigator rather than a school teacher. Heck, he took the tale and made it into a murder mystery. One of the ultimate who-dun-its that’s just so much fun to watch.

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The set up for this movie was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. There was a murder in the town of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod was sent up to the town to prove his methods could be used to solve crimes. In other words, he had to pit his reason (the scientific method, investigation, research) against age old superstition and ‘common sense’ explanations. The story was surprisingly complex and well done. There were so many subplots and themes running through the movie that came together at the end. Like Ichabod struggling with his mother’s execution by his zealot father. Or Ichabod’s reason clashing with Katrina’s witchcraft.

Here’s what I truly love about the movie. Ichabod saw the Headless Horseman kill a man right in front of him. Chopped off the guy’s head clean off.

1a25e6aeddc189cd01adddbe95d6bb31He lost his mind for a little bit after that. But when he was able to calm down, he realized the Horseman was after that specific man and left him alone. That told him that the Horseman did not act at random but was working on behalf of someone else; a mortal agent that somehow controlled the Horseman. His investigation then took two fronts. One of them examined who was targeted by the Horseman so far and looked for common links between them.

Chances are, you’ve seen this movie. If you haven’t, go see it. I don’t think it’s on Netflix, but you can pick it up fairly cheap on Amazon or any other site that sells DVDs/Bluerays. You’re in for a special treat. You can thank me later. Go. Now!

For everyone else…

You have to watch the movie again! It was made in 1999 and it holds up well! That’s because Burton avoided computerized special effects as much as he could, relying on set designs, wardrobe, and make-up to carry the effects. I have never seen such a masterful job. Burton went out of his way to create a visual experience that pulls the audience in from the first scene all the way to the last. Rather than going on and on and on, I’m giving you a small collection of pictures so you can see it for yourself. Take a look at how the colors are all intentionally dull, yet vibrant. They all call attention to the actor’s face, when appropriate. Or how the set design creates a place of looming darkness, where the hero has to succeed against unknown forces.

The last thing I want to mention is Danny Elfman’s soundtrack. This soundtrack is my 2nd favorite soundtrack of all time. Whenever I’m running Ravenloft, I play it. Heck, when I need to set a somber mood for any game I run, I play it. Listen to it for yourself. I just did. Man, it still sends chills up my spine. The small child’s high-pitched singing… the slow build of all the instruments getting louder and louder.. threatening to overwhelm everything. Man, Elfman outdid himself.

As I said, you need to see this movie. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, you have to see it now. If you already watched it before, watch it again! And you’re welcome 🙂