Archive for Dave Bautista

Avengers: Infinity War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his lieutenants—Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive—intercept the spaceship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. As they extract the Space Stone from the Tesseract, Thanos subdues Thor, overpowers Hulk, and kills Loki. Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth using the Bifröst before being killed. Thanos departs with his lieutenants and obliterates the spaceship.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe; in response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange, drawing the attention of Peter Parker. Maw captures Strange, but fails to take the Time Stone due to an enchantment. Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, Banner contacts Steve Rogers, and Wong stays behind to guard the Sanctum.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision in order to retrieve the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson rescue them and take shelter with James Rhodes and Banner at the Avengers Compound. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor, who surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector on Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir, where they and Eitri create an enchanted battle-axe capable of killing Thanos. On Knowhere, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly kills Gamora, earning the Stone.

Nebula escapes captivity and asks the remaining Guardians to meet her on Thanos’ destroyed homeworld, Titan. Stark and Parker kill Maw and rescue Strange. Landing on Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. The group forms a plan to remove Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet after Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures, seeing only one in which Thanos loses. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces that Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, allowing Thanos to break the group’s hold and overpower them. After Stark is seriously wounded by Thanos, Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark. Thanos departs for Earth.

In Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes before Thanos’ army invades. The Avengers, alongside T’Challa and the Wakandan forces, mount a defense while Shuri works to extract the Mind Stone from Vision. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive to reinforce the Avengers; Midnight, Obsidian, and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and despite Maximoff’s attempt to destroy the Mind Stone, removes it from Vision, killing him.

Thor severely wounds Thanos, but Thanos activates the completed Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away. Half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, T’Challa, Groot, Maximoff, Wilson, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Strange, and Parker. Stark and Nebula remain on Titan while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Meanwhile, Thanos recovers on another planet.

In a post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a signal as he, Maria Hill, and others disintegrate. The transmitter displays a star insignia on a red-and-blue background

REVIEW:

The moment has come! The big payoff! The reason we have sat through seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe films, though they have all been enjoyable to varying degrees. 10 years in the making, complete with developing an entire universe, setting up some high stakes, and teasing us with the big bad, Avengers: Infinity War has arrived! Will it be the payoff all of us comic nerds, as well as the general public have been expecting?

What is this about?

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

What did I like?

Spread the wealth. From the moment this film was announced, it was clear that the cast was going to be huge. What we didn’t know was how the balance of screentime would play out. Would we get a heavy dose of Iron Man and Captain America, while Hulk and Dr. Strange are relegated to what amounts to glorified cameos? I can assure you that is not the case. Every character that we have been introduced to in the MCU to this point, with the exception of Hawkeye, Ant-Man (who has his own sequel coming later this summer, which takes place before this film, apparently), and a couple of others who i can’t think of at the moment, is included in this film. While not all time on screen is equal, each character is allowed to show their strengths and why we have grown to care about them over this time.

Mad Titan. Yesterday, I saw Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2 and, while he was good as that character, he feels more at home as Thanos. That’s not to say Brolin can’t play a cyborg mutant from the future, or that he should always seek out roles where he is a delusional psychopath with delusions of grandeur who has a strange misconception of what kind of balance the universe needs. Rather, he just seemed to have more fun as Thanos. I think he even said so himself. I can’t blame him. One the one hand, he could be a really strong time traveling cyborg who has to listen to Deadpool all day or be a universal titan that is nigh unstoppable. The latter seems to be the better option. As far as his plot is concerned, i think this is one of Marvel’s stronger villains. I won’t spoil it for you, but he does lay out and execute his plans with precision, rather than dawdle and monologue the way some earlier MCU villains have done (some in his employ).

Impact. The impact of the MCU has been felt ever since the first Avengers was released and other studios started taking notice of universe building. Now, if you notice there are many duplicators and imitators. DC has come the closest to recreating the formula, but something just isn’t right with them. When all is said and done with this film, though, the way it ends is sure to make a lasting impact on fans and probably moreso on those that aren’t fans. I can’t go into much detail about it without dabbling into spoiler territory, but i can say that something happens that will send shock waves through the audience, as it is something no one saw coming.

What didn’t I like?

Short end of the stick. Earlier, i mentioned the enormous cast and how not everyone was given equal screentime. For some reason *COUGH* ego*COUGH*, Iron Man gets the majority of the screentime. Meanwhile characters such as Bucky (Winter Soldier), Black Widow, Nebula, etc. have maybe 5 min on screen. In Nebula’s defense, she was a prisoner being tortured by Thanos for most of her time. This brings me to Black Panther. He, and the nation of Wakanda, play an important role later in the film, but that is all we get. Some have speculated that since this was filmed before the release of Black Panther, the studio had no idea of the impact that film would have and thus didn’t give T’Challa much to do in this film. There is an argument to made there, but my point is many characters, both major and minor didn’t receive as much time as they could have because of the amount of characters in this film. I’m not saying there were too many, just that, and I’m going to sound like Thanos here, ironically, more balance needs to be brought.

Offspring. Unless you are a fan of the comics, then you probably have no idea who Thanos’ “children” were. Myself, not being up to date on Thanos’ history, didn’t know who they were, either. Apparently, they are, much like Nebula and Gamora, the last children from worlds Thanos has conquered and destroyed who now serve him. That little bit of history doesn’t mean much, other than explain why they are fighting so hard for this big purple guy. They view him as their father and will do anything  for him. The way they seem to be portrayed in the film is equivalent to Stormtroopers, mindless clones who only serve one purpose.

Ground support. Granted, there isn’t much they could do and i just went on about too many characters, but i can’t help but think that the Defenders (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones), the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , along with anyone else that could help out with this (Inhumans, Deathlok, etc.) The world is in danger! I find it hard to believe that these heroes/anti-heroes would just sit idly by, especially Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. (note…i have not been watching this season). Real talk…the only reason none of these guys are making an appearance is because Marvel is desperately wanting to keep the MCU away from the Netflix universe. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense!

Spoiler alert. This isn’t a complaint against the film, but rather internet culture. As you know, i am nearly a month late getting to see this. Life/work kept me away from the theater. In this day and age, spoilers are very hard to avoid, especially when you are in a Facebook group for comic book and movie nerds. However, i believe it was the Sunday after the film’s release that i was checking out the Venom trailer and had the film spoiled for me. How was it spoiled? Well, right as the trailer is about to end, some @#%$!^ inserted a 10 second clip of himself telling the world what happened. I ask you…who does that?!?

Final thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War? Man, what a ride! The emotional roller coaster this film takes you on from the opening beat down of the Asgardians, to the triumphant return of Steve Rogers (that entrance was…wow!), all the way to the events that happen in the second half of the film are sure to keep one on the edge of their seat. There are some things that could be cut as well as some scenes that probably should not have been cut. All in all, though, i had a great time watching this and can’t wait for the next one. Do i recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2014, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot are renowned as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, has the Guardians protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries. After Rocket steals some for himself, the Sovereign attacks the Guardians’ ship with a fleet of drones. The drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, but the Guardians are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill’s father, Ego. He invites Quill, who is accompanied by Gamora and Drax, to his home planet, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.

Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians. They capture Rocket, but when Yondu shows reluctance to turn over Quill, his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny with help from Nebula. Taserface imprisons Rocket and Yondu aboard Yondu’s ship and executes his loyalists while Nebula leaves to track down and kill Gamora, whom she blames for all the torture inflicted on her by their father, Thanos. While imprisoned, Rocket and Yondu bond. Groot, together with Yondu’s loyalist Kraglin, frees Rocket and Yondu and they destroy the ship and its crew as they escape, though not before Taserface tips off the Sovereign fleet.

Ego explains he is a god-like Celestial, an immortal consciousness that manipulated the matter around it to form the planet with itself at the core. Forming a human guise, he traveled the universe to escape his loneliness and discover a purpose, eventually falling in love with Quill’s mother Meredith. Ego hired Yondu to collect the young Quill after Meredith’s death, but the boy was never delivered and Ego had been searching for his son ever since. He teaches Quill to manipulate their Celestial power. Nebula arrives at Ego’s planet and tries to kill Gamora, but fails and the pair reach an uneasy alliance when they discover caverns filled with skeletal remains. Ego reveals to Quill that in his travels he planted seedlings upon thousands of worlds which can terraform them into new extensions of himself, but they can only be activated by the combined power of two Celestials. To that end, he impregnated countless women and hired Yondu to collect the children; Ego killed them all when they failed to access the Celestial power. Ego forcefully uses Quill to activate the seedlings, which begin to consume every world. Quill fights back after Ego reveals that he deliberately caused Meredith’s death, as his love for her distracted him from his purpose.

Ego’s pet empath, Mantis, grows close to Drax and warns him, Gamora, and Nebula of Ego’s plan just as Rocket, Yondu, Groot, and Kraglin arrive. The reunited Guardians reach Ego’s brain at the planet’s core, and fight the Sovereign’s arriving drones. Rocket makes a bomb out of the stolen batteries that Groot plants on Ego’s brain, while Quill battles Ego with his newfound Celestial powers to allow the other Guardians to escape. The bomb explodes, killing Ego and causing the planet to disintegrate. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill, who now realizes Yondu did not deliver him to Ego in order to spare him from the fate of Ego’s other progeny, and that Yondu was Quill’s true “daddy”. Having reconciled with Gamora, Nebula still chooses to set out and attempt to kill Thanos. The Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu, which is attended by dozens of Ravager ships, acknowledging Yondu’s sacrifice and accepting him again as a Ravager.

In a series of mid- and post-credit scenes, Kraglin takes up Yondu’s telekinetic arrow and control fin; Ravager leader Stakar Ogord, inspired by Yondu’s sacrifice, reunites with his ex-teammates; Groot starts growing back to normal size, exhibiting typical teenage behavior in the process; Ayesha creates a new artificial being with whom she plans to destroy the Guardians, naming him Adam; and a group of uninterested Watchers listen to their informant discuss several experiences on Earth.

REVIEW:

Let the summer blockbuster season of 2017 begin! First film out the gate is Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2. Like just about everyone, I still don’t know much about the Guardians. Since the release (and success) of the first film, they have had an increased presence over at Marvel, including an animated series. Will this sequel justify the success they’ve had or are they just a fluke?

What is this about?

Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.

What did I like?

What an Ego. The villain this time out is Ego, the Living Planet, whose origin has been changed slightly so that he is the father of Star-Lord. Now, with a name like Ego, you can just about assume the kind of personality he has to have. Well, who better to get than Kurt Russell, someone who has played a few pompous characters in his day (just watched him a couple of days ago in Sky High). I also must mention the creative things the effects department did to show him as the living planet, such as the face on the planet, talking energy, etc.

Too cute. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot sacrificed himself to save the team. As the credits are rolling, we see that he is a sapling living in a flower pot (and dancing to the Jackson 5). Well, this film is set shortly after the first one and Groot is a little older. Let’s not be naïve, here. The filmmakers made him that age to sell merchandise. He’s just so cute! That aside, he’s also vicious, as seen on Yondu’s ship, so be warned!

Source material. Speaking of Yondu, this is another character that I’m not too familiar with. I remember looking him up when the first film was released and seeing that giant fin on his head, wondering where it was in the film. The filmmakers must have had some fanboys pester them about said fin because they put it on him this time. I can’t say it is an upgrade, but I will say it is nice to see some adherence to the source material, rather than changing everything to make it more realistic, or whatever excuse studios have nowadays.

What didn’t I like?

Mixtape. A music connoisseur such as myself is sure to appreciate the diversity of the soundtrack, and I really do. However, in comparison to the collection used for the first film, this one falls short. The biggest reason for this is that there isn’t anything to catch the listener’s attention and bring them in. This mix needed something akin to “Hooked on a Feeling”, but doesn’t have it.

All that glitters ain’t gold. Aside from Ego, and a short Ravagers mutiny, the other villain in the film are a race of gold people, who believe themselves to be perfect, known as the Sovereign. I understand the reason they were after the Guardians, and like how they remote controlled their ships but, to be honest, they just became pests after awhile, especially during the climactic battle with Ego inside the planet’s core where they just show up and interfere while the Guardians are trying to defeat a God-like being who wants to terraform the universe in his image.

Why so serious. Unlike some of the other films in the MCU, the Guardians’ films have never been all that serious. Much like the Fantastic Four (are supposed to be), this is a team that enjoys what they do and doesn’t over analyze it or make every mission a political fiasco, etc., etc. That being said, I feel like this film got a little too serious in parts, particularly during the family parts (Star Lord and Ego and Gamora and Nebula). Yes, there is some conflict there, but those scenes were so serious that it felt like I was watching a different movie. Thank goodness both scenes were interrupted by someone crashing in and interrupting their dialoguing.

Final verdict on Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2? Truth be told, this is an entertaining film. It will make you laugh, cry, and maybe even sing. We get perhaps the most interesting Stan Lee cameo to date and a new character is introduced to us, played by Sylvester Stallone. All of the cast members return from the first film, and we may have gained a new guardian in the innocent, lovable Mantis. So, with all that in mind, do I recommend this? Well, it isn’t the surprise hit that its predecessor was, but I think that has more to do with expectations, but it is fun from beginning to end. I highly recommend it for all!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1988, following his mother’s death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by the Ravagers, a group of space pirates led by Yondu Udonta. Twenty-six years later on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb only to be intercepted by Korath, a subordinate to the fanatical Kree, Ronan. Although Quill escapes with the orb, Yondu discovers his theft and issues a bounty for his capture while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora after the orb.

When Quill attempts to sell the orb on the Nova Corps home world Xandar, Gamora ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, and the tree-like humanoid Groot. The Nova Corps arrives and arrests the group, imprisoning them in the Kyln. A powerful inmate, Drax, attempts to kill Gamora due to her association with Ronan, who killed his family. Quill dissuades him by saying that Gamora can bring Ronan to him. Gamora reveals that she has betrayed Ronan, unwilling to let him use the orb’s power to destroy entire planets such as Xandar. Learning that Gamora has a buyer for the orb, Rocket, Quill, Groot, and Gamora work together to escape the Kyln.

Elsewhere, Ronan meets with the titan Thanos to discuss his daughter Gamora’s betrayal and the loss of the orb. Accompanied by Drax, Quill’s group escapes the Kyln in his ship—the Milano—and flee to Knowhere, a remote criminal outpost in space built in the giant severed-head of a celestial. A drunken Drax summons Ronan, while the rest of the group meet Gamora’s contact, Taneleer Tivan. Tivan opens the orb, revealing an Infinity Stone, an item of immeasurable power that destroys all but the most powerful beings who wield it. Suddenly, Tivan’s tormented assistant grabs the Stone, triggering an explosion that engulfs his collection.

Ronan arrives and easily defeats Drax, while the others flee by ship, pursued by Ronan’s followers and Gamora’s sister Nebula. Nebula destroys Gamora’s ship, leaving her floating in space, and Ronan’s forces leave with the sphere. Quill contacts Yondu before following Gamora into space, giving her his helmet to survive; Yondu arrives and retrieves the pair. Rocket, Drax, and Groot threaten to attack Yondu’s ship to rescue them, but Quill negotiates a truce by convincing Yondu that they can recover the orb. The group agrees that facing Ronan means certain death, but that they must stop him from using the Infinity Stone to destroy the galaxy. On Ronan’s ship, the Dark Aster, Ronan embeds the Stone in his warhammer, taking its power for himself. He contacts Thanos, threatening to kill him after the destruction of Xandar; hateful of her adopted father, Nebula allies with Ronan.

On Xandar, the Dark Aster is confronted by Yondu’s fleet, the Nova Corps, and Quill’s group, which breaches the Dark Aster. Ronan uses his empowered warhammer to destroy the Nova Corps fleet. Drax kills Korath, and Gamora defeats Nebula (who escapes) and unlocks Ronan’s chambers, but the group finds themselves outmatched by his power until Rocket crashes the Milano through the Dark Aster and into Ronan. The damaged Dark Aster crash lands on Xandar, with Groot sacrificing himself to shield the group. Ronan emerges from the wreck and prepares to destroy Xandar, but Quill distracts him, allowing Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan’s warhammer. Quill grabs the freed Stone, and with Gamora, Drax, and Rocket sharing its burden, they use it to destroy Ronan.

In the aftermath, Quill tricks Yondu into taking a container supposedly containing the Stone, then gives the real Stone to the Nova Corps. As the Ravagers leave Xandar, Yondu remarks that it turned out well that they did not deliver Quill to his father. Quill’s group, now known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, have their criminal records expunged, and Quill learns that he is only half-human, his father being part of an ancient, unknown species. Quill finally opens the last present he received from his mother; a cassette tape filled with her favorite songs. The Guardians leave in the rebuilt Milano along with a sapling cut from Groot.

In a post-credits scene, Tivan sits in his destroyed archive with two of his living exhibits: a canine cosmonaut and an anthropomorphic duck.

REVIEW:

A couple of years ago when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, I along with everyone else scratched my head and said WTF?!? No one really knew anything about these characters. They aren’t the mainstream heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, Superman, etc. All that skepticism and mystery was thrown out the window when the first trailer was released during the Super Bowl. Ever since then, this has been one of the films people have been looking forward to the most, but does it live it up to the hype, or fall short of expectation, giving Marvel Studios its first real flop?

What is this about?

On the run from intergalactic warlord Ronan, hotshot space pilot Peter Quill unites a ragtag band of oddballs to form a team of unlikely heroes. Soon, the Guardians discover that they alone stand between Ronan and the galaxy’s destruction.

What did I like?

Pacing. I’m sure we’ve all seen movies like this that either start off with a band and then slow down or they start off so slow and never really get going until the climax, leaving you sitting there bored out of your mind for most of the film. Well, fret not, my friends, because this film manages to get in its moments of drama and then quickly move on to something else. The filmmakers know that the audience for this does not necessarily wan to sit through all that, so they move it along at a quick pace and don’t look back.

Music. When the first trailer featured Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, everyone wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it a song they just used for the trailer? Is it part of the soundtrack? What was the deal? Well, as it turns out the 70s hits such as that and a few other well-known ditties are the soundtrack, but the music is also incorporated into the storyline through a tragic backstory of Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt. I’ve got to give the film credit, because that was an ingenious way to incorporate such a random group of songs in a space flick. Also, the use of a Walkman and a tape deck, which kids of today surely have no idea what those are, was a nice nod to those of use who grew up listening to those things much the same way as young Quill.

Characters. With this property, more than any other up to this point in the Marvel Universe, the characters had to be developed, fleshed out, and made accessible to a public that knows little to nothing about them. I would say that this was done successfully. Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord is basically what you would expect Han Solo’s son to be. Gamora, for all my hatred of waif thin Zoe Saldana, is the assassin with a heart that I believe she is meant to be. Drax takes everything literally. As it is explained, he comes from a race of people who don’t know metaphors, which makes for some interesting comedic moments. Yes, comedic moments from Dave Bautista. Who’d have thunk that?!? Groot is the loveable tree and bodyguard for Rocket. Ah, Rocket, the show stealing raccoon! First off, you would never guess that was Bradley Cooper doing his voice. Second, he provides not only some of the best comedic lines in the film, but also, while explaining things to Quill and Gamora, explains why things are the way they are, without the film having to stop and do so.

Let there be light! Apparently, over at DC they believe every character they have has to be dark and brooding, because that is the formula that worked for The Dark Knight trilogy. The only exception appears to be this new Flash show that is coming this fall. Marvel, on the other hand, knows not only how to balance the light and the dark, but also create various genres of films. Take for instance, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That was darker than its predecessor and also a different genre, as it delved more into the spy racket. This film takes us into space and leaves every bit of darkness behind. I, for one, am ever so grateful for that. Enough with the dark comic book films! Let’s have some fun! Which is the formula this flick uses successfully. Hopefully the start of a new trend towards the light!

What didn’t I like?

Sacrifice. For one of the main characters to sacrifice themselves to save the rest of the team is nothing new. However, I am starting to see a trend in superhero films where they kill off one of said main characters as a way to give motivation to the rest of the group. Now, this wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t feel it had been done to death. I can’t remember exactly where I’ve seen this plot point before, but I know I have. The sacrifice that was made here was emotional, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not so sure it was necessary.

Nova corps. One of the major issues people had with Green Lantern is that we didn’t see enough of the other members of the Corps. Well, Marvel’s equivalent to the Green Lanterns is the Nova Corps. While these aren’t as a popular or varied as the GLs, they do each have their own personalities and I think it would have been nice, since they included them, to get some more insight into at least one or two of them. Maybe even introduce or hint at the one that would go on to be Nova on Earth (the one being used currently in the animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man)

Ronan. Going into this, I heard all the talk about how Ronan wasn’t that great of a villain and how Marvel needs to step up the villain game, blah, blah, blah. Well, my take on it is that Ronan is who Ronan is supposed to be, from what I know of him. Lee Pace does a respectable job with him, maybe not the best, but far from the worst. However, as one review I read/listened to said, “we see Thanos and geek out over knowing that a film is coming where he is the big bad, which makes Ronan one of the bosses that has to be beaten along the way.” I like that analogy, because it sum it up very nicely. If you played the Mega Man games, think of it this way, Thanos is Dr. Wily, Loki and Ronan are two of the bosses that had to be taken out before you can get to him. If not for Thanos, though, Ronan would have been more menacing, I believe. Had they just held him off until later in the film, or let him just be a hologram, a la The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, then it probably would have worked.

Well, I wasn’t able to go see Guardians of the Galaxy when it was released because I just didn’t have the time. This weekend, I just couldn’t get up the energy to drive across town and go to the theater. However, this has been the perfect birthday movie for me. Everything I want is in here, action, sci-fi, talking animals, comedy, great music, space. The only thing missing is some retro stuff, but I’ll get to that before the week is over. For me, this film has a couple of flaws that can be overlooked, but few that are enough to make this a bad film. The only thing that I might consider changing is switching Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian’s characters (before she shaved her head…such a shame to lose those luscious red locks). I will definitely be getting this when it is released to DVD/Blu-Ray. Does that mean I recommend it? Emphatically so! You need to stop what you are doing and go see this right now!

5 out of 5 stars

side note…there is a post credits scene, but I have chosen not to discuss it as I don’t believe it is meant to be anything more than an inside joke to true Marvel fans that are familiar with all of their properties. however, I will say that the previous design of that character might have looked better, in my opinion.

Riddick

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick has become increasingly uneasy in his role as Lord Marshall of the Necromonger fleet. His refusal to swear into the Necromonger faith has caused dissent among his subjects. Riddick strikes a deal with Commander Vaako; the location of Furya and a ship to take him there, in exchange for Vaako becoming the next Lord Marshall. Led by Vaako’s aide, Krone, Riddick and a group of Necromongers arrive on a desolate planet. Recognizing it is not Furya, Riddick kills most of his escort when they attempt to assassinate him. In the chaos, Krone causes a landslide and buries Riddick alive.

Emerging from the rubble with a fractured leg, Riddick manages to reset and splint his broken leg and fend off native predators: vulture-like flying animals, viper-like swarms of water animals and packs of jackal-like beasts. Needing time to heal, Riddick hides himself within some abandoned ruins. Riddick later sees a vast savanna beyond some rocky cliffs, but the only passage through is guarded by poisonous, scorpion-like creatures called “Mud Demons” which inhabit several muddy pools. As he builds an immunity to the Mud Demon’s venom, Riddick improvises melee weapons, while raising and training an orphaned jackal-beast pup. The two eventually succeed in defeating the Mud Demons and reach the savannah. Riddick soon realizes a massive series of approaching storms are unleashing countless more of the Demons, who must keep their skin wet at all times to survive. Needing to get off-world, Riddick activates an emergency beacon in an empty mercenary station, which broadcasts his identity and presence on the planet.

Two ships promptly arrive in answer to the beacon; the first a group of bush-league bounty hunters led by a violent and unstable man named Santana, and another better-equipped team of professional mercenaries led by a man who is not initially identified but is named Boss Johns. Riddick has left them a blood message vowing death to every merc unless they leave one of their ships and depart the planet on the other. Rubio, Nunez and Falco are killed during the first night, forcing a reluctant Santana to cooperate with Johns. Riddick later manages to steal power nodes from each of the teams’ ships and then approaches Johns and Santana to strike a deal for their return. However, the conversation turns out to be an ambush. Johns’ second-in-command, Dahl, shoots Riddick with powerful tranquilizers. In an effort to defend his master, Riddick’s alien jackal brutally attacks Santana, but is shot multiple times in the throat.

Back at the Merc Station, Johns interrogates Riddick about the final fate of his son, William J. Johns (the mercenary from Pitch Black). When the storms finally reach the station, large numbers of Mud Demons emerge from the muddy ground, and besiege the station, killing Lockspur and Moss. Johns agrees to release Riddick in order to locate the hidden power cells. Santana stops him and attempts to kill Riddick, who is worth twice as much dead as he is alive. Riddick instead beheads Santana thus keeping his earlier promise to kill the merc and avenge the death of his pet.

They then fight their way to the ship which houses the hover bikes with Vargas being killed. Johns, Santana’s man Diaz, and Riddick leave the ship together on hover bikes on a mission to retrieve the power nodes. During their journey, Diaz knocks John’s bike over the side, causing him to crash. He is then picked up by Riddick. After they reached the power nodes, Riddick reveals to Johns about his son’s addiction to morphine and a spineless attempt by his son to utilize a child as ‘bait’ for the hostile animals on the world they were stranded on ten years prior. With both of them distracted, Diaz attempts to kill Riddick and Johns. Riddick fights and kills him, but not before unintentionally damaging the only working hover bike (Diaz had already disabled the other one).

Riddick and Boss Johns fend off a seemingly endless horde of Demons while running back to the station. Riddick is severely wounded. Johns takes both nodes and abandons Riddick. After treating his wound, Riddick begins to fight a futile battle against the advancing Demons. Just when it seems he is about to be killed, Johns arrives in one of the ships and shoots the creatures while Dahl descends to rescue Riddick. Riddick then takes the other ship and—as he flies away from the planet—he is stopped by Johns in the other ship. Johns asks Riddick where he will go, but thinks better and decides to not know. Riddick praises Johns for being a better man than his son and departs into deep space. In the theatrical version, this was the end of the movie, while in the extended version, there is an additional scene which takes place aboard the Necromonger ship.

REVIEW:

Vin Diesel really loves the character of Riddick. He has had a major part in everything from the design of the guy to scripting at least one of the films. It is refreshing to see an actor put that much work into one character, even if it is one that isn’t as popular as he could/should be. Riddick brings the night vision having badass back for another adventure, but do audiences want to see him?

What is this about?

In this extraterrestrial sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick, Vin Diesel returns as the grim antihero, who finds himself marooned on a lonely planet. Hoping an emergency beacon will save him, Riddick instead attracts deadly aliens and mercenaries.

What did I like?

Back to basics. There is a reason Riddick hasn’t been on the screen in quite some time. Well, two reason, actually. First is because Vin Diesel has been busy with the Fast & Furious franchise. Second, anyone that know what an abomination and insult The Chronicles of Riddick was will tell you how much of a miracle it is that this film even made it past the rumor stage. Thankfully, Diesel and the writers were able to take this back to what worked so well for this guy back in Pitch Black. Not to steal a comparison from another movie review site, but he is like Wolverine. The first time we saw him in X-Men (this happens in film and print), he was a bad ass, but they watered him down and “caged the beast”, if you will, with the second film, effectively taking away everything that had worked so well.

Intimidation plays a factor. These big bad mercenaries land on this planet and are more than determined to collect the bounty on Riddick. However, they find collecting that bounty is easier said than done. He single-handedly, well with a bit of distraction by his alien jackal pet. They never do manage to catch him, so this leads to Riddick walking up to the mercenaries’ camp. After a pretty intense showdown, they put him in chains and interrogate him. After all this is done, he manages to get a machete lodge it in the ceiling, then when it falls, he balances it on his foot and then kicks into one of the mercenaries’ throats, slicing it in half. All this is done in 5 seconds! Not bad for a guy who can’t see in the daylight, huh?

One-liners. The previous two Riddick films were so serious that they were no fun. I don’t know about you, but I need some levity in my sci-fi action. Luckily, Vin Diesel knows how to deliver some quick quips. His emotionless deadpan delivery makes these one-liners all the more funny. Also, it should be noted that the writers were smart enough to not go overboard with the jokes and inserted a couple here and there just to lighten the mood.

What didn’t I like?

Dry run. I went into this, based on opinions from others who had seen this already, expecting a fun action flick. There were fun moments and the action is there, but nowhere near as many as I was led to believe. The whole first hour or so, give or take a few minutes, had me half asleep and looking at my watch (besides the fact that it needed to be reset because of Daylight Savings Time). If I would’ve seen that in the theater, I would have been pissed that I wasted money to watch. Thankfully, it does pick up, but I’m not particularly sure it makes up for the beginning scenes.

Let it go. No one liked The Chronicles of Riddick, and yet this film shoehorns a plot device involving Karl Urban’s character. I think the extended version also has a scene at the end of the film. Thing is, without those scenes, this could very well have taken place anywhere in Riddick’s timeline. Maybe they should have taken a hint from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and avoid any mention of its predecessor except for what was absolutely needed.

Starbuck. Katee Sackhoff is not bad looking, as most people would agree. There was some hype about her “nude” scene. It was nothing more than a quick shot of her left breast. That isn’t my complaint. What I have issue with is how she is used. I can’t really picture Sackhoff as some sort of damsel in distress. As a matter of fact, give her dark hair and we may have a proper Wonder Woman, rather than the stick that will be masquerading as Diana in Batman vs. Superman. What is the issue, though? Well, it seems to me that this is a character very similar to what she did on Battlestar Galactica. I don’t think she should be typecast in these similar roles, though. This is something very similar to what I said regarding Lisa Kudrow in my review of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. However, Kudrow has gone on to break the mold and create a bevy of her own characters, Sackhoff seems to be destined to do the same thing over and over again, even in her voice work.

As I sit here thinking of what I ultimately thought of this film, one thing comes to mind. Vin Diesel really loves this characters and wants audiences to embrace him. That is fine and dandy, I just don’t think this is the film to bring in new fans. That being said, I could be wrong. While this film didn’t light up the box office, it did stick around for a few weeks, so maybe there is more interest there than presumed. Do I recommend this? Yes, but not strongly. It is good enough, but like the other films in the franchise, it doesn’t do anything to make Riddick a memorable character.

3 out of 5 stars

The Man with the Iron Fists

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In nineteenth century China, Jungle Village is home to several warring clans. The village blacksmith creates deadly weapons for the clans, intending to use his payments to purchase the freedom of his lover Lady Silk, and leave the village. The region’s governor tasks the Lion Clan’s leader Gold Lion with protecting a large shipment of gold that must pass through the village. Gold is betrayed by his lieutenants Silver Lion and Bronze Lion, who plan to steal the gold. They use the chaos ensuing from a fight with the Hyena Clan to allow their co-conspirator Poison Dagger—the governor’s aide—to assassinate Gold, after which Silver becomes the Lions’ leader. Gold’s son Zen-Yi learns of his father’s murder and sets off to the village to seek revenge.

The Emperor’s undercover emissary Jack Knife arrives in the village to monitor the gold and takes up residence in the Pink Blossom, a brothel run by Madam Blossom, Lady Silk’s madame. Silver sends members of the Rodent clan to kill Zen-Yi before he can reach the village, but Zen-Yi kills them. The mercenary Brass Body arrives in the village and meets with Silver; he is sent to kill Zen-Yi. The blacksmith meets with Silk in the brothel and delivers the final payment needed to free her. After arriving in the village, Zen-Yi and his men are confronted by Brass and find that they cannot physically harm him because his skin turns to metal on impact. Brass beats Zen-Yi and destroys his blade-laden armor. Zen-Yi’s last surviving man sacrifices himself to pull a canopy support beam loose, burying Brass under heavy stone. The blacksmith is watching the fight; he rescues Zen-Yi and helps him recover as penance for crafting the weapon that killed Zen-Yi’s father.

Meanwhile, the gold shipment arrives in the village, accompanied by two skilled warriors, the Geminis. The Lions soon confront the Geminis and their men, and in the ensuing fight, Poison Dagger assassinates the Geminis and the Lions capture the gold. Jack later arrives to investigate the incident and learns that the Geminis were poisoned with mercury-tipped weapons, leading him to the blacksmith. The Lions’ theft prompts the governor to send his Jackal troops to recover the shipment or destroy the village. Zen-Yi asks the blacksmith to craft him a new suit of weaponized armor. The Lions suspect that the blacksmith is helping Zen-Yi and have him tortured for information. The blacksmith refuses to talk, and Brass cuts off his forearms. Jack, who had been following the blacksmith, saves him. While the blacksmith recovers, he tells Jack of his past as an emancipated American slave who accidentally killed a white man who refused to let him go. He fled America by boat and went to China, where monks trained him to use his body’s energy to perform superhuman feats. Jack and the blacksmith craft his greatest weapon: a pair of iron forearms that he can animate using this energy.

Zen-Yi recovers and joins Jack and the blacksmith. Meanwhile, Blossom offers to let Silver hide the gold in a secret tomb beneath the brothel in return for payment. The gold is stored in a coffin which is raised up to the rafters. That night, Blossom has her girls serve the Lions, and Silk serves Brass. At Blossom’s signal, the girls use weapons hidden in their mouths to poison many of the Lions, and they join with Blossom as the Black Widows. When Silk tries to poison Brass, his skin protects him, and he beats and almost kills her. Zen-Yi, Jack, and the blacksmith arrive and join with the Black Widows to fight the remaining Lions while Blossom and Bronze fight and kill each other. While fighting Jack, Poison Dagger is crushed between large moving gears. Silver and Zen-Yi fight in the tomb; Zen-Yi cuts the coffin free, and it crushes Silver. The blacksmith finds Silk, who dies in his arms. He confronts Brass, and his iron fists prove capable of inflicting damage on Brass’ seemingly invincible body. While Brass is in metal form, a powerful punch from the blacksmith shatters him to pieces. Jack runs outside in time to stop the Jackals from decimating the building with a Gatling gun.

In the epilogue, Jack leaves the village to accompany the gold, and Zen-Yi tells the blacksmith that he has gained a brother. With the clans destroyed and the village safe, the blacksmith vows to keep it that way and destroys the sign pointing to his weapon shop.

REVIEW:

It would seem that the next genre of films that I am destined to come to love are martial arts flicks, though I’m long overdue to finally watch a James Bond picture. As it were, The Man with the Iron Fists is a sure-fire way to get one interested in those flicks from a time gone by, but whether it can stand up to them is not for me to answer at this present time.

What is this about?

Combining kung-fu action and hip-hop style, this martial arts thriller relates the saga of a Chinese blacksmith caught up in a battle between clans. Forced to defend his own village, the blacksmith channels primeval forces that make him invincible.

What did I like?

Familiar. There is a look and feel to this film that may seem very familiar to those that have seen Kill Bill, vol. I. That is, aside from both starring Lucy Liu, this film had Quentin Tarantino’s touch on it. Now, he doesn’t direct, produce, or appear, but he has been “mentoring” RZA, if you will. The resulting styles are obvious.

Over-the-top. 99.9% of the time, I’m all about over-the-top things, be it jokes, violence, sex, etc. The graphic violence that permeates thought this flick can be a bit much, but I don’t think anyone watching this is actually taking this seriously. If they are, then they seriously need help. Having said that, I think RZA could have just let the reins go and watch this thing go insane and it would have been a thing of beauty. Just the same, what you see is equal to your more bloody animes.

Batista. When we think of wrestlers that have made the jump to the big screen, immediately, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson comes to mind, as he’s had the most success, followed by more modest careers of “Stone Cold” Steven Austin, Chyna (yes, porn counts), The Great Khali, and the up and downs of Hulk Hogan. It appears as though Dave Bautista (Batista in his WWE days) is trying his hand at acting. They did a good job of giving him a major role, but with little speaking, much like The Rock in Be Cool. Not to forget that this character, Brass Body, is a pretty bad guy. That fight scene at the end is definitely worth the wait.

What didn’t I like?

Music. I realize that RZA is a hip hop artist. I also have respect for what he does. I love the beats he gave to Afro Samurai. With that in mind, I think they were a bit overkill in a 96 minute flick. Here and there was nice, but in almost every scene of importance, our ears are made to bleed with this mess. Tarantino did the same thing in Django Unchained, as I mentioned in that review. I guess this is just some bad teaching from Tarantino.

Not quite right. Something about this story just didn’t jive with me. I think it was the fact that it wasn’t coherent or interesting enough, perhaps even disjointed. I’m not sure what it was because, by all means, this story should have worked, it is decent enough, but RZA isn’t a strong enough to storyteller to engage the audience.

RZA. I cannot think of many actors who direct themselves that do a good job. RZA on his own isn’t that great of an actor, when he’s directing himself, he isn’t much better. I think this would have been a better film had he not used this as a vehicle for himself. This is a character that deserved much better than rookie acting chops, and this film could have used a full-time director. At least, RZA isn’t the worst actor in the film.

It may sound like I didn’t enjoy The Man with the Iron Fists, but that isn’t the case. I really did find this to be quite the enjoyable flick. As I mentioned earlier it has over-the-top violence but, at times it seems as if it is trying to be too serious. I would have liked to have seen the rumored crossover with this and Django. Initially, I had wanted to see this in theaters, but in hindsight, I am glad I didn’t waste the money. This is one of those shut your brain off and enjoy the ride type of films that is best seen from the comforts of home.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars