Rotten Tomatoes

Mildly Enthusiastic Review: Guardians, Vol. 2

As promised, after the first Guardians review comes the current one. I know this movies has been received with a mild lack of enthusiasm by many critics but, conclusions spoiler, I mostly disagree with the negative opinions. In fact, I had a great time with this colorful, sentimental, unapologetic spectacle.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Category: Movies

What it is:
A continuation of the Marvel space opera Guardians of the Galaxy, this time focusing mostly on Peter Quill and his daddy issues and repeating over and over again until the dumbest audience members got it, how the Guardians are each others’ family.

How I found it:
How could I not, with the marketing and the trailers all over the internet and my friends waiting for the sequel of the movie they loved.

Summary judgment:
I was surprised by how much I liked it. I left the theater quite happy and my positive impression only grew over the day.
I was the more surprised because I had zero expectations of this movie. Or no positive expectations anyway because I was steeling myself for all the shooting and explosions and sensory overload with no real storytelling and no real character moments and wondering how boring it would be. Well, it wasn’t boring.

Best things about it:
I loved Yondu and his story and I loved the actor’s portrayal.

Worst things about it:
Eh, read my lips: the fight with the planet wasn’t great, even if it was much less obnoxious than I’d expected.

Other pluses:
There are actually so many! The casting worked again and even though I didn’t expect anything good to come from expanding the core cast, it actually didn’t hurt: Mantis was an alright one-note character and some who didn’t work last time, worked a bit better now. Looking at you, Nebula.
The visual side was delightful again, with the animators letting their imagination loose. Especially Ego’s planet looked impressive.

Other minuses:
Some humor wasn’t top notch but I guess you have to cater to all kinds of audiences, not just those with refined tastes like mine. I’ll let it slide because a lot of the jokes were actually funny. I could have lived with a few less “we are your family” speeches but again, all the sentimentality worked at times. At least it was very much not a cynical movie and nobody needs more cynicism in this world. I didn’t love the space pirates, whatever they were called, and did there really have to be so many of them? (Okay, I know they’re called Ravagers.) And speaking of too much: Baby Groot. We get it, it’s great merchandise, I’m sure it would sell just as well with half the screentime. And the music wasn’t exactly my cup of tea: it worked and I like that they made it important but it’s a bit grating to listen to.

How it enriched my life:
It made me quite happy. I also liked the Jay and the Americans song, much as the rest of the music wasn’t my type.

Fun fact:
Fun is probably not the exact right word but the movie totally made me cry! I’m always embarrassed to cry in the theater and try to keep it to minimum (which is usually not that hard). And I almost did during the emotional ending but then that SPOILER Stallone I completely forgot about had to come with his fleet and salute Yondu and suddenly there I was desperately looking for tissues and feeling quite awkward.

Follow-up:
I still have very low expectations of the third movie. In fact, this would make a good franchise finale except it’s barely franchise with two titles. But I will gladly see this one again.

Recommended for:
People who like Disney movies and space operas but are not too serious about the quality of their enertainment (Bergman this movie ain’t). People who are not allergic to Hollywood psychoanalytic-friendship moments. People whose expectations were not overly high to begin with.

Enjoyment:
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Next time: Mockingbird

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Rotten Tomatoes

Mildly Enthusiastic Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

This comes about 3 years too late but we rewatched the first Guardians before watching Vol. 2 so I decided to share my opinion about both movies in two entries.

er-guardiansofthegalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy (the first movie from 2014)

Category: Movie

What it is:
Marvel’s introduction of space heroes into their cinematic universe. A band of misfits and outlaws comes together for less than respectable reasons and becomes a group of friends whose friendship is the strongest power in the universe. More or less, you probably all know that story anyway.

How I found it:
The trailer won me over even though I hadn’t known anything about those particular superheroes and it really felt like Marvel scraping the bottom of the barrel. However, the tone of the trailer suggested that they might still have something good down there.

Summary judgment:
The people I went to the theater with were really excited when we were leaving, convinced that it was the best movie in ages. Me… not so much though I mostly liked it, too. In fact, I liked everything up to the big fight in the decadent, messy planet (sorry, I really don’t know those names) and only bits and pieces afterwards.

Best things about it:
The fresh breath of air in the superhero genre, with the lighthearted tone, the colors and the new, relatively unknown characters. Also, the banter.

Worst things about it:
You know I’m going to say it and I’m not going to pretend otherwise: the big fights. Look, these reviews are personal and the big fights are always going to be the worst part for me because they are soooo boring. Particularly the grand finale exhausted me. And Ronan is another repeatable, unexciting, plot-device kind of villain.

Other pluses:
I liked most of the jokes, the relationships within the group and casting. Various places we got to see in space had their unique visual flavor, with the utopian Xandar (see, I remember something) and the prison being most memorable (to me anyway). I liked Chris Pratt, aka Andy Dwyer In Space, and some secondary characters, particularly Yondu (I’m glad the second part proved the creators also liked him).

Other minuses:
Some of the characters didn’t get enough time and attention, to the point of being (unlikable) caricatures – looking at you, Nebula.

How it enriched my life:
Actually, it convinced me that the space part of the Marvel universe is not as bad as the old X-Men animated series made me believe.

Fun fact:
That mix tape that Star-Lord listens to? In high school for a too-long time I used to listen to a German “Grössten Oldies” radio when studying, until I knew all those songs by their first chords. So I guess the soundtrack wasn’t such a discovery for me as it was for some people.

Follow-up:
Obviously, I was willing to watch Vol. 2 but without any great expectations. I mostly prepared myself for even more explosions and “epic” battles. Oh, also when Guardians appeared in All New X-Men‘s Battle of the Atom I knew who they were.

Recommended for:
Fans of MCU, space opera, bands-of-misfits movies and people who like their movies loud, colorful and explosive.

Enjoyment:
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Next time: Vol. 2

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Personalness

The Best of 2014

So, the uneven 2014 is coming to an end, which is as good an occasion as any (or, actually, better) to talk about the things that impressed me in the last twelve months.

Book of the year: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. Somehow I managed to never have read Campbell before and I can’t say I expected overmuch from this transcript of a TV program that this book is but it really blew my mind, dude. Part philosophical and religious treatise, part loose ramblings about life, it has a strange, strange power to make you question things and maybe see them a little more optimistically (or, at least, bravely), even though it doesn’t seem to try to do that.

TV show of the year: The Americans have returned with another impressive, impressive season and Orphan Black was so much fun again but they will have to share the spot with a baby show Mozart in the Jungle. Now that everyone and your aunt is making scripted TV, Amazon has joined the race and it produces a couple of pilots that it later kills or develops, depending on unclear criteria. Ever since I saw Mozart‘s pilot I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed (and that’s a long time to do that) so they would pick it up and they did, and made a whole season – so yay.

Musician of the year: I discovered Langhorne Slim and Zaz and they both climbed fast up through my listening charts, dominating them completely, but the title – both for statistical and honorary reasons – has to go to Bob Dylan (as it could almost every year, I guess?). This year I’ve (re)listened to all his albums in reverse chronological order, even the 80s, which I had always skipped almost entirely before, and I discovered some gems I didn’t even know (I also discovered some things which prove 80s might not have been music’s best decade, Dylan’s music included).

Board game of the year: This would be Legendary, a cooperative game (always my favorite kind of game) in which you fight as Marvel superheroes (my favorite kind of superheroes, no question) against one threat or another. It’s dynamic, fun and so, so geeky!

Comic of the year: If we’re talking geeky, I guess of all this year’s offerings I enjoyed most All New X-men, continuing the great tradition of Morrison and Whedon and probably some other X-men writers I don’t know. (I might know too much about X-men for the comfort of an average person but I’m far from an expert, you see.) It has young Jean Grey and this is surely a fun idea.

Video game of the year: Marvel Puzzle Quest (this ends Marvel’s domination in this list, I swear). It’s basically a match-three puzzle game, which is a pretty boring kind of game to be honest, but it’s combined with gaining and leveling superheroes (of course) and it’s so unnaturally addictive that I think it might be a part of Marvel’s plan to dominate the world. Hmph.

I’m sure there are a few exciting categories missing (food of the year? pastime of the year? eh, maybe not that exciting) but I actually have plans for the night so have a great 2015 everyone, myself included!

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Rotten Tomatoes

Of Space Cowboys and Agents

It’s Friday procrastination time! I’m working on an illustration and intending to work on other exciting things (like a list of files! the thrill!) so I took a short break to post about something that could take a longer post some day, or a couple of those. Today it’s just a glimpse though. So. Let’s talk about Joss Whedon.

I’m a Joss Whedon fan with reservations. To give you a better idea about these reservations, here’s a hierarchy of his work that I’ve seen, from what I find great to the not-so-great.

  1. Firefly (and Serenity) is pretty much a perfect gem: maybe because it was cut too short with no time to ruin it with puppet shows (I’m speaking of you, Angel). I will for sure write more about it once we re-watch it again.
  2. Angel was actually my first insight into the Whedonverse (yes, I just used this word). Of course, I knew Buffy existed but I thought it kind of stupid. I glimpsed an episode of Angel by accident and got sucked into obsequious fandom for years: it was only the fifth season that freed me (puppet shows…). I’m not sure I could actually re-watch all of Angel now but I used to list it as my favorite show for so long and I simply loved the writing.
  3. The Amazing X-men (the comic), one of better things in the X-men franchise, of which I’m disturbingly well-aware. Unlike many other writers, Whedon actually played with the personalities of the characters. I didn’t even mind the aliens.
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, good show once you accept its style but ran too long getting into all sorts of hurdles (worst of all: Riley). (I also saw the movie but refrain from grading it. It did have Luke Perry though and back then I still thought it a good thing.)
  5. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a potential gem – what with combining Marvel universe with Whedon – but only started realizing a fraction of that potential towards the end of the first season. It could have better banter and more interesting characters but it’s slowly getting there, I hope.
  6. The Avengers disappointed me. Unlike most other fans, I guess, I felt there was too much action and too little character build-up. It was passable entertainment but I’d expected it to be so much more.
  7. Dollhouse, also known as Whedonloo (okay, I did not just do that). I waited and waited for that show because it couldn’t possibly be bad after Buffy and Firefly but guess what, it was. I gave up after the second episode of the second season so I don’t know if it got any better but I’m guessing not much. A disappointment unless you’re a stalker-level fan of Dushku.

So there goes my surely-divisive list of Whedon creations. I know there are a few other things, including a Shakespeare movie (they will let Whedon do anything these days, won’t they?) but I’ve yet to watch those.

Aaaand back to work.

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Everydailiness

Swamped, Swamped, Swamped

I’m still so so swamped but it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the more work you have, the more distractions you will find (blogging being one of them, I guess). So here’s a list of my recent distractions (delivered in a blatant effort not to get down to drawing graphs).

Music: Zaz. It’s rare that I find French music that I enjoy and the more I treasure those finds. I listen to her and imagine myself in Paris. Miss you, Paris.

Film: Comte d’été by Rohmer. Back in my pretentious high school phase when I watched movies without a plot I really liked Rohmer. Now I’m watching him for French practice (because every now and then I catch a snippet like “How was the water?” and “Would you like the check” and it makes me feel so accomplished; seriously, my French still sucks) but I like how, well, French he is and his realistic portrayal of people when they speak undecipherable nonsense. It looks very realistic. But I’m only watching 10 minutes at a time.

Book: The Diamond Age by Stephenson. I read it once already but in a rushed way and now I’m savoring it more. I took a short break from Shakespeare.

Universe: Marvel Universe. We’re going through a new Marvel phase these days, because we have bought not one but two Marvel board games and additionally I’ve developed an addiction to Marvel Puzzle Quest: Stealing Your Time Three Minutes at a Time (TM).

Ugh, back to graphs.

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