Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

ageofultron1

Edited by: Pat Aldo (cousin, co-author, Marvel expert)

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an exciting, action-filled spectacle and a new mark in the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since the first Avengers, I’ve been waiting for this group of heroes to team up again, and here it is. I thought it would be hard to recreate the same kind of magic as seeing them assemble for the first time, but it wasn’t. There’s more character development this time around and we get to see the relationships within the team evolve. Everything I loved about The Avengers is back in Age of Ultron, with the addition of some new, interesting heroes and a different kind of villain. Marvel fans will likely be pleased with the result, but for those who aren’t quite on that bandwagon, it’s still a pretty fun blockbuster and there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it too.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are back together as an epic team to take down a HYDRA bunker run by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), who is in possession of Loki’s scepter and is using it to experiment on humans. Siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are two such humans who have developed abilities as a result. Scarlet Witch is capable of telekinesis and mind control, while Quicksilver can run at the speed of light. Because they have a personal vendetta against Stark, they allow him to take back the scepter, knowing full well what he’ll use it for will backfire. Ultimately, he and Banner use it to jump start a peacekeeping program called Ultron. Ultron, after seeing the kind of destruction people like the Avengers can cause, becomes a new threat who believes the only real path to peace is their extinction.

ageofultron6

Despite whatever feelings one might have about the movie’s flaws, Joss Whedon deserves a ton of credit for creating such a giant film that successfully juggles a large group of characters, ties up loose ends from the previous events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and sets up for the next few films to come, while at the same time, still maintains its own unique story. That may sound daunting, I know, but it never gets as overwhelming as you’d expect. What’s necessary to accept about the MCU is that “it’s all connected,” which means you’re going to get a lot more out of every film if you’ve been following the timeline up until this point. That’s not to say that none of the movies can stand up on their own, because many do, including Age of Ultron, but knowing what’s going on in regards to the bigger overall story is certainly going to affect your experience with it.

For me, there’s a special nerdy excitement I get out seeing these characters that I’ve been watching for the past 7 years interact with one another. What makes this experience different from the first Avengers is that the characters all know each other now so the relationships between each have had a chance to evolve. The smaller moments in the film where the team’s hanging out together are some of the best scenes, like when they’re partying at Avengers Tower and Thor challenges his fellow Avengers to try and lift Mjolnir. It’s also nice to see that some of the supporting characters from other movies aren’t totally forgotten about, like James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) from the Iron Man movies and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) from The Winter Soldier.

ageofultron6

The action is just as good, if not better than in the first movie, starting out with a tracking shot following the team while they work together to breach the HYDRA bunker. It’s quickly paced and full of adrenaline, and of course, you’ve got the trademark humor and one-liners spread throughout. Take it how you will, some people enjoy the humor and others don’t. The jokes are excessive at times and it does down play the threat a little bit, but Marvel’s thing isn’t to be super serious, and that’s a theme that runs throughout all its films. If you haven’t accepted that by now, you probably never will.

The formula for Age of Ultron is definitely cut from the same mold as the first. There’s some build up of story which leads to a climactic battle, and then it winds down towards the end. Most, if not all superhero films follow this formula, so it may seem a bit repetitious, but the way it is executed definitely helps. There are plenty of epic moments in the action that make up for the over-familiarity and I love seeing the teamwork in play.

ageofultron3

One thing I was somewhat disappointed with was that Ultron wasn’t as menacing as the trailers made him seem. I think James Spader did a good job, but the most threatening aspect of his character was the fact that he can travel through the internet and access anything he wants, gaining him the upper hand. He’s also able to upload his consciousness to any of his robot legion as well. But these individual bots are pretty easily defeated, and thus prevent Ultron himself from contributing to the larger battle sequences. I think that besides Thanos, who’s been portrayed as the puppet-master of sorts, Loki remains the MCU’s best villain to date.

Additionally, I wasn’t overly fond of what they did with Black Widow’s role in this film. I like how both her and Hawkeye have more to do this time around, and Hawkeye’s character development is great, but I can’t help but feel like Widow was reduced to a stereotype. The romance between her and Banner seemed unwarranted, and it was too random for me to get behind. Their scenes together seemed cheesy and forced, and basically, I just wish they hadn’t made the only established female character on the team a love interest. I enjoyed finally discovering Widow’s backstory, but her character can be so stiff at times. This could just have something to do with Whedon’s take on her. Something my cousin, Pat, actually pointed out to me was that Widow and Scarlet Witch don’t exchange any dialogue in the film. I think if Marvel can improve on anything in the future, it’s the way they handle their female heroes, and I’m eager to see how they fare with the Captain Marvel movie, since it’ll be the first film in the MCU centered on a female character.

ageofultron4

The Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, are both incredibly welcome additions to the film. The Witch’s abilities are, admittedly, cooler than Quicksilver’s speed, but they both work well together. I found her capability to manipulate the Avenger’s minds particularly awesome, allowing the team’s human nature and vulnerability to be revealed. Though the twins’ Eastern European accents may have proven to be a struggle at times, I think Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson fit their roles perfectly. I only wish that they had a little more screen time.

The best addition, however, would have to be the Vision. Hands down, Vision is the MCU’s latest breakout character, and his presence was insanely rewarding. This beloved comic book character, often referred to as “the Android Avenger,” is especially visually appealing, showcasing phasing abilities and powerful energy blasts. It’s fantastic to see Paul Bettany, who has been voicing Tony Stark’s A.I. program JARVIS for years now, finally assembling with the Avengers on-screen in physical form. He serves as a wealth of knowledge and powerhouse for the team, moving forward, and his addition to future installments is incredibly exciting!

The next adventure for our heroes will be in Captain America: Civil War in 2016. Judging by the emerging conflicts shown between Stark and Rogers, I’d say Age of Ultron has already set a pretty solid foundation for this upcoming plot. Despite whatever small faults I may have had with it, I think Whedon did a job worth recognizing with such a difficult task. Avengers: Age of Ultron is an enjoyable addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and an exciting reunion for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I truly loved it.

4.5/5

Advertisements

Trailer Analysis – Avengers: Age of Ultron (Trailer 3)


Avengers Assemble! A battle cry surely shouted across the globe, as tens of millions flocked to social media to feast their eyes on the latest look at Avengers: Age of Ultron. On a normal Wednesday morning, an unexpected tweet put forth an invitation to Marvelites everywhere to stand together and show their loyalty. With only 140 characters at their disposal, Marvel Studios single-handedly broke the internet promising the new trailer a full 24 hours ahead of schedule, if enough people commonly used the famous tagline in hashtag form. With, possibly, the most fun and socially interactive plan in recent memory spreading like wildfire, the goods were offered up in a matter of hours. Which brings us to the breakdown:

Bring on the expected, gorgeous flyover shots of ominously desolate countryside to urban locales, all brilliantly voiced over by our increasingly lovable, titular villain. “I was designed to save the world,” explains Ultron, as we immediately realize we’ll need to look no further for our story speculations. Any suspicions we may have had of the twin’s initial allegiance are put to rest, when we find Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch worshipping Ultron atop his throne. As the team’s Quinjet flies overhead, people gaze upward in awe, as they’re greeted with the idea of “hope.” It’s such hope, that appears to evoke the maniacal, race-eradicating thoughts of our antagonist.

FcETx6G - Imgur

With our first official exterior look at the new and improved Avengers Tower, comes an enlightening exchange between Stark and Banner about the development of artificial intelligence. “I tried to create a suit of armor around the world,” Tony explains. The overarching theme of hero morality shifts into focus, causing our characters to question if the Earth would need protection at all, if it weren’t for their mistakes. With the odds of winning the imminent war stacked heavily against them, the once-fragile team begins to unravel. Familiar face and former Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, offers words of encouragement, urging the team to stand and fight. Accompanying action sequences show the team sprawling across the frame in classic comic book panel fashion, inducing chills to fanboys worldwide. Additional, quick-succession shots display the likes of Stark holding Loki’s scepter, Scarlet Witch manipulating Widow’s mind, and Hulk pummeling Iron Man up the side of a skyscraper. Comic relief remains in-tact amidst the destruction, thankfully, with several Whedon-esque quips peppered throughout.

rXWIMJX - Imgur

With just under two months to go before the film dominates the box office, numerous questions still carry on unanswered. Just how will the (potentially Inhuman) Maximoff twins join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? What in God’s name is going on between Banner and Widow? What other awesome Marvel Cinematic Universe cameos may we see from the Scarlet Witch hallucinations? Where the heck is Spider-Man during all of this? Expect to see this, a team-wide pano shot that puts the Battle of New York’s to shame, and oh-so-much more when Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters May 1st, 2015!

2nnBbXv - Imgur

P.S. You didn’t really think we’d wrap that up without at least mentioning the breakout character of 2015, did you? Behold, the Android Avenger: Vision! Get yourselves very familiar. This Avenger is going to own the screen!

Spider-Man Swings Home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

spiderman&avengers

Written by: Pat & Justine

“Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Marvel Studios Into The Amazing World Of Spider-Man. New Spider-Man Will Appear First in an Upcoming Marvel Film Within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.” (marvel.com)

It was the stroke of midnight, February 10, 2015. A new day, a new beginning. A character loved by the masses, with a fanbase spanning over 50 years of storytelling, suddenly had been granted a future brighter than what most ever thought could be possible. The announcement heard around the world: Spider-Man was coming home.

In an era where comic book film success has reached unforeseeable heights, no studio has been capable of contesting the critical acclaim of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where most attest Marvel’s success to fan loyalty and unrivaled attention to detail, the source material from the collective talents of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko have stood the test of time, and should be given credit. Though some argue that DC Comics’ seniority grants them superior comic book heroes, it’s Marvel’s grounded, relatable characters balancing extraordinary abilities with everyday life that gives them the upper hand.

It was a time Marvel’s ambitions to break out into the film industry vastly outweighed its financial resources. Advances in special effects technology had been progressing at a rapid rate and Spider-Man was ready for his shot at the big screen. Negotiations with Sony Pictures were struck for indefinite exclusivity rights to produce any and all of the wall-crawlers cinematic adventures. Fast forward to May 3, 2002, Sony releases Marvel’s first box office smash in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, starring Toby Maguire as Peter Parker. For the time, the film was unlike anything we’d seen before and had come to expect from a conventional super hero. Naturally, a trilogy was put forth, reaching both critical highs and lows. With the monumental success of these major motion pictures, in addition to Fox’s X-Men properties, Marvel now had the prowess, as well as the funding, to branch out and form its very own Marvel Studios.

Enter The Amazing Spider-Man, July 3, 2012. It was proven Spider-Man had still been a very profitable character for Sony, and an idea for a reboot of the franchise made for the best possible way to keep things fresh. Opinions of the first two installments of Amazing were very much mixed. While some appreciated the loyalty to the comics of the same title, others felt it may have been too drastic of a deviation. A major accomplishment of the rebooted series, was to successfully tug at the heart strings of audiences. The on-screen chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was truly organic, which easily overshadowed that of the original trilogy. Overall, the combined earnings of the movies had not met projected revenue and fan criticism received was primarily negative.

As Marvel Studios began fully coming into its own with its ever-expanding shared universe of characters, the most common question asked by fans was, “When will Spider-Man join the Avengers?” What felt most frustrating, however, was Sony seemed to be electing to prevent this from happening by green-lighting some very unusual projects. It seemed to become more about the profits for the once-thriving company than the fan service to the character. Countless requests had been made to both parties, with Sony ignoring the matter at every possible turn. Marvel, however, remained hopefully optimistic. It was only after the unfortunate Sony hacks of 2014, that an abundance of data was leaked suggesting such negotiations for a collaborative effort had been underway.

Last night, it was announced that these negotiations have come to an official agreement. Sony will continue to finance and distribute the Spider-Man films, but the character will now become a part of the MCU, with Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige working with Amy Pascal to take Spider-Man in a new creative direction, one that fits in with the already established universe.

So what does this mean for Spidey? Well, for one, Andrew Garfield will not be reprising the role. It has also been speculated by many and recently reported by The Wall Street Journal that the new Spider-Man will be making an appearance in Captain America: Civil War, which is set to hit theaters in 2016. This is ideal, seeing as how Spider-Man had such a huge role in Civil War in the comics. However, we are not yet sure where Spider-Man will be in his life when this event takes place. How long before Civil War would he have been bitten? He is also not getting another solo film until 2017, so how exactly will he fit into the story while having not yet been established in the MCU with a solo film? Naturally, these are all questions we are now dying to know.

This also raises questions of who will be cast to play Spider-Man next. If he’s being introduced as an already established superhero who has his powers, then we can assume we will be bypassing the origin/high school storyline we’ve already seen too many times before. But they could choose to cast a young actor and start his story off in his early 20’s, or they can choose to cast him a little older, starting him off in his years as a college professor. Either way, this opens a window for male actors in the 20-30 range who can take up the reigns as the beloved web-slinging hero.

All speculations aside, there’s no doubt that Marvel fans everywhere are beaming at this incredible news. For years, we’ve wanted to see Spider-Man alongside the Avengers, where he was always meant to be. Some of us thought it would never be possible, but to our surprise, Sony and Marvel have given the fans what they wanted, and all we can say is thank you. Thank you for bringing Spider-Man home.


How do you all feel about this new Sony/Marvel deal? Are you excited to see Spider-Man finally become a part of the MCU, or are you not thrilled about the loss of Andrew Garfield? Who do you think should play Spider-Man next? Let us know in the comments!

Trailer Analysis (Summer ’15)

Hello, everyone! I’m Pat, the new contributor to Justine’s Movie Blog, and I’m going to present a brand new segment where I break down 2015’s most talked about trailers for the upcoming summer movie season.


Furious 7


If we’ve learned anything from six previous outings, it’s that the Fast & Furious franchise is an unstoppable force of action and entertainment. Furious 7 looks to kick off this year’s summer movie season with a massive, high-stakes adventure that has as much heart as it does explosions. In an interesting turn of events, this entry brings us to present day, immediately following the untimely death of Han. We discover this apparent tragedy is planned by a new character, played by Jason Statham, who so happens to be the older brother of our last antagonist, Owen Shaw. In a last ditch effort for enacting the ultimate revenge, we find the famed Toretto residence blown to pieces, allowing our cast motivation for another plot’s worth of (doubtfully) “One last ride.” With the combined ingenuity of Dwayne Johnson wielding a turret, Paul Walker running atop a hurdling cliff-side bus, and Vin Diesel crashing cars through Middle-Eastern skyscrapers, the stunts of this film appear to be at a mind numbing level of extremity. Regrettably, this installment also serves to pay homage to Walker, as it will be his last. His passing had been widely reported, causing a lengthly halt in production. One can only hope his send off will be done tastefully. Furious 7 hits theaters April 3, 2015.

furious-7-poster1


Avengers: Age of Ultron


In what some may consider the follow-up to one of the most well-received films of our generation, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron proves to have some weighty ambitions to oust its predecessor. The Marvel Cinematic Universe thrives on, at the peak of what it’s carefully established, thus far. The fall out from our favorite team/time bomb’s staggering shifts in momentum with “Phase 2” (Infinity Stones, Clean Slate Protocol, the demise of S.H.I.E.L.D.) will reach full realization with it’s finale. We begin with what appears to be a celebratory “assembling” in the newly revamped Avengers Tower, only to discover Stark’s been quite busy, sans arc reactor. The horror-stricken team’s introduction to our titular villain sends chills tingling through viewers, assuredly thanks to James Spader’s expertly delivered dialogue. Plot ensues, forcing the Armored Avenger to suit up once more with his pals to take responsibility for his horrendous creation. We’re graced with some fantastic reveals, including meeting the twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, after their brief, Hydra centric origins. With teases of how these new heroes’ abilities may shake the team’s foundation, a much sought after look into Widow’s cringe-worthy past, and, perhaps, the most epic, Hulkbusting battle between the Science Bros we may EVER see, Age of Ultron looks to be sheer, non-stop entertainment on a global level. Written and directed once more by Joss Whedon, the film looks to be in the best of possible hands. What’s both admirable, as well as notable, is that Marvel’s kept large portions of the plot under wraps, including, most excitedly so, the reveal of Paul Bettany’s (J.A.R.V.I.S) Vision. The excruciatingly long wait draws closer each day. Can ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ take down their greatest threat to date? Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1, 2015.

avengers-age-of-ultron-collage


Jurassic World


With roughly 14 years separating us from the last chapter in this beloved film series, Jurassic World places Hollywood’s latest go-to guy, Chris Pratt, in its leading role. Pratt’s new-found star power stems, deservedly so, from last summer’s smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Our first look at the movie grants us shots of Jurassic World open for business, attracting thousands of tourists to the wonder and discovery of these pre-historic creatures. We’re met with the revelation that park scientists have been busy, yet again, with genetic experimentation on dinosaur DNA. Owen, notably a reptilian wrangler of sorts, expresses his immediate distaste for the unorthodox creation of the Indominus Rex, whose physical appearance remains shrouded in mystery entirely. It becomes quite apparent this beast’s out for blood and a full-scale evacuation of the park takes place. It’s here the familiar ominous tones, suspenseful chases, and children fearing for their lives all materialize. With long time fans of the series theorizing, in detail, about just what makes this “D-Rex” so threatening, retractable wings, camouflage abilities, and human gene splicing all seem to have surfaced. Will they be able to take down the Indominus Rex, and is there more to its creation than we’re led to believe? We’ll find out June 12, 2015.

Jurassic-World-Poster-Official


Terminator: Genisys


Cue the iconic overture known by fans of the Science-Fiction genre everywhere. This could only mean one thing, another installment to the long-running Terminator franchise is upon us. At the center of this pseudo soft reboot, is the always incredible Emilia Clarke, of Game of Thrones fame, starring as Sarah Connor. Amusingly so, the timeline of this film looks to include elements of different events previously established canonically, with a bit of a modern twist. Dialogue exchanged between well-known characters, John Connor and Kyle Reese, discuss familiar moments from the original, when John’s mother Sarah still needs saving and the future needs altering. It’s to the viewers surprise, when Kyle is met by a far more empowered, self-aware version of his future lover, where it’s she who delivers the renowned “Come with me, if you want to live!” quote. Furthermore, we’re shown and older version of the T-800, again played by Schwarzenegger, destroying his younger counterpart upon his initial arrival. The mission at hand has changed, and the motivations behind this are left, somewhat intentionally, unclear. There’s no telling the repercussions to be had for the future once the credits roll. Terminator: Genisys “Will be back” July 1, 2015.

tg_oversized_teaser_unrated_1sht_v1-1


Ant-Man


If there’s anything Marvel Studios has proven time and time again, it’s that they’ve never been afraid to take risks. It’s hard to imagine that seven years ago marked the beginning of what would be the most successful, cohesive cinematic universe the film industry had ever seen before. Marvel’s approach, from the start, had always been carefully calculated and formulaic in nature. Each “Phase” would be segmented yearly into at least one well-known property, as well as an entirely new property. With Avengers: Age of Ultron sure to account for all of 2015’s required revenue, Ant-Man’s wasting no time at all laying the ground work for Marvel’s Phase 3. So who is Ant-Man? Though his title may suggest otherwise, Ant-Man possesses the fascinating ability to manipulate his molecular structure, by means of Pym particles. Which leads to our story: Scott Lang, played ambitiously by Paul Rudd, is depicted as an ex-criminal searching for any means of redemption. What exactly transpires to place Lang in this position is unknown, however, it’s when his path crosses with Dr. Henry Pym that everything changes. We’re offered discussion between the two, suggesting Pym needs Lang to take up the mantle of Ant-Man, demonstrating we may meet our first generational hero. What’s fantastic about this, is there are countless possibilities for ties between Pym and, perhaps, Agent Peggy Carter or Howard Stark, both very recognizable, previously established characters. We’re offered glimpses of Lang’s assumed first transformation, his trainer/love interest Hope Van Dyne, and other stunning visuals. What’s honorable in what we’ve seen, is that Ant-Man seems to really own what it is, embracing humor when possible. But, “Is it too late to change the name?” Ant-Man opens July 17, 2015.

ant-man-poster1

A look ahead to 2015: Marvel vs. DC

I, along with Mark and Rich from the ISCFC, discuss the upcoming battle at the cinema between Marvel and DC. I know most people have opinions on this, whether they be neutral or not. Go read and share your thoughts!

2015 could be a blockbuster year at the Box Office. The studios are putting together a host of massive franchise movies for the masses. But there’s a contest which stands out amongst the crowd as two cinematic universes prepare to collide. Me and Mark look ahead at the battle between Marvel vs. DC with Self-proclaimed movie connoisseur Justine Baron. You can read more of Justine’s writing at https://justbmovies.wordpress.com/ and follow her at https://twitter.com/justine_baron

dc

Mark Longden (https://twitter.com/Mark_ISCFC):

I read an interview with a director the other day (annoyingly, I can’t remember who) and he talked about DC’s “Batman” movie series. He hated them, he said, because it was ridiculous to have a superhero movie be about brooding and emotions and all that – Marvel got it right with their lighter, breezier, fun romps; indeed, that’s the only way superhero movies should be. Now, I think that’s a load of…

View original post 1,891 more words

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big_Hero_6_Team

Through a fun and heartfelt story about a genius boy and his robot, Big Hero 6 flaunts some truly gorgeous animation. Once again, Disney has shown people why they are one of the leading animation studios in the world. Last year, they dominated the box office with Frozen, a movie which I found lacking in story but was a huge success nonetheless. For me, personally, Big Hero 6 surpasses Frozen by a long shot. Sure, there’s no Disney princess with a pretty blue dress shooting ice out of her fingers, but Big Hero 6 is magical in its own right. To some, it might just be the kid-friendly version of yet another Marvel superhero movie, but I think it’s much more than that. It explores themes of family, friendship, loss, and the potentials of fast-advancing science and how the world’s youth can mold it into something good.

Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a child prodigy who spends his free time participating in back alley robot fights for money. When his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), brings Hiro into his university’s robotics lab to show him the robot he has been working on–a big, balloon-like healthcare companion named Baymax–Hiro is persuaded to use his gifts for something useful and to apply at the school. In order to get in, he has to impress Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell), and he does so using a new invention of microbots that can move and link together to build anything the brain can think of. Incidentally, he also catches the eye of Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk), the rich owner of a robotics company who wants to buy his invention. Due to the influence of his brother, Hiro resists the temptation to make quick cash, and puts his university education first.

bighero62

Tragedy soon befalls Hiro when Tadashi is killed in a fire at the university. Left with no parents and no brother, he finds comfort in Baymax as well as Tadashi’s friends, Go Go (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), and Fred (T.J. Miller). They all find themselves in danger when Hiro figures out a masked man who may have been involved in the fire that caused Tadashi’s death is using his microbots for an evil cause, and he upgrades Baymax and his friends with some high tech gear so they can form a team to stop him.

It’s difficult not to fall in love with the inflatable robot who only wants to ease what he perceives as Hiro’s pubescent angst. He has to deflate to fit through small spaces, he becomes the equivalent of a drunkard when his battery is low, and instead of making an explosion sound after a fist bump, he says something along the lines of “da-la-la-la-la.” In other words, he’s quite adorable. I can imagine kids around the world wanting a Baymax for themselves after seeing this movie. I know I do.

bighero6(3)

Hiro eventually becomes consumed with the desire for revenge on the man responsible for Tadashi’s death and tries to use Baymax as a weapon against him. But Baymax was created by Tadashi as a robot who would never harm another human being. In a way, Tadashi continues to live on through him, helping Hiro mature through one of the most difficult times in his life. So aside from the general adorable traits Baymax was created with, he symbolizes something much more meaningful and sentimental. He is a piece of Tadashi that was left behind after his death, making Baymax the true heart of Big Hero 6.

Tadashi’s friends are a smart, but not so original mix of personalities. Fred is probably the most interesting just because he is basically the mascot of the team. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed and his costume is ridiculously funny, he adds a lot more light-hearted humor to the film. He’s also the subject of the post-credits scene, because you can’t have a Marvel movie without a post-credits scene. The movie is called Big Hero 6, but doesn’t focus much on the other 4, which is not a huge deal, but it is noticeable seeing as how I couldn’t remember the others’ names until I looked them up. The 102-minute movie takes its time with Hiro and Baymax, though, the two characters you care about the most. If it had been even 10 minutes longer we might’ve gotten a bit more of a balanced movie that would’ve made you care a little more about the rest of this animated ensemble.

BigHero6(4)

Big Hero 6 has some really stunning animation. The film is set in a fictional city called San Fransokyo, which of course, is a mixture between San Francisco and Tokyo if you weren’t able to guess. The architecture is a blend of both cities, allowing for the creation of an extremely interesting and colorful metropolis. Some of the best parts are when Hiro and Baymax, decked out in their superhero gear, are flying through the city. You get a real sense of the amount of detail and creativity that went in to forming this culturally-mixed animated world.

Big Hero 6 is a fun animated film. It shows plenty of emotion and humor through the bonds of friendship and family, and a boy who finds solace in the company of a caring robot companion. I can confidently say that it currently stands as my favorite animated movie of the year. Baymax and the rest of the team captured my heart, as I’m sure it will the hearts of many other children and adults alike.

4.5/5

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-poster

Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie whose reason for being made is one not many people understood, as Marvel was treading into unfamiliar territory. What? A team of superheroes that include a talking raccoon and a big tree? It was a huge gamble for Marvel Studios to introduce a lesser known team of comic book characters and add them into a world with popular heroes such as Iron Man and Captain America. But man, am I glad they took that gamble. James Gunn has brought a fresh new team of superheroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and they may not all be human, but they sure are a lot of fun.

WARNING: May be some minor spoilers ahead!

The movie starts out in 1988 with a young Peter Quill. After a rather emotional scene in which Peter witnesses the death of his mother, he is abducted from Earth by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his group of space pirates called the Ravagers. Jump to 26 years later, and we see an older Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) with headphones on, listening to one of the many awesome songs on his “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” tape, dancing, singing, and kicking small lizard like creatures in his path to a place that harbors a mysterious orb. During his attempts to steal it, he is interrupted by Korath (Djimon Hounsou), a man who answers to Ronan (Lee Pace), the main villain of this film.

After he manages to escape the planet, he finds himself on Xandar, being hunted down by Gamora (Zoe Saldana)–a green-skinned assassin sent by Ronan to retrieve the orb–as well as a talking raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his big tree friend, Groot (Vin Diesel), who want to capture him and trade him in for the bounty Yondu put on his head. After this little brawl, they find themselves arrested and thrown in prison where they are forced to form an unlikely alliance with each other as well as Drax (Dave Bautista), a big muscled and very literal guy who wants to get revenge on Ronan for killing his family. After seeing what the contents of the orb can do, they think twice about their original plan of selling it and become determined to keep it out of Ronan’s hands so that he won’t be able to harness the power himself and destroy Xandar, or worse, pass it on to Thanos (Josh Brolin), the big baddie who will be a lot of trouble for our heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe later on.

guardiansofthegalaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is chock full of well-paced action, gorgeous special effects, and more importantly, humor. One of the best things this movie has going for it is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Whereas some other superhero movies are just too heavy to be genuinely fun, this one is light-hearted and a freakin’ blast from beginning to end. On top of that, this is comedy done right. Some of it is inappropriate, some of it is corny, and some is just down right hilarious, but it all compliments the personalities and quirkiness of each character, makes them likable, and makes the chemistry between them that much more interesting and fun.

Peter Quill/Star-Lord is a likely leader of the group. From the very beginning of the movie, we are emotionally invested in his character, seeing him first in a vulnerable and sad position. When we see him grown up, he is a fun guy, with no doubt questionable morals, but the type of guy you’d want to hang out with nonetheless. Making references to 80s pop culture on Earth that no one understands but him (i.e. Kevin Bacon in Footloose) and listening to some of the best, upbeat songs from the 70s and 80s–contributing to the awesome soundtrack of this movie–he sets the tone for how the rest of the movie is going to play out. I was minimally aware of Chris Pratt’s acting and comedic capabilities. Seeing him mostly in smaller secondary roles, I wasn’t too confident about him being able to pull off the lead guy, but thankfully, my lack of confidence faded away almost immediately as his strong, charming personality pulled me into the film and kept me there until the end.

Star-Lord_Drax_and_Gamora

Gamora is a great leading lady whose tough, but noble personality rivals that of the sassy, and at times, unethical characteristics of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. In fact, I think I just might like Gamora even more. She’s a strong assassin with great fighting skills and a big heart to go with them. Zoe Saldana, a woman who has made herself a strong and likable presence in the sci-fi genre, brings the same kind of strong willed female appeal to this character as she does to her others. At this point, it seems like a cakewalk for her.

Drax is awesome mainly because he’s such a literal guy. He’s funny without trying to be funny. He makes insults he doesn’t realize are insults because he repeats what he hears. He says things which are meant to be endearing, like “This dumb tree is my friend”, (after having heard Rocket call Groot an idiot), as well as calling Gamora “this green whore,” and then blasting Nebula (Karen Gillian) away for calling Gamora stupid and traitorous, replying with, “Nobody talks to my friends like that.” What a stand up guy. Dave Bautista didn’t have to put much into this character besides his muscles and strength. Drax isn’t really the type of guy to talk with deep inflections so the performance, including the unintentional jokes, are spot on.

Rocket being a talking raccoon with the accent of a tough guy from Brooklyn (a voice by Cooper that is almost unrecognizable at times), putting other characters in their place with his zingers, surprisingly steals the show. He’s quite simply amazing and hard not to like. You feel really bad for him when the other characters call him things like “monster” and “rodent,” as he reveals that he was once tortured and experimented on (poor guy), but his “don’t mess with me” attitude is humorous and admirable, and him going nuts with machine guns kind of makes you forget the unfortunate factors of which his existence is based.

rocket-and-groot

Rocket’s best friend and bodyguard, Groot, a tree which can grow and retract limbs at will, is hilariously endearing. Not able to say anything except, “I am Groot,” (a phrase which only Rocket can understand different meanings of), his personality is shown best through his actions and facial expressions. There’s one scene where he grows a long arm and takes out a group of bad guys with it, swinging them back and forth and pounding them between two walls. He then turns around to look at the rest of the group with an excited, self-satisfied smile as if he were a puppy who’s done something worthy of praise. If ever there was a point when I would’ve thought a movie with a raccoon and a pet tree would be stupid, I would take it back right now. This duo is awesome.

Ronan the Accuser is a decent enough villain. He is more or less a terrorist who wants to destroy a planet in which his people have made a peace treaty with. Although, he may not be so memorable in a universe where so many villains exist. I can’t fault Lee Pace for that, though, as he does a fine job with the character. Nebula, as Gamora’s not-so-related sister, is a force to be reckoned with, although her motivation isn’t exactly clear, but it seems as though she’s jealous of Gamora and eager to please whatever higher power she can. Michael Rooker as Yondu is like watching Rooker’s character from The Walking Dead, except here he is blue and he has an awesome weapon that answers to his whistles. Glenn Close doesn’t have a huge part, but she does alright as Nova Prime. Benicio Del Toro plays a lot of quirky roles, and often times his characters’ motivations are questionable, which is why I think he’s perfect as The Collector. Looking forward to where his story goes for later movies. All in all, I enjoyed the characters, major and minor alike.

Ronan-the-Accuser-in-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy has an entertainment level that rivals that of the already widely loved The Avengers, in fact, I can’t decide which one I love more as they are equally entertaining in their own right. This movie has the perfect balance of action and humor, as well as visual effects that are a pleasure to look at. It’s nice to have a Marvel movie that leaves Earth in the beginning and does not return. We’ve already seen superheroes saving lives on Earth, and here we get to see them saving lives, and at the same time, exploring the outer reaches of galaxies in all their glory. New creatures, new races, new worlds, and the beautiful mixture of colors out in space are amongst the things we get to discover. The characters are given just enough backstory to work with to make the audience care about what happens to them, and their individual traits add to that by making them extremely likable in a lot of ways. This movie is a surprisingly successful addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is simply a blast and a movie that I would recommend to Marvel and non-Marvel fans alike.

5/5

Top 10 Favorite Movies Based on Marvel Comics

Marvelcollage

Comic book movies have exploded in recent years, being the cause for some of the most successful franchises in movie history. The best part is that they appeal to a wide audience and not just people who read comics. They serve as an amazing escape into worlds where good conquers evil even if it means making huge sacrifices in order to do so. Nothing against DC (or other) comic book fans here, but it’s hard to deny that aside from the success of Nolan’s Batman trilogy (which I loved), and perhaps a select few other movies, Marvel has recently dominated the comic book genre of the movie industry, creating large and numerous universes involving some of the most beloved superheroes. Due to the coming release of Guardians of the Galaxy this week, which I can’t wait for, I’ve decided to share my current top 10 favorite movies based on Marvel comics. Feel free to comment and share your own ranking and opinions!

10. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)theamazingspiderman
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) discovers he has new abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He goes through many trials tribulations including dealing with his new abilities, suffering a loss in the family, trying to find out why his parents left him when he was young, falling in love with the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and going head to head with Dr. Connors a.k.a. the Lizard (Rhys Ifans). I like Andrew Garfield more than Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Even though he was about as old as Tobey was when he made the first Spider-Man, I think his youthful charisma makes him fit the part of a teenager a lot better. I also like how they made Gwen Stacy his first love, as it was in the comics, and it’s just a plus that she’s played by the adorable Emma Stone. There are certain things that the older franchise did better, but this reboot was still exciting and enjoyable to watch.

9. Iron Man 2 (2010) ironman2
Director: John Favreau
Cast: Robery Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle

With the world aware of Tony Stark’s identity as Iron Man, everyone wants a piece of his new technology. Tony has to deal with his declining health, as well as a new villain, Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), who has developed a similar technology and has a personal vendetta against Stark Industries. I wasn’t a huge fan of the villain in this movie, but I still found it to be fun and Robert Downey Jr. was just as good in this as he was in the first Iron Man. Plus, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is introduced in this movie, and she is a beautiful badass. I also love that Don Cheadle (a worthy replacement for Terrence Howard) suits up as War Machine and kicks ass with Iron Man.

8. Thor (2011)thor
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the arrogant son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is cast out of Asgard and forced to live on Earth after disobeying his father, where he meets and falls in love with the scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) Meanwhile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s power hungry, adopted brother, takes control of the throne and sends the Destroyer to Earth to prevent Thor from returning. Chris Hemsworth was quite simply made for this role and does a great job with it. Tom Hiddleston, however, is a show stealer. He’s one of the few villains I feel like I want to root for half the time, even more so in Thor: The Dark World. This movie is a pretty fun adventure, and, unlike other Marvel movies, it explores an unfamiliar world outside of Earth, allowing for some impressive CGI. I wasn’t all that interested in seeing it when it came out, but was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it actually was, and still is, upon subsequent viewings.

7. X2 (2003)x2
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and the rest of the gang team up with Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to take down William Stryker (Brian Cox), the man responsible for Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton, and who is now controlling mutants and trying to use Professor X to wipe them all out. I like where the story went with this sequel, and instead of focusing on who the characters are and what they can do (already tackled in the first film), it delves deeper into bigger conflicts and explores new threats that force mutants on both sides to have to band together. I also like the introduction to Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), as he is one of the coolest mutants in the movie, as well as the discovery of pieces of Wolverine’s past, something that was shown more (but not necessarily well) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s a fun movie that makes good use of all of its characters and their unique abilities. Oh, and the ending is awesome.

spiderman26. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggles with the responsibilities that come with being Spider-Man, as well as his feelings for Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and the secrets he’s keeping from his angsty best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), who wants to seek revenge on Spider-Man for his father’s death. In the meantime, he faces a new villain, Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), a brilliant scientist who he once admired. Spider-Man 2 manages to hold up the best throughout the years and multiple viewings. I like that the villain in this movie is someone Spider-Man has a connection to and a previous admiration for, it makes having to face him that much more emotionally powerful. His struggles are numerous and complex, having already become familiar with the responsibilities he has by choosing to be who he is, and having to make sacrifices in his personal life in order to be this hero. I also like the relationship between him and Harry a lot more than in the newer franchise. It’s more personal, and Harry has a better motivation for turning against Peter/Spider-Man. It’s an interesting and exciting movie, and it’s well-written. You care about the characters and the conflicts and that makes it likable enough even for people who aren’t big on comic book movies. It’s more accessible and in my opinion, it has aged really well.

xmenfirstclass5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

I wasn’t as big of a fan of the X-Men franchise until First Class came out. Now the X-Men have dominated the presence of my top 10 list. First Class explores the beginning of the X-Men, taking us through the lives of Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and other fellow mutants as they try to take down Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a man who is not only responsible for the death of Magneto’s mother, but also is determined to start a world war. I was overwhelmed with the talent of this new cast (January Jones and Zoe Kravitz excluded), and I loved the amount of heart that was put into this movie. There are some emotional scenes between Charles and Erik which not only act as examples of the great performances by McAvoy and Fassbender, but also expresses the close, yet complex friendship between who we previously know as Professor X and Magneto–two men with opposing views. It is something that is not explored in the first three X-Men movies, yet it is the most interesting and powerful relationship in the story. Many aspects of this movie make it easy to relate to and sympathize with the main mutants, despite it being a comic book story. It was a fresh start after the not-so-successful X-Men: The Last Stand, and set itself up for a new series, which has so far proven to be superior in many aspects.

thewintersoldier4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)–with the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie)–tries to take down a new threat, The Winter Soldier. With S.H.I.E.L.D. being corrupted, this proves difficult to do as they no longer know who they can trust. This movie was a huge step up from Captain America: The First Avenger. The action is impeccable with hard hitting fight scenes and well-made car chases. The story was intelligent, involving a few twists, and it acts as a political thriller within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It raises the bar even more for the next phase of movies, being a film that successfully balances action and intelligence, and is also a lot darker and more serious in tone, but still manages to maintain some of Marvel’s trademark humor.

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)daysoffuturepast
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of my favorite movies of 2014 so far. The older cast teams up with the newer cast when Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes back in time to help the junior mutants stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), which if not stopped, will eventually lead to the elimination of both humans and mutants. This movie created a link between the old and new X-Men movies. There may still be plenty of plot holes in the franchise as a whole, but this movie by itself is intelligent, exciting, humorous and emotional, and in my personal opinion, succeeds as being the best in the whole X-Men franchise. Full review here.

ironman2. Iron Man (2008)
Director: John Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a billionaire who owns a weapons manufacturing company, is captured and imprisoned by terrorists after his convoy was destroyed by his own missile. He is forced to build a suit of armor in order to escape. After seeing what kind of horrible things his weapons are being used for, he decides to stop manufacturing weapons and focus on building his Iron Man suit. It’s hard not to love this movie when you have the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. playing the superhero. He is the most stand out character of all of the Avengers, and despite his lack of humility, he is still the most fun (in my opinion, anyway). Thanks in part to director Jon Favreau, this movie has the perfect balance of humor, wit, adventure, suspense and seriousness. Being the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it set the bar high for the following films to come.

1. The Avengers (2012)avengers
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston

I can’t help but love a superhero ensemble. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) team up with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help stop Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army from taking over Earth. This is just an all around fun movie which people who were already invested in phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had no choice but to be excited about. I love the chemistry between all the cast members, from the bickering between the arrogant Tony and the humble Steve to the developing connection between Tony and Bruce Banner–two geniuses with alike minds. Black Widow and Hawkeye have a past that is minimally explored, but all that’s important is that she’ll break out of being tied to a chair and effortlessly beat up a bunch of Russians if she hears that he’s in the least bit of trouble. Loki, again, is a fun villain who can definitely hold his own against this large ensemble cast. After watching these characters’ individual movies and becoming invested in their stories, it’s hard not to get super excited when you see them working as a team. Everything before The Avengers built up to this final result, and it didn’t disappoint. Hopefully The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be just as good, if not better.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Blade (1998) and Blade II (2002) – it took me a while to realize that these were actually Marvel comic book movies, but I had seen them a bunch of times back in the early 2000s and found them to be fun with some great fight choreography.
X-Men (2000) – really opened the door for comic book movies and showed that they could be fun and serious, and not completely ridiculous.
Spider-Man (2002) – brought one of the best Marvel superheroes to life, and even though Raimi supposedly screwed up the original comic book story a bit, it was still successful and a pleasure to watch.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)  fun to watch Edward Norton play a superhero, although I do like Mark Ruffalo for the part as well. Not a great story, but still entertaining.

IMAX Sneak Peek of Guardians of the Galaxy

guardiansofthegalaxy

Thanks to my cousin being on top of all things Marvel, tonight I was able to make it to the IMAX 17-minute sneak peek of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which will be coming to theaters on August 1st.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you already know that somehow these 5 characters end up in prison together. The footage we were shown tonight starts off with what you see in the picture above, with them all lined up and John C. Reilly’s character identifying them by name and crimes committed. The rest of the footage focuses on their plan and, ultimately, their attempt to escape the prison.

starlord

Being unfamiliar with the story from not having read any of the comics, I can tell you what I know about the characters from the little bit that I’ve seen. I’m not giving any spoilers here, since what I saw wasn’t very spoilery anyway. Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is the charismatic leader who is very sensitive about his music, specifically Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” which facilitates a brawl with an alien police officer. I don’t blame him, really. That song is pretty catchy. In fact, I’m still singing it to myself right gamoranow. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is basically a green-skinned badass who has a low tolerance for idiocy. Her fighting style looks awesome. Gamora also has a connection with the main villain of the story, I won’t say how since I am not sure of its level of spoilery. Rocket, who has a real tough guy voice courtesy of Bradley Cooper, not only serves as the brains, but also the comedic flair. I couldn’t expect more from a violent, machine rocket-and-grootgun-wielding raccoon. No really, he might even be my favorite character already. Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) doesn’t really have much to say except for “I am Groot,” but he proves himself very useful in a lot of ways as Rocket’s personal bodyguard. Drax (Dave Bautista) is a very big guy who can no doubt hold his own against any enemy, and he’s known for being very literal. But nothing goes over his head, because he’s “too quick, and will catch it.” Overall, it’s a pretty good draxensemble and I love the way these characters work together. I especially love the bickering between Peter Quill and Rocket, a lot of the dialogue and the way it was delivered just shows how comical this movie will be, and from what I’ve been told, the comic books are just as funny and light-hearted. It’s good to know they’ll be sticking to them tonally.

Aside from the characters, this movie just looks absolutely amazing in IMAX 3D. If you have the option to see it in that format when it comes out, I would highly recommend it. It takes you right into that world. Of course, the prison scenes hardly even do it justice, but if you’ve seen any of the recent trailers for it in IMAX 3D, you’ll know how cool some of the scenes look. I can’t wait to see the rest of this movie, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far and it looks awesome. Hopefully will not be disappointed.

guardians-of-the-galaxy

 

Below is the most recent trailer that accompanied the sneak peek tonight.