Saturday night we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy again (my 5th time) then came home to watch one Mr. Chris Pratt on Saturday Night Live. Generally speaking, I don’t care much for SNL; I care even less for Ariana Grande, so Pratt was my only reason to tune in.
Naturally, I was bored and tired by the second or third skit and missed out on a thing of beauty…Marvel’s Star Wars. I’m sharing it here since you, too, may have missed it.
A lot of things can happen in 17 minutes. Satiating a desire to see an anticipated film is not one of those things.
I was tickled pink over nabbing passes for the advanced screening of Guardians of the Galaxy. As per usual pre-screening procedure, I arrived at the theater 90 minutes early. There were about a dozen people already in line, so I took my place and set about reading my library book. More people filed in behind me, an excited bunch eager to see Marvel’s next big thing.
After about 45 minutes, a theater employee came by to ensure we all knew the screening was only 17 minutes long. Admittedly, this came as a surprise to me. A glimpse at the GotG facebook page tells me that I’m not the only person who was misinformed. “Featuring 17 minutes of exclusive footage” apparently does not mean the same thing to me that it does to the fine folks at Disney; I thought it meant 17 minutes in addition to the feature film.
Alas, I was already invested—sore backside from sitting on concrete floor, 41 miles away from home, Severus on his way over after having left work early—there was no point in leaving without seeing something. So we stayed to watch a 17-minute piece of IMAX-y brilliance.
Okay, maybe ‘brilliance’ is a bit strong but it’s an absolute blast!
The majority of our viewing was a scene where our scoundrels bust out of prison; I’m under the assumption that this scene is early in the film, though probably not the first. We were given only the tiniest bit of background before things kicked up a notch to full-on action. And you know what? It really works. By sheer virtue of the characters’ interactions with one another, you fall in love with them. Minimal groundwork on how they each found themselves in said situation could be beneficial, I guess, but I’d be perfectly content if it all just started there.
My early assessment is that Guardians manages the fine line of being funny without straying into silly territory. Or at least not detrimentally so. I mean, yeah, a CG raccoon and his sidekick (who happens to be a tree) steal the show. But the fact that they’re CG doesn’t seem to hinder things. In addition to being adorable, Rocket is clearly the brains of the operation; Groot is both brawn and heart. Like Gamora, Drax and Star-Lord, they’re all just there being quippy, likable scalawags.
If the rest of the movie is as good as what I saw last night, this one is golden. Absolutely can’t wait for to see the rest!!!
I’m a little brainsquashed, having trouble finishing some drafts. Instead of continuing to mull over them, I thought I’d take a prompt from the fabulous evelynfilmfan (visit her blog—good reads!).
Now it’s time for a little Q&A…
- Which film do you think is the best book adaptation?
Very few projects measure up to their namesake books, to the surprise of no one. Three, however, stand out to me (though one isn’t technically a film): Catching Fire, Game of Thrones & Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Your eyes don’t deceive you, I really did just include a Twilight film in a ‘best’ category. Since it’s the most controversial, I’ll touch on it first.
• BD 2 fixes
everythinga lot of what’s wrong with the book; maybe that’s simply because there’s sooooo much disappointment with the book. There’s still the weird Jacob/Renesmee love but we see flash-forwards of Renesmee as a teen/young adult, which takes away much of the skeeve factor. And the battle sequence is impossibly better than the text, even if it is only a hypothetical Alice vision. The anti-climax of the novel left me feeling cheated after having invested so much time and anticipation; film version more than made up for it.
• You already know I’m a big fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. What you may not know is that Catching Fire was easily my favorite book. Given that, I had prepared myself for at least a little bit of a letdown with the film—said letdown never came. Casting is spot-on, pacing is considerably improved from the source material and the shift to an omniscient point-of-view makes this adaptation dang near perfect.
• And Game of Thrones. Oh, Game of Thrones, you make me so happy with your general adhesion to Martin’s books. I’ve read through book 3 now and only rarely do the departures disappoint in the slightest; more often than not, the alterations do a great favor to pacing. The benefit of this series, of course, is its episodic nature which lends itself to really bringing the pages to life. I prefer the book’s relative lack of R-rated elements (call me a prude if you like) but the storytelling definitely earns a place in my top 3 adaptations.
- Who is your favorite superhero? And which superhero powers would you like to have?
pass—the answer to this will be its own post one of these days
- Disney or Pixar?
Disney. Pixar has its share of stirring tales and breathtaking animation to be sure, but my favor falls to Disney. From classics to contemporary films, animated or live-action, I’m astounded that one company can play such a role in lives young and old. Vivid imagery, riveting narrative, well-rounded humor and heartwarming heroism are benchmarks for Disney. Oh, and there’s that little bit about Disney owning Marvel and Star Wars now…I’m definitely team Disney.
- Marvel or DC Comics?
Historically, DC…I have always loved Superman, and I always will. But my loyalties are largely shifting to Marvel now if I’m being really honest with myself. Like the rest of the world, Marvel movies make me really happy. Though some of the characters can be a little bland at times (I’m looking at you, Hawkeye), they do a ridiculously good job of casting. Everybody is just so gosh darn lovable! Okay, except for Spider-Man; don’t like his character or the comics or the cartoons or the movies.
- For which tv show/series do you really have to stay home? And what makes this tv show/series so special?
The Walking Dead, hands down. Catching new episodes is literally an event for me; I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I have a number of fellow fans at work who are always ready to discuss on Mondays. I’m loving how the main characters have evolved over the last season or so, the growth is (in my opinion) exceptionally compelling. There are no other current programs that I will try to schedule around.
That’s all for this edition of Ask Amethystos. Tune in next time, when I’ll answer more questions and dodge others. Comment below if there’s something you’d like to ask; I’ll endeavor to satisfy your query.
It should come as no surprise that I’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since its pilot episode aired. In fact, I’ve been diligent in keeping my Tuesday nights clear to watch the initial broadcast; I then watch again online so Severus can catch up. Having seen every episode twice now, I feel justified in asserting the program is, overall, mediocre. There are flashes of brilliance (or at least definite coolness) but it repeatedly fails to fully satisfy.
The most recent episode, FZZT, is largely hailed as the best yet, and I don’t disagree. Rather than another humdrum reiteration of The Skye & Ward Show, we were treated to a storyline that almost…almost…glossed over them altogether. And that shifted focus is exactly what this show needs.
FZZT was compelling because it served up ample doses of the Coulson mystery. I like that we don’t know exactly what happened to Coulson after The Battle of New York; even more, I like that he doesn’t know either! In tinkering with that overarching plot, we were treated to a teeny little glimpse at Melinda May’s backstory—something that needs to be further explored sooner rather than later.
More importantly, FZZT relied almost exclusively on Fitz-Simmons. Did you know Simmons has a first name? Because I sure didn’t. (It’s Gemma, by the way.)
Unfortunately, neither Fitz nor Simmons is a strong enough character yet to carry more than the occasional episode. I’m hoping the showrunners will give them the chance they deserve and allow them to step away from the science nerd tropes more frequently. Otherwise, the focus will inevitably shift back to SkyeWard.
After the first 20 minutes or so of ho-hum setup scenes, we hit on serious drama for the first time. Not for the first time in this episode but for the first time in this series. Not only was Simmons in legitimate danger with the infection, but so was everyone else because her demise would take down “the bus.” Instead of watching the team fret over their perilous situation, though, focus remained on Simmons.
Previous attempts at turmoil were fraught with one-off characters and plots that were neatly wrapped up in the hour (save for the Graviton tease). Even the Skye saga built up to a big reveal a couple of weeks ago that fell absolutely flat—her entire motivation for becoming a “hacktivist” and infiltrating SHIELD was to learn about her parents? Purely saccharine. And P.S., if we hear her say “hacktivist” one more time, I’ll probably puke a little; you have my solemn vow that I’ll never utter it again on this site.
I digress. My delight with the episode was tempered by a pretty big complaint: nobody died. Did I want
Gemma Simmons to die? No, she’s easily my favorite character behind Coulson. Let us not forget, though, that this is ultimately a Whedon endeavor. I was fully prepared to yell at my TV and sniff a little over killing her off so soon.
Nevertheless, an untimely death needed to happen for three reasons.
1) The way Ward saved Simmons was altogether trite and ridiculously unrealistic—because so much of the rest of this is totally realistic 😉 Heroic though it might have been, our attention was forced back to Ward. Perhaps the intent was to demonstrate that Ward’s more of a team player now. I just went away from it with a heavy-handed feeling that we’re not really supposed to care what happens unless SkyeWard is somehow involved.
2) Writing off Simmons—or anyone other than Coulson, because they can’t do that to me!—would have created a serious story arc that could have played into every single episode going forward. I hate when writers kill off characters as an excuse to examine the residual reactions (Downton Abbey, anybody?), but it could have been really effective with this show.
3) Ward/Simmons’ safe return set the stage for what has fast become one of the most annoying elements of SHIELD, the cheesy ending. The first or second time we saw it happen, as the gang sat on the tailgate and watched the rocket liftoff, it was a stirring indication that our rag-tag group of misfits had bonded. After just a few episodes, though, it’s become a formulaic cringe-fest. This time we even had to watch Skye give hugs while Ward performed a ridiculously bad impression of himself. If we must have this type of ending, could somebody at least start dubbing over them with He-Man morality tales?!
I intend to keep watching SHIELD, as I think it has potential. I do have a slightly different definition for the acronym, though… Should Have Immediately Eliminated Latest Draftee
After a second screening for Man of Steel last night, I wanted to supplement my original review.
This time around, I got to see the film in 3D. While there aren’t any eye-popping effects (it was post-converted, not filmed in 3D), the overall quality did seem significantly better. I’m not sure if I should attribute this more to the format or the venue, as our second viewing was at Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City. In spite of the dine-in theater distractions, Alamo provided a much more immersive experience than AMC’s 2D presentation. If you value a movie with booming sound that is effective rather than just loud—and you’re near one of the few locations—I highly suggest you make Alamo Drafthouse Cinema your theater of choice. Bonus: the modified 3D format also alleviated much of the dreaded lens flare.
The combined presentation and my somewhat dulled expectations made the second viewing an absolute joy!
I stand by my original criticisms but feel this flick deserves a more positive spin than what I offered. It leaves a better aftertaste than the bitterness that I first implied.
I remain disappointed by the opening Krypton scenes, though I wasn’t nearly as perturbed this time around. My biggest complaint is that it just reminds me too much of a Star Wars prequel. And I’m a Star Wars girl, so you’d think that would be a good thing but it really isn’t so much.
I also maintain that the flashbacks are somewhat disjointed, though they aren’t terribly detrimental to the overall pace or storyline. This is due in large part to the strong performances by Costner, Lane and Cavill (and the brilliant young actors who represented his early years). For a film about a man who can fly, this is solidly grounded with a big, big heart. And again, our midwest audience was giddy over the Royals and KU references—that in itself is pretty darn cool and worth the price of admission in these parts. And in case I didn’t mention it before, Henry Cavill is absolutely 100% without-a-doubt perfectly cast.
A second chance for Amy Adams yields no more likability than my first impression, though I found Michael Shannon’s General Zod and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El more compelling. I can also report that after a few days mulling over the Zimmer score, I don’t hate it. Still feels an awful lot like that of Inception, and I would have loved even the slightest nod to the original theme, but it grows on you.
I may have been too quick to pit Man of Steel against the cinema-giants of Marvel. They’re very different animals, really. Though DC and Warner Brothers lost ground over the last twenty or so years with their failed recasting and attempted reboots of both Superman and Batman franchises (and we won’t even discuss Catwoman), they’re fighting their way back into the game. These are particularly timeless characters that need the right stories and the right actors—in many respects, Man of Steel answers the call almost as well as did the Dark Knight saga. Almost.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy the film, but I certainly did. Even more so the second time around, in fact, so I’m already planning to see it at least once more!