Thursday, August 14, 2014

On 'TMNT,' Shark Week and Dancing Trees

Free time's been a rare commodity for me this week, but since I found a few moments to lock myself in my nerd cave and babble on the blogosphere, here's what's been rattling around in my noggin:
  • It's Shark Week on Discovery Channel, which used to be a big deal to me. However, the constant mixed messaging of the programming (sharks are characterized in equal measure as misunderstood creatures and bloodthirsty sea monsters), the abundance of faux-documentaries in lieu of factual content and the sheer number of shows that have to throw the word "jaws" into the title have turned me off. If you're going to throw science out the window, just give me a week of Street Sharks marathons, Discovery. 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was better than I thought it might be, and I actually plan on seeing the already-announced sequel. There is definite room for improvement from a villain standpoint — Shredder was basically just Megatron with a knife fetish — but the characterization of the turtles themselves was surprisingly pretty good overall. Now, if we could only do something about those nostrils ... 
  • SPOILERS AHOY! We're two weeks removed from the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, and people are still raving about the dancing abilities of a post-resurrection Groot grooving to the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." Hell, I almost bought a life-sized replica off Etsy. In response to the fervor over everyone's favorite wooden warrior, Disney has released the talked-about sequence online, and it's just as amazing as it was the first time I saw it. Check it out below!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Instant Reaction to 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

James Wortman (@JamesWortman)
I face-palmed a few times, but I thought @TMNTMovie was okay overall. It could have been a LOT worse, and the action was pretty impressive.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Acquisition: Drax Pop! Vinyl Bobble-Head by Funko

Warner Bros. Moves 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Release Date

Warner Bros. is running scared, and based on the stellar performance of Guardians of the Galaxy this past weekend, it's hard to blame them.

Even though the studio has just announced release dates for nine unnamed DC Comics films, the bigger news reported today by Variety is that Warner Bros. changed its May 6, 2016, release date for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to March 25 of that year. As such, the Zack Snyder-helmed Man of Steel sequel is no longer going head-to-head with Marvel Studios' third Captain America film.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I was intrigued by the Batman v Superman footage revealed at Comic-Con International last month, and I'm sure WB/DC have some heavy hitters lined up in their film slate. But the fact that Marvel Studios just made household names of characters like Ronan the Accuser and Yondu proves how far ahead The House of Ideas has gotten compared to its Distinguished Competition in the film arena. Clearly, based on this scheduling shift and the vague, knee-jerk nature of their "we have a bunch of movies coming up too!" announcement, WB knows it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

'Hooked on a Feeling': Why 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Soars

James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel Studios’ most ambitious feature yet, marking the first time the Marvel Cinematic Universe has veered away from the core Avengers characters to tell an offbeat intergalactic yarn involving a talking raccoon, a sentient tree and The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” It’s also the most fun you’re going to have in a theater this summer.

Guardians begins in a familiar Earth setting back in 1988, where a young Peter Quill sits outside his dying mother’s hospital bed as he tries to tune out the rest of the world with a Sony Walkman — arguably the film’s most central MacGuffin. After his mother dies just a few moments later, Peter flees the hospital and is abducted by space pirates led by the morally ambiguous Yondu (Michael Rooker). Fast forward a few years and we meet Peter as a grown man (Chris Pratt), who has become an intergalactic treasure hunter who goes by the self-ascribed moniker “Star-Lord.” He’s in search of a mysterious orb we later learn houses one of the Infinity Stones, powerful items that grant their bearer incredible destructive powers.  Collect the whole set and get a free gauntlet while supplies last!

Anyhow, Peter’s quest for the orb soon aligns him with an odd assemblage of characters, including Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of the mad titan Thanos; Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a muscled warrior seeking to avenge his family; Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a quick-tempered, furry science experiment; and Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree creature with an extremely limited vocabulary. Once united, the rag-tag crew seeks to prevent the villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) from using the Infinity Stone for his own nefarious means.

This movie is goofy as hell, always embracing its own absurdity while somehow never crossing over into self-parody. Much of the fun throughout comes from the interaction between the incredibly strong ensemble cast — an impressive feat since two of the main characters are digital creations. Pratt’s Star-Lord is a swaggering, quick-witted Han Solo-type who clashes nicely with Saldana’s no-nonsense Gamora. Rocket and Groot will go down as one of modern cinema’s most memorable comedy parings, digital or otherwise, while Bautista’s surprisingly gets some of the movie’s biggest laughs as a na├»ve barbarian who just can’t wrap his head around metaphors.

There are visual thrills, sure, with harrowing space battles and elaborately staged shootouts. Yet, perhaps the best special effect in Guardians is its ability to be uproariously funny without being cynical or mean-spirited. In fact, this might even qualify as a “feel-good” movie. There, I said it.

Keen-eyed Marvel fans will notice plenty of Easter eggs throughout the film, including nods to the comic source material as well as previous Marvel Studios films. It goes without saying that you should stay through the end credits for what is, in my opinion, one of the best post-credits sequences of all time.

I’d love to be “that guy” and point out a few reasons why Guardians doesn’t live up to the hype, but I’m hard-pressed to recall any specific gripes about the film. It’s action-packed, it’s hilarious and it’s loaded with fan service while being inclusive of casual moviegoers. And yeah, I’m saying that about a movie starring a gun-toting raccoon. 

My Instant Reaction to Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

James Wortman (@JamesWortman)
I haven't felt this excited leaving a movie theater in a long, long time. Thank you, @Guardians. #IAmGroot #StayThroughTheCredits

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