Monday, April 28, 2014

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE EIGHT 'Ahoy, Mateys!' (2005)

Yep...sometimes Kristen Bell is dressed like this in
my dreams, too.
" Did Duncan go to bed?”
“Yes. And he wanted me to tell you to give me your undivided attention. Pretend for a moment that your dog's life is at stake.."

1) And here is where Alona Tal’s Meg officially becomes this season’s Lily Kane thanks to a pair of dreams experienced by Teddy Dunn’s Duncan.  While it’s always refreshing to have Tal back (not to mention seeing Kristen Bell tarted up as a bad girl in the first dream sequence), she doesn’t have the...enthusiasm for this role that Amanda Seyfried did.

2) During the round of interviews I did in support of Veronica Mars (One does not get the reputation as the biggest Veronica Mars fan on the block and expect not to have a slew of podcasts asking you about that movie) I referred to Francis Capra’s Weevil as Hawk to Veronica’s Parker, and here is where that transformation begins.  Spurred on by indications that the PCH’ers are doing things that are against his own code, Weevil starts his own matter how that investigation is infused by his own outlaw instincts.

3) We’re in week three of the Wallace thank God Tina Majorino’s Mac finally steps into the Watson role.  Mac’s high-tech, slightly mercenary attitude provides a wonderful contrast to Wallace--and given the nature of the done-in-one plot, her techy background makes her fit more than Wallace.  That being said....
Ahhh, Ms. were sorely missed....

4) You’ll notice that the done-in-ones become much more sketchy much earlier in the season.  Unlike the first season, where the overarc was allowed to develop in its own sweet time, there are so many plot threads that need developing that each episode has a diluted feel.  This season is one that has a desperate need of a focus.

5) Of course, one of the other problems with this episode is how the script by John Enbom and Cathy Belben can’t decide what the main angle of the mystery is.  Both Keith and Veronica have paths into this mystery, but they end up with different conclusion.  It’s almost as if there are two mysteries independent of each other.

6) One of the things that I think makes Kristen Bell the perfect actress to play Veronica is how she is convincing both as a bad ass and as a scared little girl....and if you don’t believe me, check out how Bell turns on a dime when she realizes she is face to face with Rod Rowland’s Liam Fitzpatrick.  Her breakdown feels so legitimate, it emphasized how scary the Fitzpatricks are...

7) Once again, we have a very, very subtle foreshadowing reference to the overarc--one that literally passes you by until we get to the last episode.  As much as this episode is lukewarm...bravo, writers.  Bravo.
When Plastic Surgeons Attack...Next Time On Jerry!

8) It nice that, just as with Season One, there are efforts to create a viable universe where characters drift in and out of the story.  In this one, Duane Daniel’s Van Clemmons’ son shows up in a slightly less minor role that dovetails into the main mystery.

9) One of the things that I always appreciated is how the series never forgets its noir roots...and it does in this episode when our bad guy is glad that he hurt the Oliveras family.  That sort of viciousness is so at odds with the usual teen drama structure.

10) Conversely, I appreciate how Keith handles what he learns about the lengths David Barrera’s Carlos will go to in regards to his court case.  This moment is also very indicative of how Rob Thomas is insistent on keeping the series anchored in a hardboiled tradition, where everything is shade of grey and not black and white.

Overall...unlike the previous episode, where the final act serves to conceal the cluttered nature of the plot, this one is all over the place and remains all over the place, tripping over all its subplots as it feels around in the dark for a direction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ten Statements About....HANNA (2011)

Much like The Doctor, the last thing you want to put
in a trap is Hanna
“Hannah, what did your mother die of?”
“Three bullets."

1) I think we have to accept that right now Europe has overtaken America in the way they make action movies.  This film, just like so many co-productions with German and French studios, has a kineticism and momentum American action movies seem to have lost in all the shakey-cam and ‘just go with it’ sensibilities.  That being said...

2) I find the science fiction/super hero element that’s introduced fairly late into the film a little discordant.  Truth be told, I don’t think the whole ‘origin’ aspect had to be there.  There’s nothing Saorise Ronan’s (Is there nothing more perfect than an action star whose last name sounds like ‘ronin’?) Hanna does can’t be done by an extremely talented and competent athlete.  Dragging in genetic manipulation and talk of super soldiers doesn’t add anything to the movie’s tapestry.

3) One of the best aspects of the film is how Ronan never lets us forget that this is still a teenage girl, albeit one who spent all her life in the middle of nowhere training with her father.  Ronan easily conveys how Hanna, at her core, yearns for the same thing any teenage girl needs--friendship, romance, family--but just doesn’t have the social skills.  It’s those moments where she struggles with her needs that the movie is at its best.
"No, really...I do have a southern accent.  I do!"

4) On the other side of the coin, we have Cate Blanchett’s Marissa, who is a cardboard villain at best.  I’ve become convinced that these days Blanchett looks for characters solely based on whether she gets to do a new accent or not.  This time she’s doing a southern belle sorta patois that appears and disappears randomly, and that’s all we can say about Marissa, who just dresses nice and stomps around like Godzilla on a daytrip to Tokyo.

5) Much more interesting a villain in his short time in the film is Tom Hollander’s Isaac.  With the sort of distinct appearance and mannerisms of a Bond henchman, Isaacs actually brightens up scenes he’s in.  And while he’s dispatched by the person I expected him to be dispatched by, I still wish he lived on to the final climax.

6) There’s a real strong fairy tale motif throughout this film, beginning with Hanna and her father living in a house in the woods to the references to Marissa as ‘the witch’ right on to the film’s ending, which among other things has Marrisa appear from the mouth of The Big Bad Wolf.  Sometimes the imagery gets heavy handed, but sometimes it’s extremely subtle and poetic.
"If you're good, I'll show you my
'O' Face...Oooh,  Oooh, Oooh...'

7) I really wish there was more done with the Australian family headed by Olivia Williams’ Rachel and Jason Flemyng’s Sebastian.  Not only do these two provide a respite from Blanchett’s scenery chewing, the family serves as a touchstone to normalcy in a film which has been all punchy-punchy run-run and spy stuff isolated from the real world up to that point.

8) It’s to Eric Bana’s credit that I didn’t recognize him as Eric, Hanna’s ‘father.’  He effectively disappears inside the character to the point where I couldn’t identify him until the credits.

9) Of the action sequences, my favorite was not the escape from the facility--obvious made to be the main set piece of the film--but the chase through the shipping facility, with Hanna going all pakour-y on the top of containers.  It’s not only that it’s shot moodily at night with spots providing dimension and contrast, but the way the sequence happens on two levels and keeps switching planes and orientation.

10) I loved the scene with Martin Wuttke’s Knepfler....but man, the guy simply did not deserve that gruesome of a fate.  Considering that other characters who provide grace notes of joy, like the family, aren’t slaughtered, seeing him getting the Saint Sebastian treatment is a bit of a comedown.

Overall...a very compelling, very quirky action flick carried by an excellent central performance by Ronan and strong supporting performances.  If you can overlook Blachette’s terrible turn, you will find it enjoyable.

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE SEVEN 'Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner' (2005)

"Duncan, I know Wallace Fennel...and you are no Wallace
" A ten year-old boy who voluntarily washes his hands, who enjoys quiet time, and does what he's told with a smile. If he doesn't pick his nose soon, I'm looking for wires."

1) While there is some lip service given to there being a done-in-one plot, this is really Diane Ruggiero setting up a whole slew of threads for the second act of this season’s mystery.  And it’s to her credit that some of these thread set ups are very, very subtle.

2) And that done-in-one is a Trojan Horse that advances Duncan’s subplot while foreshadowing the reintroduction of Alona Tal’s Meg, and her ultimate role as this season’s Lilly Kane stand-in.  And, quite frankly, the final reveal is truly shocking.

3) This may be the only time that Michael Muhney’s Sheriff Lamb acts like a human being.  After a healthy dollop of comic relief, Lamb actually acts like a sheriff when confronted with what Veronica and Duncan discover.  It’s a rare moment that gives this otherwise one dimensional character a little nuance.

4) While I understand that at this phase of the Kendall Casablancas’ character arc, she’s serving as the lead up to the Fitzpatrick subplot (more on this in later episodes), but too much is spent on her striving to stay a woman of leisure in light of her husband’s disappearance.  Now maybe some of this is my feeling that a little Charisma Carpenter goes a long way, but I could really do without her taking up so much running time.  On top of that, there’s that weird little grace note that seems designed to throw doubt into the Veronica/Duncan storyline that I don’t recall going anywhere.
This scene is the one that almost makes
it worthwhile.

5) Boy, Krysten Ritter is a touch broad at this phase in her career.  I gather that Gia is supposed to be a spoiled rich girl trying to hard to fit in and become part of the Cool Clique, but her forced cherriness and cluelessness seems too forced.  Even though she gets much, much better in the years following her one year tenure here but at this moment...Yikes!

6) I am still amazed at how subtle some of the clues as to the solution of the season mystery is.  There’s a single line of dialogue from the person who turns out to be the villain, and its not until you’ve seen the mystery play out that you realize he’s trying to escape the scene of the crime.

7) It strikes me that there’s what I assume to be a conscious parallel between a scene with Steve Guttenberg’s Wally Goodman an his son and the scene in season one where Logan enters The Belt Room.  What it says about Goodman speaks volumes once we realize the skeleton in his closet.

8) This is the beginning of the Dr. Thomas Griffith subplot.  Maybe it’s because Rick Peters isn’t that great of an actor; maybe it’s because I know how this storyline goes nowhere...but it turns out to be really, really awful.
Not the picture I would draw of Kristen Bell, to be honest.

9) You know, I would not have known that was supposed to be Amanda Noret’s Madison Sinclair at Gia’s pajama party landing zings against Veronica if it wasn't for the closing credits.  Given how massive an influence Madison has in Veronica Mars mythology (so much so that the movie goes out of its way to give us a scene of Veronica slugging her), making her appearance in this episode so generic is puzzling.

10) In this episode, there is an attempt to make Duncan into a Wallace Manque....and Teddy Dunn thoroughly fails to live up to the task.  His lameness in Watsoning Veronica only makes one yearn for Percy Daggs all the more.

Overall...the final third almost makes up for the scattershot nature of the rest of the episode, as the episode tries too much to cover all its bases.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951)

"Pardon you have any sugar?"
“Well how can you talk of him as if he were a human being? How do we know what thought processes run through his head? How can we even assume that he thinks like we do? How can you anticipate what a fantastic organism like that might do or might no do?"

1) One thing you can always count on Edgar G. Ulmer to do is use black and white effectively.  There are scenes which could be very ordinary that Ulmer gives flavor and depth through the use of negative space and contrast.  This elevates what could be a really poor sci-fi B movie into something...well, much less poor.

2) Another thing that helps hide the film’s microbudget is the way the script takes place on a) a fog-encrusted moor and b) at night.  This conceals the cheapness of some of the matte painting--and trust me, when you see the matte painting in the few daylight scenes, you will cringe--and the fact that many of the outdoor shots are being taken in California.

3) I find it highly amusing that, for a movie taking place in what we’re supposed to take to be Scotland, we don’t actually see any Scottish people until the end of the second act--and even when we do see them, some have problems keeping their Scottish ‘accents’ consistent.

4) Ulmer’s excellent use of black and white does maximize the effectiveness of the titular Man From Planet X.  Frequently illuminated from below, the rather obvious mask is given a great deal more shape and contrast, transforming a silly special effect into something rather sinister that’s reminiscent of the classic Grey Alien appearance.  That being said....
"Oh, no...that doesn't look phallic at all."

5) It’s weird what The Man From Planet X’s ultimate intention is given how the film’s first two acts are set up as a classic ‘humanity screws it up for itself’ science fiction scenario.  Why would this alien behave the way he did, only for it to be revealed in literally the last five minutes what he really wants to do?

6) One thing I learned from this film?  Guys with beards are invariably jerks who will screw up everything if given the chance.

7) Okay, let me get this straight...the glass on this alien’s space ship can’t be cut by diamond, the hull is made out of a metal many times denser than steel...and yet a simple British soldier with a bazooka can blow this whole starship up?  I call da bull puck on ya.

8) What fascinates me about Robert Clarke’s John ‘Rockjaw’ Lawrence is how he has a connection with every.  single.  other member of the core cast even before he’s formally met them in the context of the story.
"Screw that bike is
so much cooler."

9)   I find it really odd how the second John ‘StoicMustache’ Lawrence sets eyes on William Schallert’s Dr. Mears, he makes all these allusions to What A Jerk he is...and yet there’s no reason why he’s a jerk.  The whole intimations of the awful things Mears has done is really unnecessary to the plot, as we see his Jerkitude through his actions toward The Man From Planet X.

10) I’m sorry, but as ecofriendly as John ‘MountainChin’ Lawrence is in using a bicycle, the sight of him being chased by two Scotsmen on the moors is unintentionally hilarious.

Overall...a very low budget film with a so-so script that still manages to have a little extra heft due to Ulmer’s excellent cinematorgraphy and some of his choices to disguise the limitations he had to work with.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE SIX 'Rat Saw God' (2005)

No one expected the return of Abel Koontz...but maybe
they expected how dark his story becomes.
"Wow. Where did you learn that interrogation technique?"
“"Harvard. Pretty convincing hysterical routine you got. Where'd you learn that?"
“Watching cheerleading tryouts results."

1) It seems like every season after the first, where everything was new and bright and Rob Thomas was setting up the ground rules for the VM Universe, there is always one or more episodes devoted to tying up loose ends from the previous season.  This is that episode from this season, as writer John Enbom and Phil Klemmer address the fate of Christian Clemenson’s Abel Koontz and his daughter.  As such, it’s a very, very dark episode.

2) You wanna know why I hated Clemenson’s recurring character in Boston Legal?  Just watch his performance here as the dying Koontz.  Clemenson only has two scenes, but those scenes run the gambit from compassion to despair to happiness as he is seeking out the fate of his daughter.

3) This is the first episode without Percy Daggs’ participation, as Wallace is off in Chicago following his own subplot.  And even beyond Veronica’s pointing it out, it’s very obvious that Daggs’ presence is missed.  Without Wallace (or for that matter, his mom) to provide a little light in the dark, dim world of Veronica, the world becomes oppresively noir.
Go away, BUFFY creator!  Stop stinking up my show!

4) This is, of course, the Joss Whedon cameo episode and, as much as the Kevin Smith cameo sucked ass, it paled to Whedon’s broad caricature of The Mean Boss to America’s Top Model’s Kim Stoltz.  The less said about him, the better.

5) Oddly enough, the most intriguing aspect of this episode is the presence of Christopher B. Duncan’s Clarence Weidman, and the strange respect that Thomas seems to be growing between him and Veronica.  Do they like each other?  No.  But as their respective investigations into Amelia Delongpre’s fate dovetail, they see something in each other that makes them reliable allies.

6) The surprising return of Harry Hamlin’s Aaron Echols results in two rather strong scenes.  What strikes me, and continues to strike me, about Hamlin’s performance is his absolute conviction that he is A Good Man Who Has Done Nothing Wrong.  Even as he tries to convince Logan that Duncan was the true killer, Hamlin doesn’t seem to understand how monstrous he’s become.  And speaking of those two scenes....
This is the last tender moment these two will have this episode.

7) Those of us, like me, who prefer our Enrico Colantoni hardcore will love his role in this episode.  Don’t be fooled by his more or less lighthearted moments at the top of the hour; once we get deep into the episode, Colantoni’s Keith Mars is all business, culminating in a downright bad ass scene where you expect Keith to be after one thing, only for us to realize what he’s really after and why Aaron should be very worried.  I’ve always said Colantoni is a major player in why I love this show, and this episode is further proof as to why.

8) I’ll call it--even for a show like this, the ending of this done-in-one, where we learn Amelia’s fate and how Veronica chooses to handle telling Abel as he’s literally dying is one of the grimmest ever.  It’s made especially grim by how, by the nature of the mystery, so much of the interaction happens off-screen.  Only when Veronica is face-to-hand with Amelia’s ultimate fate does anything happen immediately.

9) I never was quite comfortable with Ryan Hansen’s promotion to series regular, and this episode makes the argument for me.  The scenes of Dick Casablancas uilizing his father’s outlawdom to get into (a very green, acting-wise) Krysten Ritter’s Gia, or giving Logan the tacit approval to bang his stepmom just feels....weird.

(and if you think his behavior is strange now, wait until we get to next season....)

10) Look, I know that this single episode gets so dark that everyone felt that some serious comic relief was needed--but those scenes with Tracy Walter’s Motel Manager are not only unfunny but They.  Keep.  Coming.  Back.  To. Him.  I would accept an entire mystery built around Joss Whedon’s rent-a-car manager before I watch one more second of that toothless stereotype of a motel guy.

Overall...a truly grim little episode that actually gives some relief to the overarc by having the done-in-one story darker and nastier than it is.  Recommended, but be prepared; saying relief is sparse is being kind.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE GREAT SILENCE (1968)

Yes, that's a Mauser, and it will screw your crap up...
“Once, my husband told me of this man. He avenges our wrongs. And the bounty killers sure do tremble when he appears. They call him "Silence." Because wherever he goes, the silence of death follows."

1) This film has one of the single grimmest endings in the history of cinema, even by spaghetti western standards.  And that ending is simply not set up, resulting in one of those rare things--a genuinely shocking finale.

2) Even though director Sergio Cabucci had wanted his regular go-to hero Franco Nero to star in this film, I can’t imagine him doing a better job than Jean-Louis Trintignant.  Something about Trintignant’s eyes and his stone face that makes Silence into a real force of nature more than your standard run of the mill gunslinger.  And since Italian cinema routinely shot silent, the soundtrack added in post, Trintignant makes his non-verbal role an advantage.

3) One of the most intriguing elements of the cast is the use of Vonetta McGee as romantic lead Pauline.  Outside of a line of dialogue spoken by Klaus Kinski’s Loco, nothing is made of the fact that she is a black woman in an all-white town.  She’s simply accepted for who she is, and her romance with Silence is treated as just that--a romance between two people, without any mention of the interracial element.

4) One of the most striking elements of the film is it’s one of the few westerns that take place in the middle of a snowy area.  Carbucci takes full advantage of the great expanses of white to create compositions where characters are alone in the middle of what amounts to negative space, emphasizing the isolation of the film’s setting and the dangerous nature of being left alone in this bleak landscape.
"Wanted...the one person who doesn't think I'm a creepy

5) I know that Frank Wolff is supposed to be something of a comic relief character, but I rather like how he has an element of bad assedness to him that makes him a much more formidable character than otherwise intended.  And the way he seems to bond with Silence in a weird way rather than stand in his way (something that is exploited in the absolutely weird alternate ending Cabucci had to film for North Africa) gives him an extra dimension other than ‘crazy incompetent sheriff type.

6) I don’t know how many times I can say this....when Klaus Kinski is the head of anything--an insane asylum, a pack of bounty hunters, a restaurant, a dry cleaning franchise--nothing good will come of it.

7) One of the more interesting quirks of this quirky film is the fact that Silence not only carries a Mauser machine pistol (which, to my surprise, is historically accurate given that Carbucci places the story as taking place in 1898), but a stock for it that doubles as its holster.  The shot of Silence practicing his shooting with the stock stand out as almost steampunk in their anachronistic aesthetic.
The use of the film's snowy setting makes it unique
amongst sphaghetti westerns.

8) Given Carbucci’s love of smash cut, the one flashback is extremely jarring, especially given that it’s the only sequence that takes place in a sunny, grassy clime.

9)   I find it fascinating how there’s really little difference between Silence and Loco, even though it’s obvious that Loco is meant to be the bad guy.  They even accept the same price for killing their targets.

10) The fairness of Carbucci’s script (written in collaboration with three other writers) extends to the treatment of the Mormon 'outlaws’ and Marissa Merlini’s cathouse manager Regina.  These people are approached as just...people doing what they have to do to survive, which makes their ultimate fate all the more shocking.

Overall...some great acting, striking cinematography and a truly dark ending makes for one of the best spaghetti westerns ever.  And if you get the DVD release by Fantoma, be sure to check out the brief discussion of the film by director (and spaghetti western enthusiast) Alex Cox and that bizarre ‘happy’ ending.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ten Statements About....CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

"Yeah, I've been thinking...this is a crap costume, Nick."
“I won’t fight you.  I’m your friend.”
“You’re my mission."

1) As with all successful Marvel movies, this film strives to give us a different feel from its peer.  In this case, it’s a Tom Clancy-style political thriller complete with a fetishism of hardware and lots of double blinds and backstabbing.

2) I don’t care what Joe Quesada says; we need Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow to be featured in her own film.  Hell, we need Black Widow to show up in every Marvel movie from now on (yes, even Guardians of The Galaxy).  One has only to see Johansson in the first act, and her easy chemistry with Chris Evans, to know that This Is True.

3) I love how this film has a different feel from the first Cap film, yet it manages to tie into the first film very, very strongly.  Hell, the plot (beyond the obvious connection) is seeped in the plot of the first, actively evoking one of the villains of that original film in a version that made my comic reader heart beat a little faster.
Yep...I'd let her shoot me....

4) BATROC!  BATROC THE M’FIN’ LEAPER!  And not only does he give Cap a tough, exciting fight at the top of the first act, not only does he make it clear that savate is a martial art Not To Be Fucked With, he is wearing a version of the purple and orange outfit he wears in the comic.  As someone who isn’t ashamed to admit that Batroc is my favorite Cap baddie bar none, this made me geek out.

5) Boy, does Anthony Mackie make The Falcon come off as a bad ass.  In keeping with the Tom Clancy feel of this film, Mackie’s Sam Wilson has a much more militaristic origin and justification for his wings.  But Mackie breathes life into the character, selling the action and fighting sequence with gusto and energy.  And one of the best action sequences involves him and a slew of Helicarrier guns.

6) I find it clever that the film cast Robert Redford, who appeared in his share of political movies--Hell, he was the candidate in The Candidate--as Pierce.  This is an example of stunt casting that works, as the resonance of many of Redford’s previous roles gives more authority to him in this role.
Forget The Winter Soldier...Viva Batroc!

7) While I did like some of the incidental world building (the name drop of Dr. Strange was particularly surprising), I was somewhat disappointed by the use and ultimate fate of Maximiliano Hernandez’ Jasper Sitwell.  Part of that may be because I’ve always contended that Agent Coulson should have been Sitwell, but most of it is because of the character’s legacy in the comics and his build up throughout the movieverse makes his use here seem like a waste.  I wonder if it would have been better to establish another, original character over the course of a few movies or use someone like Victoria Hand, who at least has a rep for being a little more mutable in her alliances.

8) Even though she doesn’t look like Hayley Atwill (but then, maybe Marvel Studios wanted to distance themselves from the whole ‘dating your WWII girlfriend’s descendant thing that adds to the overall creepiness when it comes to Silver Age Marvel Relationship Politics), Emily Van Camp does make a decent Agent 13 on the surface...if they gave her more to do other than pretend to be a nurse and get all contrary with authority figures.  Van Camp gets so little that I wondered why they didn’t just take advantage of the Evans/Johansson chemistry and make Natasha into his romantic interest.
Why?  Because extra Scarjo makes things better...

On second thought, given the awkward way she handles her one action scene, maybe the smallness of her role is a good thing.

9)  While I liked how Evans’ portrayal of Cap is consistent with my view of Steve Rogers as ‘The Last Stand Up Guy’ (the scenes of him visiting an aged Peggy and interacting with The Winter Soldier once he learns who he is drives this home), I have some problems with the way he tacitly approves of the behavior of other people around him.  There’s one scene where he seems to gleefully approve of something very violent that Natasha does--an act he seems to have counted on her doing--that made me real uncomfortable.  I know some people will wave this off as Cap being a soldier, but I don’t think that his being a soldier should supercede what has been established about him up to this point.

10) Look, I know that on one level I went ‘duh,’ when I saw that final title card--but damn if it still doesn’t get me all psyched in the same way all those ‘James Bond Will Return In...’ title cards did when I was a youth. excellent follow-up to an excellent orginal, better in keeping the through line of the character vital than Thor: The Dark World.

I returned to The Regal Atlas Park, and managed to almost totally avoid the Regal First Look.  I was tha assailed with ten trailers if you count the half-assed ‘behind the scenes preview’ of A Haunted House 2.  Amongst the trailers, there was Godzilla (which looks like they’re going to get it right this time), Lucy (in which someone makes an argument for Scarlett Johansson being more than able to carry a Black Widow movie) and, of course, Guardians of The Galaxy (which actually looks pretty good, considering my lukewarm reaction to James Gunn’s previous films).