Monthly Archives: August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

“I am Groot”

While there are slew of films that come out every year, only a handful are ones that I truly have any desire to watch. I chalk it up to being finicky, or perhaps a more eloquent phrase to employ would be more along the lines of having “distinguishing tastes”. To be fair, the films that I enjoy the most would not be classified within the  “sophisticated, film nouveau” category. Thus, for example, while I enjoy humor, many of the films released simply do not cater to my particular sense of what I find humorous. Likewise, while I enjoy action, many of the action films don’t hold my interest due to the overall plot and the characters within the film.

What makes a film work for me ultimately has to do with the story. If the story is interesting, well thought out and engaging it will retain my interest so that it will make me feel invested with what is taking place on screen. Everything begins and end with the story for me, which is why so many current films just fail to warrant my time or energy.

Every blue moon a film comes out that has all of those elements of story, characters, humor, action and drama blended and incorporated into a whole and thus works in a such way that makes watching it purely magical, as well as captivating.

That film for me is Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you have yet to see it, you need to stop reading this review and go see it. Seriously. Go see it now.

As one who grew up during the late 70’s and early 80’s, watching the film was very much a homage to that distinct timeframe. There was a certain freedom and looseness that the film helped to capture in terms of the essence of that past era, that it really brought back not only a sense of nostalgia, but of a sense of homecoming.

Take for example, one of the aspects of the primary character of Peter Quill (aka Starlord) that enabled me to form a connection with, was the importance and deep significance that he held for music and how the film very much revolves around his beloved cassette tape containing songs from his time on Earth which his mother gifted him.

In todays digital tech age, those as teens simply don’t have that profoundly personal experience of making a mixed tape of music, with all the nuances that went into taking the time to choose not only the songs, but to ensure that the songs chosen all would be able to fit on the length of time that the tape provided for. I still have several of the cassette tapes that I crafted with various bands and musicians from the days of my youth. It was truly a different time and a different age.

Hence, in many ways I would classify this film as a space opera, in terms of how the music is specifically chosen for the various moments, moods and sequences throughout the film. The songs themselves could be said to take on a persona or characteristic of the film.

The other aspect of the film that I enjoyed was how it was a truly an old fashion buddy film. While one could argue that the characters meshed too quickly with one another, I would content that the pacing of the film both in terms of the story and the character development was perfectly fine from my vantage point.

It was the interaction of the primary characters which was what made for the most enjoyable elements of the film. There was very much a sense of there being an organic and spontaneous flow of dialogue and interaction between the actors, hence It felt very real and natural as the film unfolded. Credit most definitely needs to be given to director James Gunn for a masterful combination of so many elements combined, all of which worked to create a kaleidoscope of a really cool, fun and refreshing film.

Chris Pratt was very much me twenty years ago. Watching his character unfold throughout the movie was very much like looking into a distant mirror. Those who know me these days might scratch their head at my mentioning that particular personal reveal, but those who knew me back in the day would very much see me through the character of “Star Lord”.

On another personal note, the scene with a nine year old Peter Quill having to face the reality of the his mom dying definitely touched a nerve with me, for having had that very same experience of being at my moms side as she was dying not that long ago. As hard as that scene was for me to take in, I made me identify all the more with Peter Quill/ Star Lord.

Zoe Saldana is always a solid, enjoyable actress. She is able to provide both a toughness and a delicateness that was just right for her character Gamora.

Dave Bautista as Drax was way cool. His performance and delivery was really quite amusing, since he was plaining the straight, no nonsense character against those around him. He encompassed the role well and I very much rigged what he did with the character. The rage and anger he had really were more a mask of the pain of lose that he was suffering from within. I want to see more of Drax in the sequel.

Bradley Cooper as Rocket infused both an-oh-so-wrong-but funny humor to the character, but also very much gave him a “humanity” as well. He rocked…get it…rocked…Rocket…

Karen Gillan as Nebula as hot. I loved her shaved head look.

Then there is Vin Diesel. He was perfectly cast as the Iron Giant within that film long ago, one which sadly not many have seen. I would very much recommend that film to those reading this review. As the voice of the Iron Giant, he brought a humanity to that role. Here within the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vin Diesel is once more perfectly cast as Groot.

It is the character of Groot who in many ways is the heart and soul of the film. It is this character who very much steals the movie, which I contend was the “plan” of James Gunn to being with. Once you watch the film, I think you would readily agree with me.

In summery, there is a great deal of charm and innocence about the film that has been sorely missing or lost within so many films of the recent decade. It very much made for both a refreshing and just plain fun experience to be sitting there at the movie theater. The themes of friendship, innocence, redemption, doing what is right-even if it means making a sacrifice have all been played out innumerably times, though this film combines them in such a manner that makes it fun, heartwarming and a real joy to watch.

As of now, I am so totally invested with these supposed misfits, who are now the Guardians of the Galaxy. I, like so many can not wait to see what their next misadventure will be and where we as an audience will be going. While I can’t wait for next summer to see the Avengers, I find myself much more connected to and identifying with Starlord and the Guardians.

“We are Groot”



Guardians of the galaxy5

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...Milano..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review

When I saw How To Train Your Dagon some years back, I was so impressed by the story, themes and gorgeous animation, to say nothing of the beautiful soundtrack. Immediately, when the film had finished, I sat within my theater seat and was already hoping that there would be a sequel, for here was a film, a beautifully animated film with characters that I very much cared for and who I wanted to find out what happened next to them.

Thus, it was with much anticipation as I waited for How To Train Your Dragon 2 to being when seeing it the other day in my local theater. I can say without any reserve or hesitation, that I was very pleased with where the story took us, along with the various events that transpired over the course of the film.

What I enjoyed most about the film was the continuation of the issues that the main protagonist Hiccup faced. Whereas within the first film, it was grounded within the framework of what friendship means, especially in terms of when there is such a divided between to, specifically who can a human and a dragon truly be friends when there is an inherent conflict between species. Is such a thing even possible, let alone how would others accept such a different though genuinely deep and lasting friendship between such a “different” friend indeed.

Another primary theme mixed within the first film is how to ultimately be accepted for who and what one is, especially when the expectations and perceptions of others are so divergent from the reality of who truly a particular person is at the core of their personality and being.

Well, suffice to say the sequel continues to carry on such grand and significant themes, such as what ones role is within the community at large, as well as the duty one has to not only oneself, but especially to those who are entrusted to be cared for and having a responsibility towards. Not to be lost within the mix is how one deals with the repercussions of events which have played out within the past, that have a definitive sway and impact upon ones current situation and daily ramifications.

Sounds like quite a heavy load, but all of these themes are well played out, masterly so in terms of the overall story and within the spectacularly rendered events as they unfold throughout the film. Of course there is a definitive conclusion at the end of the film, one that while does not shy away from the pains and difficulties of life, nevertheless there harkens the goodness and triumph when one stands firm in following both ones personal conviction, as well as when one acts with the welfare of others in mind.

There is very much a sense of a continuation that is playing itself out as the film presents itself, one the the audience shares within and hopefully can think upon in relation to one’s own life. Perhaps I am going to deep within the story and themes, for one could contend that it is just an animated film, beautifully done mind you. Though, I would retort that there lies the wonderful aspect of this film. It is a story that very much can be related to within a much broader context, not just merely enjoyed for the “cool” animation.

After the closing credits, I sat back in my seat and said aloud, “Ok, I am ready for How To Train Your Dragon 3!”




Edge of Tomorrow Review

One of my favorite genres of film, as well as literature is that of Sci-Fi. Tom Cruse has now been within two recent Sci-Fi films, Oblivion and now Edge of Tomorrow. Both of these I would now consider as within the category of belonging to my favorite Sci-Fi films. What was it about Edge of Tomorrow that I enjoyed so much? It took the often used basic storyline premise of an alien invasion, which threatens to obliterate the human race and then added into it the nuance of time manipulation, or time loops, in which ones specific timeline is altered, whereby one could replay the days events over, thus potentially altering the outcome. Basically, think any alien invasion movie meets Groundhog Day, sans the comedic element.

The first thing that is evidently noticeable when the film begins is how uncharacteristically not only unheroic Tom Cruse’s character is, but really how much he is a manipulator and the degree in which he truly is an unsympathetic person. Simple put, I did not “like” him, which very much lends credence to Cruse as an actor.

Having thus realized that he has no obvious means or ability to get out of the very troubling reality that he will have to in fact fight upon the front lines of the war, with the equally startling truth that he more than likely will die, Cruse’s character tries any and all means to “worm” his way out, with no such luck.

Watching the sheer terror and helplessness that he is suffering from before literally being dropped onto the battlefield, made for good cinema. Of course, in watching the trailer and knowing the premies of the film, we, the audience knows that Tom Cruse’s character Cage, will eventually develop into the hero and thus carry out the unselfish, altruistic deeds which will not only win the day but save humanity.

There lies in the real fun of the film. We get to see that transformation take place over the course of not only days, but of years, a transformation of character and of skills and of confidence and of heroicness, of this man who very much is anything but at the start of the film. We also get to see how methodical and painstakingly such a process is, for Cage has to die in order for his day to restart and dies he does.

What makes this film intriguing to me is the fact that it could be presented in such a way which could very well give way to a bleak, existential narrative. Though at its heart there is plenty of action, humor and humanness that  convoys to the viewer that even in spite of the potentially threatening ramifications that would take place if the aliens were in fact to win, given the chance, even one who is the most unlikely individual can overtime become good, nobel and lionhearted.

I found the pacing of the film, both in terms of the action sequences, as well as the character interactions to be top rate and impressive. This very much is a film that is “believable”, which sadly, so often man Sci-Fi films lack that primary factor.

Tom Cruse as Cage was a perfect casting. He brings both a credibility to the role, as well as a vulnerability that was both surprising and refreshing to see.

Emily Blunt was both fantastic and way credible as the “F.M.B.” (Full Metal Bitch). Having herself been able to do what Cage is currently able to do, lended a dynamic to their characters relationship that made for both interesting and intriguing developments between the two. Without giving away any spoilers, I would contend that the way in which these two characters relate to one another and carry on with their relationship with one another, in spite of or perhaps better said because of the alien invasion makes for good screen chemistry.

Of course, I have to mention Bill Paxton who portrays master Sergeant Farell. He was a gem within the film, making for some of the most enjoyable, as well as most humorous moments on screen. Again, this was very much a perfect casting of an actor to a role.

Edge of Tomorrow is well crafted and blended film, which the various elements contained within all of which were expertly arranged and presented to the audience. This will definitely be a favorite of mine for years to come!






Last night, I met up with my buddies Josh and Jeff, who brought along two of there friends William and Aaron who I met for the first time and in we went to watch Oblivion in IMAX. When the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness came on, Jeff shut his eyes and put his hands over his ears, so he would be as sensory deprived as possible, so as to not see or hear anything of the film which would lessen his experience of seeing it for the first time when it is released. Josh took a great pic of that moment!

Oblivion was a great sic-fi film, for it had all of the elements which for me made it really enjoyable to watch. The story first and foremost was engaging, with a few plot twists which I thought were both interesting and intriguing. The cinematography and visuals were both really cool and expertly crafted, while the effects were believable and realistic.

In terms of acting, Tom Cruise did a really good job. He really “acted” within this film and made his character both a credible and sympathetic “everyman”, as well as thoughtful hero. Not since The Last Samurai did I feel Cruise really engaged me as a viewer, though to be fair, he has done films since then that I have enjoyed. My point being that he brought it home in this one.

Music for me is a very crucial aspect of the film, for it helps to set the tone and evaluate the mood of the film. As I watch a film, I very much listen carefully and attentively as to the manner in which the film score works to solidify the overall fabrication of the movie. The film composer, M83 did a beautiful job with the score, balancing and harmonizing the futuristic atmosphere via a layered synthesizer approach that is a gorgeous soundtrack. I heard a few tracks previously, so I knew going in, I would very much enjoy it, thought I was quite curious to see how it worked with the visuals of the film. It blended perfectly and effectively. Needless to say, I went and bought a copy of the soundtrack after seeing the film, so as to add to my cd collection.

My recommendation: Go see the film, in IMAX if your able to, for it very much lends itself to the scale of an IMAX screen in terms of the beautiful visuals of the film. If you are a fan of the sic-fi genre, you will, I believe be quite happy with what director Joseph Kosinski has brought to the screen. I look forward to more of his films in the future!


(Originally posted 4/27/13 on my blog)