Archive for Mantis

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

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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

Kung Fu Panda 3

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, KUNG FU PANDA 3. When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!

What people are saying:

Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel’s narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family” 3 1/2 stars

“I almost did not watch this. I saw the first two and really liked them. I felt compelled to watch this just to finish the series. It actually turned out a lot better than I thought. There were times where the film was predictable, but the graphic of the movie made it quite enjoyable. I chuckled several times throughout the movie and I never got bored. I would definitely recommend watching it until the very end because the final fighting scene was very well done.” 4 stars

“This third installment in the Kung Fu Panda series lives up to all of the things you want it to with beautiful animation, clever humor, and a couple underlying messages that more than just kids can appreciate. ” 5 stars

“Nothing will be better than the first movie (something that hollywood has still to learn) and the trailer promised much more than the actual movie, still an enjoyable movie but probably just out of love for Po’s character” 2 1/2 stars

“I adore the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and although this movie is not up to par with the first two, it is still amazingly unique in it’s own way. I loved the super villain in this one, he was so sarcastic and cool and his theme song whenever he walked in was amazing. The visuals and animation is extremely well done, and they have successfully, once again, combined 3D animation with subtle 2D visuals. The story line is not as great as the first two, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this film.” 4 stars

Kung Fu Panda

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Valley of Peace is protected by the Furious Five, a quintet of warriors trained in kung fu by tortoise Master Oogway and his protégé, the red panda Master Shifu, and consisting of Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane. One day, Master Oogway has a premonition that the snow leopard Tai Lung, Master Shifu’s former student who gained a thirst for power and became evil, will escape from prison and attack the Valley. Oogway instructs Shifu and the others to hold a tournament in order for the next Dragon Warrior to be chosen in order to receive the power of the Dragon Scroll, a parchment said to give limitless power to whoever reads it, and defeat Tai Lung.

Po, an overweight panda and extreme kung fu fanatic, is anxious to see the tournament, but is instead forced to vend their famous noodle soup from his goose father, who hopes to reveal the secret ingredient to his special soup recipe. After finally climbing the mountain where the tournament is being held, Po finds that the arena is closed off and tries several means to spy on the events. During one such attempt, Po uses rockets tied to a chair and when the chair is destroyed in mid-air, he ends up falling into the middle of the arena just as Oogway is about to point out the new Dragon Warrior, and ends up pointing to Po, to everyone’s surprise. Unwilling to believe Po is destined to become the Dragon Warrior, Shifu attempts to conspire with the rest of the Furious Five to shun Po and make him leave the temple as soon as possible, but finds that Po, inspired by Oogway’s confidence in him, is very determined to learn despite his size and clumsiness. As the days pass, Po becomes friends with the rest of Furious Five, though still unable to grasp the basics of kung fu. Shortly afterwards, Oogway passes away and ascends in a sea of petals, leaving the training of Po to Shifu. They learn that Tai Lung has inadvertently escaped from prison, and the Furious Five leave to attempt to stop Tai Lung before he reaches the Valley. Meanwhile, Shifu discovers that Po has unusual talents when motivated by food, and is able to train him to use these talents to become a skilled warrior by promising food as a reward for succeeding in his lessons.

While the Furious Five face off against Tai Lung across a long rope bridge span, they are defeated and return to the temple to warn Shifu. Feeling Po is ready, Shifu gives him the Dragon Scroll, which is revealed to be an empty reflective foil. Shifu, at a loss for what to do, orders Po and the Furious Five to evacuate the valley while he prepares to face his former student. As Shifu and Tai Lung battle, Po finds his father during the evacuation, who remarks on Po’s success and noting that the supposed “secret ingredient” in his soup is nothing at all; it is the promise of something special that makes it special. Po realizes this is the same promise as the Dragon Scroll, and returns to the temple to help, luring Tai Lung into a fight over the Dragon Scroll. Though Po’s new skills are a match for Tai Lung’s power, Po is temporarily stunned, allowing Tai Lung to obtain the Scroll. However, Tai Lung is unable to understand its meaning despite Po trying to explain it to him. Po is eventually able to defeat Tai Lung with the destructively powerful “Wuxi Finger Hold.” With the Valley safe once more, the Furious Five fully accept Po as a kung fu master. Po finds that Shifu is exhausted but alive from his fight, and finally able to achieve inner peace with the end of Tai Lung. Po and Shifu form a close bond and are seen eating dumplings under Oogway’s favorite peach tree after the credits. A peach seed planted by Shifu before Oogway’s ascension has sprouted into a new plant.

REVIEW:

The conept for this film is one of the most original ones that I have seen in a long time. Good to know that Hollywood CAN still come up with an original idea. I’m a bit surprised that no one thought of this before, though.

The voice casting is inspired. Jack Black, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jackie Chan are all phenomenal, but Angelina Jolie comes off as cold and unbelievable. Then again, Tigress actually has meat on her bones.

I’ve read reviews comparing the beginning of the film to Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack. As a fan of said series, I don’t see it. To me, it just seemed like a quick cartoon dream sequence.

The scenery and animation are beautiful, but then again, it’s set in China, which has some of the most beautiful scenery to draw from.

This is a very entertaining film. There are no risque jokes, so its truly a family film. Everyone can and will enjoy it.

4 out of 5 stars