Category Archives: Movie Review

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)

Godzilla Review

As a young boy, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving. I loved the brown, orange and yellow colored decorations that my mom would place around the house to help get into the spirit of the holiday. Of course it goes without saying that the actual day of celebrating Thanksgiving was always awesome, for I would awake to the sounds of mom from within the kitchen, working away upon the turkey, stuffing and other assorted wonders. My grandmother, aunt and uncle would arrive in the early afternoon, with grams brings two homemade pumpkin pies. One for dessert after our Thanksgiving feast and the other she baked for me for the day after Thanksgiving.

It was the day after Thanksgiving that was when the Godzilla Marathon was on t.v.! From morning, through the afternoon and into the evening, I would sit there happy as a clam, fully taking in all the Godzillaness goodness, while enjoying the last remaining pumpkin pie that my grandmother made for just this special occasion.

So Godzilla and I go way back.

In terms of the film, I will simply say that I wanted “more” Godzillaness. While I enjoyed the particular approach of framing the film through the experiences of the primary human perspectives which the main actors provided, I very much wanted to see more of Godzilla in action. There were three principle fights sequences with Godzilla within the film, one of which was shown by way of a background cable news report. Though it lends itself to the “realism” of what it would be like to have these massive monsters actually showing up upon the scene and directly effecting local and world events, the thing that I missed until the final fight sequence between Godzilla and the pair of “bad” monsters was the actual battle between them.

When watching a Godzilla movie, it is all about watching and enjoying Godzilla waffle stomping his opponents. Sure, it can’t be a walk in the park for Godzilla, for it wouldn’t be interesting or have any sense of ‘tension” within the film, but in the back of your mind, you know that Godzilla was win and that is the really fun of the Godzilla films is watching him bring the pain train down upon his particular opponent, as well as whichever city he just so happens to level.

The final fight that takes place within the city of San Francisco at night was visually really cool and unique, for there was a much more heightened sense of obfuscation as to how things were going to play out when there was the final showdown between Godzilla and the other monsters. It especially was really effective having this closing clash take place at night, for when the audience gets to finally see Godzilla make use of his defining and legendary atomic breath weapon blast, it was truly spectacularly, for with the contrast of the darkly lit night scene in contrast with the realization that Godzilla was in fact “charging” up to let loose his atomic discharge as realized by the fact on screen we see the white/blue atomic buildup starting at the base of his tail and moving through his back armored plates until he opens his massive jaws and proceeds to fully unload his wrath upon his opponent.

That was with the price of admission right there!

Visually, I was very happy with how Godzilla was portrayed. He looked like “Godzilla” to me, so it was really good to see how he retained a much respected balance between the classic “man in a suit” look, which we all love and cherish and the beauty and nuances that only the current computer generated look can be generated. He looked way cool!

Suffice to say, I was really pleased with how he not only looked, but also how he sounded in terms of his classic “Godzilla roar”. That one one aspect of the film that for me was a key ingredient if I would really buy into the film. He had to look and sound like the Godzilla I know and love and so happy that the filmmakers delivered that in spades!

In terms of the actors themselves, I will simple say that Bryan Cranston was a perfect selection to play his role. He was both believable and engaging. I do wish he had a much larger timeframe, but it is understandable as to how things play out with his character to move others and the film forward.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson was serviceable and for me was solid within his part trying to both get back to his family, as well as deal with the ramifications of what has been newly released upon the world.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Ken Watanabe, who is one of my favorite actors. He is one who I make a point of watching whatever film he is within, for I find his acting and characterizations of his specific roles always engaging and fulfilling. So when I learned that he was to be one of the primary actors within this film, I was more than pleased. Suffice to say, I certainly hope that for the sequel that they are planning on making, that he has a much larger role within the film, for I would contend that his character would be a good one to build the continuing story around, while not only letting that character further develop, but also as a means of reference and connection for the audience.

Finally, the director Gareth Edwards made a very solid Godzilla film. I was overall quite pleased with how it played out, both the storyline and the visuals. The only real contention that I had and which I hope will be further elaborated upon within the next film is simple put: “More Godzillaness!”

As a Godzilla lover, I want to see much more of the spectacla of who he is, as well as more and or longer actual fight sequences. The story and overall character of Godzilla is now established within film, now he needs to be allowed to do what he has done best throughout the many film incantations that have been presented to his beloved fans worldwide.

Do that and you will have the perfect Godzilla film for our age!




Captain America: The Winter Solider Film Review

Captain America: The Winter Solider is a film that I have been waiting to see for quite a long time, since it was first announced that there was to be a follow up film after the success of the Captain America: The First Avenger. I can not express how much total “fanboy” excitement and sheer enthusiasm I had when I watched the first primary trailer for the Winter Solider. It looked to have all of the elements of a film that are to my way of thinking what makes a film truly great. After seeing the film, I can say without any hesitation or reserve that not only did the film meet my expectations, but that it far, far expedited them.

The Russo brothers who directed the film and the writing team of Ed Brubaker, Christopher Markus and Setphen McFeely have put together a film that not only encapsulates the very essence of a superhero film, but even more compellingly manage to do so by way of having to place it within the context of both a political thriller and a contemporary scenario that addresses the very essence of what we as a nation and a wold are facing with the rise of the invasive, overreaching powers of governmental surveillance into every aspect of our everyday life. The film rightly balances the topical issues that are so prevalent now in our contemporary political and societal realities of the very genuine threat of personal liberties being withdrawn due impart to autocratic response to terrorism and the supposed threat that it posies. With such acts of governmental legislation including the NNDA and the Patriot Act in effect, the primary theme of the film addressing fear verses appropriate response and freedom vs governmental Orwellian control make much more than just a mere fun and action packed superhero film. What I found so refreshing about the way in which the film addressed these overarching subjects was so expertly woven within the very nature of the storyline and how the events unfolded within the film as a direct result with what has been taking place within the Marvel universe, in relation to our contemporary societal realities.

One aspect of the Steve Rogers character that I so desperately wanted to see was his enhanced fighting abilities and hand to hand combat, along with the effortlessly manner and instinctive use of his Vibranium shield. While we see Cap fighting prowess within the first Captain American film, as well as in Avengers, none of his particular fighting sequences fired me up and be excited to watch Cap in action, which on some level was disappointing, for I know just how epically awesome he is in terms of his fighting skills. In Marvel lore, he is regarded as one of the best in hand to hand combat expertise. That is what I want to witness and experience on the screen. Much like when I first watched Jackie Chan in Drunken Master II, I wanted to be absolutely amazed and roused by the action taking place. Watching Cap take out the bad guys onboard the ship, within the elevator and the skillfulness, mastery and natural fluidity with which he did so was so epic to watch. This film truly showcases the inherent abilities that Steve Rogers posses as a result of the Super Serum. The fight sequences and coordinated stunt sequences are truly exhilarating and amazed in every sense of the word to watch. This is the Cap that I want so desperately to see in action and the filmmakers delivered it! Bravo!

Besides the physical abilities that Steve Rogers possesses, it is the altruistic, genuine goodness and self sacrificing nature that draws me to this particular character. He is one who is refreshingly non compromising in the face of evil. These are the qualities that we need within our society now more than ever and which are so sadly lacking within this day and age of narcissism and self-serving egoism. Throughout the film, even though Steve Rogers is trying to come to terms with what we have become as a country and society, which is so contrary to the beliefs, norms and code of conduct which were held within his era of World War II, he remains steadfast to those ideas and standards. Captain America stands for truth, goodness and an America that once was, a time when gentility, civility and graciousness were the norm, not the exception.

In terms of the actors, I was equally impressed by the whole cast and what they did with their particular character. I probably am sounding very much like a “fanboy” which I admit I am, but I will defiantly and without any reserve call a spade when needed (The last three Star War films come to mind). Chris Evans is the embodiment of Steve Rogers/Captain America. I hope that we see more of him with this character well after the Avengers films and the next sequel to Winter Soldier. While I can understand that he does not want to be one to be pigeonholed, from one who really greatly appreciates his acting and what he brings to this character, I hope for all our sakes that he decides to continue with it. Just as an aside, if you have not seen the Losers, stop reading this and go rent it now! Chris Evans rocks in that film, it goes without saying I sure hope there is a sequel to the Losers as well!

I have already seen Winter Soldier twice so far and will go see it a third time, which is something I very rarely do these day, unless I really loved and enjoyed what I saw up on the big screen. This is a film that truly captured my heart and my intellect. It not only is a fantastically fun super hero movie, it really is a thoughtful, well executed and beautifully shot film. Trent Opaloch was the director of photography for the film, his other notable works being District 9 and Elysium, which I thought were visually beautifully and stunning to take in. I am really excited that he will be back working on the next Captain American film, along with the writers and Russo brothers directing.

I wish it were May 6th, 2016 now!




Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World is a sequel that can best be summed up as a sequel done right. It builds upon the storyline present within the first Thor film, as well as including the events of what transpired with the Avengers film, without there feeling a forced or hastily constructed storyline from which to proceed from.

To being with, what interested me most about the film was in terms of the narrative of the story and how it ultimately furthered not only the development and depth of the primary characters, but how it more importantly established future ramifications of not only the next Thor movie, but what potentially the Avengers will have to contend with down the road.

I very much enjoyed how the characters and situations were allowed to be further developed and built upon. Thor, as our primary lead character comes across not as some mere battle lusting, Mjolnir wielding, god of thunder brute, but refreshingly as a more grounded and reflective individual who has experienced not only the hardships of battles fought, but also the deeper ramifications of the consequences of decisions enacted upon.

I very much appreciated Thor being portrayed as one having the burden or weight which goes with being a future successor to his father king Odin. Thus, Thor is not only going to bear the responsible and burden as the leader of Asgard, but also his roles as a guardian of Earth and other worlds as well. The burden that Thor shoulders as the defender of worlds plays very well in terms of setting up the events of the film as they unfold.

The Thor of this current film is one who is quite different from when we first laid eyes upon him in the previous film, for he was filled with an overweening and cocky attitude. Having triumphed successfully against both exterior and interior conflicts, he comes across as more grounded, self assured and wiser.

While Thor has grown and changed from hen we first saw him on Earth during the vents of the first film, he still is very much the battle lusting warrior son of Odin, god of thunder. Yet, what I very much appreciated about Thor’s portrayal within the film is how he is presented in such a manner as to be a much more thoughtful, weathered and “realistic” heroic individual, while still very much one who revels in battle and a good brawl.

Visually, the film is a joy to watch. As one can imagine, there are some really epic and well executed fight sequences within the film that will not only get your blood flowing, for they made me feel as if I was watching a thrilling, classic heavy weight boxing match. One of my favorite moments was watching Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir traveling through incredibly vast distances and even redirecting through Earth’s atmosphere and out into space, so as to reach Thor during the climatic fight sequence was epically as awesome as awesome can be! I was sitting in the darkened theater yowling out in total geek out jouissance!

Without revealing too much of the story element, Thor is faced with the grim reality that the force of evil and darkness is once more on the rise and threatens to annihilate worlds, ours and his own home world of Asgard. With everything on the line, the question that faces our hero is just what is he willing to do to ensure that this threat is beaten back and defeated.

I thought is a great plot device to have their be an apparent conflict between Thor and his father Odin in terms of how best to proceed with how to deal with the threat poised by the Dark Elves. Odin knows that his time as king is coming to a close, though Thor certainly has his own ideas, such as having relations with a human, who commands the love of his heart. Who can Thor turn to to help ensure that this foe is vanquished?

Enter Loki.

Loki is the perfect counterbalance for Thor. He is very much the fulcrum point of the film, for through his actions and by his very character, it allows for a great interplay and development of characters. The positioning of Thor and Loki in relationship to Odin and to Frigga (Odins Wife/Thor’s and Loki’s Mother) brought a great Shakespearian nuance to the film.

As one who is adopted, I like to think that I have a certain awareness and perception into the character of Loki that those who are not adopted would not be mindful of. Without diverging to far, suffice to say that Loki’s motivation is not so much power (though it certainly is the icing on the cake), more than it is the validation of his being. He is mistakenly seeks power as the means to prove his worth as a person, when what he really seeks is unconditional love and acceptance. He enacts and embodies the very push away “testing” that those who are adoptive are known to do. The catalyst of his actions are in light of his anger for being cast aside and then “lied” to by Odin as to his true origins.

The ability that he has to create “illusions” speaks to me as to create a specific persona, so as to always be accepted and in control of his environment. Without revealing any spoilers, once of the most powerful scenes for me was when Thor asked Loki to reveal his true self. The rage, hurt and grief are all clearly evident within that scene.

A film (or book) where by Loki comes to terms with who he is and his adoption would make for an interesting story. Loki inherent character and mythos is one of double dealing and trickery, though there can be an argument made that he certainly isn’t the villain that he seems to be made out to be.

Seeing the motherly love that Frigga holds for Loki, regardless for the culpable crimes he committed and the mother/son bond that they have for one another certainly enabled me to regard him in a much more empathetic and grounded fashion. Thor and Loki’s relationship to one another and to their respective parents and the differences of the two made for a much richer and weighty contention and struggle between the two. Though these are superheroes, they very much are grounded with a believable reality.

In terms of the various individuals within the film, allow me some brief comments.

Natalie Portman did a serviable job continuing as Thor’s love interest and one of the primary central characters. The chemistry between her and Thor comes across as believable and sincere.

Anthony Hopkins as Odin seemed to fill out the role better this time around. Though to be honest, he just isn’t Odin to my way of thinking. I wish Brian Blessed was the one who was portraying Odin. Now he is Odin to me!

Idris Elba as Heimdall is one of my favorite characters within the film. I am so happy that he has a larger role this time around. When he is on the screen, he adds a coolness factor that just adds to the overall tone of the film. I certainly hope that we see more of him in future Thor films.

Kat Dennings as Darcy was surprisingly fun and added a great comedic element to the film. I have to say, that within the first Thor film, I found her character distracting, so I was a bit leery as to having her return again. I was really pleasantly surprised this time around as to her characters fun quips and very much enjoyed the character. Suffice to say, Kat Dennings won me over!

Rene Russo as Frigga was perfect. Though she did not have a large role per se, she commanded it and made it her own and through her character, there was a much welcomed depth of characters with which could be explored and played out.

The primary bad guy of the film is that of Christopher Eccleston, who portrays the Dark Elf Malekith. Some have complained that as a villain, he comes across wooden and not very interesting. My take is that there was more than enough character conflicts and variances, so that it actually was the smart way to go to have a simple, single-mindedness to this particular villain. I was perfectly happy with how they presented him.

Spoiler Warning:

One particular part of the film that I thought was really moving and visually beautiful was the funeral scene of Frigga. Though it was a brief sequence, it was expertly crafted and carried with it a solemn and touching expression of loss and love.

Overall, the film has a perfect blend of action, drama, humor and gravity. I was really quite impressed by the overall melding of the various film elements, for it made for a really fun and enjoyable film. It certainly is ever so clearly evident that Marvel truly knows what they are doing in terms of these film. Whatever particular method and approach to crafting the various super hero films they have released over the last several years has clearly worked. They have crafted and put forth a series of films which have been highly entertaining, engaging and leaving audiences (myself included) wanting more.

As an endnote, there is a surprise cameo that was a total hoot! I certainly don’t want to ruin the surprise and let the secret out other than to say that it was so funny and totally brilliant!

So my recommendation is to head out to the theater and catch Thor: The Dark World, you will be really pleased that you did!






The Wolverine Film Review

Wolverine without any shadow of doubt is one of my all time favorite comic book character, one who has had probably the overall most affect upon me. What do I find so engaging and relatable to me about this particular comic book hero? I would say is the fact that he had some traumatic circumstances within his life through which definitely shaped his core personality and character, yet over time and through the help of those around him who care and have much love for him, he was able to overcome the pain and loss which he has suffered.

Ironically enough, it was the very loss, pain and trauma suffered that was the genesis of his mutant abilities. It was his mystifying past that enabled him to be a mentor and father figure to so many. So the character of Wolverine, or Logan as he is often called is one that while seemingly in some fashion one of a complex persona, where by he is often perceived as merely a bruiser and berserker, there is actually quite a lot underneath the character with which to dive into the heart and soul of this particular engaging hero.

I have to first begin my review by saying that I was quite leery of the film when I initially heard that Fox was going to make another Wolverine movie. Unfortunately, the last two previous films to my way of thinking were not very well made. though I loved seeing Gambit! With such a rich and appealing character, a writer and or director could really drill a home run out of the park, for there is be plenty of down and dirty, gritty fighting sequences, coupled with a brooding hero material to draw upon. Perhaps poor directing and or writing choices, or dare I say studio executive decisions, the previous Wolverine films just didn’t “do” it for me sadly, as much as I wanted to really love them.

So, it wasn’t until I happened to catch an interview of the director of the film James Mangold speak about how he wanted this Wolverine to be akin to the film The Outlaw Josey Wales that I began to get excited about this film.

Two things to mention here. First, James Mangold has directed some really excellent movies, such as Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line. So my hopes were certainly raised by the fact that a good, solid director was attached to the film. Secondly, when Mangold referred to the The Outlaw Josey Wales (which is an excellent book if you can find a copy) in terms of the overall motif or style of the film, meaning there would be a certain gravity and grittiness of overall theme and stylization, I was fully on board!

So what is the verdict? Claws or no claws?

Claws it is!

I was really not only satisfied by the film, I was happily surprised by how much I really enjoyed myself! This is finally the Wolverine film I have waited for for years now. It was well directed, well written and well acted! Hugh Jackman is spot on as Wolverine/Logan. This is the sixth film in which he has played the role of Wolverine, so he certainly is intimately familiar within the character. He certainly should be commended for not taking the easy way out, as oftentimes is the case with certain actors/actresses who have played the same role over several incarnations. Not only can you clearly see the intense regimen that he took upon himself so as to be as authentically believable and faithful to the nature of this particular part, but also one can gleam the respect that he has for the integrity of the character and for the fans who cherish Wolverine. One last thing that I would like to add about the faults I have with the previous Wolverine films, none of it rests upon Mr. Jackman himself. He obviously puts everything he has into his films, regardless of the scope or type of film. For this he should be commended!

The story is what is one of the most critical elements of any film obviously and I can say without any reserve that this story delivers! What potentially can make a Wolverine story tricky (as well as Superman) is that for every practical purpose he is invulnerable by way of his rapid healing factor and adamantium infused skeleton. The interesting take that this film brings to light is Logan’s vulnerability is within his psyche, for having lived well over two hundred years through which he has seen and experienced personal tragedy and detrimental loss on a grand scale which has left scars upon his soul.

The film opens with an incredible and dare I say breathtaking imagery of the atomic bomb destroying Nagasaki. Watching silently as the American bomber was slowly, though inevitably making its way across the screen, the horror of knowing what was going to take place truly sunk in as I sat riveted to this initial imagery taking place before me. I even audibly caught myself saying out loud, “oh no” as the scene played itself out. It is within these inauspicious circumstances that the film places us, so right off the bat, I knew this was going to be a much different Wolverine film!

We see Logan imprisoned as a Japanese POW, who through an act of humanity is released from his “cell”, only to return the favor which saves the Japanese officer named Yashida. It is Yashida who thus witnesses the regenerative abilities of Logan, as he takes the brunt of the atomic blast in shielding him from harms way. Thus the story is set up from the events that transpired within Logan’s past. As a side note, I could not help but think how at the same time within the “Marvel Universe”, in another part of the world, Captain America was battle Nazi’s and the Red Skull.

Fast forwarding to our contemporary time, Logan is living within the wilderness of the Canadian woodlands. Interesting enough, I reckon that many within the audience never realized that Wolverine is actually a Canadian superhero, not an American one. It is there within the solitude of nature that he seeks the solace of being alone, where he attempt to leave behind the heavy weight upon his heart of having suffered lifetimes of pain and loss. Yet such is not to be the case, for he is sough out by Yashida’s “servants” Yukio in order to bring the Wolverine before her master so as to thank him for his saving his life one last time as his dying request.

Things obviously are not what they seem, for without giving away any plot points or spoilers, Wolverine finds himself weakened, so that his innate healing factor is not as responsive as it under normal circumstances. Coupled with the fact that there are enemies who threaten Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko, who Logan finds himself falling in love with, there are a lot of elements which blend all very nicely indeed so as to make for not only a great adventure in film, but a compelling one as well!

In terms of the characters present within the film, I very much enjoyed the character of Yukio, who over the course of the film becomes not only a protector of sorts to Logan, but also a cherished true friend. She was to me one of the most intriguing and riveting characters, for she was both deadly, but also deeply empathetic for she like Logan had her own past filled with loss and pain, to which they were able to respect and relate to one another.

In terms of the action, this film defiantly delivers, for the claws are out! There are great action sequences and visuals, one of the primary highlights is a fight between Logan and the “bad guys” all of which takes place on top of one of the bullet trains of Japan. It goes without saying that the bullet train also happens to be traveling at breathtaking speeds!

The character of Wolverine is all about action, thankfully there is plenty to be had, though it is thoughtfully accomplished by way of a well paced story. One of my own personal pet peeves of contemporary films these days is the rapid and breakneck pace or flow of a film, where by there is hardly any “breathing” time given to an audience in oder to be allowed to take in what is transpiring on the screen. Thankfully, this was not the case here, as it was in say Star Trek Into Darkness.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with the film. Finally, there is a Wolverine film worthy of the character. All who were involved in making this particular film a reality should be quite proud of their efforts and of the final product. I for one certainly hope that if there is another Wolverine film, one which is as well crafted and executed as this!

One final note, you must stay seated while the credits are on screen, for there is mid-credits scene involving Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Both I and my buddy Mark where sitting upright in our seats, totally stoked as to what was transpiring before us!

This is what going to the movies is all about!



The Wolverine 2


The Wolverine 5

Man of Steel Movie Review

There are times when going to an opening night showing, with the buzz and energy of the crowd really presents a fun, anticipatory and kinetic environment that truly enhances the experience of viewing the film. Then there are those occasions when a film is best served with an approach of one standing before a work of art quietly, taking in all aspects that are offered to the viewer.

Unlike my going to see Iron Man 3, or Star Trek Into Darkness on opening nights, I went yesterday to see Man of Steel at the first showing, after it has been released for a couple of weeks. My reasoning for this different approach was so that I could sit within a more quiet and subdued environment so as to really take in everything that the film had to offer. I took the same approach when the Dark Knight Rises was released. The reason why is simple, for these films which deal with such iconic characters from my youth warrant a much more deferential approach.

Going into the film, I knew that this was not going to be in any way, shape or form the Christopher Reeve Superman of my youth. I still can easily recall the night I saw that film back when I was eight, for my dear family friend Mark from Boston came out to visit his family and took me out to dinner, after which we saw Superman. The Richard Donner directed Superman film certainly made a lasting impression upon me when I saw it. Superman was noble, virtuosos and altruistic. I was so curious to see what qualities Superman would posses within Man of Steel.

Man of Steel while grounded very much within our present societal world, still shows the relevance of who Superman is, as well as the inherent qualities with which he abides by. Yesterday, I happened to read a review of the film which held the position that Superman is no longer pertinent to our present day experiences and particular issues, that somehow the general movie going public will not relate to the character of Superman, being that we are so jaded and or find it hard to relate to one who truly does stand for Truth, Justice and dare I say the “American” way. I would hold that Superman is all the more relevant for the very reason as to the way national and world events have played out, let alone the profoundly cultural issues that we are faced with, which easily shows forth a definite hunger and profound need for the very ideals that Superman stands for, represents and embodies.

Man of Steel as an origins for Superman I felt works on so many different levels. The score of the film is where I want to begin, for I purchased the extended soundtrack when it was released, so as to allow myself the opportunity with which to really listen to the different themes and variations extensively. Music is so important a facet in terms of establishing and conveying the impressions of a film, that I wanted to start with the sound of the Man of Steel, rather than watch it unfold upon the screen first.

One of the cool treats that was included was an additional disk of music which represented the musical concepts or stylization with which Hans Zimmer would incorporate into the film. It goes without saying that the score goes in a completely different direction than the John Williams Superman score. In fact, it is as far removed from Williams iconic theme as can be. Both scores are exactly and precisely what each film necessitates musically. I am, in fact listening to the Man of Steel soundtrack while writing this review. It is a superb, truimphent and worthy score for Superman.

The film pace was one aspect that I was concerned with going into the film. Whereas one of the major issues that I had with Star trek Into Darkness was the relentless, nonstop pace of the film, leaving me little time to metaphorically catch my breath and to be allowed to take in what was transpiring upon the screen. My hope was that the director Zack Snyder would allow for the a fitting balance between action and “story/character time”. Thankfully, I felt that there was a good balance between both story/character time and the flow of the action. Even though this was a film primarily about Kal-El/Clark Kent, I came away with a good sense of other characters motivations, personalities and their sense of perspective, which I would attribute to good acting, good directing and a good script.

Much could be said about the various actors/actresses within the film. Henry Cavill was spot on as the Man of Steel. I remember watching some videos of him at the SD Comic Con talking about the film and his approach to the icon figure of Superman and I was impressed by both his demeanor and his thoughtful responses. My gut told me then that he would nail the role and nail he did! I really appreciated the manner in which the character of Superman progressed and matured over the course of the film, from when he was a boy questioning who and why he is, to watching him on the road to self discovery and acceptance of his role and mission in life.

One side note which I wanted to address was the obvious allusions to Superman as a Christ/Moses figure. I listened to one particular podcast in which the hosts reviewed the film and went at length basically ridiculing and deriding that particular motif of Superman within the film. From my perspective, one which is very much grounded within faith in Christ, I felt that the “symbolism” and “representationalism” of Superman as a Christ figure is appropriate for who and what the character embodies. There are a few scenes within the film which I thought were well executed and apt for what was transpiring with the character of Superman. It was refreshing to see the filmmakers embrace that inherent characteristic and nuance of the character.

Michael Shannon as General Zod was tremendous! Perfectly executed, he was a believable villain, who classically did not seem himself as a villain per se, but as one who was to fulfill his duty at whatever the cost and direction it would take. I was really impressed by his command of the role.

Russell Crowe is one of my all time favorites actors. Interesting trivia, he is also one of Hentry Cavill’s favorites as well. His presence in the film as Jor-El was perfectly cast, for only one such as Crowe could carry the mix of dignity, ruggedness, gravity and paternal nature that is called for with this father figure.

Then there is Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent. I very much liked the chemistry of the two playing Clark’s Earthly, adoptive parents. As one who is adopted, there were a few moments within the film that I thought were quite moving and poignant, in particular when a young Clark is questioning who he is and the relationship of his parents to himself. When Costner delivers the line, “I am your father”, it very much sparked an emotional response within. Another later scene was when Clark was arguing with his father and says that they are not his real parents. I laughed to myself, for I have had those exact same tiffs with my adoptive parents growing up. Yet, the reality is for Clark (as well as for myself) that they very much are his parents. The anguish and agony of Clark witnessing the death of Pa Kent was visceral for me.

What was really credible and compelling to watch was the distinct manner and way in how both Crowe and Costner were equally Superman’s father and how each enacted what it meant to be a father.

Amy Adams was a good fit for the role of Lois Lane. She came across as likable and not overbearing thankfully. She had a good mix of intelligence, resourcefulness and pluckiness, without coming across as too presiding.

I really enjoyed both Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy and Richard Schiff as Dr. Hamilton. Even though they had more minor parts per se, I really enjoyed the screen time they had and felt their characters were well played and added nicely to the storyline. It was refreshing to see these “human” characters also take part in saving the world and making the sacrifice that they did.

Lastly, in terms of actor is Laurence Fishburne who portrays Perry White, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. Like Crowe, Fishburne is one of my favorite actors. Who remembers him in Red Heat and Pee-wee’s Playhouse? Without giving away a spoiler, the scene where he is with the two reporters of the Daily Planet towards the end of the film and how he shows forth his resolve, stateliness and humanity I thought was griping and powerful! I certainly hope he has a larger role in the next film!

One of the awesome aspects of the film is finally seeing Superman cut lose and go to town in terms of his abilities and powers. For the longest time, I have wanted to see Superman “Rock Em Sock Em” in a movie, where we can see all of the awesomeness of the comic action finally on the big screen. That was one of the things which made Avengers so cool to see! Superhero’s on the big screen doing what superhero’s do and it looks authentic and epic. Well, not to give away any spoilers, but Man of Steel delivers, repeatedly. The fight sequences between Superman and General Zod really do pack a wallop!

The final fight between Superman and General Zod is the very essence of a battle royal!

While sitting in my seat, it certainly made me quite aware of all of the collateral damage that takes place, let alone all of the injury and unfortunate death of so many. This is a film that in one sense is grounded very much in “reality” even though it is within the guise of a comic book “world”. There certainly can be a debate about the “destruction” wrought within the film, though suffice to say, I believe that it was appropriate for what was transpiring in terms of the fight between Superman and General Zod.

During these scenes there are some easter eggs references to Lex Luthor and to Wayne Enterprise, which was gnarly to catch! Oh, before I forget to mention, there was even a polar bear earlier on in the film! I will let the reader look up the significance of that one!

Returning to the final fight between Superman and General Zod, I believe that it played out to the logical conclusion for which it did. Without giving away any spoilers per se, it was direct, visceral and appropriate for what the scene called for. I commend the director for taking possibly a more edgier approach to that particular moment and in how Superman reacts when faced with really of having no alternative other than the choice he makes.

Overall, I am really beyond pleased with Man of Steel. It is the Superman I have wanted to see since I was a youth. It is obviously distinct and quite different than say the Christopher Reeve Superman, but I believe that there is a place for both films. It is interesting to reflect upon the differences of both film, but suffice to say, I content that each film is in direct relationship to the time (and age) of which it was released.

I certainly hope that we get to see the continuation of Zack Snyder vision of the Man of Steel. We need more than ever the inspiration and virtues of what Superman represents. If only we could embody these qualities in our everyday lives would the world be filled with many more real, genuine heroes.



Star Trek Into Darkness Review

I have been on a roll with going to the movies in recent weeks. It seems to me to be either feast or famine in terms of what I want to see at the movie theater. There is no denying that summer movies barrage is upon us, though as always I am inherently selective as to what I will see. One determining factor is definitely the cost of going to the movies. Between the price of a ticket and then the price of a popcorn, it really eats into the wee little piggy bank! I love my popcorn, so I usual go for a large bucket and make sure I get my free refiles over the course of the film, so that it works out to cost me around $2.50 a go around. Ha!

The latest film that I saw was a special double feature of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night with two buddies of mine. Just as a preface to the show, we went and had a grand meal at Kabuki! I am not one for sushi actually, I wish I was for I know I would love it if I didn’t like the taste of it. Regardless, I was most happy enjoying some delicious shrimp and vegetable tempura, along with generous helpings of both saki and Kirin beer. Good food and even better company as I am want to declare!

Once in our cozy seats, which were perfectly situated within the center of the theater, always a pleasant happenstance, we began to discuss all manner of topics, in particular Burning Man. Of course, you would be correct in ascertaining that I had my bucket of popcorn in hand! Soon, the lights dimmed and we were ready for the nights entertainment.

First up was the 2009 Star Trek film, which I enjoyed. I saw it in the theaters when it was released and was pretty happy with it. What was really nice about watching it upon the big screen was the fact that the events, story lines and characters were fresh in mind for when  Star Trek Into Darkness played next.

To jump right into the matter at hand, I will start with what I liked about the film. Visually, it was beautiful to watch. The overall imagery of the film was quite a grand spectacle. What caught my eye the most within this particular aspect were the different colors and hues used thought out the film. The bright reds of the tropical island, the distinct greys of the city, the visually stunning tones of the atmospheric environments was a beautiful, breathtaking spectacle to take in.

The musical score by Michael Giacchino is first rate and excellently crafted. The pensive and introspective piano playing which is played before the catastrophic events that take place in London sealed it for me! The grand scale of sounds that slowly builds and then erupts into the lavish and bold theme music of what you would expect to hear from a film of this scale. Last year, Giacchino composed one of my favorite film scores to date, that being John Carter of Mars. You may recall his score for the show Lost as well, which was hauntingly beautiful!

I loved seeing Peter Weller, talk about a happy surprise! Can someone PLEASE make the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai! I have been waiting all my life for Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, is that asking too much???


Now for what I felt didn’t work for me.

Having seen Star Trek 2, The Wrath of Khan when it came out in back in 1982, this current film was a bit off putting seeing the conflict redone between the crew of the Enterprise and Khan Noonien Singh. I knew going in that Benedict Cumberbatch was portraying Khan. When the time comes in the film when he reveals himself, I was very much like “Cool! Bring it!” But somewhere, somehow it felt flat to me the more I watched the events unfold throughout the film. While Cumberbatch does an admiral job, it just didn’t seem to me that this was, in fact Khan. He seemed underused. The best analogy I can provide is seeing an SSC Ultimate Aero in the slow lane on the freeway. This just didn’t feel like Khan to me, something was gravely missing.

Ricardo Montalban will forever and always be Khan. Besides the clearly evident fact that his performance will ever be etched within my mind at the tender age of twelve, I think it has to do more so with the subtle nuances that he brought to the role. There is a certain natural refinement and aged quality that he brings, a certain classicalism to the portrayal with which Montalban exudes, where by the younger Cumberbatch just does not have. It is akin to a fine wine, with age it greatly improves in taste, flavor and body.

An interesting trivia fact that i learned is that Shatner and Montalban never filmed any scenes together. Think about that for a moment. At no point within the film did they ever have any direct contact with one another and yet the chemistry on screen between these two clearly locked in a battle of wits, played out much like the Miltonian chess matches of Karpov and Kasparov. There was, for me, never any real sense of some grand, monumentally overwhelming resounding danger per se from Cumberbatch’s Khan.

Perhaps it has to do with the writing or perhaps the directing, but one has to remember that the history of this genetically engineered “Nietzcheionian Uberman” at one point ruled a quarter of the Earth. There is a grandeur, a larger than life to Khan inherently that failed to come across to me by way of his portrayal in the current film.

Who would I have liked to play Khan you ask? I propose Javier Bardem. Let that sink in for a moment. If you have not seen Skyfall, stop reading this post and immediately go rent it. Better yet, go buy it! Sitting here ruminating upon the idea of Bardem taking on the role of Khan would be awesome to see! He has the depth of range and inherent nuance to be the Khan in all his full villainous resplendence.

I think too the death of Kirk, a clear juxtaposition of the death of Spock from The Wrath Of Khan left me greatly wanting. What made the scene so powerful and moving between Shatner and Nimoy is that there is a this very tangible reality of there being a genuine life long friendship. It is etched upon their faces, the nuance of countless adventures together, as well as shared conflicts and perils of exploration and many missions of space travel. The scene was believable to me.

Watching the death of Kirk unfold within the current film, it left me feeling unemotionally disconnected. It was simply too soon to play that particular card so to speak. I believe for it to be believable, there needs to be a much longer fermentation and deep rootedness of the friendship between Kirk and Spock to take place. It has not been established long enough to come across as the emotionally impacting event that it is meant to be. Perhaps I am being overly critical, but to my way of thinking, Khan and the death of Kirk would be much better suited much further down the line of the new Star Trek cannon of films, where there would be more of a weathered sense of years of serving together and the deep bonds that would be fused as a result.

When discussing my thoughts upon the film with one of my buddies who just saw it tonight, he took my lack of enthusiasm of the overall aspect of the film to be due to my not “being a Trekkie”. I would respectfully disagree with that assessment. If anything, I would consider myself more akin to a classic “Trekkie”, for I content that it has to do with my admiration and love of what the original cast and filmmakers did so well, that there are clearly elements that are lacking for me within the latest film.

Putting it into perspective, I much more enjoyed the recent Star Trek films than the recent Star War films. Those don’t even exist for me. Absolutely dreadful and dare I say embarrassing to watch!

Overall, I enjoyed the film and I would very much like to see the further adventures of the crew of the Enterprise. It is just that in a very practical fashion of the film, some things clicked, some things did not, simple as that.

Next film I am looking forward to is Fast & Furious 6…until then, phasors set to stun.