‘Guardians Of The Galaxy': Review

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I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to succumb to the peer pressure of the Summer movie bonanza that I don’t take in anymore. I still like blockbusters that these months provide, but I just don’t care enough anymore to actually trek out in public with other people (ugh) and watch the same thing I see every summer with a bunch of strangers. I’ve also been a bit sick of comic book films of late, again they’re usually fun to look at and watch, but are just increasingly so much of the same that it just doesn’t seem a necessity to watch them that ravenously anymore, where the Blu-Ray release will suffice.

Well, Guardians of the Galaxy had seemingly changed all that, and I was bored so I actually ventured out to see my first movie of the Summer. Now, I’m no alien to the film or its development, I’ve been a huge James Gunn fan for years and was ecstatic to see him get a project of this magnitude and see so much trust put into him, so it’s super cool to see it insanely pay off for him. Everything looked cool with an interesting cast and a band of characters that were like the Avengers rejects type, that didn’t look all that cool or had amazing superheroes.

The main thing the film delivers, and obviously it’s intended feeling was fun. It’s just a lot of fun to go on this adventure with these characters and explore the oddities of their world with the oddball humour that James Gunn has always been known for, just multiplied on a 100 times bigger scale. The casting is perfect with Chris Pratt channelling his dumb and sarcastic model that must be like reading the back of his hand to play. I was so suspect during the production that Bradley Cooper would really be the best choice as Rocket Racoon’s voice as I really didn’t think he had the energy and life in his character to make Rocket everything he was supposed to be, but I was definitely wrong on that. Dave Bautista was your typical nowadays WWE star in a mainstream movie, and somehow was able to pull off the role of a big, dumb lug. Zoe Saldana didn’t really do anything crazy, but she was just as fine as she normally is.

The film really had presence to, a feeling that this wasn’t just some slapped together film by a group of executives or focus groups. It had a driving force and a spark to it that really separates itself from other superhero movies of late (even though it’s really not a superhero movie). I also loved James Gunn sticking to his roots, of course he did, by having Michael Rooker and his brother Sean Gunn in decently sized parts, and even a cameo by Nathan Fillion that I seemingly missed. So, thanks James Gunn in proving that there’s still room for a little heart in your mult-million dollar Marvel Summer blockbuster.

8/10

‘The Killing’ Procures A Suitable Ending For A Choppy Existence

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God, I had such high hopes for The Killing. Nothing I love more than detective stories, awesome. On a cable network boasting Mad Men and Breaking Bad, awesome. Setting it in the atmospheric and oft creepy area of Seattle, awesome.The previews made everything look perfectly moody, with the classic sparring opposites of detective partners I was all in. Everything was good, at least for the first couple episodes, and then everything slowly sliding out of control, things got more and more unbelievable and it became clear that in whatever way we weren’t going to satisfied by the ending. But, who would ever think that they wouldn’t even tell us the killer as the first season ended, incredible.

Of course, I watched the following seasons because I’m a masochist. Season 2 was even worse than the first, while season 3 had its moments, it still ultimately suffered the same fate. What always kept me going was the relationship between Holder and Linden, our two detectives, how often they were at odds with each other, but always held an affinity and curiosity in each other that always made their scenes click.

Netflix gave the multiple-times cancelled show a six-episode final fourth season, and it seemed like that’d be the perfect way to go out and for the most part it did just that. As always the Holder Linden relationship kept rolling and held everything together when things seemed on the frays. But, most importantly the nailed the scope and presence of their main case, it wasn’t anything big or something with huge twists and turns, but enough for six episodes that simply involved the a killing and the boys academy that surrounded it, enough for suspects and a main threat. Joan Allen got to cut her teeth perfectly as the head of the boys academy trying to protect their image as well as some secrets she wouldn’t want the police knowing. While this was going on the show still managed to deal with the fallout of season 3 as a B or a C story that was used sparingly enough not to take over or feel like a drag.

In the end it was a perfect ending for a imperfect show with many imperfections. Holder and Linden got perfect endings for who their characters were and realistically what would happen to them. They didn’t go out gracefully or with merit badges, but as troubled as they came in and uniformly connected through the bumps and bruises they procured together.

‘Movie 43′: Review

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I was forever obsessed with the backlash to Movie 43, I mean it looked dumb and stupid, but I couldn’t believe all the vitriol and hate people had towards it, and so embarrassingly bad that actors in it wanted to remove every evidence that they had been involved in it. I got why people hated it, dumb and crude fart, poop and sex jokes that looked to be aimed at teenagers. Well, guess what, I love that stuff! I was out to prove these people wrong that while it probably is a bad movies, there’s gotta be some merits…

As you can probably tell from my obvious wind up, in fact everybody was right and the movie really deserves all it has got. Sure, I laughed at some stuff in it, and oh, boy was it insanely stupid, but so is my brain so I’ll give it that.

But, if you want to pick the movie apart piece by piece it’s so easy to do that. The concept is good enough, get a bunch of funny directors and actors to make a bunch of short films and put them together, unfortunately nobody tried hard enough to make something beyond easy poop and period jokes. They also tried way to hard to tie everything together and have an overarching plot of how these stories fit together, which was unnecessary in a movie people are just going to see for the worst jokes every, anyways.

I really don’t have much to say about it, just really that I was surprised and actually kind of appreciative that it was actually as bad as everybody said it was. So, kudos to all involved, I can’t wait for the sequel!

1/10

‘Boyz n the Hood': Review

Boyz n the Hood

Boyz n the Hood is one of those films that I’ve always wanted to see and had always been meaning to, but for one reason or another it escaped me. Well, Best Buy selling it for $5.00 on Blu-Ray is enough for me to right that wrong.

Everything about this film is quintessential 90s and might be some of the definitive work of growing up in a black culture, surrounding by gang activity and trying to escape these hurdles and just making it out of your childhood to becoming an adult.

I’ll get my one criticism out of the way first, the film is very predictable and hits every narrative beat as it should, not leaving much up to the imagination of what’s to come first. But, ultimately that didn’t bother me all that much, because the film isn’t being made to trick you or surprise you at some great reveal. No, it’s detailing the lives of these friends who they are and what they aimed to achieve, we know what’s obviously down the tunnel for some and how the path down that tunnel may be shorter for others. The weight of these relationships still hold the power of each scene, and perhaps create a little more tension when you have a good idea as to what’s going to happen next.

The performances are really what makes the film and it’s not surprise. I’m not sure I’ve seen Cuba Gooding, Jr. any better than this. He’s simultaneously so vulnerable but very much wants to put up this front of how much a “man” he is in this neighbourhood that often demands you look like that on the “streets” in order to survive. Laurence Fishburne is imposing and demanding on his son, even making himself looking scary most of the time, but literally every ounce of this is out of love and the need to protect his son from the dangers of what he grew up with. Ice Cube obviously probably knows his role a little too well and players the high on himself wannabe banger with the correct subtleties and braggadocios. Nia Long also puts in some good albeit small work as the perfect picture of a 90s girlfriend that would make you want to drop everything and reroute your life just to spend five more minutes with her.

Even in 2014 it’s easy to see the effect this film had on the years following and its message is still sadly applicable in today’s world where much of that world from 1991 is the exact same almost 25 years later. The experience alone makes it a must watch.

7.5/10

The Culture Of ‘Gilmore Girls’

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I really don’t know why a 22 year old male like myself thought it would be a good reason to watch all 7 seasons and 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls, but here I am and I did just that. Now, of course just because the show is primarily about the relationship of a mother and a daughter and their adventures through various dudes and their bizarre relationships with an even bizarre town doesn’t mean it’s only applicable to those types of people.

When you think of Gilmore Girls you think of dialogue and then by extension character. Amy Sherman Palladino and co. did such an innate job at crafting words into these characters mouths that make them seem incredibly human and real, sure a little wacky at times and maybe a bit more pop culture references than one speaks every two sentences, but it created such an identity for these characters. Even ones that you’d only see every couple seasons and hardly in episodes at a time, you’d know what they were all about just by their stark lines, delivery and cadence when they were given something to say.

If there’s anything I can really cite as a drawback, something really born out of my doing, is that especially in the later seasons a lot of the episodes kind of molded together and became a slog when they’d hit the same beats of Rory boy trouble, Lorelai unsure of what dude she really wants, trouble with parents and such. It came to almost feeling like watching a reruns at times. Of course, I binge-watched the whole thing watching episode after episode and it wasn’t like there was an insanely complex and narrative driven story that kept me on the edge of my seat to see the next episode, so it’s possible it’s not the greatest to watch continuously when its formula is pretty basic and repetitive.

‘House Of Cards’ And ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Progress To Differing Second Seasons

Orange Is The New Black

Fundamentally, House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black don’t have much in common. Besides the fact that they’re both the stalwart first drama series for Netflix and have gained some critical notoriety in some aspects, although one more so and deserving of the other. The first seasons of both shows left me pretty neutral, I wrote before on House Of Cards and how it didn’t really provide anything we haven’t seen done expertly better in other dramas. With Orange Is The New Black I enjoyed it much more than “Cards” because it offered something new and provided a new perspective on what we expect from these sorts of dramas.

For me House Of Cards was really just a continuation one everything the first season did so mediocrely. Just a continuation of Frank Underwood getting his way, and slowly but surely seeing all his plans come together until he’s to become president. It’s comfort food drama at it’s best, hitting all the same beats you would expect. A surprise death or two, the lead character in a seemingly unescapable predicament that he finds his way out of, last minute twists, betrayals and all that. Which is all fine and good, but it just doesn’t seem to care about trying something new, knowing full well that staying in this path is just fine for what they want to accomplish. The performances are good and help cover up the lacking other parts of the show.

Orange Is The New Black on the other hand operates on a multitude of levels that help develop and push the show in different directions. The show is mainly quarantined just within the prison, but it really causes no problems in thinking of inventive storylines and happenings. Along with this they expertly focus on one character an episode and flashing back to how they found themselves in prison, allowing a break from the prison locals and letting us out into the world. The strength of the show is no doubt in the colourful character of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and motives, creating odd relationships and different combinations to play off of.

House Of Cards was the perfect launch show for Netflix, had a bankable star, an engaging enough premise and a broad reach for who’d enjoy it, guaranteeing it at least moderate success at the commercial level. Orange Is The New Black came along and pushed things a little further, being a bit of an unsafe choice, one that doesn’t follow all the rules and allows for some freedom coming on the tails of the brand maker of House Of Cards. The second seasons of both shows cemented these differing statuses for each, and for good or bad, we get a look at what’s to come for the foreseeable few years as these show top a new era in TV popularity.

‘Soapdish': Review

Soapdish

I don’t know how Soapdish is like the only movie to tackle soap operas in the film industry, I literally can’t find anything else. It’s not like it’s the be all and end all of exploration of the subject, it tries to be and is interesting, but never totally makes it. The film is great in theory, poking fun at not only the cliches of soap operas within the story of the film itself and also how it operates as a story. It achieves it half-heartedly, hitting some fine notes on the relationship dramas, slapstick and over-the-top activities. The film eventually gets to into itself and it becomes hard to discover when the film is being sincere in it’s motivations in a cliche story or when it is poking fun at these ideas. It can’t pick and choose it’s battles all too well.

The actors in here are all perfectly cast, Sally Field and Kevin Kline both exude these “classic” actors who are over-the-hill, but still contain something of a spark left in them, inspired from their early career greatness. Downey Jr. is fun as the conniving director, who tries and tries to get his way, and Whoopi Goldberg is great at playing Whoopi Goldberg. Cathy Moriarty is the one weak link, even if she looks the part well enough, she falls underwater against the others.

I really did like this film overall just as an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. The satire doesn’t completely hit, which keeps it from being an essential or memorable film, it’s not bad, but average when there’s little weight behind it.