Cap Finally Gets To Shine!

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-comic-con-poster

Lake Charles, LA

 

There has been a ton of hype about the recently released (and very successful) Guardians of the Galaxy film. Needless to say, the film did manage to live up to the hype and showed that Marvel could take characters that are fairly unknown out of comic reading circles and make an excellent film with them. I saw it and I loved it, but the real shining star in Marvel’s cinematic releases this year has got to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Cap’s first film was very good, but I felt as if it (as well as the first Thor film) was rushed along and used more to lead up to the heavily anticipated The Avengers instead of giving us a decent story about the hero. In The Avengers, Cap took a backseat to the other players, with most of the action going to heavies like Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man. This time around, Cap leads the story and never lets go of that lead.

The Winter Soldier is not heavily laden in CGI or even close to as humorous as GOTG is, but it is an excellent espionage thriller with a major whodunit plot that perfectly addresses similar actions happening in our world now, a brilliant cast, and excellent direction.

The film takes a look at Cap’s world post-New York incident (The Avengers). S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking measures to not only protect the United States, but the world. When Cap finds out what S.H.I.E.L.D. is up to, he instantly questions the reasoning behind it. Soon enough, Captain Steve Rogers finds himself on the run with few clues, fewer friends, and a very nasty group of villains hot on his heels. I honestly cannot say too much more than this since revealing the enemy in this film would ruin it overall. Just know that if you haven’t seen the film in theaters (I did, but am just now getting around to my review after buying the Blu-ray), you’re in for a surprise.

Oh, and that whole Winter Soldier bit? It’s pretty important as well, as the Winter Soldier is a key member of the enemy’s arsenal, and he more than holds his own against Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, and even old Nick Fury.

Watching this film reminded me of the spy flicks and political thrillers that came out during the 70’s and 80’s. It’s fast-paced, there’s a constant threat, and the resolution leaves you with more questions (that I’m sure will be resolved throughout the other Marvel films) than answers.

The cast is solid. Chris Evans nails his role as the Captain once again, and I still can’t get over how brilliant he is in the role. There is no other Steve Rogers as far as I’m concerned. Evans is it! Scarlett Johansson does a fine job once again as Black Widow. We get to see a little bit more about her character (especially in the deleted scenes), and she brings a bit of humor to the film much like she did in “The Avengers.” Anthony Mackie introduces us to Falcon, a soldier who counsels fellow soldiers that are trying to adapt back into their former civilian lives. Falcon gets back into uniform to help the Captain when friends are far and few between. Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, and even though he’s put this character on multiple times, he gives us an even deeper look at Fury in brief sequences with Rogers and other characters in the film.

Sebastian Stan portrays the Winter Soldier. Fans of the comics know this character’s real identity, but for those of you unaware, I won’t reveal who he really is. Just know that his battle with Captain America becomes very personal and is intense both physically and emotionally for both of them. I hope to see more of the Winter Soldier in later films. Another brilliant castmember is the legendary Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sadly, that’s all I can really say about him without giving away too much.

There are a lot of supporting actors and actresses that did brilliant jobs as well. Most notably, Frank Grillo, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Emily VanCamp, and Toby Jones. There are others, but the list is much too long.

Simply put, this film is brilliant. The direction was great. The production layed off of the CGI as much as possible and used real props for most of the scenes (even many parts of the bigger action scenes). The story took the front seat while the gee-whiz factor took a step back. It’s literally a superhero film with a very real and grounded superhero.

Highly recommended.

“Weight” A Minute!

Lake Charles, LA

 

I haven’t posted anything on my weight loss struggles and victories recently, so here’s a brief update.  As of today, I’m actually gaining weight.  It’s not all muscle, either.  Ever since I returned home from Missouri back in July, I’ve been having this on again/off again relationship with my eating habits, exercise routing, and willpower.  At first I thought it was just me becoming bored with Insanity because I’ve done so many rounds, so I grabbed T25 in the hopes that a new routine would kick me back into overdrive.

Well……it hasn’t.  In fact, I’m less enthusiastic about T25 and have been debating on whether or not to start up the old Insanity routine again.  I’ve tried to integrate jogging into the picture, but haven’t been very successful due to the fact that the roads by my house are rather traffic-heavy and I don’t have time in the evening to drive down to a park.

My appetite has gone bonkers over the last couple of weeks as well.  I’m eating a lot more, working out a lot less, and have lost pretty much all desire to lose more weight despite seeing the scale creep back up on me.

So, with all of this said, I come to you, beloved reader, and ask you what do you think I should do?  Also, words of encouragement are also welcome.  I’d rather not use supplements (although I have been known to use raspberry ketones and pre-workout powder recently), but if any of you know of a decent one, I’ll give it a shot.

Thanks ahead of time for any and all comments.

Geek of the Week!!!!

Power Girl, the Discount Dark Knight, and Supergirl!

Facebook, Deep South, Worldwide

My friends over at Southern Geek, a Facebook Group based primarily out of Mississippi, have started naming a Geek of the Week recently.  I’ve been a part of this group ever since I first ran into two of its founders, Rafe and Shannon White, a couple of years ago at Wizard World’s New Orleans Comic Con event.  We’ve been friend ever since and while we don’t get to physically see each other in person very often, we do get to hang out on Facebook quite a lot.

I was dubbed Geek of the Week for the week of September 1.  I’m very proud of this fact, because it not only confirms my nerdiness in the Southern Geek community, it also lets anyone who happens upon the group’s page know that all of us, whether it’s myself or any other GotW or any other member of the group, are not ashamed to admit our varying levels of geekdom, nerdiness, or the degree to which we love different television programs, comic books, films, musicians, etc.

Check the group out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/southerngeek/ and be sure to tell them that Kendall and/or DDK sent them your way.  Who knows, if you join up with us you might just become the next Geek of the Week!!

Thanks for reading this brief post folks.  I hope to have something a bit more longwinded soon.  I have a couple of topics that I’ve been throwing around lately and I’m feeling the need to write about them.  Stay tuned!

Heroes And Villains: A Hit List

BobaFettMain2

Lake Charles, LA

Being a geek for the entirety of my life means that I’ve picked up quite a few favorite heroes and villains over the years.  Heck, I’ve even looked at a lot of villains as heroes and a lot of heroes as villains as I’ve gotten older.  For you, fine reader, I offer up a humble list of some of my favorite heroes and villains from science fiction, fantasy, and the pages of comic books.  This list is in no way complete and, in fact, is always changing.  A few of those listed here might move up and down my scale of adoration and others might be removed entirely tomorrow, but as of this writing, here are ten of my favorite heroes and villains in no particular order.

  • Boba Fett - Who put the “man” in “Mandalorian” you ask?  Why, Boba Fett, of course!  Yes, his well-known and very laughable exit in Return of the Jedi would have booted any average famous villain off of everyone’s heroes and villains list, but the Fett is so cool throughout the rest of his brief existence in the Star Wars films that he wills people to love him.  In fact, Boba Fett became so popular that Uncle George slapped some additional footage of him in the special editions of the original trilogy and fleshed out his backstory in the prequel trilogy.  On top of that, Boba Fett became an unstoppable force in the Expanded Universe, managing to crawl out of the Sarlacc Pit and live to be awesome another day!
  • Batman – If you don’t know who Batman is, you have been living under a rock forever.  I’m a Marvel guy for the most part, but Batman is one of just a few saving graces for DC.  Batman is the thinking man’s superhero.  He has no super powers (unless being awesome is a super power), yet he has managed to throttle that lug called Superman a few times and has made numerous enemies hide in terror while he brings the pain.  He uses his mind and his unlimited income to battle crime and, let’s face it, his Rogues Gallery features some of the greatest comic villains of all time such as The Joker, Two-Face, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze.  As Bruce Wayne, he’s a humanitarian who gives to those in need.  As Batman, he brings justice to those that deserve it!
  • Nightcrawler – There aren’t many so-black-it’s-blue furry skinned heroes out there that have three-fingered hands and a tail, but Nightcrawler is definitely the best of the lot.  In fact, he’s better than most average looking heroes as well.  How many superheroes do you know actually joined the priesthood because of their strong Catholic faith?  On top of that, how many heroes make swashbuckling look cool?  Only one as far as I know, and that dude’s name is Nightcrawler!  Kurt Wagner is a hero who doesn’t fit the typical hero mold.  He’s deeply religious but looks like a demon.  He can teleport (BAMF!) all over the place and he can be pretty mouthy when needed.  I’ve always loved Nightcrawler and I always will.  He’s my favorite Marvel character of all time.
  • Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy – Most Star Trek fans (at least those who love the original series) always seem to pick Captain Kirk or Spock as their favorite character.  Not me, though.  Nope, my favorite Trek character is, was, and always will be Dr. McCoy.  DeForest Kelley breathed life into the man that I always saw as the emotional center of TOS.  Where Spock used logic to influence Kirk’s decisions, Bones was always there to give the emotional aspect of every move Kirk made.  I saw Kirk as the truest unification of Spock and McCoy’s two sides of the coin.  He took the best logical advice from Spock and coupled that with the unbridled passion (sometimes love, sometimes anger) of McCoy to make what he believed to be the best decision.  Kirk looked to both of these men for advice, and it was always fun to see Spock and McCoy go toe-to-toe over actions that needed to take place.  On top of all of this, McCoy was straight-up funny.  I laughed more at his abuse of Spock than of any other humorous moments in the Trek’s entire run.
  • Mr. Freeze – Yes, yes, I know that most people consider the Joker to be Batman’s greatest villain and I agree with them entirely, but the story of Mr. Freeze has always amazed me.  He became a villain not to hurt others, but to get revenge against those who harmed his wife.  He’s more of a lover than a fighter when you think about it, and I believe that’s why Batman has always seemed to go a bit easier on old Freezy than he has with other villains.  The guy has a busted heart, and all he wants to do is take out his enemies and work on bringing the love of his life back into his arms.  Can you really hate a guy for that?
  • The Wolf Man – Lon Chaney, Jr. will always be one of my favorite actors.  I’m a huge fan of the old Universal Monsters, but Chaney’s Wolf Man is my most beloved monster of them all.  Cursed, longing to be freed of said curse, and terribly in love, the Wolf Man was a desperate character.  There have been multiple versions of werewolves over the years and even a remake of the classic Chaney tale in recent years yet none of them can even come close to the brilliance of Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot, my favorite werewolf!
  • Doctor Octopus – Let’s be honest.  There aren’t very many heroes or villains out there that are a bit on the pudgy side.  Otto Octavius is one of a very small list of heroes and villains that fall into this category.  As a person who has fought with his weight over his entire life, I was naturally drawn to Doc Ock because he was about the only cool villain that I could attempt to dress up as for Halloween or comic conventions.  Doc is intelligent, evil, and has those sweet appendages of his that gives ol’ Spidey fits.  What’s not to love?
  • Beowulf – When I first read the epic tales of Beowulf, I was immediately drawn to Grendel, one of the primary villains.  This was primarily due to the fact that my sister had a school project to do in which she was asked to draw a picture of the villain despite there being no real description of him in the stories.  When she asked me to draw the character for her, I decided to read about the character and the hero on my own.  I did this as a child of around eight years of age, so it wasn’t the easiest of tasks for me, but I eventually came to love the epicness of Beowulf.  He’s one of the first great heroes that I ever loved who actually dies at the end of his story.  Of course, he’ll always live on in my mind, but knowing that this guy took out a son and mother duo in which the mother was even badder than her offspring makes him a really cool guy.  I’ve always been a fan of mythological heroes like Beowulf, and to this day I read books about the myths and legends of the Norse, the Greeks, the Romans, Native Americans, and other cultures.  Beowulf started it all for me, and if you aren’t familiar with him, check him out.
  • Captain America – Steve Rogers is one of those heroes that most folks can get behind.  Sure, he’s not the strongest, fastest, or most intelligent, but when it comes to being a leader, few men can match the skill of ol’ Cap.  He’s like the guy on the NFL squad that the commentators refer to as “the kid with a lot of heart.”  He gives it his all on every outing even if he gets his backside handed to him.  He’ll almost always need a little backup whether it comes in the form of Thor, Falcon, or Bucky, but he will not run from a fight.  Plus, he’s got a heart of gold that is matched only by the likes of Superman.  What makes him better than Superman, though, is the fact that Captain America knows that he is often not the best man in the fight.  He has to use his mind (like Batman), his heart (like Superman), and weapons (like Iron Man), but on a much smaller scale.  Ultimately, Cap believes that the good guys will win, even if he personally doesn’t survive the battle.  You’ve got to appreciate a man like that.
  • Doctor Who – Quite possibly my favorite sci-fi/fantasy hero of all time, the Doctor pre-dates Star Trek, Star Wars, and pretty much any and every hero created after the mid-1960’s.  He has changed faces, attitudes, clothes, and companions over the years and has experienced quite the renaissance since coming back to television in 2005.  It seems that most of the newer fans’ experience begins with Chris Eccleston’s Doctor and ends with the current incarnation, Peter Capaldi.  That’s all well and good, but there is SO MUCH MORE to the Doctor than the new stuff!  My personal favorite incarnation of the Doctor is Peter Davison, #5, and while I’ve been very impressed with some of the newer guys, particularly Matt Smith, Davison will always be my favorite.  I loved how his Doctor made “decisions by committee” and how he brought a certain indecisiveness and deep emotions to the character.  Of course, he could channel the smarty pantsness of the second Doctor or the grouchy tenacity of the first, but ultimately Peter Davison’s Doctor was a culmination of every Doctor before him locked in an internal struggle with a character realizing that he may not have all the answers all of the time.  Davison brought humanity to the character more than any other Doctor before or after excepting David Tennant.  That’s why I love his version of the character so much.

So, there you have it.  A list of ten of my favorite heroes and villains.  Who are your favorites?  Be sure to list them in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading!!!

Cowabunga, Dude!

10559890_255529751237462_8114585881036264091_n

The Sewers of New York

I’m old enough to remember when the Teenage Mutatnt Ninja Turtles were the newest, biggest thing on the block.  From the comic and the cartoon to the original film and the wonderful toys that came with all of the turtle power one could muster, I was a big fan of the heroes on the half shell.  I managed to get my hands on all four of the original TMNT figures (alas, but no villains, Splinter, or April O’Neil) and still have them to this day.  I’ve even let my son play with them a few times.  He thinks that they are boring (not nearly as cool as his shiny new versions of my beloved turtles), but appreciates them for what they are.

When it was announced that a new TMNT film was heading for the big screen and Michael Bay (while not directing) would be involved with the project, I was a bit scared.  Bay’s first foray into my childhood heroes with the Transformers films was terrible.  I enjoyed the first film well enough, but each film after that was wretched.  It was so bad, in fact, that I didn’t even bother with the latest one and only own the first film on DVD.  I feared that Bay and company would shred yet another memory from my youth and also set the plate for the early destruction of my son’s young memories.

Instead, director Jonathan Liebesman, producer Michael Bay, and writers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, and Evan Daugherty, have taken a cherished childhood memory given to us all by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, twisted the origin story a bit, and made a very good film.

Is it as good as Guardians of the Galaxy?  No, and it’s nowhere near as brilliant as Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, but it is still a very fun film that’s loadaed with action, humor, and expected Turtle silliness.

The plot focuses on struggling entertainment/puff piece reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who holds her own in the flick) attempting to report something worthwhile instead of her usual exercise craze bits.  She starts to snoop around and uncovers info on the Foot Clan, a crime syndicate that has all of New York in a state of fear.  On one particular investigation, she finds a vigilante fighting the Foot Clan and thwarting one of their jobs.

She attempts to get her story aired, but gets shut down by her boss, Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg in a role that could have been forgettable but wasn’t), who believes that April might be getting a bit unhinged.  Her only real supporter in this whole ordeal is Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett) who thinks she should leave the whole thing alone, but has so much of a crush on her that he is willing to help her…..but just a bit.

As the story rolls along, April finally runs into the Turtles, and their new backstory is revealed.  From there, it’s the TMNT gang and April trying to stop the evil Foot Clan and their leader, Shredder.  I won’t go into too much more detail, but know that there are other players in the game that are pretty obvious once they are introduced.

The story is full of fun moments.  The turtles are very funny, ranging from the sophomoric antics of Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) to the grumpy resistance of Raphael (Alan Ritchson).  There’s also a lot of action that’s usually headed up by Leonardo (Pete Ploszek as the motion capture body and Johnny Knoxville as the voice).  Heck, even the super-intelligent Donatello (Jeremy Howard) gets in a few butt-kicking moments, as well as a chance to show off his tech smarts throughout the film.

Splinter (Danny Woodburn as the motion capture body and Tony Shalhoub as the voice) also gets an excellent action sequence when he faces off against Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).

For the most part, the cast is solid.  As I already stated, Fox holds her own but does reveal a few limitations in her acting abilities in certain scenes.  The always reliable William Fichtner, who portrays Eric Sacks, does an excellent job, but editing and direction seem to stunt his work in a couple of scenes.  Minae Noji, who portrays Karai in the film, gives an excellent but limited performance.  Hopefully her character will be expanded upon in the next film.

The action sequences are nearly flawless.  There were moments in the film where I forgot that the turtles were CGI.  With Bay’s hand on the production, you know that there are plenty of explosions throughout, and TMNT does not disappoint in that aspect.  The action is quick, fun, and totally unbelievable at times.  HOWEVER, if you go into a film that features four mutated turtles that are teenaged ninjas and have a rat as their master and expect it to be believable, you’re an idiot.  Just sit back and watch the action unfurl on the screen and check your mind out for a bit.

When the lights finally came up in the theater after watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, my childhood memories were still there and just as fine as ever.  Donatello is still my favorite turtle and Leonardo is still my son’s favorite shell shocker.  I don’t hate Michael Bay any more than I did prior to this film either.  In short, TMNT is a fun film that’s suitable for almost the entire family.  The violence is pretty heavy, but it has a comical twist to it throughout the film.

I recommend checking this one out.  It’s a great summer popcorn flick.

And So Begins My Latest Addiction!

got

Winterfell, Casterly Rock, The Wall, etc.

Books have been the cause of many great films and television series over the years. In recent years, the Harry Potter novels have proven exceptionally popular, as have the film adaptations of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Chronicles of Narnia” have been produced both as a successful series of television-based stories and a fairly successful film series (that sadly lost its way with each adaptation). They’ve also given us plenty of terrible shows as well. Disney’s direct-to-DVD adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time” was just plain bad.I’ll admit that I was completely unfamiliar with George R.R. Martin’s body of work before HBO announced that they would be producing a series based on his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Not having HBO, I never took the time to seek out any episodes of the series. However, I did finally manage to catch snippets of a few of the early episodes, but not enough to convince me that the hype surrounding the franchise was well-earned.

Finally, in June of this year, I had the opportunity to watch most of the current season’s episodes and fell in love with the show. I decided that I would dive head first into “A Game Of Thrones,” the first book in the series, to give myself a better understanding of what had unfolded before my eyes up to that point.

The book was excellent. Martin has managed to weave a story of intrigue, deceit, honor, vanity, cruelty, and a tad bit of magic. There are multiple characters with multiple reasons for every action they take in this book. The reader will almost immediately hang their heart on certain characters (and it will be different for each reader) and have a growing hatred for others. To say that a certain character is good or evil is hard to pinpoint, since most of these characters have traits that can be perceived in multiple ways. For instance, Catelyn Stark seems to be a likeable character, and many of my friends who have watched the show (and not read the books) like her very much. I personally don’t like her because of one simple thing she does to another character that I really love.

Also, don’t get too attached to some characters (no matter how large their role in the novel is), because death can come quickly and with a lot of violence as well.

The story centers primarily around the families of House Stark and House Lannister, but there are other families in the mix as well. Something cold and evil is on the way, and the many families in this story struggle with one another to gain power, justice, or revenge. Another family, the ancient House Targaryen, is quietly forming up to reclaim the power that it once held. All of these plots and subplots intertwine to form one brilliant story that will keep the reader interested and hungry for more.

Now, as far characters go, there are a ton of them. There are literally too many to list in this review, but a few of them have won either my heart or my hatred. I think that most people would agree with me that the “big four” in this particular book are Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister. These four characters take very different paths in this tale, and I love them all for different reasons. Jon Snow is a boy without a true House. He’s the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark, and when Eddard becomes the Hand of the King, Jon is sent to the Wall to become a member of the Night’s Watch. Jon matures with each high and low that he experiences in this novel, and I cheered him from the first time I read his name. Daenerys is a young lady who, along with her brother, is the last of her family. Her character undergoes massive changes in this novel, and she proves to be one of the most intriguing characters of all. Arya is a kid, a tomboy, who winds up in the middle of a terrible nightmare involving her father, Eddard, and the rest of her family. While she doesn’t necessarily undergo a lot of personal changes in this tale, those around her go through quite a bit, and it slowly starts to form her into something that will definitely become more interesting with each successive book, I’m sure. Tyrion is an unlikely “bad boy” in this book. He’s bluntly honest and has no problems attempting to talk or buy his way out of any sort of trouble. Deep inside I know he’s much more than the Lannister name that is attached to him, and I can’t wait to see the character blossom in future books.

Now, with the first book under my belt I am ready for the second novel, “A Clash of Kings.” If it is even remotely as good as “A Game of Thrones,” it will be brilliant. George R.R. Martin has a true classic on his hands with these books, and I’m determined to read them all before watching anymore of the television series.

Highly recommended!

Guardians of the Galaxy: My Review

MV5BMjIxNzMyMTI3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjkzNjc4MDE@__V1__SX1617_SY829_

Lake Charles, LA

There has been a great deal of talk surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy ever since the day that rumors began surfacing about a film being made based on the Marvel comic.  How would Marvel take this group of heroes who are relatively unknown outside of the comic book reading public and make them part of a long line of very successful films?  How can a talking raccoon look and/or even fit into a live-action film?  Heck, why would you want to risk casting a pro wrestler in a core role when his acting chops (at least in the ring) are limited to getting very mad or storming off in a fit of rage?

Well, Marvel took those questions and a whole bunch of others, rolled them into a big, CGI-infested wad, and threw it at the silver screen.  The result?  A very enjoyable, highly comical film that’s a lot better than I expected.  I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the best film of the year as some have said, but I will say that it’s one of Marvel’s better entries in their growing run of big screen adaptations.

For those of you unaware, the plot of this film is very basic on the surface.  A ragtag group of bandits come together to put an end to a villain who is hellbent on taking over the galaxy.  That sounds pretty formulaic, right?  Well, digging a bit deeper we find that this group isn’t very honorable itself.  It’s leader, Peter Quill, is a cocky, womanizing Earth man who prides himself on his thieving abilities and loves to go by the alias “Star Lord.”  Gamora, a lethal assassin who’s gone rogue against the wishes of her father, Thanos, is wanted not just by innocent people, but by a large group of criminals as well.  Then there’s Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a misfit duo of a lab-created creature that has a fondness for anything that explodes and a very big, very strong tree-like muscle of a being.  Lastly we have Drax, fondly called Drax The Destroyer, who seems to be the only guy in this bunch who has at least a tad bit of honor in him.  He has been imprisoned for the brutal murder and destruction of many of the main bad guy’s henchman.  The reason for so much devastation?  His family was brutally murdered by Ronan The Accuser and he wants to avenge their deaths.

This unlikely group of allies comes together thanks to the theft of one of the powerful Infinity Stones (which neatly ties in with all of the other Marvel cinematic releases) by Star Lord.  He’s pursued by one of Ronan’s men, Korath, but manages to escape.  That leads to Gamora being sent to capture him.  She has plans of her own, though.  Of course, Star Lord being Star Lord means that he’s also double-crossed Yondu, a thief much like Star Lord who wants the Infinity Stone as well.  Yondu puts a hefty price on Star Lord’s head, and that sets into motion the meet up with Rocket and Groot.  Then the Nova Corps gets involved and their involvement leads up to the full unification of the group in prison where Star Lord convinces Drax that if he helps them out, he’ll get his revenge on Ronan.  The biggest problem of all, though, is that no one except for Ronan and Thanos know just how powerful this stone that everyone after really is until the gang gets the stone to The Collector, who  happens to be Gamora’s contact.  Once they realize just how deadly this thing is, they decide to do all they can to stop Ronan and become “guardians of the galaxy.”  Oh, and just for the heck of it, Nebula, Gamora’s sister through Thanos, has a chip on her shoulder that Gamora seems to get preferential treatment and wants to prove that she’s the better daughter by either helping her daddy or joining up with Ronan to rule the galaxy.

Confused yet?  Don’t be.  There’s a lot going on in this film and a lot of characters doing it.  Many of the characters have brief one and two scene moments whereas others are fleshed out a bit more.  Marvel realized how much of a cluster this film could become, so they focused in on the core characters of Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax.  This works because the characters are very engaging and have a lot of charm about them.  Star Lord is played by Chris Pratt, and he nails the role.  He makes brash, cocky, and egotistical look great on the screen.  Zoe Saldana portrays Gamora, and does a very convincing job in the role.  Her character is both a warrior and a bruised individual who has many skeletons in her closet.  Bradley Cooper voices Rocket, and Rocket steals many scenes in the film with his seemingly heartless attitude and big guns.  However, the seemingly simple Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) proved to be a bigger draw in my opinion, as he became the heart of the group.  I enjoyed Drax as well, but I’ll get to him in another paragraph.  For now, let’s go through a few other cast members.

Michael Rooker plays Yondu in the film and despite his intent on hurting Star Lord, it’s hard for him to hide the fact that he loves the cocky moron.  Rooker has a considerable amount of screen time and provides a lot of the best moments in the film.  Djimon Honsou is Korath, but he is never really given much of an opportunity to shine in the film.  His moments are brief and relegated primarily to action scenes, but he’s still pretty good.  Benicio Del Toro is sufficient as The Collector, but much like Honsou, his role is limited.  I do expect bigger things from him in later films.  Glenn Close is reliable as always, and her turn as Nova Prime is a fun addition to the film, as is John C. Reilly’s portrayal of Rhomann, one of the Nova Corps.  There are a lot of other people in this film, but I would be eating up my blog if I commented on each and every one of them.

I will say that the biggest surprise in this film was Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer.  The guy was laugh-out loud funny at moments and very moving at others.  Sure, playing a raging monster might not have been much of a stretch for the pro-wrestler, but his comedic timing was perfect and a real treat to see on the screen.  I hope his character is fleshed out more in future films.  I think Bautista has a solid acting career ahead of him if he keeps his current pace.

Of course, with such a huge cast, there are bound to be a few disappointments in the lot.  The biggest disappointment was Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser.  Ronan is the primary baddie in the film, so I would expect him to be at least somewhat interesting, but he comes across as a very formulaic and forgettable villain.  Pace’s acting isn’t terrible.  He just isn’t given much to do with the role.  Much like Christopher Eccleston in Thor:  The Dark World, and Guy Pearce in Iron Man 3, Pace is mainly there not to engage the viewer, but to stand as a placeholder for the “villain” while we get a deeper look at the heroes.  Another letdown was the performance of Karen Gillan as Nebula.  I liked Gillan in Doctor Who as Amy Pond (although she wore thin near the end of her run on that show in my opinion), but I had a hard time excepting her as the ruthless Nebula.  Her role was limited, so perhaps we will get a better look at her somewhere down the line.  Until then, though, she’ll be my least favorite performer in the film.  Josh Brolin voiced Thanos in the film, but his appearance is so brief and forgettable that I really can’t comment on it.  I’m positive he’ll get to shine in a future Marvel flick for sure.

Guardians of the Galaxy is very good.  It’s not as enjoyable as Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, but it is leaps and bounds beyond Iron Man 3.  I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Thor:  The Dark World. In fact, I think those two films mirror each other a lot, because both feature quite a bit of humor (GOTG is funnier, though), a forgettable villain, and a much more interesting ensemble of secondary and/or co-starring characters like Yondu and Loki that make you want to like them more than you should.

Definitely check out Guardians.  It’s worth a trip to the theater and, as always, stay tuned after the credits for a humorous scene that may or may not hint at future Marvel films.