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“You said it yourself: We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy!”

Saturday – 02 August 2014
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Thursday night.

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating this movie for about a year. At the same time, I have also hoped that it would not only be a good movie, but also a good fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the same way that I did for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen Suckage and Man of Steel this is going to be a two-part review:

  1. The first part will be more of a synopsis and spoiler-free.
  2. The second part will be more in-depth and might contain a spoiler or two.

Consider yourselves duly warned.

Part One: Synopsis
I enjoyed this movie. It’s a great space action movie with a fair bit of humor thrown in. To quote my friend, Brad:

My thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy: The cast is amazing, Dave Bautista was one of my favorites, but I’d have to say Chris Pratt has a screen presence not seen since the Will Smith action films of the 90s. This movie is the Han Solo movie you would have dreamed of in younger, more optimistic days.

That is about as pure – and succinct – a description as I can think of for the film.

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Part Two: In-Depth Observations

And now, for the more detailed look at the film.

I had a great time watching this movie. The only other feature of James Gunn’s that I had seen was Slither, which I rather enjoyed. Mr. Gunn did a fantastic job of bringing a team of somewhat obscure characters from the Marvel Comic Universe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As to the (major) performers:

  • Chris Pratt: I liked his portrayal of Peter Quill, a mid-30’s guy from Earth… who, to quote James T. Kirk is : “…from [Earth]. I only work in outer space.” Quill is a man who’s charted his own course as something of a rogue and is quite happy doing his thing – and occasionally “the right thing” – and going about his business. Something that I didn’t expect was seeing how well he would emote the rare glimpses of Quill’s sense of loss and how he expressed it.
  • Zoe Saldana: While I think that I’ve seen Gamora in a comic or three over the years, I can’t say that she really stuck in my head. If I was going to pick a reference with which I’m familiar, I’d have to go with the HeroClix figure that came out in the “Secret Invasion” set. She was pretty badass. I’d heard tales of Gamora in the comics as well. Again, badass.Watching Ms. Saldana’s performance, I didn’t feel the sense of “The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe,” aside from others’ reactions to her. This was through no fault in acting. If anything, I would say that it was a slight lack of bodies that needed killing. She did come off as resourceful and a very adept fighter, though. I did enjoy learning her motivations for her actions in the movie, as well as her turn from “villain” to (anti-)hero.
  • Dave Bautista: I know that Mr. Bautista is a wrestler. That is pretty much the sum of my knowledge of the man… until seeing this movie. That said, I really enjoyed his Drax. His character wore his motivations on his sleeve. Wait. Shirtless. Um… on his… shoulders? Waistband? Boot heel? However you choose to put it, it was there. Drax was a man with a singular purpose: To exact revenge against the man who wronged him. Even to the point of somewhat reckless abandon. And, as far as his line delivery? Golden. And he was just fun to watch.
  • Vin Diesel: I made a joke on Four-Color Coverage a few weeks back about people giving Vin Diesel flak about a/another wooden role. I’d say they’re barking up the wrong tree. (Yes, I thought about just how bad that was as I typed it and decided “I don’t care.”) You’d be amazed at just how much feeling a person can wring out of just three words, with a little inflection.
  • Bradley Cooper: As if “gun-toting talking raccoon” wasn’t enough, Bradley Cooper did a good job of bringing the smart-assed and occasionally trigger-happy Rocket to life. A lot of people expected him to steal the show, and while I won’t say that he necessarily stole it, he was definitely in on the heist.

On the antagonist side of the equation…

  • Karen Gillan – In the comics, Nebula is rumored to be the grand-daughter 0f Thanos; in this incarnation, she’s his “daughter”. And she has some daddy issues… as well as a couple of sibling rivalry issues. Ms. Gillan did a fine job of portraying Ronan’s lieutenant with a sense of dread ability and purpose.And at no time would you associate her with Amy Pond. Ever.
  • Djimon Hounsou – Unfortunately, Korath didn’t get a lot of screen time, but his determination in his dogged pursuit of Peter Quill made it apparent that his title, “The Pursuer,” was well-earned. And, let’s face it, Djimon Hounsou has yet to disappoint in a role.
  • Lee Pace – Ronan the Accuser. Man with a big ax to grind hammer to smash against the Nova Empire. His primary motivation was also one of revenge, and his role as Thanos’ right hand afforded him the opportunity to exact said revenge.If I had a complaint, it would be that the build-up of Ronan didn’t quite live up to what we got. In my opinion, he was (slightly) underutilized, in much the same way that Darth Maul was in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. He had a great presence, and in his fight scenes, presented a formidable foe, but in the end… seemed to fall a little too quickly/easily.
  • Josh Brolin – Thanos. This is another role that I’ve seen in which Mr. Brolin was not “there,” having been supplanted by the character he was portraying. (For me, the most recent notable role was his turn as the young Agent K in Men In Black 3.) And his Thanos was well-represented. I hope that Marvel is driving his character in the direction of acquiring the Infinity Gauntlet and that we get to see “The Mad Titan” in action.

And a couple of the cameos…

  • Glenn Close – She was fun to watch as Nova Prime. You bore the mantle of leadership well. (Of course, I could have just succintly put it: “Glenn Close. ‘Nuff said.”)
  • John C. Reilly – I’ve long been on the fence about Mr. Reilly, only recently seeing him in roles in which I’ve really appreciated his everyman. This is one of those roles. We got to see a facet of his character in trailers over the past year, but in the full feature, we got to know a little more about his character, Corpsman Dey.
  • Michael Rooker – This was not the Yondu I expected to see, but it was nevertheless a very fun Yondu to watch. And, to be fair: There was more than “a little” Merle Dixon in there, which also added to this characterization’s appeal.
  • Benicio Del Toro – We got to see a little behind-the-curtain of The Collector’s day-to-day life  – he’s fairly demanding and not always a nice person. But, he loves… reveres… his collection. And his reaction to a possible new addition to it – sheer glee/giddiness – was excellently portrayed. By the way, be sure to stay after the credits to see one of the more “unusual” pieces in said collection.
  • Nathan Fillion – If you can pick out his cameo, good on you. It’s pretty funny and one that I would not have guessed, had I not been tipped off to “who” he was, beforehand.

One of the best things about this movie: No single character was the tentpole. James Gunn did a fine job of balancing an ensemble cast. Everyone on the team had a good amount of screen time and everyone had something to contribute. In talking with a few people, we agreed that Marvel now has two people in their stable – Gunn and Joss Whedon – who can direct ensemble pieces and make them work.

Clocking in at a full two hours – actually, two hours and one minute – the movie never felt like it dragged. The slower, dramatic scenes were well-paced and the action scenes, at least to me, didn’t seem like they were overly long. I saw it in IMAX 3D and was glad that I did. The 3D wasn’t used just to throw things at the audience, although there were enough splodey bits to be flung at viewers. It was utilized to enhance the environment and give it depth of field, much like in Avatar. And it came off beautifully.

In summation, I will say that the movie was a great ride and would have made an excellent Fourth of July weekend release. Go see it. And if you have the opportunity to see it in IMAX 3D, do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to do so.

Namaste.

4CC: Testing

Just a Wordbook test.
Nothing to see here.

4CC: Ping

This is only a test…

Four-Color Coverage: Editorial

Friday – 25 June 2010
As Led Zeppelin put it: “It’s been a long time…”

Over the past few months, posts in Four-Color Coverage have been… sporadic… to say the least.  Sure, I’ve made a post or two every now and then, but nothing like what I’d hoped to do. Granted, it’s been “a little” busy on this side of the monitor, what with getting settled into the new house. Now that some of the dust has settled, I can hopefully give 4CC the attention that it deserves.

For those of you who catch these posts via Facebook, you’ll remember the infamous “Red LEGO Fiasco” from a couple of months ago. I’ll admit: That was another factor in lessening the number of reviews that I’ve done on this blog over the past few months.  After changing a setting in 4CC‘s code, that shouldn’t happen again. I hope. Either way, thanks for bearing with me through it.

I think that covers what I wanted to say… for now.

Reviews: 24-31 March 2010

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes here at 4CC – not the least of which included buying a house – so I’m a couple of weeks out on reviews. But, I don’t want things to get too far off-track. So, with that in mind and no further delay, here are my reviews of releases from the past couple of weeks:

Adventure Comics #9


Superboy and Supergirl and the Legion – in both the 21st and 31st Centuries – race against the clock to defeat the machinations of Brainiac. Readers are also treated to a personal look at the lineage of the “Brainiac” name.

Blackest Night
This is going to be out of alphabetical order, but it works. Go with it…

  • Green Lantern #52

    Sinestro has claimed the mantle of White Lantern. Hundreds of thousands of Black Lanterns – and the Black Lantern planet, Xanshi –  converge on Earth. And the origins of the Avatars of emotions are told…. too bad that Nekron isn’t someone who’s really into “story time.”
  • Blackest Night #8

    This was the final chapter of the “Blackest Night” story. And it starts with a little insight into mind of Hal Jordan:

    The truth is, I am afraid of one thing.

    I’m afraid to get close to people.

    Because Black Hand is right.

    Eventually, everyone will die.

    A poet once said, “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” which meant “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.”

    Most people only know the first part — “Carpe diem” — probably because not trusting in the tomorrow is too damn cynical. It is to me, anyway.

    Sure, you can’t rely on tomorrow, we’re not guaranteed we’ll have it —

    –but we can’t be afraid of it either.

    And with that, the final battle of the “War of Light” begins. Good thing that John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner show up with a legions of reinforcements – both Lanterns of various Corps and Earth’s own heroes. And… the White Lantern Corps?! In the words of By-Tor and the Snow-Dog: “Let the fray begin!”

    In the battle’s aftermath, Guy Gardner has… a moment… with [SPOILER DELETED]. That was something I didn’t see coming. I also think that readers got an answer to something that was noted in Flash: Rebirth, as well.

    And foundation is laid for “Brightest Day.”

Captain America #604

This issue should have been Falcon #1. Sam Wilson and Redwing take on a trainload of  highly-armed (but not always so intelligent) militiamen. The plans of the “Fake Captain America” are also revealed.

Fantastic Four #577

When most people go on a “field trip,” they go to a museum, professional office, gardens or something of along those lines. When the FF go on a field trip, there’s almost no telling where – or “when” – they will wind up. The trip in this issue carries the FF to the moon. There, they learn more about the Inhumans and the Kree than has previously been revealed to humans. Then the other shoe drops: The Inhumans have a plan — they’re looking for a new home. And it seems as though [SPOILER DELETED] looks like a good place to start setting up shop.

Justice League of America #43

This issue was horribly disjointed. From what I recall of James Robinson’s work, it used to be A LOT more coherent than this. This issue felt like he just phoned it in. I’m left to wonder if giving this title another shot was a mistake.

New Avengers #63

I always enjoy it when a book surprises me. (At least, when it does so in a good way.) This was such an occasion. This issue alternated between:

  1. …a fight between the New Avengers, Norman Osborn’s Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. troops and Asgardians
  2. …a conversation between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones (Jewel)
  3. …a conversation between Clint Barton (Ronin) and Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird).

And it just plain worked. All of it. I think that my favorite parts of the issue came during the Luke and Jessica conversation. It was… very human. Brian Michael Bendis did an excellent job of conveying the emotions between two people – who just happen to be superheroes AND new parents – in the middle of a war that neither of them wanted to be a part of.

Power Girl #10

I am still enjoying this book and will be sad to see the team of Gray/Palmiotti/Conner leave in two issues. In this issue, Power Girl strikes a deal with her “stalker.” And why is Terra acting so strange?

She-Hulk Sensational #1

This issue was done as a kind of “thirtieth anniversary special.”  It was just the kind of book that people have come to expect from a She-Hulk title. It was part tongue-in-cheek, part rollicking ride… and all fun. The best part of the issue was the middle story: A team-up of She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman.

Superman #698

Superman takes on Brainiac and his new partner, Lex Luthor. At stake: The fate of New Krypton and a number of “bottle cities” that Brainiac has collected. Good thing that Mon-El is around to lend a hand.

Superman/Batman #70

Anderson Gaines – or, rather, the Durlan who has assumed his identity – makes his final objective known… while Batman and Superman fight to learn of his plans.

Tiny Titans #26

The Green Issue.  I didn’t find this issue as compelling as most of this series has been… but it was still fun.

Uncanny X-Men #522

Magneto has been called “The Master of Magnetism” for… well… obvious reasons. In both comics and movies, he’s been shown stopping – or deflecting – bullets with his power. So, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that he does it again in this issue. The surprise factor comes with which particular bullet he chooses to move: It’s the bullet, fired from Breakworld in Astonishing X-Men #25. The bullet that Kitty Pryde has been stuck in for the past year (or whatever the timeframe is in comic time). The issue’s best dialogue comes from a conversation between Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, and Dr. Nemesis:

Richards: You can fool some of the satellites some of the time, but you cannot fool my satellites ever, at any time, for any reason. What the Hell are you guys trying to pull?

Nemesis: The phase vessel that’s trapped Kitty Pryde for however-long is coming back to Earth. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s moving at a velocity so great that–

Richards: –that you decided to hope Ms. Pryde was still alive, that the bullet was still phased, and to conceal the thing rather than set off a panic.

Nemesis: …You… make it sound bad when you put it like that.

Richards: Well, it is, and she is. Phased and alive, I mean — congratulations, X-Men. You’re getting your man back. We’ll do what we can on our end to help smooth any feathers you manage to ruffle, but next time? Try asking permission rather than apologizing after the fact. It’s time your people got out of the shadows. Richards out.

Leave it to Reed to cut to the chase. But the best part of this issue was the bittersweet reunion of Kitty with the X-Men. I didn’t notice it at the time, but there was an interesting parallel to/twist on a situation in Uncanny X-Men #212 (Dec. 1986), as well.

Wonder Woman #42

This was a “set-up” issue. The extended prologue doesn’t feature Diana. In fact, it doesn’t even occur on Earth. But, it serves to introduce a weapon of the issue’s main antagonist, who is revealed at the issue’s end.

A couple of tests…

I just added the WordBook plugin to Four-Color Coverage. Hopefully, that won’t break Random Access’ link to WordPress… We’ll see how it works out.

I’ve also given 4CC another theme makeover. I’m happier with this theme… at least for the time being.

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