Mix it up – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Guardians of the Galaxy – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn (screenplay), Nicole Perlman (screenplay), Dan Abnett (comic book), Andy Lanning (comic book)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana

It is no secret that I am a fan of Marvel films. One of my friends asked me when I was going to write a negative review of a Marvel film. I told him that I’d write one when I saw a bad one in this new phase of Marvel Film productions. Guardians of the Galaxy was another in a long line of films that I will watch on repeat when I get my hands on the Blu-ray.

Comic books translate into film either really well or hopelessly. There have been hits and misses. But since Phase 1 began it has been hard to fault them. I’m even partial to Iron Man 2 (yes I know that is controversial, and it isn’t my first choice but they introduced Black Widow there so I can’t hate on it). Guardians was a risk. It isn’t in the Avengers realm, there isn’t much chance of Iron Man or Captain America showing up (at least not yet in the films). It is a new universe for the Marvel Films to venture into, but the thing is I’ve grown to trust Marvel Films to put on a good show. You know when you walk into that dimly lit cinema with popcorn accidentally spilling onto the floor from your flimsy bucket, that you are in for a fun ride. Whether it is the thriller suspense of Captain America, the action/comedy of Iron Man or the fantasy world of Thor, there is an understanding between Marvel and the audience that you will be met with quality. This bond hasn’t just grown in the cinema over the last six years but over the last 75 years through the comics. We trust that the people bringing these stories to us love them just as much as we do.

Guardians is no different in this wonderful, trusting relationship. It is of the highest calibre of comic book film. It has the humour, the action, the villain and the hero (although not the way you would usually think of it) and you have those delicious graphics. The writing is incredible, the story flows beautifully, the characters develop genuinely, and the filming is gorgeous. My favourite part though? (And this probably isn’t a big guess for those of you who know me) Zoe Saldana. In a mostly male cast she holds her own as the strongest character, the one with the best character reveal and development, the one who gives the most and who has the most to lose. Gamora is fierce and there is no one that could do a better fierce than Saldana.

Guardians will be a treasure in my heart for a long time. A movie that is fun and adventurous and that genuinely makes me happy. It is so very almost perfect.


Into the darkness with beaming luminescence – Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Star Trek Into Darkness – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci (written by) & Alex Kurtzman (written by) & Damon Lindelof (written by) and Gene Roddenberry (television series “Star Trek”)
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban.

I have been putting off writing this review. Simply because I have no idea even where to begin or what to focus on. I try to have a general direction with these reviews. Star Trek Into Darkness has made all the rationale words of a writer and reviewer disappear from my head. All I can think of to say is: “IT WAS AMAZING! YOU NEED TO SEE IT NOW!”.

But that would not be helpful. So here I go. Trying to describe this epic film in a few hundred words.

Visually this film is stunning. The graphics are simply breathtaking. From the very first moments of the film you know that the film is going to be a visual onslaught of beauty. The techniques Abrams adopted to shoot the first Star Trek film in 2009 are evident with lens flares galore. And sometimes you notice the visual cues that are cleverly adopted to salute to the old series, including a red shirt gag. Abrams has succeeded once again in using the screen, the set, the camera, and the lighting to tell a whole narrative alongside what is said and done on screen.

What is said and done though is just as great as the visuals. Benedict Cumberbatch has made it known that he is a formidable actor in a lot of different films and TV series, and as the tormented villain of this instalment his presence seals this film with a fifth star.

Narratively this film is quite similar to the first. Captain Kirk is faced with tough choices and with his comrade of Spock by his side they battle together with their differences clashing and complimenting each other. The emotional journey of these characters is always quite interesting as the ideas of what it means to be human are explored. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are fantastic lead actors but it is really the secondary actors of Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, and Karl Urban that make this film that little bit better than other action sci-fi films. The comic relief, the emotional support, the friendship and the conflict that these characters bring to the film makes it fun, fast-paced, and thoroughly entertaining.

I loved this film, as you can probably tell, and will see it many more times to come. It is one of those films that will make me giddy with excitement and make my heart race every time. Perfectly paced, this film doesn’t drag you along for the ride but welcomes you on to the bridge and gives you a seat just behind the captain’s chair.


Sadness and Pity – The Words

The Words - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Words – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Words (2012)

Directors: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Writers: Brian Klugman (screenplay), Lee Sternthal (screenplay)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana and Olivia Wilde

There are moments when a movie trailer can win me over enough to send me to the cinemas. The Words wasn’t even on my radar and I’m usually not a huge fan of Bradley Cooper or Dennis Quaid. It was the story that was told in the trailer that caught my attention. (Watch it here)

The story of a stolen novel and a stolen life. The composition of the film is beautiful and tragic. You know from the moment the film begins that it won’t have a wonderful and happy ending but neither do you know what will inevitably become of the young man who dreams of being something more than what he is. This isn’t a fast moving, action packed film, nor is it an utterly tragic drama, and yet it left me with a feeling that I cannot fully explain. I left the cinema with a heaviness and depth of pity and sadness for the men in the film that I haven’t felt before, which makes me ask the question: why?

It wasn’t the most amazing film I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t even hitting in my top twenty or fifty necessarily. However, it was able to convey something that I hadn’t experienced before. The darkness of fame, the twisted shame of lies, the hurt and pain of loss, the need for redemption and to right our wrongs, and the emptiness that comes with keeping a secret that tears apart your life. That is what the film left me with. The simple truth that we do wrong and we have to live with the consequences.

The way that Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal composed this film brought into light that if a story is worth telling then do it simply, without grandiose or theatrics. Just tell it like it is, let the characters be real and true and awful. I felt the pain and shame of Bradley Cooper’s character; and the hurt and loss of Jeremy Irons old man; and the love and fear of Zoe Saldana’s character. There was depth to the narrative and development of the characters without being obvious or over-the-top. It meant that the heart of the film was able to shine through without being tarnished by me thinking about the film making techniques or script. It was a beauty and sad story told simply and graciously.

I really recommend you see this film. Not just for the gorgeousness of Bradley Cooper’s blue eyes, but for the feeling that this film leaves you with when the lights go up at the end of the film. It may not change your life, or stay with you forever, but it will make you feel something different.