Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Agent's of SHIELD Season 2 Premier

Having just finished watching episode 1 of "Marvel's AoS" Season 2, all I can say is wow. Clearly they are going to be upping the, well everything. We open with Coulson and SHIELD (such as it is) struggling to maintain a foothold in the fight to take down the remaining HYDRA cells in the world, while getting themselves in order as what could be described as SHIELD 2.0. For Phil Coulson, that means taking on the duty given him to by Nick Fury at the end of Season 1, to be the new head of SHIELD. So far, since they can't risk taking out "The Bus" since it doesn't have cloaking technology, that means Coulson has to fly coach in his various around the world jaunts to recruit allies, gain new technological toys for SHIELD's agents, and also obtain intel about HYDRA's various placements.

Audiences are also introduced to a mercenary team headed by Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless), who has been thus far working with Coulson and SHIELD. But they've got a mole on their squad. Marvel Comics supervillain Absorbing Man aka George "Crusher" Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), is in their midst, gathering intel for HYDRA, who seem to be calling the shots for the infamous bad guy. When word gets out that HYDRA is searching for another 0-8-4 artifact (just like back in Season 1 when everyone jumped on "The Bus" and flew to South America for some old HYDRA tech). But this isn't any old 0-8-4, its the FIRST 0-8-4 that was ever recovered by SHIELD, making it a prize worthy of HYDRA's attention. In the grand game of deception to infiltrate the military facility that holds the 0-8-4, Coulson and his team have to kidnap now Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), in order to obtain his voice patterns and fingerprints to play a little game of hacking to fly under the radar. The 0-8-4 of course turns out to be more then the team imagined, and sadly HYDRA gets away with the goodies.                          

For everyone who came into Season 2 expecting it to follow the same slow pattern that started Season 1, I hope you were surprised. Everything about this first episode made me smile, the action, the new characters, the return of old characters, the dialogue, all of it was awesome. I get the sense that Season 2 will be stronger in terms of all aspects, and I for one can not wait to see what new adventures everyone at SHIELD will face.

Monday, September 22, 2014

'Gotham' Pilot Episode Review

Fall is upon us ladies and gentlemen, the leaves will be turning colors, the weather will be getting colder, and the lineup of fall TV shows begins anew. And right out of the gate, Fox is hitting the nail on the head with 'Gotham', a show about Batman's legendary city, in the years before the Dark Knight and his colorful cast of secondary characters are running through its streets and across its rooftops.

The show starts off with one heck of a opening, the start to Bruce Wayne's long journey as the Batman, the death of his parents. After said murder, we are introduced to James Gordon, freshly minted detective assigned to the GCPD, Jim and his partner, Detective Harvey Bullock set out on the task of discovering who killed two of Gotham's wealthiest citizens, and along the way, we are introduced to the many other persons, who will one day become part of the Batman mythos.

Ben McKenzie steps into the role of James Gordon, and does it well. Focused, honest, wanting to make a difference in a city awash in crime. He sets the stage nicely for the man that Jim Gordon will become in later years. Stepping in a his partner and already corrupt Gotham PD Detective Harvey Bullock is Donal Logue, a man who is weary of the fight for law and order, and now only concerns himself with survival and looking out for himself.

On the other side of the law is small time crime boss Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. Her character is created just for the series, but the way Smith handles her, with cleverness, tenacity and a vicious streak that surprised me, Fish Mooney fits in right at home in Gotham City, with her big plans to one day rise to the top. At her side is Oswald Cobblepot, played by Robin Lord Taylor, who honestly stood out head and shoulders above everyone else. He physically fits the character to a T, and the vicious streak beneath the gentlemanly manners brings the character to life in a terrifying way.

As for "neutral" characters, we have Bruce Wayne played by newcomer David Mazouz. While Bruce's character doesn't do much in the way of action, for plot he adds a lot of depth. This is the boy who will grow into a man, and will don the cape and cowl of one of DC Comics most well known and long lasting characters. For now, he is just a boy, his parents death fresh in his mind, and already he wishes he could have done something, made a difference. And so therein is the seed for justice sown.

Filling the role of Alfred Pennyworth, loyal butler to the Wayne family and confidant of Bruce Wayne, is Sean Pertwee, who plays Alfred as a caring, if slightly foul-mouthed Londoner who is the only thing to family Bruce has left in the world.

And rounding out the cast is Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, who after bearing silent witness to the Wayne's murder, starts to appear in Bruce's life, quietly, like a silent guardian angel.

All in all, the show does a spectacular job for its pilot episode. I for one cannot wait for what excitement it holds in store for everyone. I am being flat out honest right now, start watching this show, I feel that it will hold nothing but good things for all who Batman fans. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams: The passing of a legend

Today, the world mourns the passing of Robin Williams, arguably, one of the greatest comedic personalities and actors of several generations. For many, he was known for his great dramatic roles, such as Adrian Cronauer in "Good Morning Vietnam", John Keating in "Dead Poets Society", Daniel Hillard in "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting". And for others, myself included, he was the voice of the Genie in "Aladdin". 

But he was so much more, to so many others. He was an inspiration for what it means to be good at being funny, to be really good. He was also an inspiration for those who pursue tireless dreams and should not give, because things start out rough. If they want to be good at something, they should pursue it, become better at it. And there is no better example then being good at pursuing a dream then Robin Williams. 

I could go on and on about his work in film, in stand up, in just being an all-around amazing human being. But mere words can not describe this towering figure, this giant of laughter. If you want to look for the means to describe who he was, look to his films, and the roles he played and the characters he brought to life. There is the means to describe who and what Robin Williams was. And do you know what my description of him is? Comedian, actor, genius, bringer of smiles and purveyor of good times. But now, the good times are over. Because the comedian has told his last joke, and the actor has taken his last bow. It's time to say so long folks, and have a good evening, drive safe, and keep smiling.

Friday, August 1, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Review

If there is one word I can use to sum up Marvel's latest film "Guardians of the Galaxy", it is quite simply, amazing. This movie did for me, what no other film has done in a long time. It made me laugh, made me cry, made me grip my seat arms with excitement and anticipation. James Gunn does an outstanding job taking a film with characters from the Marvel Universe that haven't seen the big screen before, and blending them and their worlds together in a film that takes drama, comedy and adventure and mix it together into one delicious cocktail of excellent.

One of the things that stood out for me right off the bat was the acting and casting. Chris Pratt takes his role as Star-Lord and really owns it, making the character brave, stupid, roguish and sometimes downright annoying. In short, to me, he is like a young Captain James T. Kirk (the womanizing aspect doesn't need explanation, its prevalent alright). Zoe Saldana fits the role of Gamora, taking the character's serious, yet caring nature and bringing it to life along with her fierce fighting skills. As for Dave Batista as Drax, well while he starts off somewhat awkward in the role, he gets progressively better throughout the film. And last but not least, we round out the hero cart with Bradley Cooper providing the voice of Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel providing the voice and motion casting of Groot. Both do amazing jobs, even if Groots dialogue is limited to three syllables. But Rocket, well, there are times I wanna punt the little guy like a furry football, and times when you want to hug him and hope he doesn't scratch off your face and ruin the nice moment.

Lee Pace stepping in as Kree terrorist Ronan the Accuser is a nice touch, but the character is at times rather one-sided. He does have his moments though, as does Karen Gillan as Nebula, one of the mad Titan Thano's adopted daughters. Oh, and did I mention Thanos shows up as well? Yes, the legendary villain finally gets screen time, with his voice and motion capture provided by actor Josh Brolin (I was extremely terrified and excited when this scene played out).

As for the CGI, special effects and visual appeal of the film, there is no shortage of that. Sets like the Xandarian prison The Kiln, the space outpost Knowhere and Ronan's ship 'The Dark Aster' are beautifully done and incredibly elaborate. But part of me was left lacking by the fact that while the Nova Corps home planet of Xandar is shown, there isn't much detail about the people of Xandar and the culture, merely that it is the object of Ronan's evil desires. But I can excuse this because the battle scenes are quite literally out of this world.

Overall, this movie is well worth all the wait. It holds up, and goes above and beyond what I had even expected. It is the most unique of the Marvel films thus far, because it literally opens the possibility of bringing more to the table as far as movies go, literally taking audiences among the stars to new worlds. I am giving the moving four out of four stars for amazing acting, sets, CGI, story and above all, for making a guy like me feel like a kid again. It takes a lot for a film to garner that kind of reaction from me, and 'Guardians of the Galaxy' does that in spades.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Godzilla' Review

Several hours ago, I had the good fortune to catch a early day showing of the new Godzilla film, and wow, it was beyond amazing. The story, the special effects and the acting, ah, they were so glorious!

Right off the bat, audiences are shown that this isn't just going to be the usual Godzilla-brand movie of giant monsters fighting each other in a major metropolitan center. Yes, there are amazing fight scenes, but there is more then that. There is an actual story being told here, the story of what would happen in our world, if these giant ancient monsters existed, and how would mankind react to them? Take that script, sprinkle in the fight sequences between the various armed forces (primarily US) and Godzilla taking on this new monster that is set out to sweep aside mankind for its own survival, and then there is one heck of a movie in front of audiences.

The special effects were beyond amazing. The CGI for Godzilla and the MUTO (the antagonist monster of the film) was utterly fantastic. It is both believable, and terrifying to behold. If there are ever to be sequel movies made, this is the style of special effects crafting that needs to be utilized for making these movie monsters so real.

As for the acting, well honestly, it was a bit of hit and miss. Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe and Aaron Taylor-Johnson all did amazing jobs with their performances, but Elizabeth Olsen's was a bit out of place. Her role is that of the loving wife to Taylor-Johnson's soldier husband, and she does her part well, but it felt out of place in all these action sequences and scenes within military zones planning the next moves against the creatures. But in the end, all did deliver and helped make the movie all the better for their acting.

'Godzilla' gets four out of four stars for breathing fresh life into the monster movie franchise, and for doing it in a way that pays homage to the films that came before it, while presenting a fresh new take on the genre that can hopefully delight and thrill audiences should further movies be made.

Friday, May 2, 2014

'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Review

One word, can be used to describe the new Spider-Man film ladies and gentlenerds (cliche as it may be), and that word is amazing. This second installment delivers so much to the screen, it stands apart from its predecessor and has laid the foundation for even more great Spider-Man films.

To start off, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone once again do a spectacular job as Peter and Gwen. There are obvious changes to the characters, the passage of time aging them, their relationship now taking a new turn as they leave high school and go off into the world of college. Andrew has upped things in his performance of Spidey, really putting the 'friendly' back into Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. He cracks funny jokes, deliver's great one-liners and carries the character physically in a way that is entirely believable and helps sell the performance. And Emma, oh there was never a doubt in my mind as to her performance. Here is her character, at this crossroads of life, and she has to make tough decisions about her future, and whether or not the man she loves (plus his side career as New York's favorite web-slinging superhero) are going to be a part of it. Once again, she is bold, she is sassy, she will break your heart and then help you pick up the pieces again, only to break it once more.

There are two new-comers to the film, Jaime Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. Jamie has set himself up in a huge way as Electro, starting out as meek, pushover Max, who goes through this very Jekyll and Hyde like transformation when he becomes Electro, and gets overwhelmed by this power. By the time the film ends, he has become so intimidating and scary, with these small bolts of electricity crackling from his fingers, that I was genuinely in awe and afraid. As for Dane DeHaan, who is brand new to the franchise in the role of Peter's best friend Harry Osborn, he presents a young man, who was pushed aside by his father and shunted out of his life, all in the name of business. Now he has come back into Peter's life a changed person, and these changes affect their friendship, down to the very core. What comes from these changes, are events that will rock their lives, and the lives of all who close to them.

Special effects, oh what glorious special effects! The CGI for Electro starts out a bit cartoonish, but as the film progresses, it is better and better, until the very end, during the nice, splashy fight sequence, it is utterly unbelievable. Spidey's web slinging across the great canyon's of New York City skyscrapers is wonderful, at times you'd think he was going to websling out of the screen and into the theatre.

Overall, the whole movie was again (a cliche word to use) amazing. Acting, special effects, plot, pacing, all of these things contribute to put together a film that is going to be very memorable for all who see it. Face front true believers, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is worth the ticket money, and I'm giving it five out of five stars. Nuff said. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Review

When a nation calls for a hero, who is the one that answers that call. I'll give you all a hint, he wears the flag on his chest, and carries a wonderful shield made of indestructible alloy's. Once again ladies and gentlenerds, Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty, is back, and better then ever. 

This second film, starring Chris Evans as one of Marvel's oldest superheroes, delivers not only one-two action sequences, but a compelling and dark story that thrusts Cap's black and white way of viewing the world, into a tangled spy story where a lot of grey bleeds into the picture. 

Audiences are treated to the return of some familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic-verse, Chris Evans being one, as well as Scarlett Johansson and Samuel Jackson. There is also the return of Sebastian Stan as the titular villain the Winter Soldier, and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon. A second new face is acting legend Robert Redford as senior officer of S.H.I.E.L.D. Though Stan is silent for the majority of the film, his face does most of the talking, conveying the stern, hard evil that the Soldier projects further through his fighting and combat scenes. Mackie does a splendid job as a newcomer to the Marvel fold, and Redford nails his role utterly. 

The script is an excellent one, and while I'm not going to spoil it for everyone who hasn't seen the film yet, if anyone recalls many of the political-thriller films of the 1970s. Steve Rogers may have been awake in the comics for the swinging 60's, the Watergate 70's and the Regan 80's up to the modern day, but since he's been asleep for 60 years within the Marvel Cinematic-verse, the writing is meant to draw the elements of that period, and tie them into the modern setting for him to encounter. And it does that in a way that is both compelling and engaging for audiences. 

Overall, I give this film four out of four stars, for being another brilliant chapter in the Marvel Movie-verse, delivering one again that fantastic blend of story and action that has become synonymous with their movies. And I encourage everyone to go and see this film, because it is worth, 100%.