Guardians of the Galaxy: The not-so-cool younger sibling of The Avengers

Earthlings, aliens, exuberant villains, an abundance of leather costumes and incredible mass of testosterone, tend to make for a good superhero movie. While Guardians of the Galaxy had the potential, it fell short, especially when compared to the high calibre of Marvel’s other films.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...Milano..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014 The_Avengers_posterIt’s practically inevitable that audiences are going to compare Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers as they’re two superhero movies in which the world is saved by a semi-dysfunctional band of unlikely heroes. And of course, when you’ve got the tree trunk arms of  an Asgardian king, the witty genius of Tony Stark, the incredible badassery of Natasha Romanov and well, a Hulk, an animated raccoon with anger issues is seriously lacklustre.

The leader of the Guardians, Peter Quill, a.k.a Starlord, is a likeable character and Chris Pratt deserves an honourable mention for his performance. While still delivering humorous one-liners, this role was a far stretch from his role as the witless but endearing Andy Dwyer in Parks & Recreation. Not only was his physical transformation for this role impressive (hello muscles!), but he adapted well to the drama, action and slightly romantic scenes within the film.

Not the pudgy Andy Dwyer we're used to.

Not the pudgy Andy Dwyer we’re used to.

The most prominent flaw with Quill though, was how ridiculously quickly he changed his mind about Gamora (Zoe Saldana). His decision to trust her developed so quickly and with only the tiniest amount of justification, it almost gave me whiplash. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching their relationship develop throughout the film and admired that Gamora was a strong willed female protagonist who could hold her own in a fight, which is a relatively rare sight in modern cinema. And hallelujah, there wasn’t a kiss! I can’t remember the last movie I watched that featured a heterosexual couple who didn’t stop to make out at some point, so it was refreshing to not have the romantic element take over and dilute the adventure and fantasy elements.

The actual plot of the film was interesting but rather plain and straightforward. Our hero team finds an object that has the potential to destroy the universe, the bad guys want the object and an intergalactic hunt/race/battle ensues. Yes the fighting is cool, as to be expected but there was nothing spectacular about it. It’s an interesting movie to watch but somewhat predictable so seeing it once at the cinema was enough and I’m not in any rush to see it again or pre-order the Bluray.

Zoe Saldana rocks the Starfleet uniform better than the burgundy leather jumpsuit she dons in this movie and I would’ve preferred to see Bradley Cooper rock a leather jumpsuit than just hear his voice coming out of the mouth of a raccoon.

Zoe Saldana's character, Gamora.

Zoe Saldana’s character, Gamora.

Obviously, fans of Marvel will watch this film, and rightly so because does have its moments and it’s always exciting to see comic book characters come to life. Ultimately, it feels like Guardians of the Galaxy is just a simpler, less impressive version of The Avengers that is more likely to appeal to younger kids more so than any other demographic. There is a talking tree after all.

Hello villains! Film review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro fares well as Marvel’s latest superhero instalment, but the 140-minute film devotes plenty of screen time towards establishing the story-arcs and villains for a multi-sequel movie franchise.

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Andrew Garfield returns to a role that seems to fit him as snuggly as that red and navy spandex suit does. Spider-Man not only battles two new enemies in Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster, he also struggles with finding a balance between his two identities, particularly when it comes to his relationship with Gwen Stacy.

As with all superhero franchises, there comes the inevitable plot of the public eventually turning on the hero. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does dabble in this, thankfully, it isn’t an overshadowing storyline.

The film is fantastic in 3D, although that might have more to do with Andrew Garfield in aforementioned spandex, than the motion sickness inducing sequences of Spider-Man freefalling and swinging through New York City skyscrapers. The 3D was also beneficial for the bright, static electricity used as a new weapon to wreak havoc on iconic NYC locations and its inhabitants, courtesy of Spider-Man’s newest enemy, Electro.

The powers were cool, the villain himself, was not. Given the magnitude of extreme badass-ery exemplified by Marvel’s other villains (Loki, The Avengers/ Malekith, Thor 2), Electro, whose main motive for antagonising Spider-Man was rooted in low self-esteem, was an uninspiring villain.

His former Max Dillon ticked every single box on the cliché nerd trope list and so the lightning fast transformation from an introvert to power-hungry, raging supervillain is unconvincing and frankly, disappointing.

However, in this film, we meet Harry Osborn, Peter’s best friend (played by Dane DeHaan), a character whom the phrase ‘Cunning as a fox’ has never been more fitting. His desperate attempt to cure a fatal genetic disease results in the formation of a worthy villain, the Green Goblin who causes more catastrophe and devastation in five minutes than Electro does throughout the entire film.

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Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield. Image via flickr.

Furthermore, it’s Osborn’s unravelling of Oscorp’s secret files that opens the door to a wide world of villains on which to base future film sequels.

Garfield’s co-star Emma Stone returns as Spider-Man’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Gwen Stacy and the chemistry between the two hasn’t dwindled since the first film. Humorous dialogue and some pretty big romantic gestures between the lovebirds are peppered throughout the film, which works well to offset all the car chases, fight sequences and explosions.

Given that our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man didn’t make the Avengers cut, it’s nice to see his return in a standalone film. With clever acrobatic fight choreography, quick and witty dialogue, impressive visual effects and heart-stopping drama, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 definitely gives Marvel’s other superhero flicks a run for their money.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro opens in cinemas on April 17.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Don’t let the less-than-spectacular ending to the Spiderman trilogy with Toby Maguire stop you from seeing this new (and oh so much better) movie. For starters, Andrew Garfield was born for this role, not to mention he’s a self-professed Spiderman fan and has been since he was a kid. He’s the perfect slightly socially awkward yet endearing 17 year old kid who caused me to have my fair share of fangirl moments throughout the film. Yes, the scene that deserves a specific mention is when Peter asks Gwen Stacy (co-star Emma Stone) on a date. You can’t deny, it was horribly awkward yet weirdly becoming at the same time. Hats off to Andrew Garfield!

The film has some pretty wicked ‘swinging in-between buildings’ sequences that are quite obviously designed to wow the crowd if you chose to see it in 3D. While it looked cool in 2D, the effect was sort of lost. Running at just over two hours, the pace seemed steady, all the ideas and characters were fleshed out although Dr Connors (Rhys Ifans) seemed to have some crazy mood swings that seemed a bit rushed.

What makes this film even better was the comical side. Actual laugh-out-loud moments which once again are a testament to Andrew Garfield’s acting. And of course, there was Stan Lee’s cameo – one of his finest; a clueless librarian who can’t hear the action packed fight between Spider-Man and The Lizard behind him over the classical music pumping out of his headphones.

As always, if you leave before the end of the credits during a Marvel flick, then you deserve to miss out on the extra scene because really, you should know better. But without spoiling it, I will say that it just left me with more questions.

Would I see it again? Yes
4 1/2 stars

Review: Oz Comic-Con 2012 Melbourne

Geeks, assemble!

There were people dressed up in every single superhero costume known to man, with the Avengers characters by far the most popular choices; there were merchandise stalls that had every gift from every fandom (Game of Thrones house sigil coasters anyone?) and there were ginormous queues that went from one side of the building to the other and back around the outside. If you had the patience to wait 90 minutes just to get in the door and then wait another hour in the line to get photo or signature tokens, you would have had an amazing day.

With nearly 40,000 sci-fi and comic fans showing up across the weekend, it’s no wonder some photo ops sold out before 11am, leaving thousands of late-comers disappointed. Tokens for the event’s biggest guest, Stan Lee (pictured), were the first to go, and those who managed to score one forked out $60 to be whisked in and out of the photo-booth in about 25 seconds. Patrick Stewart attracted just as much attention, as did Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa.

Stage 1 was packed to max capacity for Mr Lee’s panel. It was just one man, one chair, one stage, but everyone hung on his every word. He told wildly animated stories about how he created Spiderman, the supposed rivalry between Marvel and DC, his in-movie cameos and how he simply couldn’t pick his favourite character. “I love Thor, I love Captain America, Iron Man, I even like Daredevil – whose movie wasn’t even that big a hit,” he said. His panel ended with a standing ovation, with fans overwhelmed by the presence of the 89-year-old comic legend.

Rows of merchandise stalls filled the Exhibition Centre and the aisles were packed to the brim with fans eager to hand over hundreds of dollars. From lower priced items like golden snitch earrings and Sheldon Cooper bobble-heads to the more extravagant collectibles such as life-size Nimbus 2001 broomsticks ($300) or signed and framed photographs of any celebrity (Heath Ledger as the Joker was $650) – there was something to catch the attention of every fan.

Despite the frustrating queues (even the bathrooms had about a 10-minute wait), lack of proper signage and no one stopping queue jumpers, Oz Comic-Con was a huge success and event organisers have already booked dates in July 2013 to return to Melbourne at the larger venue of the Royal Exhibition Centre.

My review is on the Time Out website too

Pictures coming!