“Guardians of the Galaxy”

I finally watched Guardians of the Galaxy last night. Yes, I am very late the party. The sad thing is I’ve owned it since the home release.

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Anyway, it was absolutely fantastic.

I can’t comment on how faithful it was the original comic because I know absolutely nothing about it. Like everyone who isn’t a comic nerd — and the vast majority of those of us who are — I hadn’t even heard of the Guardians before this film. Turns out they’re no different than every other superhero grouping and are a ragtag group of misfits. Except they’re also space pirates. Also, in Star-Lord’s own words, they’re losers. You know, they’ve lost stuff.

What amazed me is that it was a movie that literally sucks you in completely. I had debated live-tweeting my initial reactions while watching since I was astonishingly completely unspoiled for this and went in with zero context. I opted instead to text a friend, who remarked that it was going by quite fast and I looked down to discover there was less than a quarter of the run-time left. It truly felt like a fraction of that had gone by.

It was a fun ride. Though, I can’t pick out anything that specifically stands out in my mind.1 Rocket was a treat and they did a thoroughly amazing job animating him. Groot was interesting and very amusing. I especially loved the little dancing baby a la the music-activated flowers of my childhood.2 It was appropriately action-packed and humorous and my only complaint is that the exposition dump that’s given doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And if you’re about to say “it’s answered in Avengers 2” I don’t want to hear anything further because I haven’t seen that yet!

So, yeah, it was super fun and I enjoyed it greatly. I’m also glad you can all kindly get off my back about finally watching it. :-p

  1. It’s always harder for me to natter on when I can’t pick things apart.
  2. Yes, I had one. It was incredibly mesmerizing.

“Veronica Mars”

Veronica Mars was one of those television shows that I adored and so, of course, was canceled far too soon. Though, it did get three seasons of wavering quality and increasingly diminished ratings before the axe fell, so it doesn’t top my personal list of tragic cancellations. But it is one of the very few to be revived via a feature film, which would have been a news story even without the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that helped make it a reality.

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I won’t mince words: this movie is pure fan service. That’s not a bad thing, since I’m a fan, but I really don’t think it would be nearly as enjoyable a film if I weren’t. Basically, it plays like an episode of the show that is a bit longer and peppered with inside references. All of which is awesome for the Marshmallows and will go completely over the heads of anyone note familiar with the show. In fact, I’m pretty sure I missed a lot since in the interest of instant gratification I didn’t bother waiting to rewatch the entire series before delving into the film.

The story picks up nine years after the show ended. Veronica has moved about as far as she can from her life as a private detective in Neptune and is interviewing for a corporate law firm in Manhattan. But conveniently her ten-year class reunion is coming up and it takes the span of about two weeks for her to toss that New York life down the drain and be, well, Veronica. Oh, and Logan being (wrongly) accused of murder. Because that’s never happened before. It’s actually the speed with which things happen and the convenient nature of the events that I find to be the only real negative for this movie. It’s a negative that I can easily forgive as a fan, though, because it all is a means to get on screen the things that fans of the show want to see.

Anyway, the story itself centers around Veronica trying to sleuth out the facts in a murder that Logan is accused of. It’s a pretty good mystery and one that easily could have been stretched through a season of the show. Condensed down to a feature film running time means that it does seem a bit rushed, though, I didn’t find it sacrificed any legitimacy. Of course, I admit I was more interested in just seeing all the cast embodying their old characters to be too focused on tight storytelling or plausible suspense. I was impressed, to the point of distraction, with how much of the cast was crammed into the film and with only one character having to be recast, too. I stayed away from most of the news announcements to stay as spoiler-free as possible, but had I paid attention back then I would have been truly baffled how and if all the pieces would mesh.

It would have been needless, though, because in the end it’s not so much Neptune High’s class reunion as it is one for the viewer. And rather than awkwardly mingling with so-called friends trying to piece together the hierarchy everyone’s lives have fallen into, you just get to sit back and see a remixed version of all the old favorites. There’s far too many things to list out here because they really are spread throughout the entire film. But if there’s some aspect you truly enjoy about the show, there’s almost positively an homage to it somewhere in there. I could gush on about it endlessly.

A must-see for any fan of the show, but then you’ve probably already seen it. If you aren’t a fan, I definitely suggest watching the show first because (a.) it’s a good one1 and (b.) you’ll enjoy this film so much more. Otherwise, it’s probably not going to feel worth the price of admission or a rental.

  1. At the time of this writing, DVDs and digital copies are on sale, too.

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

Saw Iron Man 3 this past weekend and it was awesome and you should totally go see it if you have even the slightest interest in superhero films or summer action flicks or damn good movies. You should also probably stop reading this post because it has nothing to do with IM3 and awesome things.

That is because I’m a glutton for punishment and when good things happen at the movies — specifically good comic films — I immediately start on an Internet sleuthing expedition to find out information about the future of comic films. And then I want to be a superhero who can go back in time and slap myself upside the head because of my crippling stupidity.

For what it’s worth this time I can blame other people. See after seeing IM3 with a group of friends we got on the subject of Man of Steel and there was some general excitement from these friends which I was baffled by. I wasn’t sure if it was just that these people largely don’t read comics — and maybe they’re the smart ones in this case because I’m still trying to forget my brief toe-dipping into the DCnU — but these were also the same people who were genuinely excited about The Hunger Games after I’d completely written it off before the trailer was released and the train wreck had turned into awesome. Could that be the case here?

Yeah, no. It’s still awful. Or at the very least really confusing. I might be biased, though, because I still have residual anger about Nolan’s Batman trilogy and I actually watched Green Lantern and I really miss Superman’s underpants.

I realize now that the crux of my problem is that too much is changing. I know this sounds somewhat counterintuitive to my usual assertion that transitions inherently are change because they are an interpretation. And here I am quibbling over things like costume designs. If I seem nitpicky perhaps I am. But by all accounts the recent changes in the comics — and by extension the films and television shows — are all attempts to streamline stories and make these characters relatable to today.

Uh, okay. Well, that’s fine and good to an extent, but I don’t really understand the point of changing the very essence of the characters themselves. It’s my biggest issue with Nolan’s Batman, though, admittedly not the issue that sends me into a frothy rage. And, by all accounts, it’s the same thing that’s going on with MoS. Certainly it’s the angle the New 52 have taken and why I can’t really manage to read anything that’s come out from the last year. But that was an issue long before the reboot, albeit on a less grand scale — and mostly I was concerned with Wonder Woman who has been going off the deep end of character development for what seems my entire life.

The funny thing is that taking characters that are popular and retooling them into new superheroes is not something that’s never been done. The best example I can think of — you know, to be relevant to today — is Green Arrow who literally started out as a carbon copy of Batman except he had a bow. I’m not exaggerating this in the least. It wasn’t even thinly veiled as so much there wasn’t an effort to veil anything. And now he has a surprisingly popular TV show that I haven’t bothered to watch because I’m still trying to get over Smallville and I only watched three seasons of that, which was giving up on it well before it truly became absurd.

What reduces me to tears is that MoS is very likely to succeed. It’s Superman after all. He’s as recognizable as Mickey Mouse. Even if you’ve never read a single comic, seen the Donner films, or had any exposure to him through all his stints on TV you probably still know a bit of his story. Plus, it’s summertime and action flicks rule the box office and even at it’s most terrible there will still be fists and explosions and other visual eye candy. And, really, all it has to do is make more money than Superman Returns. That may not seem like much of a feat, but it too followed a rather unloved Supes film and at the time was the largest opening weekend for Warner Bros. From this inevitable future will undoubtedly come yet more films that will actively chip away at my soul. Like Justice League. Oh, and the animated features aren’t instilling any confidence either. In short, it’s something of a joke to say that the LEGO Batman film is the best from the latest crop. And it should be noted I already knew what I was getting into with that particular flick since I played through the game.

Don’t even get me started on Teen Titans GO!

“Oz the Great and Powerful”

I’m really out of the loop with what’s coming out in theaters, I suppose, because this was one I didn’t know anything about until recently. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

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Oz the Great and Powerful isn’t a terrible movie. It’s a fun enough distraction, if that’s what you’re looking for. And I think kids will enjoy it, though, I can’t quite endorse it given the central character of the film is a womanizing con man. A fact which is stated roughly every fifteen minutes throughout the course of the film.

It’s also quite a visual spectacle. Unfortunately, since we don’t have the luxury of introducing some newfangled technology like color this is mostly for show.

I would say it was breathtaking, but it’s this spectacle for spectacle sake that really lost me. It’s just so, well, fake looking that while it’s a very pretty and all it’s almost distracting. It’s such an obvious thing that it’s even the subject of some not-quite-fourth-wall-breaking jokes, which seem to me to be mocking the 1939 film. (“Bubbles are just for show.”) And when it wasn’t riding the coattails of The Wizard of Oz, it was almost too campy to be entertaining.

Mostly what bugs me is that there really is no plot. And I don’t just mean there was no story, I mean, that nothing really happens AT ALL. I’m still kind of baffled by the whole thing. So, of course, there’s already talk of a sequel. But even without any story, things didn’t quite make sense. Chiefly, I really don’t understand why Weisz and Kunis speak with different accents when they’re sisters — and Weisz can fake an American accent quite well, I think.

Personally, I was glad I had a free pass. If I’d paid full admission, I’d probably have a more heated rant.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

I find The Lord of the Rings problematic. Obviously, I’m a fan and I enjoy it greatly . . . insomuch as I can ignore that it’s not my interpretation of the book. Mostly my issues lie with The Return of the King and it’s not really surprising since that’s my favorite “part” of the book. Anyway, I didn’t soak up every tidbit of news on The Hobbit that I could find as I did when LOTR was in production, but that was just as much because I’m not a college student procrastinating on homework as it was the fact that the news itself wasn’t instilling me with much confidence and, well, honestly I just didn’t have a great amount of enthusiasm to see this. Shocking, I know.

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I’ll put your fears to rest: I enjoyed it. Mostly. At the very least I wasn’t disappointed and I definitely felt that way after walking out of The Return of the King. And I didn’t fall asleep, which I can’t say the same for my first viewing of The Two Towers. (What? It was the midnight showing and it was finals week!)

In a lot of ways the movie feels like a continuation of LOTR. You know, in case you’ve never read the books or seen those multimillion dollar films from ten years ago. Anyway, this starts off with what is basically an extended scene from the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s nice melding, but it’s also just the beginning of lots and lots and lots of padding. And because of this, the movie almost has two beginnings and they’re both kind of slow, which is pretty much how most of the movie plays out.

For what it’s worth, I will say that I really enjoy Martin Freeman as Bilbo. I don’t entirely enjoy this version of Bilbo, but I also haven’t read The Hobbit in about ten years so maybe I just remember him a bit less bumbly and rude. As far as casting goes, though, I have no complaints. Same for the score, which I’ve been listening to for about a month already. Likewise for basically anything that Weta was responsible for because really it’s a breathtaking film with a ludicrous attention to detail.

Well, except maybe all the CGI. I’m generally not bothered when it’s done well, and this was for the most part, but there was a lot. The most obnoxious were the obvious 3-D gimmicks or the obligatory video game pandering. Really that entire bit towards the end running through the orcs was cool, but it gave me the same irritated feeling as Legolas taking down the mumakil in ROTJ that part of me could have walked out right then. I get it the technology has advanced in the last ten years and it’s awesome, but at some point it just gets cheesy and this was, for me at least, over that line. I also found some of the creatures were a bit too cartoonish; Azog especially was obnoxiously CGI.

What I was even less pleased with were the supposedly funny bits that really were just not. I’m not a total Tolkien snob, but I’m enough of one to find groin shots completely inappropriate. And I couldn’t help but feel what was intended to be funny was so intentional that it was more laughable because it was pathetic than actually hilarious. It was kind of randomly smattered throughout the film, too, so just when I’d think things were actually serious there would be some stupid joke thing.

I knew going in that the film was long. Almost three hours. What I don’t understand is how there’s another 20-25 minutes (or more?) that PJ is packing into the extended edition because by golly does this film just go on and on and on. I really could have used an intermission during this. Better yet, about an hour less padding. I hated the padding. I didn’t like all the walking shots. (We all got the memo, New Zealand is gorgeous.) I really could have had far less talking. (We also got the memo that there’s another trilogy that comes after this one.) And the entire Azog subplot was really bizarre. I wouldn’t have cared if his creation and insertion into the film had some resolution as a stopping point, but that’s not what happened. In fact, there were at least three times I thought the movie was ending — even though things were largely unresolved — and then there was like an hour more movie. And when it finally did end it was just as random of a stopping point as any of the other places I thought of. Maybe more so.

So, yeah, I’m certainly not even slightly obsessed. I didn’t love it, but I liked it well enough, I suppose. I’m glad I didn’t jump right into seeing it opening weekend, though, because the theater was packed yesterday so much so that Uschi didn’t have even an inch of extra space. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll check out the extended edition on Blu-ray, but I doubt I’ll see this again in the theater. I’d rather lounge on my comfy sofa, have snacks that don’t cost more than the price of admission, and be able to pause to use the bathroom. Honestly, that said I’m not sure I want to see The Desolation of Smaug in the theater either. We’ll see.