Saturday, October 25, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

While I read a lot of comic books (and I mean A LOT), I've never read Guardians of the Galaxy or even heard of them until the movie trailer came out, so I was hesitant to see this movie. But the trailer was really entertaining, and I heard so many good things about it, that I gave in and spent the two hours. And am I glad I did! This is a near perfect movie that will entertain people from 8 to 80 with very little to offend anyone.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a science fiction space opera based on the Marvel Comic. It is rated PG-13 and is appropriate for tweens and up because of language and a few off color jokes.


Action. Too often space operas are comedies with token action to satisfy the genre, but this movie is first and foremost an action flick that takes itself seriously with humor added to enhance the movie, not make up for the lack of story, plot, and action. This movie is filled with great hand-to-hand fighting, use of weapons, and cool vehicle scenes.

Comedy. This movie is funny with jokes that only work in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The humor was fairly unique and not the same jokes we've seen and heard a million times. That was a really enjoyable change.

Cast. I don't think this movie could have been better cast. Each actor and actress fit his or her part perfectly and played them like they were the character and not an actor playing a character.

Star Lord. Too often in these types of movies, the main character is incompetent and either saves the day by accident or has to do a lot of failing with everyone else sacrificing and making up the difference until the main character has no choice but to save the day at the end after much resistence. Star Lord isn't like that. While he's funny, he's not a goof or a bimbo. He's actually quite competent and skilled. It isn't hard to believe he would save the day. How refreshing, a hero that's actually competent.

Production Design. The visuals and design of this movie look like they came straight out of a late 70s to mid 80s scifi flick like Battlestar Galactica or Michael Jackson's Epcot Center movie. They spent the time and money to make it look like a major blockbuster, and it paid off. This movie will hold up for years to come with it's classic designs and attention to detail.

Music. The music is mostly 70s and 80s movies and fits the 80s scifi production design. It has the same vibe as the visuals, cast, action, and comedy. Amazing to see such harmony.

Pace. The pace is great. It never moves too quickly and loses the audience, more does it ever move to slowly and bore the audience.

Unique Footage. The footage from the trailer was great and told a story. I was concerned they had used up all the jokes in the trailer, but surprisingly, very little of the clips from the trailer made it into the final film which surprised me at first, and then pleased me when I thought about it. I hadn't already seen the movie before seeing the movie. What a refreshing change!

The Bad

This is a near perfect movie. If you aren't a hardcore Marvel fan, you wouldn't catch all the references nor realize why Thanos was such a big bad guy, because that's never explained and needed to be. But it doesn't ruin the movie or even detract very much.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I'm good.


Overall, this is a near perfect movie with great action, comedy, casting, special effects, and pacing. It's been a long time since anyone has made a movie like this. It's a solid flick that keeps you entertained from the beginning to the end. It's packed with things to interest an audience from 8 to 80. I can't wait to see it again.  I give it 5 boxes of popcorn out of 5.

Friday, October 17, 2014

DVD Review - Batman: Assault on Arkham

I've been a Batman fan since I first followed his adventures in SuperFriends and Batman and the Super 7. I've enjoyed all of his different incarnations from the kid friendly SuperFriends to the campy Batman '66 to the grim and gritty Dark Knight. He's a character that works well in all forms and all genres. And his popularity just seems to keep growing, which is probably why he seems to appear in every other DC Original Animated Movie.

Batman: Assault on Arkham is a direct-to-DVD original animated action superhero movie. It has Batman in the title, but the movie really focuses on the Suicide Squad with Batman making appearances at the beginning and the end. It is appropriate for teenagers and up due to violence, language, and sexual situations.

The Good

Story. This movie had a really good, solid story with a tight plot, and excellent pacing. I never got bored or started looking at my watch once. I was also never confused as to what was going on, and yet it still managed a few surprises that I didn't expect but that fit and seemed appropriate.

Action.The action started from the first minute and didn't let up until the end. And it was exciting action, well animated, with pretty good variety.

Voice Acting. Kevin Conroy was back, and he always does an excellent job as do the other voice actors.

The Bad

Adult Elements. This movie is one of the most violent versions of Batman I've seen with several characters having their heads blown off on screen. There is more skin shown than necessary, and the language was coarser than other DC Original Animated Movies. It felt gratuitous meaning it wasn't necessary and didn't add to the story. It felt a little desperate like the producers were trying to do something to attract viewers and set this apart. Note to producers: great story and solid animation always works.

Amanda Waller. I'm not an Amanda Waller fan, but there are times the character works and adds. This isn't one of them. She was as cardboard cutout and ruthless as they come. I'm fine with cardboard cutout characters as long as they're interesting. She wasn't. I'm fine with ruthless as long as the character is intriguing. She wasn't.

Thin Story. While I thought the story was solid, it was a little skimpy. The bare minimum happened to move the story along. It felt more like an incident then a fully developed movie or story. It could have used a few interesting subplots to fill out the world. They had the time.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I would have enjoyed more story and more stuff happening. Most of these original movies seem pretty thin on story, I suppose to keep the action moving. This felt more like an incident than a complete story or movie. I would have enjoyed a few more subplots and a little more development of relationships. I also think the adult elements could have been toned down. They didn't add to the story and seemed to be a desperate attempt to cover the weak story.


Overall, Batman: Assault on Arkham was an entertaining 70 minutes. It was fun. It was exciting. And while it wasn't anything groundbreaking, it wasn't a rehash of the same old same old. It's definitely worth renting. Maybe even worth owning if you are a big fan of Batman or action animation. I give it 4 boxes of popcorn out of 5.