Friday, August 01, 2014

Movie Review - Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Haddock, and more.

Directed by: James Gunn Written by: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman Based on the Comics by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Cinematography by: Ben Davis Music by: Tyler Bates

Premise: Kidnapped from Earth as a boy, a grown Peter Quill decides to scoop a big score and leave the Ravagers behind. But the price on his head and the object he's stolen brings him in contact with a cast of outcasts that will now have to cooperate with one another to escape prison. As the group find themselves in the middle of a game for an object that can destroy worlds, they must decide whether to run or stay and try to make a difference. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Though you'd not normally expect this from a SF movie, this is one of those films where there truly are no small parts - because every line or look is delivered so naturally, even when it's an awkward moment, that they make the scenes pull that much harder at the audience. Kudos.

Chris Pratt played the charming scoundrel expertly. Zoe Saldana was too fun as Gamora and kicked all sorts of booty. Dave Bautista had several lovely one liners, which he delivered beautifully. Bradley Cooper did a great job as Rocket, but he got outdone by Vin Diesel as the second half of this comedy pair. "I am Groot" was served to us in a myriad of ways - the meanings and inflections changing as the movie went on and served nicely by to us by Vin Diesel. Nice job!

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: A fabulous job on all the special effects. I am so in love with Quill's ship! The Ravagers might not be a nice bunch of guys, but they have good taste in small fighters - that sucker hovers and turns like a dream. The main Kree ship was fabulous inside and out - loved the bizarre control system. The mining colony inside the floating giant head was very cool. (Though the concept of them mining flesh and fluids from it was disturbing!) Nova had a lovely capital city. Their one man fighters were also cool, especially when you see how they're used for planetary defense.

Besides ships and cities, the special effects team did wonders with Rocket, and even more so with Groot. Groot was constantly changing, which must have given the special effects peeps fits, but he looked so utterly amazing. Thanos also looked fabulous, especially lording it over Ronan from his throne. The communications screen on the Kree ship was super unusual.

The special effects teams also did a lot of stuff with prosthetics and enhancements which came across very well. The effects of exposure to space looked really amazing, and were a different take from the norm. Oh and Yondu's flying knife? Awesome!

The ruins sequence close to the beginning was awesome on several levels - not only because of the special effects, but also from general creativity, and more besides.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: First they get you with an emotional scene, then a surprising one. Jump to years later and this was one of the most unusual yet fabulous introductions into a story ever! It did wonders to set the mood for the rest of the film and made something expected totally new by adding a little twist.

Corny as some of the lines were, in the right environment and said just right, they'll bring tears. I had to wiped at my eyes in several spots, so they got me 'hook, line, and sinker'.  It's some of the real, life like, clunky relationships and edges between the group that somehow only served to endear them all the more.

The story progresses in the general direction you'd expect, but with some some swipes sideways, which will keep you wondering what the heck they'll get into next.

There are several themes running through the film - some more subtle than others, yet all are part of the fabric that allowed the universe to use such an unusual bunch of heroes to save the day.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of hand to hand combat, gun fights, and knife fights. Even some 'Limb Fu'. CGI stunts here and there, but they were integrated nicely together with the real physical action. Great work overall.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Space is wide and vast and the cinematographer and the special effects teams took full advantage. There were several spots were large things took up the upfront view, and these were layered on even more awesome backdrops. The film makers made full use of the IMAX capabilities for some great jaw dropping scenery.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The makeup teams really deserve some applause. It's hard to compete against CGI, but they definitely held their own. From the various skin tones (pink, green, blue) to the gorgeous, beveled tattoo overlay on Drax and his bright eyes, they didn't stint on quality. Ronan's off colored skin and dried goo was as captivating as his CGI enhanced purple eyes.

7) Music - Total Thumbs Up: From all the 80's music to the orchestral additions by Tyler Bates, the music and its integration to the plot shows how much attention was paid in what to play, how, and when. Every piece of music served a purpose and added a definite extra level to whatever was going on. It was even weirdly nostalgic.

Conclusion: Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, action filled SF romp across the universe. Seeing little Groot dance in the credits? Priceless. And make sure to sit through to the end for a special appearance you will never expect. Heh heh.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mind Sieve 7/28/14

This will be a quick one!
ArmadilloCon was fun, but the catching up begins!

Morganville Trailer!  Woot!  Web series based on the Rachel Caine Morganville Vampire series. Sweet!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Virtual Tourist - TERA 7/27/14

Still having fun at ArmadilloCon, but it pays to be prepared! Heh heh

Tuwangi Mire

Some really interesting flora in this area.

Seems idyllic, doesn't it?

Except for the frogs! (See the frog balloon in the upper left?)

These little guys are totally all about frogs.

Really colorful (and weird) stuff here. :)

Cool mount!

Celestial Hills

Really loved these rocks. So mysterious

The pointy one is floating above the base below it.

Lion mount! Ooooo!

Those suckers were so weird! 

The sun. I love the magic lines.

Bad tempered dudes.

Isn't that pretty?

One of the small outposts in this zone.

Loved this cool gadget they had in the center of the outpost.

Some of the ruins in the area

Cool observatory at the outpost.

This building had such a neat interior too.  Loved this little place.

Happy gaming!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Movie Review - Snowpiercer

(Running super short on time so forgive any typos and crappy grammar!)

Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremmer, Ah-sung Ko, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino, Vlad Ivanov, Adnan Hascovik, and more.

Directed by: Joon-ho Bong Screenplay by: Joon-ho Bong and Kelly Masterson Based on Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette Cinematography by: Kyung-pyo Hong Music by: Marco Beltrami

Premise: When a fix for global warming goes terribly wrong, the world is plunged into an eternal winter. While all other life is gone, humans have survived thanks to Wilford Industries and its train. But for those in the rear of the train, life is harsh. Despite previous failed attempts to push their way to the front and confronting Wilford and his mighty engine, when two of their children are taken away without explanation, Curtis gives in and those in the back make their move. (Rated R)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Loved Chris Evans in this. Shows a different side of his abilities. Jamie Bell was full of passion and hero worship. Kang-ho Song was fun with his interested disinterest. John Hurt and Ed Harris - need I say more? Tilda Swinton was a hoot as Mason. And always love to watch Octavia Spencer work. All these people are what made the movie worth watching. If not for them...

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Very subtle and well done special effects. Watching the train careening over the tracks and smashing into ice looked very cool. The engine itself was minimalistically cool. Smoke and mirrors. Several of the cars were fantastic and not just in the sharp contrast with what we'd seen of the train before, but the set up. The sushi car was super awesome.

Lots of neat visuals sprinkled through the film - when they get their first ever look (for some) outside the train; the fight in the car with all the night vision goggle guys; the bizarre school, and more.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: If you can ignore all the unrealistic pieces of the film, there are some neat plot beneath it. But many will find it hard. Suspension of disbelief has to reach new heights to swallow parts of this one.

The science on this is so terribly, terribly bad. The train is supposed to be a self sustaining entity, and has to have successfully been doing so for almost twenty years. But if the sections of the train we get to see as the revolution heads towards the front is any indication, there's no way it could handle the number of people aboard. They'd been better served to have set this situation up aboard a cruise ship or a facility inside a mountain than on a train. The amount of room they'd need just to reprocess waste materials or grow anywhere near the amount of food or other things they'd need to exist was way beyond what the train could possibly contain. There's not even enough room to walk or exercise, so the fact these people in the back could even move since they've nothing to do but eat and sleep, was a stretch.

Bad science aside, a lot of the social aspects explored in the film were very interesting. They even set up a several mysteries to entice us along - the mysterious Mr. Wilson, the engine, what could they be possibly doing with the back car kids? Seeing how the different sections are all going a little crazy, each in their own way. Neat stuff.

If they'd only paid a little more attention to the science this could have been so so good! They also thought they ended it on a hopeful note, but they are so very wrong.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Some really neat stunts and fight scenes. The way they come up with to break from their compartment into the next car or two over was super cool! And the fight with the guards with the night vision goggles as the new year rings in was mind boggling and well done on so many levels. Nice work!

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The look of the cars as they moved from back to front where all little capsules of their own with a different look and feel for every one of them. The spanning shots of the train and the white emptiness, the railroad bridge and the yawning expanse below, lots of neat visuals.

Conclusion: If you can ignore the utterly atrocious science with regards to the train being an actual working self contained eco-system, there is fun to be had. The surprises and reveals toward the end were quite devilish.

Rating: 3 of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better on Cable)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 7/23/14

Half the week is almost over and ArmadilloCon lays in the horizon. Woot!

Fell in love with this one at Alessio Albi's site - Rebecca. Nice! Lots of gorgeous work! 

Totally love this one too. Mr. Malkiewicz does incredible work. (I have a friend who LOVES trains. Had to instantly send an email. Heh heh.)

May your day be filled with awesome sights!

Monday, July 21, 2014

MInd Sieve 7/21/14

Greetings, all!

Fan Fun

Campaign for raising funds to make a long Simon's Cat Cartoon at Indiegogo. Should be so cute!!!!

Syfy is doing a TV version of 12 Monkeys! Could be fun!

Sharknado 2 The Second One - official trailer. HAH! Didn't see the 1st one but this one looks fun. lol.

Appleseed Alpha Official Trailer 1 - CGI of the anime/manga series - sweet!

Crimson Skies Official Trailer - Woot! Dragon apocalypse!!!!

Writing Advice

From Jami Gold - Building a Character ARC Starts From the End. Great stuff!

Why You Should Act As Your Own Author-Publisher (At Least Once) from Chuck (NSFW) Wendig. Pay close attention to #6 though! There really are no shortcuts. If you're new to writing, you must never assume you actually have a clue - because in the beginning, most of us really don't! :P

Out of time. Stay healthy!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Virtual Tourist - TERA 7/20/14

Morning all!
Running late. Been fighting a cold and it tricked me this morning. For shame!

Crecentia/Lumbertown areas
(I think)

Like totally friendly decor here, right?

Portable campfires to regen health, mps, and stamina. 

Totally cute!

Yeah, totally friendly area. For sure! NOT

Such cool architecture!

Teleport portal. These guys do use antlers in all their decorating! Hee hee!

Cutest bag guys ever!

All sorts of interesting stuff.

Doesn't he look cool?

Latest armor of the moment.

Hubby's. Too cute

This thing was so creepy looking! 

The rows of eyes. Eek!

Bunny in a rock. 

Baby dragon!!!!!

Isn't that a glorious sky?

Gave a great day!