Category Archives: Fan Art

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – Movie Review

tumblr_nvtnfepR0y1uzh3t7o1_1280

Director:  J.J. Abrams

Writers:  J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan

Stars:  Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Carrie Fisher

IMDb Logline:  Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

Pros:

  1. Old pros Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (General Leia), and new arrivals Daisy Ridley (Ray), John Boyega (Finn), and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren)
  2. Han Solo and Kylo Ren character arcs
  3. Chewbacca
  4. Major emotional character plot point handled deftly and in service to both the story and another character arc
  5. Made you forget, and did not reference the Prequel Films
  6. Pratical Effects

Cons:

  1. Too many characters–underutilized characters could have been introduced in later films
  2. Too many call-backs to the original trilogy
  3. Too many coincides (i.e. how Han & Chewie get back the Falcon; BB-8 all of a sudden being there at different scenes)
  4. Did not emotionally connect with the movie until major character plot point

Review:  Star Wars is back and in good hands.  The story is linear, has characters you love, and an emotional punch that leaves you reeling.  The film moves fast–sometimes too fast–covering a lot of new ground while trying to catch you up on the last thirty-five years of events.

Rating = B+

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

Click on image to view trailer

Advertisements

“Inherent Vice” (2014) – Review

Fan+poster+for+Inherent+Vice

Writer/Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars:  Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom, and Katherine Waterston

IMDb Logline:  In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Pros:

  1. Martin Short’s performance
  2. Owen Wilson
  3. Period Setting

Cons:

  1. You don’t care about the characters
  2. The relationship/history between Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) and Big Foot (Josh Brolin) does not make sense, and is not sufficiently explained
  3. Martin Short’s character is superfluous

Review:  Inherent Vice is the rare film that feels both too long and not long enough.  While you feel the entire 148 minute runtime of the film, you also feel like the filmmakers left too much on the cutting room floor–with vital information left out while non-pertinent scenes were left in.  For a better detective film that makes you think, watch Brick again or for the first time.

Grade = D

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


“Space Pirate Captain Harlock” (2013) – Review

captain_harlock_by_loftwing-d6le63i

Director:  Shinji Aramaki

Writers:  Leiji Matsumoto (Manga), Harutoshi Fukui & Kiyoto Takeuchi (Screenplay)

IMDb Logline:  Space Pirate Captain Harlock and his fearless crew face off against the space invaders who seek to conquer the planet Earth.

Pros:

  1. Excellent CGI work
  2. Steampunk look of the Arcadia and its crew and technology
  3. Fairly well-developed characters

Cons:

  1. The train comes off the track in the third act with some head scratching developments
  2. The protagonist is Logan and not Captain Harlock

Review:  A very surprising update of another late 70s anime cartoon based off the manga of Leiji Matsumoto; fun for the whole family even though the finale doesn’t live-up to the build-up.  The characters are well-defined with both the protagonist and antagonist having complete story arcs.  The look of the film is incredible as well as well detailed.

Grade = B

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) – Review

Print

Director:  James Gunn

Writers:  James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

Stars:  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel

IMDb Logline:  Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Pros:

  1. Great character development for all the protagonists
  2. Impressive voice work from both Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot).  Cooper for his lightning fast and surprisingly emotional performance, and Diesel for delivering expressive and emotive readings of his one phrase of dialogue throughout the entire film.
  3. James Gunn’s, the director, world building is a balance of the original series Star Trek with humanoid painted aliens & story telling, and the adventure & fun of the original trilogy Star Wars films.
  4. Action packed third act the audience can follow sprinkled with moments of comedy and sacrifice
  5. General Eddie Murphy action comedy vibe similar to Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs but with much less cursing

Con:

  1. Generic principal villain

Review:  Much like Raiders of the Lost ArkGuardians of the Galaxy knows how to make an audience enjoy itself.  Released from the sometimes heavy burden of established comic mythology, Guardians lets loose with a band of misfits that learn to love & care for each other.  In turn, this allows the audience to love & care for them.  From its impressive special effects, camaraderie & chemistry among characters, easter-eggs for comics and 80s fans, and genuine emotion at the end of the film, Guardians of the Galaxy does no wrong.

Grade = A-

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

 

Other great Guardians‘ images:

GoTG-retro-poster

Groot-and-Rocket-IMAX-poster-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

rbas3gtm0rgx6x7qyjh3

guardians-of-the-galaxy-comic-con


When (not if) will Captain America die in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

11914_comics_marvel-captain-america-to-die-in-the-avengers-3

 

After watching The Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, a completely random thought unrelated to the movie popped into my head, “someone better die fighting Thanos in the 3rd Avengers movie.”

The innate flaw of the superhero genre is that you know going in the superhero(s) are going to survive.  As franchises go on, this conceit is what basically causes them to creak, then crack, and ultimately crumble–the original Superman franchise comes to mind, as well as the Bond films before the Daniel Craig reboot.  But how much more would we enjoy a film if the survival of all the protagonists was not assured?

Steve Rogers’ death is assured.  Chris Evans has stated in interviews he would like to take a break from acting.  Sebastian Stan has a nine feature film contract with Marvel as Bucky Barnes.  It has already been established in the comics that Bucky takes on the mantle of Captain America after Steve is killed.  So the question is when and not if.  I believe it will happen during the 3rd Avengers movie against Thanos.  Why

capshielddisplay

The destruction of Captain America’s shield is a very symbolic and powerful symbol.  And though the shield has been destroyed in the history of the comics a few times, only one of those times also involved Steve Rogers’ death:

3506945-thanos-breaks-caps-shield-infinity-gauntlet-4

 

And unlike the comic death, this one will stick.  Quite frankly it has to.  Marvel has been upping-the-ante with each subsequent film.  With Guardians they have basically identified Thanos as the ultimate evil in the galaxy and the collection of the infinity stones the creation of the ultimate weapon.  How can there be no consequences to fighting him?  How can someone not die in the confrontation?  If no one does, then anything that follows cheapens everything.  I would be surprised if only Steve Rogers dies.  My guess would be Rogers, the Hulk, and Loki in an act of redemption saving Thor.

And what about Avengers 2 Age of Ultron?  Will anyone die then?  Who knows outside of the filmmakers and the studio.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is at least one major casualty:

Iron-Man-iron-man-3-31782000-1280-864

 

Like Captain America, Iron Man is also a mantle.

Ultron in the movie is created by Tony Stark.  will Avengers 2 be a modern retelling of the Frankenstein story?

 


“Maleficent” (2014) – Review

Maleficent Poster

Director:  Robert Stromberg

Writer:  Linda Woolverton

Stars:  Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, and Sam Riley

IMDb Logline:  A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Pros:

  1. Angelina Jolie
  2. Special Effects
  3. Three Fairy God Mothers

Cons:

  1. Turned one of Disney’s most evil villains into a sympathetic character

Review:  Though a feast for the eyes with a great performance by Jolie as Maleficent, in the end the film is mostly forgettable.  The idea of providing Maleficent a reason why she becomes evil is a good one, but giving her a “Disney” ending just feels wrong.

Grade = C

maleficent-poster

Click on image to view trailer


“X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014) – Review

xmen-final

Director:  Bryan Singer

Writer:  Simon Kinberg

Stars:  Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James MacAvoy, Evan Peters, Peter Dinklage,  Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Jackman

IMDb Logline:  The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Pros:

  1. Truly ensemble film
  2. Stand-out performances from Michael Fassbender (Erik/Magneto) and Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique)
  3. Glorious over-the-top 70s costume and set design
  4. Wolverine used as a MacGuffin
  5. Evan Peters scene stealing turn as Peter Maximoff (Quicksilver)
  6. Just the right number of Easter Eggs for both film and comics fans
  7. More than expected use of my favorite X-Man, Iceman (thank you “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends”), in the future scenes, as well as him being the last line of defence against the Sentinels

Cons:

  1. All the characters aged amazingly well in the future
  2. Magneto’s character motivation in Paris
  3. Magneto’s apparent never before heard of powers to see behind his head and immediately clot arterial bleeding
  4. 1973 Cerebro and underground X-Mansion set looked incredibly advanced and exactly the same as the 2000 set
  5. More a collection of set pieces than a complete and cohesive story

Review:  Though you know where the film is heading, you never know how you are going to get there and exactly what is going to happen.  Also, there were some surprisingly emotional deaths in the third act.  Overall a big surprise in terms of execution and how much I loved the film.

Grade = A-

Bonus material and comments after the poster/trailer link below.

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

Bonus Commentary 1: X-Men Cinematic Universe Continuity Issues (It really doesn’t matter) – Did you realize that both Professor X and Magneto are in their 90s in 2023–the year the future scenes in X-Men:  Days of Future Past occurs?  Both are pretty spry for older guys.  To be honest, the X-Men cinematic universe is closer in spirit to the comic universe–where continuity issues are the norm–than Marvel’s own Avengers Universe.  In comics the technology is always slightly more advanced than today, but time moves slower.  In a monthly series only a few days pass between issues, but in our time one month has passed.  Inevitably the comic writers revamp their series to catch the it up to current events, politicians, and introduced technologies.  This is why we all know Peter Parker got his powers in high school, accept him as currently being in his late 20s early 30s, and forget that he was created in the 60s.  Comic writers only run into serious  issues with characters whose origins are fixed by a historic event–Magneto being a Holocaust Survivor and Nick Fury leading the Howling Commandos in WWII.  To keep the characters fresh and relatable you have to play with history a little.  So long as the writer don’t take it too far, we happily go along for the ride.

By chosing the alternate reality route, Bryan Singer and company have broadened the choices of stories they can tell significantly while at the same time using the younger cast.  We can buy that Prof. X is alive in the future and Magneto has his power because we heard the Professor’s voice and maybe saw Magneto move a chess piece at the end of Last Stand.  We can accept that Jean Grey and Cyclops are alive at the end of Days because the past was changed so much that the events of the first X-Films probably did not happen exactly as we have seen.  But most of all, we accept all this because we want to keep seeing new stories with these same characters.

Bonus Commentary 2:  After Credit Scene – Worse one ever. First, based in the size of  material being moved around like tetris pieces, the pyramids took too long to build.  Second, that’s not even the power Apocalypse has.  And third, the character doe not even look remotely similar to the ancient Egypt depiction of Apocalypse.

Bonus Commentary 3:  Evan Peters appearing at Tampa Bay Comic Con in August 2014 – Why?  I usually view actors appearing and signing autographs at smaller comic cons as older, or who have nothing going on with their careers at the present time.  Evan Peters is young and is on a career high.  The guy appears on a hit cable TV series where he is not type cast, and is getting near universal praise for his scene stealing performance in X-Men:  Days of Future Past.  So again I ask why is he at the Tampa Bay Comic Con?  I don’t get it.

x_men_the_days_of_future_past___erik_x_charles_by_maxkennedy-d6t1l7e