Guardians of the Galaxy: A triggering experience

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-2-1308x1940This summer’s surprise hit, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s introductory story of misfit criminals that set out to save the galaxy, (not just the world, so step aside Avengers) delivers not only laughs and excitement but also tears. Before I move any further with this praising review, I’d like to talk about the opening of the film, considering it may be a trigger for some people.

When one goes to see a summer blockbuster, they expect to forget about their own problems and get lost in a fun, fictional world, not break down in hysterical tears within the first ten minutes of the film. Which kinda ruined the rest of my time during the film. If you are a devout reader of mine (which let’s face it, you aren’t) you might realize that I recently lost my father to cancer last fall, we were unaware he had a brain tumor until it was too late, and he passed away within a month. I watched my strong, full-of-life father, who influenced me the most in my life, wither away to nothing and die in front of my eyes. It was the most difficult time of my life, and that, along with the opening of this film, is part of the reason I kept putting off this review. It opens with a young boy, Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), sitting outside a hospital room listening to the recent pop songs of the 80s on a Walkman. Soon an older man comes out and escorts him into the hospital room where Peter’s mother is obviously dying from cancer. Before his eyes, we see his (fortunately) coherent mother say her goodbyes to her son and ask him to hold her hand as she passes. He ignores her extending arm and it’s too late, she passes and he breaks down. It’s heartbreaking and it took all of my will power to not audibly sob hysterically right there in the middle of the theater. I know that this scene is important for Star Lord’s back story and eventual plot line of growth in the film, but damn if I wasn’t ready of it.

The sad/weird thing is, is that I had a hankering there would be this type of plot line in the movie. Lately, anything I try to watch and enjoy, pretty much everything I love, from the drama/sci-fi/horror show Supernatural to the comedy/drama Wilfred everything I invest myself in kills of a main character, usually due to cancer. Spoiler alerts, the same day I went to see GotG I watched the 3rd to last episode of season four (and final) Wilfred, and guess what, the hilarious human-dog has, you got it, cancer. I finished the episode and curled up with my boyfriend and broke down in tears. Once I could compose myself again, I sighed, and said: “If Guardians of the Galaxy has a cancer plot line, I’m gonna freak the shit out!” And he laughs at me: “Jacki, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s a Marvel action film about crazy shit in space, you’ll be fine.”

I was not fine, nope, not at all, and with that triggering moment that composed of the first 10 minutes of the film, my night was ruined.

Sure I still had fun after I stopped hyperventilating, but it took time to trust the film again. Chris Pratt’s performance of Star Lord was perfect, he was funny, nonchalant, (not to mention super buff), and pulled off the “thrust into a leadership role” really well. One of my favorite duos on screen had to be Rocket the giant gun-toting Raccoon and the half-human, half-tree Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). I mean, Groot’s expressions and actions just make him the most adorable living tree I have ever seen. 

Eventually Groot, Rocket, and Quill join forces along with Gamora (Zoe Saldana,  Star Trek’s Uhura) a kick-ass lady assassin who makes green skin sexy (Sorry Theadora, you just don’t cut it), and other prison inmate Drax (Dave Bautista) who happens to be the most literal man in the galaxy, which is hilarious. 

a holes

A-Holes2

 

The misfit band works well together, and the movie deliver’s it’s classic up-and-down “we’re not a team, well maybe we are, no fuck that, and then finally, hell yeah we’re a team” trope. Although, since we are focused so much on the team, I realize now how lack-luster the villains of this film are. They are just the classic revenge-seeking, I want to waste away the world, bad guys. And well, that’s what they should be since this is an introduction to how the Guardians of the Galaxy came to be, but I hope that means the next villainous bad guy will be hella scarier.

The scenery and CGI are beautifully done, and bring not only the background to life, but also believable characters (considering half of the team was CGI). But what really makes the film fun, especially after the round-house kick to the stomach in the beginning, was the soundtrack. It’s perfect in every way, and breaths life into a familiar plot line. There are also LOADS of pop reference sprinkled all throughout the place as well.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not Marvel’s best film, but it certainly isn’t the worst. It is a fun romp for the summer if you skip over the first 10 minutes of the film, unless you’re just a heartless person, or you know, possibly didn’t watch your own parent die in front of your eyes, but you know, we all have our triggers, and I suppose I found mine.

Catch Guardians of the Galaxy while it’s in theaters, because this one was marketed in such a brilliant way, that EVERYBODY and their uncle will be seeing this one.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A Jaw-Dropping Experience

CA2 Poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier  Poster

This previous Friday (April 04), Captain America burst into theaters for the third time portrayed by the handsome, do-good Chris Evans, for his second full-focused film Captain America: The Winter Solider. This is the third installment of the second phase of Marvel’s Avengers Initiative; its’ predecessors include Iron Man 3 (May, 2013) and Thor 2: The Dark World (November 2013). As Marvel’s first film of the new year (can you believe we’re already in April!?!) it delivers on every aspect of the superhero/action/adventure genre and will have you clutching your box of candy in some jaw-dropping, transcending scenes and action sequences. My Rasinets were inedible by the end of the film.

It’s incredibly hard for me to say this (because I’m such a Thor fangirl, and loved the latest Iron Man) but I feel as though these Marvel movies just keep getting better and better. And that is not a bad thing. The last two segments in the franchise were more than just wonderful, they were actually (for the lack of a better word) marvelous. Each sequel is better than its’ original and expands this wonderful superhero universe that Marvel began setting up with its’ first great casting choices when Iron Man first came out back in 2008, and Disney propelled to even greater casting standards in 2012’s The Avengers. You don’t think the next film could be as good as the last, but then it blows you out of the water with great writing, fight scenes, explosions, and performances that breathe life into the screen.

And the American public seems to love each installment more and more, because Mister Rogers seems to have broken some amazing records as of today (Tuesday the 8th); The Winter Solider has made a mind-shattering $92 million dollars in its’ weekend debut and has officially made more than its’ original which only made $65 million in its’ opening weekend. It is being said that The Winter Solider is now officially part of the Cool Kids’ Club that consists of sequels that are considered better than their originals. The $92 million also sets a new record for the month of April, which was originally set by Fast Five with $86.2 million. At first I was unsure about the April release, but setting this film for the beginning of spring, had to be one hell of a smart move for the people behind the film.

Now that we’ve discussed this major box office success of the Cap, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why Captain America: The Winter Solider is most certainly worth your ten bucks. (But don’t spend the extra cash on 3D, I did, just because the 2D sold out, and trust me, the 3D hardly brings any depth to the film, and you have like one grenade thrown at your face and the Cap’s shield is hurdled at you once, but that’s it. And honestly, many of the scenes that take place in an office building are a bit nauseating because of the 3D.)

Rogers to Fury: “They use to play music on these things you know”

There are really so many amazing things to talk about when reviewing this installment of the Marvel world but considering I’m already five paragraphs in, I’m going to make the rest of this as short and sweet as possible without any spoilers (while editing, I look back and realize that the former was most certainly a blatant lie). This could be an incredibly difficult feat to accomplish, so let me first say the most spoiler-y things about the film and then move on. To be honest though, they are not really spoilers? (That was said with an inflection at the end just so you know).

Featured here: The Adventurous times of the 90 year old virgin and a kick ass spy

First off, I have no idea why the film’s subtitle is The Winter Soldier because it’s hardly even about the Soviet super solider that’s been “changing” events throughout history for the past 50 years (at the urging of the subset Nazi crowd Hydra) who happens to have been Steve Roger’s Best Friend Forever Bucky Barnes played by a grunged-up, teenage-y-angsty Sebastian Stan. The Winter Soldier is sporadically seen throughout the film, and especially in the climatic fight in the end, and then featured in the closing resolution and post-credit scene, but I feel as though the film was titled wrong, because the movie was really about the friendship and team work building up between Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Steve Rogers/Captain America. I mean honestly a more appropriate name for the movie would have been called: The Adventures of Rogers and Romanoff, or Romanoff and Rogers: Fight from Within, or or… Captain Widow: A Blossoming Friendship. Those would have all been more fitting names for the basis of the film, and that second one actually tells you a lot about the latter half of the film’s plot. Not that Marvel would have ever named a feature $170 Million budget film that.

Photo of Natasha wearing a little arrow necklace.

But let it be known that the Black Widow/Hawkeye ship lives! Notice the necklace.

But some of the best chemistry comes between Johansson’s Natasha and Evans’ Rogers, and it’s so obviously not a romantic chemistry, and that’s something I think Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo should be applauded for. In today’s feature length films, it feels as though we keep moving farther and farther away from strong female leads who don’t need to be in a relationship in the film. And one of the great things about The Winter Soldier is that the Captain is learning how to be himself in a world that he never expected to be in. He missed out on so many opportunities by being frozen in that glacier, and one of those opportunities was to be with someone he loved and that lived in the same damn time frame of him. In the first movie, that possibility was Peggy Carter, but now, we have Natasha constantly badgering Steve about going out on dates, and trying to set him up. These moments are not only humorous but also very genuine, you see this friendship really blossom while the rest of the Avengers are away, and most importantly you see the Captain finally start to really trust someone, even if only a little. Because of the kinship that is assembling before our very eyes, we finally see Rogers become a leader of this film’s team (I’m not telling you the names of this team because, duh, spoilers). Rogers is finally getting the opportunity to take the lead and be a real “Captain” and you can’t help but realize it’s because of the comradery that is being built between him, Natasha, and Sam Wilson/Falcon.

Who! By the way is freaking awesome! I kept reading about how excited the Internet was over the introduction of ‘Falcon,’ the first African American superhero, but before the film I just didn’t get it. But now, with his cunningness, his respect for Rogers, his willingness to contribute to the team, and his awesome 12 foot plus machine wingspan, holy fuck. Honest to God, Anthony Mackie brings the retired military soldier Sam Wilson to life with astounding maneuverability and a great sense of humor. A fun excerpt from Entertainment Weekly’s April 11, 2014 issue #1306 “Behind the Shield” is about the social significance of Steve Rogers being so accepting of Sam. My favorite portion of the article was Mackie’s quote “In the 1930s and 40s, there were not relationships like Cap and the Falcon. So Chris and I always joke, Cap woke up and got a cell phone and a black friend.” As amazing as that quote is, that aspect of the friendship takes a back seat when you end up focusing on how amazeballs Mackie is with his wings.

Cap took out an entire elevator of baddies. It was stupendous.

Cap took out an entire elevator of baddies. It was stupendous.

While we’re on the subject of special effects and combat scenes, ALL OF THEM ARE SPLOOSH-TASTIC. (Sorry, Archer was on last night, and now my review is just riddled with Archer phrases.) The choreography is amazing, all of the fight scenes seem so incredibly real and fluid, and the first time you see Evans’ do this weird side flip kick thing, you will lose your shit. After each fight scene finishes, you think “that was the best one” and then a few minutes later, you scoop your jaw up off the floor again in astonishment. At one point, Rogers battles a giant hellicarrier with just his motorcycle to propel him on-top of it and his shield. AND HE TOTALLY WINS. I just don’t even have words for how awesome that is because “awesome” just doesn’t even begin to cover it. Maybe overwhelmingly remarkable? Even that doesn’t do it justice. (Haha, justice, didn’t even mean for that pun.)

The two hour and fifteen minute film just blows past you; not at all like its’ predecessor that did really well for the first hour and 30 minutes, but then faltered near the climax. Trust me, I loved Tommy Lee Jones’ Colonel Phillips, Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark, Stanley Tucci’s Dr. Erskine and (of course) Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, and that’s why it’s difficult for me to say that The Winter Soldier is by far the superior Captain America film. But once they were out of the picture, it was the same old classic Nazi junk that I’ve seen in every Indiana Jones-esque film ever (Which I know, was needed, although not original for today’s audience). But in this film we do get our Nick J. Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, watch out for a joke from a previous QT film he starred in near the end of the film) and my beloved Cobie Smulders as Agent Hill, so there is that for us who enjoy our side characters.

Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, albeit mistitled, is a great next installment of the Marvel world, and if Marvel keeps up with their films getting better each time, I think we might be able to say, as of now, the Marvel Universe is kicking the DC Universe so hard in the nut sack that both Superman and Batman are vomiting blood simultaneously.

There’s many twist and turns along the away, and Writers Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Ed Brubaker do a great job of delivering surprises (although some may think they’re predictable), fun dialogue, and a frightful idea about today’s “freedom.”

One mid credit scene and one post credit scene.

Thor: The Dark World: Holds Strong and Delivers the Fun

The Dark World Poster

The Dark World Poster

Out of all the marvel characters, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has to be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love Iron Man, Iron Man 3 being the best of the films, and Captain America has a wonderful personality, but when it comes down to a demi-god with greasy golden locks and a bleeding heart, Thor takes the cake. I was pretty excited for Dark World to roll into theaters and for good reason too. Continue reading