Posts Tagged With: Marvel

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy is the movie I was waiting for this summer. Especially since Captain America came out in April, the biggest movie of the summer for me was going to be Guardians. This is due in part to the fact that I had read the comic books that inspired the film, as part of my most favorite of all Marvel crossovers, the amazing Annihilation saga. Yes, I am also a huge Nova fan, the real one, Richard Rider, not that new faker. Also, I have long been a reader of nearly every cosmic book that Marvel has published.

A brief history for those not familiar, Marvel has for many years published various comic books that take place in space, with the most famous of the space heroes being the Silver Surfer. ‘Cosmic’ is the term many use for any space-based Marvel comic books. The quality has ranged from pretty good, to really goofy. One of these crossovers plays a very important role in the Marvel movie universe, and that is the Infinity Gauntlet series. Thanos, Infinity Gems, every single character in the universe… it’s what Marvel is building towards, just you wait and see.

Alright, Guardians of the Galaxy is about a ragtag group of misfits that start off as enemies but end up banding together to save the universe. Or at least the galaxy. It plays off the charm of the leading man, Chris Pratt, and the smooth solid gold 70’s hits that supply the excellent soundtrack. Lacking either one of those elements would have made this film merely good, but with both of those it is quite possibly the best Marvel film to date. Although, that is a slightly unfair comparison, because it is also very much not a superhero film. If anything, Guardians is much more like Star Wars or Farscape. Two series that I very much appreciate.

This film just oozes charm. Much like we hear about Pratt’s character Captain Kirking his way into the undergarments of various alien beauties (or tentacle monsters), Guardians does the same thing to the audience. We want to love this film because it’s charming and pretty, and despite it’s shortcomings we really think it has a good heart. The same way we felt about Back to the Future, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones. It’s a lovable rogue. Only time will tell if Guardians becomes the next generation of those great films, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t.

Another factor that makes this film great is that it doesn’t seem to be as tightly woven into the Avengers narrative as the other superhero films. The connectivity of those films are part of what make them amazing, but Guardians is the oddball and needs to fill the role of the outcast among our heroes. If the Guardians ever meet the Avengers, it definitely wouldn’t be as best buddies. These are the weirdos.

Considering that this film is pulling very good numbers, this is probably old news to many. For those of you on the fence or dragging your feet, go check out Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s more than just another entry in the superhero craze sweeping theaters, it is a great film and worth seeing. See you there!

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The Amazing Spider-Man Editorial

The Amazing Spider-Man is a good film. Let’s get that out of the way right at the beginning. I thought there were many things it did well, and the things it didn’t do well were still decent. It never dropped the ball and brought home a good Spider-Man movie. Considering how disappointing the last installment was I call that a win. So if that’s all you’re looking for, then go see this film, it’s worth the $80 ticket price nowadays. If you’re looking for a little discussion of the issues that led to this film, with some minor spoilers, then continue.

Okay, so many people seem really focused on why they are rebooting this franchise when it’s only been about five years since the last one. In fact this is probably the beginning of a trend in Hollywood. Now we don’t go see Spider-Man, we see Raimi’s Spider-Man or Webb’s Spider-Man. It’s not surprising when you consider the exalted position of the director in Hollywood, versus the craftsman-like nature of a comic book writer working for one of the big companies. Comics are all about standing on the shoulders of giants and adding your own tiny part of the existing narrative. Directors like everything to be their own, and so you’ll usually never see a ‘name’ come into a pre-existing franchise. Don’t like reboots? Well get used to it, with the current explosion of comic book movies we’re probably going to be seeing them for a long time.

The other issue is that, usually, it is much easier to make an exciting intro to a character than a continuation of the story. Sometimes that is not the case, as with The Dark Knight or The Avengers where those films tend to be more well-regarded than their predecessors. In those cases they lived by upping the ante, in The Dark Knight we finally got the Joker, who is the ultimate Batman villain, and in The Avengers we united a disparate group superheroes to form a team. Also, The Avengers is only partly a sequel in the traditional sense, and is more of a mash-up or crossover. We all know those tend to be more exciting, when they don’t fall on their face, so it’s still not a completely fair comparison.

It is much harder to keep the excitement of a franchise up around the fourth installment and beyond. Trilogies are popular for a reason. Film is not television, audiences want a pay-off for their pay-out. So we see reboots of reboots. The X-Men franchise had a similar issue with the release of X-Men: First Class after the horrible X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s not all director vanity either, would you want to be the guy who had to revive the franchise after the last crappy film?

So now we have The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters. Say what you will about Spider-Man 3, because I certainly did, it did well in theaters. This new film needs to do well also, and I hope it does because despite some faltering steps they did one thing very well: Spider-Man. I really liked the him this time around. The actor, the look, the character arc; it was all very well-done. The new Spider-Man makes me realize all the things I disliked about the old one: too weepy, not sarcastic enough, bad jokes. Common sense says that superhero films live or die on the quality of their villains. Generally this is true, like most common sense, but fails to take into account the exceptions to that rule. While Loki was a fun villain, he was hardly original in concept, yet The Avengers was awesome. Batman Begins lacked a strong villain presence, even Ra’s al Ghul was off-screen most of the time, and I loved that film. Unfortunately, the villain in the newest Spider-Man film is not particularly engaging, he gets the job done to be sure, but lacks that spark which makes a great nemesis. He feels like a placeholder for the next guy to come along and really make a mark on Spidey’s life.

Really that’s about all you need to know about the new Spider-Man film. The hero was well-crafted and the villain fell short. It’s an origin story, so I think a strong villain is not as necessary as in later films. Hopefully The Amazing Spider-Man will do well enough to get a sequel where they can use a better nemesis, otherwise we might be seeing the next reboot sooner than we thought. Either way, go see it, if you like Spider-Man then you’ll enjoy the film.

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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is hovering around 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the lowest composite score out of any movie in theaters last weekend. That being said, is it really so bad? This is the type of comic book movie that would have done alright a few years ago; if it had come out back in that time before The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and the other related films of the Marvel-verse. The frenetic film is a polarized reaction to the criticism of the first Ghost Rider and it attempts to correct all the things that people said they disliked. Unfortunately, in the current glut of comic book films, moviegoers are seeking a higher standard. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance fails to stand up against last year’s crop of superhero films, like the competent and well-made Captain America and Thor.

Nic Cage returned to star in this sequel that is not a sequel to the original Ghost Rider. Much like DC Comics is trying to do with Superman in the new Man of Steel, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor skipped over another origin story in favor of putting the audience right into the action. This is something they do well. They are the ones responsible for the entertainingly bad Crank films. Their style is over-the-top and energetic, usually at the expense of a good story. The script was written by David Goyer (Blade series, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) along with two writers who have experience in television, but no movie credits. Goyer can be hit and miss, but the additional writers show that his original story was probably altered quite a bit. The story is more of an afterthought anyway, with the action sharing center stage with Nic Cage and his numerous Cage-isms.

Still, this movie is not terrible, despite what many, many other critics say. Neveldine/Taylor (as the directors are known) do a good job of making the action fast and interesting. The effects look better than the first film at half the budget. All of the supporting actors are competent, although none of them really rise above the occasion. That probably has to do with Nic Cage himself. At the center of the movie, and stealing every scene, Cage is at his bombastic best and worst. He really throws himself into the role, which is the special charm that keeps him coming back even when his movies suck. He plays it over-the-top and the directors obviously love him for it. Anybody who ever enjoyed seeing Nic Cage should at least enjoy his performance here.

In the end, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is not up the caliber of other major comic book movies. It shares this with Green Lantern another movie that just could not rise to the level of its competitors. However, while the Ryan Reynolds critical flop cost around 200 million dollars, the budget of Ghost Rider was only 57 million. It’s not a summer blockbuster, not a critical darling, and definitely not Nic Cage’s best work. However, if you like action, Ghost Rider, and Nic Cage then this movie is not a waste of time. Use your best judgement, but this one is probably worth waiting for DVD at least.

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