Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ten Statements About....GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

Cue the late 70's pop rock....
“Why would you want to save the galaxy?"
“Because I'm one of the idiots who lives in it!”

1) It is kinda refreshing to have a movie that takes place in the Marvel Universe that is standalone.  While there are tiny connectors to the other films (primarily the presence of Thanos and The Collector), someone not interested in the Cinematic Universe could watch it and have a satisfying experience.

2) I’m surprised at how well Chris Pratt carries this film.  He sets the tone of the film, balances out a number of other characters with diametrically opposite genre traditions and keeps the plot driving forward.  It’s a rather remarkable performance.

3) I wonder if Vin Diesel had flashbacks to The Chronicles of Riddick when dealing with Ronan’s ‘NecroCorps’ and all.

4) But while we’re on the subject of Ronan...he comes off kinda weak as a villain, boasting and posturing until he gets the Holy MacGuffin of the film.  Hell, one could argue that the real villain is The Holy MacGuffin, which is responsible for giving Ronan the ability to do what he wants to do.
Yep...would still hit that...

5) For a change, director and co-writer James Gunn gives us a solid reason for the mostly classic pop soundtrack, and even gives us a solid reason why Peter is obsessed with that era of music.  Okay, it never explains why the most delicate music delivery system in history survived 26 years of interstellar travel, let alone how Quill finds batteries, but....shrug.

6) My problem with Zoe Saldana’s Gamora isn’t that you’ve got a stick insect playing a character who’s supposed to be softer featured, uncommonly tall and uncommonly curvy (okay, maybe it’s a small part), but the fact that there’s nothing that makes me feel she’s this hardcore assassin, let alone one of the most dangerous beings in the cosmos. Yeah, she does a lot of kicky do’s but the sense of this great face turn is blunted.  That being said....
He's not just an Elder of The Universe...he's fancy.

7) I do appreciate that, while there is chemistry between Saldana and Pratt, Gunn stays true to Gamora’s statement that she will not be one of his conquests.  Thus their developing friendship seems genuine while hinting at the possibility of something more.

8) Okay, we get that Benicio delToro’s Collector is Designated Expository Man, there only to give us the lowdown on The Holy MacGuffin...but damn if he isn’t fun.  From his admonishing his servant to use her elbows lest she meet the fate of the previous assistant to the end credits stinger (which featured the single most surprising character ever to appear in a Cinematic Universe film), he is a joy to watch.
"Behold my Holy MacGuffin Supercharged Hammer!"

9) Even with what looks like a skid mark on her face, blue skin and no hair, Karen Gillen is still hot.

10) I give Gunn a lot of credit for making sure the humor is fully integrated into the adventure and feels nature.  Everyone takes their turn as comic relief, and when we think the character is being treated too much as a joke, Gunn and cowriter Nicole Perlman slip in a moment of pathos like Bradley Cooper’s Rocket's drunken breakdown. someone who does not care for space opera, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  By focusing just as much on characters as on spectacle, Gunn succeeds in creating the pulp science fiction film he claimed he wanted to make.

Friday, August 1, 2014


"And later I will go to ComicCon in this outfit and
fool everyone!"
“What's happened to the Xeraphin?” 
“Transferred to the center of the Master's Tardis.” 
“What does that mean?” 
“It means the Master has finally defeated me."

1) This story was written by long time Who director Peter Grimwade.  As a writer, Grimwade...makes an exceptional director.  This is just a sad and confusing story that has a strong whiff of Grimwade making it up as he goes along.

2) Nothing dates a story quite like having it revolve around a then ‘cutting edge’ technological wonder.  The way this serial fetishizes the Concorde makes it seem awful quaint in retrospective.

3) That being said, I’m almost willing to forgive the dated Concorde love for the inclusion of Richard Easton’s Captain Stapley.  The latest of this season’s Temporary Companions, Stapley is a lot of fun, and even has a pair of ‘companions’ of his own.  I particularly like how he unwittingly helps the Doctor plot The Master’s downfall.  And speaking of The Master...
Somehow I don't think the 'Possessed Sway'
will catch on as a dance craze....

4) ...what.  the.  Hell is the Master doing cosplaying as a fat-ass Persian sorcerer?  It’s not as if he expected The Doctor to pop up in this continuum.  He seems to wearing that uncomfortable looking fat suit solely because he can.  It’s ridiculous, and I was relieved when he rid himself of the Khalid identity at the end of the second part.

5) So are the Plasmatons a lesser version of the Xeraphin, a sort of creation pulled out of the Master’s mind by his leeching off of the Xeraphin’s psychic energy, freeform psychokinetic servants or....

Why am I ruminating on this?  They’re crap, right up there with Omega’s Jelly Bean Men from The Three Doctors in terms of silly looking.

6) Here’s one of my main problems with the Anthony Ainley version of The Master--he always seems to be doing stuff to fix things that went wrong with either a) himself or b) his TARDIS.  All this complicated bull is set up by him just so he can jump start his ionic column.
"It's not a crap's part of the story!"

7) Here’s where the benefit of having only two companions work--both Nyssa and Tegan have something to do, and for a change, Nyssa actually gets to do a little more than Tegan (which is odd, given that you would think the stewardess would have more to do in a serial where a commercial airplane has a prominent role).  Okay, granted, most of it is Sarah Sutton getting all stiff and channel-y as the Xeraphin try to communicate through her, but still...

8) So when it comes to the Xeraphin’s psychic defenses, they throw illusions up of Adric (makes sense, given that the mental pain caused by his death is still fresh), the Melkur (makes sense given the Xeaphin have tapped into Nyssa’s mind) and...a Terraleptil?  Even admitting how much I like the Terraleptils, that’s a pretty sad admission that so far, the Davison era has seriously poor monsters.  Why didn’t the Xeraphin throw the Master at them, given the pain he's caused both of the companions?  It’s not like Ainley’s appearance would blunt the ‘surprise’ of him being Khalid.

9) Not only is the Heathrow shooting way gratuitous, with long sequences taking in parts one and four, it draws too much attention to itself, as if Nathan-Turner is screaming, ‘Hey Look!  We’ve got enough of a budget to do location shooting!’  Much like the use of the Concorde having no purpose in the story, all this Heathrow love is pointless.

Well, at least they get rid of Teg--wait, what?

10) I give the serial credit for not only accepting the limitations of its low budget, but using it as an advantage when it comes to the scenes of the characters under the delusions caused by The Master.  The obvious matte shots of the background seems out of place until you realize those shots are psychic fabrications!

Overall...a terrible, terrible end to the nineteenth season of Who.  The nonsensical story, the too-long Heathrow elements, the dumb behavior of the Master....all these elements combine to provide a story that eminently missable.