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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Holy crap have I been a lazy blogger or what?

Well this is the movie that gave me the kick in the pants to get back over here.  I am such a huge Marvel movie fan that I just HAD to see it opening night!  Rest assured, there are no real big spoilers, but if you want to see the movie for yourself without having any tinted glasses, then perhaps you should move along now…

GOTG

Still with me?  Ok, here’s my opinion of GOTG:  IT SUCKED AND I’M HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTED ABOUT IT.

Sadly, few other critics – professional and regular moviegoers – seem to agree with me, and I have to say I am really surprised by that.  For me, the negative aspects of the film were just so glaring, I could only overlook them for so long for the sake of trying to enjoy the film.  But let me list my problems and then you can decide for yourself…

1. The indestructible, self-charging Walkman… Film opens with the kid version of main character Peter Quill on earth, listening to a Walkman.  Stuff happens and you suddenly remember this is supposed to be a sci-fi movie when he is abducted by aliens (which should be a separate point, but I will just say now that the alien abduction was so jarring from the opening scene, I liken it to a Monty Python bit).  Fast forward 26 years and the kid is now an adult.  Amazingly he is still listening to the same cassette tape on the same Walkman, same headphones.  I immediately turned to my husband and asked where the hell he got replacement batteries for that thing.  And apparently he also obtained the only indestructible Walkman in existence, and this particular cassette tape NEVER wears out after being the ONLY one listened to for 26 years.  Ok, moving on from the Walkman issue.

2. The soundtrack… dear god the soundtrack.  So many more 70s/80s songs that had kickass vibes and they chose the exact opposite.  Of the songs they used, only Cherry Bomb by the Runaways seemed to fit the actual movie.

3. The dialogue is goddamn painful to listen to.  Most of the time it’s hammy, melodramatic, forced, or something equal to prompt an eye roll.  There are a few funny lines, which help, but more often than not I thought the dialogue was almost cringeworthy.  Also, I get that the kid was abducted from Earth in 1988, but the sheer volume of 80s references was irritating and clearly designed to wink at the 40 years olds in the audience.

4. The environment NEVER felt realistic.  The actors looked like they simply walked in front of a green screen to perform.  EVERYTHING looked and felt computer generated, and of course there is going to be a lot of that when you’re making a space movie, but there has to be enough to make it feel real.

5. The characters I barely cared anything about.  Of the 5 main characters, the CGI raccoon was probably the best, and – sadly – the most emotive.  Bradley Cooper did a great job voicing Rocket, applause to him.  I also liked Zoe Saldana’s character, but found her development lacking, would have liked to know even more than they revealed about her.  Groot, the tree guy, was also sweet and funny, but they wasted Vin Diesel’s talent there…  Groot says 4 words the entire movie, you couldn’t even recognize Diesel’s voice, nor his features to justify using him.  Peter Quill acts like a 23 year old frat boy playing Indiana Jones meets Han Solo (and not pulling it off), and I never grow to like him much.  I thought Drax was a completely unnecessary character, not even sure why he was there.

6. That little trinket… As another critic pointed out, the object of desire that the bad guys want and the good guys try and keep the bad guys from amounts to a stone inside a softball-sized metal orb, or The One Ring inside the Hellraiser box.  Been there, done that.

7. The bad guys never really felt all that BAD.  Karen Gillan’s character was great to watch, when she was on screen, but we saw far too little of her and I dearly would have loved to know more since she and Zoe Saldana were “sisters”.  Ronin… Thanos… meh, yawn.

8. The ocean is in jeopardy, so let’s make sure this puddle is safe! They are billed as the “Guardians of the GALAXY” – at best, they saved what looked like San Francisco from the Star Trek universe.  At least with Superman, Metropolis got wasted but it was clearly in the process of saving the rest of the Earth.  This doesn’t feel like such a grand scale save, but good job, guys!

9. Ummmm, wha…?  The hidden scene at the end left me with mix feelings.  No spoilers, but I was equally laughing and astounded by the ridiculousness of it since it seemed so WAY out of place.

Overall I really felt the movie was far from fitting in with the established Marvel movie universe.  These guys were a bumbling comedy troupe rather than serious heroes.  I don’t know why so many people think this is so awesome, I just thought it was a complete letdown.

1.5 out of 5.  And that’s being generous.

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star-trek-2OH.  MY.

Before I dive right into this review, let me promise that I will not reveal any spoilers – even though I know Yahoo and Entertainment already let the cat out of the bag (YOU GUYS SUCK).  I will assume that anyone who reads this has seen the previous Star Trek movie (if not, feel free to surf away now if you plan to see it and prefer to go in fresh).  That said, let’s roll…

Much like Indiana Jones being pursued by natives after having stolen the golden idol, Star Trek Into Darkness opens with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Carl Urban) running away from a group of indigenous people who are on their tails after having stolen a sacred item of theirs.  While this is happening, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is getting himself all hot and bothered inside the nearby volcano that is ready to blow and wipe out the inhabitants unless they do something about it.  This scene taps so many plot points for Star Trek in general, I was surprised how much they hit: Prime Directives, moral dilemmas, romance, bromance, dealing with impending doom.

Here's Benedict, just stealing the movie.  No big.

Here’s Benedict, just stealing the movie. No big.

Back in London, a Starfleet officer (played by Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from Doctor Who) and his wife visit a hospital where their daughter is clearly dying.  Seizing on their desperation, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) convinces the officer he can save her life.  In exchange for a transfusion of Harrison’s blood, the officer must sabotage a Starfleet facility.  The officer does so, but sends a message to Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) confessing what he has done just before carrying out Harrison’s plan.

This sets the movie into faster motion and boy does it MOVE.  I was never bored or wondering how long the movie was.  The movie found a great balance between the heavier, dramatic exchanges and action sequences.  Visual effects were stunning, but rarely seemed overdone.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The relationship between Kirk and Spock continued to grow significantly in this film, almost to the detriment of Bones.  Unlike the original series, there was little to none of Bones getting on Spock’s case about being an overly-logical Vulcan.  To be honest, if the reason for the animosity between them was made known in TOS, I overlooked it (I’m not a TOS expert), but I don’t think that element was missed much in this movie.  To be fair, Zachary Quinto was given a lot of room to flex Spock’s human side (rather than play the more stoic Vulcan) and I was in awe of it!  More than once, Spock got to kick some MAJOR ass, and more than once his emotions got the better of him.  But it still felt very much like “Spock”…  Zachary Quinto is amazing.

spockuhuraSpock’s relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) continued through to this movie, which was refreshing.  So often, directors will toss out previous romantic attachments as though they had run their course so as to introduce new romances, but I was really pleased that this was not the case here.  I found their relationship very sweet and did not feel out of place in the first movie.  That’s not to say they didn’t have their bumps in the road, but their disagreements and tension felt real and understandable from both sides.

Of course Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) were all back, and although they didn’t seem to get as much screen time as the others, they had their moments to shine.

But the real scene-stealer was Benedict Cumberbatch.  I don’t watch Sherlock (although I might have to start), and I knew he was voicing Smaug in the Hobbit films, but to be frank, I thought he was a little odd looking in his photographs.  And for pete’s sake who names their child “Benedict Cumberbatch”!  Sounds like you’re just setting the poor kid up for getting shoved into lockers and random wedgies.  But he totally blew me away watching him on screen.  His voice is undeniably sexy, his presence pushes well past the 2D screen, and his expressions are so emotive that you find yourself easily able to sympathize with a mass murderer.  Apparently he also does a spot-on Alan Rickman impersonation that I am dying to hear.

Was this a perfect movie?  Nope, there was a plot hole here or there, but really, that’s just getting too nitpicky.  It was a highly entertaining film, it was incredibly enjoyable to watch these talented actors do their jobs, and I can’t wait to see it again.

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