Guardians of the Galaxy - Trailer Goodness.


I don't usually write about trailers but Guardians of the Galaxy is a Marvel film that I'm really hoping does well with mainstream audiences so I thought I'd help spread the word.

The thing is, I can't really tell you much about the film. I've never read a single Guardians comic book that the film is based upon. I'm mainly interested because the film has a lead character that is a raccoon with anger issues. I really want to see how that translates to a live action film. Watch the trailer below. Let the playlist play through and you'll see all the individual character trailers too.



As you can see the film clearly isn't taking its self too seriously but it looks like director, James Gunn, has made every effort to make a trailer full of very strange looking characters believable and with a certain cool factor. Even Groot (the talking tree), who sounds the least likely of characters to be interesting looks formidable.

For me though, it's all about Rocket Raccoon. In an era where Warner Bros. and DC has struggled to get a mainstream Wonder Woman movie into theaters, Marvel has managed to put up a film where a talking raccoon is succeeding as a major draw card. So many people seem like they're looking forward to seeing Rocket on the big screen and it's their number one reason to see the film.

Personally I want this film to succeed because it opens the way for a much bigger Marvel Universe. Presently only the Thor films (and to a lessor extent the Avengers films) are really expanding into the cosmos.

If Guardians did well it's sequels could really be some of the most amazing and fun adventures you're ever likely to see in a cinema.

Be sure to check it out in August 2014.

Movie Review: The Book Thief

I haven't read the novel that The Book Thief is based upon but my partner, Enigma, has and informed me that, as is often the case, quite a bit is left out of the film.

I don't think Enigma enjoyed the movie any less as a result but it did leave her thinking about the differences from the book.

On the other hand I got to watch the story unfold as a movie with no such comparisons to make, just the film on its own merits.

The story is set in Germany just prior to the outbreak of World War II. A young girl, Liesel (Sophie NĂ©lisse) is fostered by a German couple, a fairly strict mother, Rosa (Emily Watson) and a more forgiving father, Hans (Geoffrey Rush).

Liesel's love of books leads her to begin stealing them despite the fact that she can't read. Hans begins to teach Liesel and eventually her new found knowledge begins to affect everyone around her, including the Jewish stowaway her foster parents hide in their basement.

My impression of this film is that it's essentially a 'slice of life' kind of film. It starts out painting a very vivid picture of what Liesel's life has been and then what it will be with her new foster parents. 

Then the Jewish boy arrives, who turns out to be the son of a man who once saved Hans life in the previous war. Much is made of an accordion Han's owns that he says once belonged to his friend. At that point I expected the story to pick up and escalate to some new danger because of something hidden in the accordion. Especially when Hans is seen fixing it.

However that's not where the story goes and the accordion becomes important for entirely different reasons. The film, from there on, never really develops other than watching the characters reacting to life and the war as it unfolds around them.

Which is fine. It's a very good movie that is well acted and, I imagine, is a fairly good representation of what pre-war Germany was like as Nazi-ism spread. You definitely feel for all the characters even some of the minor, supporting characters that are only in the film momentarily. You particularly feel for Hans and Rosa who are trying to balance being loyal German citizens against a political climate that they don't agree with but cannot speak out against.

It did make me wonder about life in pre-war Germany. Supporters of Hitler and his Government are nearly always depicted as fairly severe, heartless individuals. Especially those working for the military. I find myself wondering if there were families in Germany that agreed with Hitler's politics but still came across as average, everyday, personable citizens who you'd be happy to invite over for dinner (just don't get them started on politics).

The Book Thief is not a particularly memorable film. Only Liesel has a fully developed story arc which ends in exposition. I would have much rather the film end with a little more flair, a little more show and a little less tell.

Geoffrey Rush and Emma Watson are both very believable as German citizens speaking with English/German accents that don't sound cheesy or like a parody of the language. Sophie as Liesel really does carry the film - and is worth seeing in this role just as much as Geoffrey and Emma are worth seeing in theirs.

Despite that, I didn't find too much of the story sticking with me after the film was over. For a pre-world war II film set in Germany I expected a lot more drama, intrigue and story than what's presented. After a very strong first half, there are dramatic moments in the second half that stand out but loose their impact by the way the film ends in exposition.

I wasn't disappointed but it seemed like this film had more potential that really wasn't explored. Not essential to see in a theatre but you won't leave thinking it wasn't worth the price of admission.

Movie Opinion: Kick Ass 2 - How did they get it so wrong?

Like The Lone Ranger I didn't go to see Kick Ass 2 in the theatre because of its consistently bad reviews - despite being a big fan of the first film. Unlike The Lone Ranger, which I thought had potential if they'd done a few things differently, Kick Ass 2 almost completely misses the mark for what I hoped it might be.

SPOILERS: This is not a review. There will be spoilers right from the very next paragraph. Don't read if you haven't seen the film and still hope to go in not knowing what happens.

One of the most interesting things to me about this film, aside from the continuing story of the main cast, was Jim Carrey's presence, playing a character very different to anything I'd seen him do before. It's a character you barely get to know and, when he is killed about half way through the film, I was disappointed they killed off Jim Carrey rather than sad for the death of his character, Colonel Stars and Stripes.

Not only that but Colonel Stars and Stripes was really the only other credible superhero after Hit Girl on the side of the good guys. They really needed him in the battle at the end to make an unbelievable win for the good guys a little less unbelievable.

Jim Carrey could have added so much more to this film. I wasn't actually a big fan of his character, who comes across more of a thug than a good guy superhero. It's not that surprising that Jim felt he couldn't promote the film.

Beyond Jim, the first film set up Kick Ass and Hit Girl giving up the superhero life and going back to every day life. Hit Girl is living with Detective Marcus Williams, Big Daddy's best friend on the force from the previous film, entrusted with keeping her safe. That's fine.

We come into Kick Ass 2 with that premise but learn that Hit Girl is still being Hit Girl and Dave wants back in to the superhero life by becoming her sidekick.

It all starts to go south when Chris Diamico A.K.A. Red Mist, who is no longer Red Mist but takes on the ridiculous, whiney mantle of The Mother Fucker. A character who is a long way off from the "Wait 'till they get a load of me" villain he seemed to propose at the end of the first film.

Red Mist's new incarnation as the Mother Fucker might have worked better if it wasn't so obvious that the three main actors have all aged a few years. For a guy who's seen his dad killed, kills his own mother and hears his friend/assistant/body guard killed by his Uncle, he doesn't seem to take much from these experiences. Why the whole scene with his uncle is even in this film I'll never know as nothing substantial comes of it. It's treated as a small stepping stone to Chris realizing his potential as a super villain.

Mentally Red Mist's character never grows and he doesn't come across as a guy anyone would want to work for, even though he pays exceptionally well. Any one of the people in his gang could easily over power him and get hold of his money a lot faster. Especially since his uncle - who had more credibility as a bad ass in one scene than Chris does over two films - wasn't backing him up.

As a villain the Mother Fucker is unlikable in every way. Which is what you want in a villain but you also need to feel respect for them to be a true villain. Chris just doesn't cut it. Would have been far better to follow the uncle storyline with Chris still trying to earn the respect he just never had.

If you're like me, you really wanted to see more of Hit Girl in this movie right? Did you want to see more of her dancing in a faux fight scene? Did you want to see her being sweet ol' Mindy Macready trying to fit in with the 'cool' kids? Did you want to see her most awesome fight scene, not in costume? Did you want to see her get her ass handed to her in the climatic fight scene and only able to overcome a single protagonist via an adrenalin drug injection - despite, through two films she's shown she's a master at taking out multiple bad guys all bigger than her and barely raising a sweat?

What I like about Hit Girl in this film is that she doesn't feel she needs a team and isn't really that interested in having a side kick. She never involves herself with all the wanna be superheroes until the final fight and even then she goes for the toughest villain in the room and let's everyone else do their thing.

This film should have been all about Hit Girl Training Kick Ass to be a real superhero of her level whilst they worked on tracking down an actual crime boss (Chris' Uncle perhaps). Instead it was mostly about The Mother Fucker and his single minded and very poorly executed goal to get revenge on Kick Ass.

To top all that off Detective Marcus, who played a relatively important role in the first film is reduced to not only an ineffective guardian but also an ineffective cop. He never does anything even remotely credible to try and stop the violence. Then, when the police do start making a pro-active move they arrest all the good superheroes with no real evidence of any crime having been committed.

Even Kick Ass's own father, pretending to be Kick Ass, says that the police have no evidence and would have to let him go, yet somehow other members of the superhero team are out on parole despite doing less actual superhero work than Kick Ass in two films?

Marcus should have been trying to work the same case as Hit Girl and Kick Ass. Would have made for a good cat and mouse between them as Hit Girl and Kick Ass try to avoid being found out by Marcus.

At several points through Kick Ass 2 they showed Big Daddy's suit stored in a nice glass display case at some base that Hit Girl has (no doubt another safe house). I got the impression that by the end of the movie someone would be wearing that suit, but I didn't think it would be Kick Ass. Even then he was only wearing bits of it and it didn't really mean much. He was just wearing it.

There's no way Hit Girl would have let Kick Ass be Big Daddy's successor. Especially since he was partially responsible for the guys death. How interesting might it have been to see Jim Carrey play a character on the same level as Big Daddy and ultimately take on that role? I might have seen this movie in a theatre just for that.

I know this film is based on a comic book and that the first film kind of follows the characters origin story from the comics. I'm not sure if this sequel follows any comic book storyline. If it does then I can see how they might have ended up with this by trying to be faithful to a comic. If not then there was a much better film to be made with these characters.

It's a franchise that goes on and on about trying to be a superhero in real life yet this sequel looked more like a bad comic book movie than any effort to make it seem like a film attempting to ground its self in reality. Even though the first film had elements of escapist fantasy they blended much better with what the movie was trying to be.

In Kick Ass 2 we have a Super Villain that isn't even on the same level as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr Freeze in Batman and Robin. And there was nothing awesome about Mother Russia... could have stuck tubes in the back of her head and called her 'Bane'. The Hit Girl in Kick Ass 1 would've picked up a gun and shot her in the face.

On the plus side, if they did make a sequel with Hit Girl, this movie establishes her as being Hit Girl and not wrestling with trying to get back her childhood.  On the downside, the end credit final scene shows The Mother Fucker lives, suggesting he might be in a sequel. If that's the case then let's all hope having a shark eat your limbs off is the life changing experience that forces him to grow up into a real Super Villain.

There's an opportunity for a great third film with Marcus attempting to find Hit Girl to make good on his promise to Big Daddy. No doubt Kick Ass could be drawn in since he's the last one to know about where Hit Girl was heading.

If The Mother Fucker commissioned OmniCorp to make him into RoboFucker I might even be on board with that. Just so long as he man's up a bit and becomes a proper villain with actual purpose beyond avenging his Dad.



Movie: The Lone Ranger (2013)

I was all ready to give The Lone Ranger the benefit of the doubt after it was widely panned by, seemingly, almost everyone as a bad film (it was for that reason I didn't rush to see it in a cinema and am only just seeing it now on VOD) but I do agree it has its problems.

Warning: Some spoilers ahead!

I'm not going to go so far as to say it's a bad movie. There is so much to like about it. It contains some great, escapist action (highly improbable but awesome to see), some good humor, I liked Johnny Depp as Tonto and even Armie Hammer was a good choice for The Lone Ranger. My problem is that right from the beginning it seems somewhat confused and muddled.

The plot can be described fairly simply. It's the Lone Ranger's origin story. How could you muddle and confuse that? By opening the movie in 1930's with a young boy, dressed as the Lone Ranger, talking to a museum exhibit of a very old Tonto (supposedly a manikin or wax dummy that comes to life) who then goes on to relate the story of John Reid A.K.A. the Lone Ranger. A story set in 1869.

Sure it says something about how kids have always been fascinated by the legend of the Lone Ranger (I certainly was growing up) but the film doesn't do anything with it. There's no great revelation in the 1930's about anything we've just seen at the end of the film. The story just ends. You could take that whole section out and not miss it at all.

The only reason I can see for it is that it allows the story to jump around. I don't think it ever goes out of sequence but it does allow the film to fast forward past things that may have bogged the movie down.

It also helps to explain a pretty magical white horse turning up in some pretty improbable situations and moments. For example, the horse just randomly shows up on top of a barn roof. The barn is on fire and has a two or three gunmen out side watching to shoot anyone that might come out. The obvious thing to do is climb to the barn roof where you're surprised to see your horse waiting to help make your getaway.

Highly improbable but if you recall, you're watching a story that is being retold to a young, impressionable boy. Such an improbable situation as a horse turning up on the roof of a barn is likely to be the artistic embellishment of the story teller.

Having said that, the weird white horse turning up in odd places is actually a highlight of the film that nearly upstages Johnny Depp's understated but still quirky Tonto.

I can't really fault Depp's performance as Tonto, other than to say I was expecting a character a little more outrageous, more along the lines of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Unlike the Pirates movies, I suspect Depp and the film makers were conscious of the cultural sensitivities of Depp playing a native American and didn't want to make the character too eccentric. (Some people seemed to find it offensive and weren't buying Depp's links to native American people as proper justification for not hiring an actual native American actor)

Armie Hammer, on the other hand, did look the part of the Lone Ranger but the script he had to work with really didn't make him as likeable as he needed to be. He started off well, as a very straight down the line lawyer type who believes in the judicial process, however he never really veers too far from that ideal.

By the end of the film John Reid is still John Reid the naive and somewhat annoying lawyer rather than a more weathered and experienced Lone Ranger. We never really get inside his head or get the urge to dig deeper into his psyche.

It's a shame because I did think Armie was good with what he had to work with and his character should have been the focus of the film despite Depp being the bigger star. In contrast, just about everyone in Man of Steel was a bigger star than Henry Cavill but that film was still all about his character and he was on all the posters. Depp fans would have seen the Lone Ranger whether he was the focus of the marketing or not.

Those were my main issues with the film. The way it was told meant there was quite a bit of time between each set action piece, which would have been fine, but the character moments didn't do enough to get you invested in any of them, other than Tonto.

Things like John Reid waking up on top of an enormous wooden scaffolding, on top of an almost impossible to access peak, looked great in the trailer but was only onscreen momentarily in the film with no explanation. Not even how he got up there nor how he got down.

A better edit of the film, minus all the story telling scenes by the older Tonto, could really lift this film in my opinion. It had all the elements to be a fast paced western with Indiana Jones type action and they bogged it down with unnecessary exposition that could have been replaced with scenes to help us relate more to the main character.

The Lone Ranger is certainly worth your time. It's definitely not as bad as you've been lead to believe. However it could have been so much better and definitely had more of a chance for multiple movies.

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