Guardians of the Galaxy: My Review

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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.

 

The Houston Con, August 8-11, 2014

Power Girl, the Discount Dark Knight, and Supergirl!

Houston, TX

Two years ago there was a convention that took place in the summer in Houston, TX.  That convention was Space City Con.  It was a somewhat small event (for such a big city) but it had an atmosphere of excitement about it.  Last year, Space City returned in a much, much bigger way.  The venue was changed from the Galleria in Houston to the Westchase Marriott.  The hotel was very nice and one could say that the convention was too much of a success, as aisles were crowded and there were a lot of lines.  Still, it was an excellent convention that improved upon the first one.

In a move considered very bold by some, the convention held a second convention that was held less than six months later (January, 2014) and featured a move to Galveston Island, TX and a ton of celebs from both Game of Thrones and Babylon 5.  I was unable to attend this event, but feedback that I heard from friends and fans who did attend the convention was mixed.

Whedon and Abrams references.  Anybody recognize these two guys???

Whedon and Abrams references. Anybody recognize these two guys???

Then the convention seemed to simply vanish into thin air.  The website remained inactive, and the con’s Facebook page was rarely updated until well into 2014.  That’s when we all learned that Space City Con was now going to be called The Houston Con and another change of location would occur.  Having once been a part of a convention myself, I know just how crazy politics and butt-hurtedness can be on a convention staff, so hopefully whatever went down with the convention has been resolved and The Houston Con will live to see another event.

Once the convention seemed to revive itself, guests were added quickly.  There were celebrity guests representing the many incarnations of The Power Rangers, as well as stars from projects like Star Trek:  Axanar, Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and the upcoming The Flash series.  There were a few comic artists as well and many vendors.  There was also a 24 hour Gaming area (that I did not check out as I am not much of a gamer).

For being something I would consider a mid-sized event, there was a steady crowd that would sometimes thin out and then bulk back up.  Having talked to a number of vendors at the convention, they told me that they had a good time, but sales were low and/or slow.  I was there as a helper to promote CyPhaCon, an event that takes place in April of next year.  The traffic in front of the table varied, but the people that we did get to talk to seemed very interested in CyPhaCon and after talking to staff members with the conventiion, they considered their visit to be a success.

The Hilton Houston North provided the venue, and they did not disappoint.  The staff of the hotel was top notch and extremely friendly.  The event was set up throughout the atrium and a number of other rooms on site.  I attended a Melissa Ponzio (Karen from The Walking Dead) panel in the DaVinci room and really liked the setup.  I also attended a dance in one of the larger rooms, hung out at the bar, and spent most of my time in the vendor area helping my friends promote their event.

I purchased five prints from one vendor and visited with many more.  I actually got into a “flying monkey” fight with some ladies selling handmade jewelry and the cast of Not Quite Human, a Texas-based web series.  We had a lot of fun with each other during the down time that happened in waves throughout the day.

I also shared an elevator with a couple of young stars from Teen Wolf.  In particular, I recognized Dylan Sprayberry from Man of Steel.  He portrayed Clark Kent as a young teen.  I grabbed an autograph from him for my daughter.  I also got a photo and autograph from Melissa Ponzio.  She was extremely friendly and seemed truly grateful of all of the attention and love she was getting from her fans at both her table and during her panel.  She’s the latest in a growing line of The Walking Dead cast members that I’ve met who all seem to go out of their way to make the fans know how much they appreciate them.  I plan on blogging about my experiences with them in the near future.

Myself with Melissa Ponzio of Teen Wolf and The Walking Dead.

Myself with Melissa Ponzio of Teen Wolf and The Walking Dead.

There were quite a few cosplayers on tap as well.  A number of them impressed me very much with their handiwork, and I’m now a fan of many of them on Facebook.

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Mystique!

Of course, no convention is worth attending if you don’t have anyone to hang out with while you’re there, so my favorite part of the convention was catching up with a few friends.  My friends Garrett and Stuart allowed me to tag along with them to the convention.  We had a blast being completely nerdy and completely goofy.  On Saturday I caught up with some of my favorite green people, Orion’s Envy.  They performed on Saturday evening and put on a great show as always.  I got to hang out with them and a couple of new friends later that night at the dance and in the bar.  As always, they were super nice and super friendly and paid more attention to me than I probably deserved.  They rock!

The wonderful ladies (and my excellent friends) of Orion's Envy.

The wonderful ladies (and my excellent friends) of Orion’s Envy.

On the final day of the convention I was totally worn out.  Of course, partying way passed my bedtime probably didn’t help!

The Houston Con is definitely moving in a positive direction.  As I’ve already stated, I hope that whatever caused the demise of Space City Con has been dealt with, because I’ve personally witnessed the strains and stresses of convention board politics destroy conventions, friendships, and relationships with other conventions.  If I have anything to complain about with The Houston Con, it’s that the atrium area could have been better policed by staff, as I noticed a lot of people walking around without con badges checking out things.

I hope to see H-town again next year!

Are The Jedi Really The Good Guys???

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

We all know what those words mean.  Whenver we see them pop onto a screen or on the opening pages of a book, it becomes apparent that we are about to enjoy something from the Star Wars saga.  I recently read the four Republic Commando novels written by Karen Traviss.  These books, along with the Imperial Commando novel that picked up where the Republic Commando series left off seem to be quite a controversial set of novels due to their supposed pro-Clone, pro-Mandalorian, and/or anti-Jedi themes.

Well, with the four RC books under my belt, I can definitely see where some people would think that these books have a particular slant to them.  I personally think that book #4, Order 66, is the heaviest pro-Mandalorian/anti-Jedi book in the bunch, with the other books in the series leaning harder towards a pro-Clone stance.  Of course, without the Mandos (specifically Jango Fett and the Cuy’val Dar) there would be no clone army, so one could argue that the Mandos get love throughout the books.  They do.  I won’t question that.  However, I believe these books aren’t so much pro or anti anyone.  Instead, I think they are simply honest.

Yep, I’m one of those guys who believe that the Jedi aren’t as high and mighty as most people see them.  In fact, they display quite a few negative traits such as cowardice, egotism, bigotry, and even a need for power or control.

Now before anyone flies off the handle and calls me an anti-Jedite (Is that even a word?  It is now!), hear me out.  I’ll go through quite few reasons as to why I’ve drawn this conclusion about the “good guys.”  This isn’t a pro-Empire or pro-Mando post, but it is a post that will attempt to reveal the grey areas that have made me less of a fan of the guys in brown robes and more of a fan of the guys in white plastoid.

So, without further ado, here are a few of my reasons why the Jedi aren’t the awesome beings of goodness and light in the galaxy.

  1. Let’s face it.  The Jedi can be a cowardly bunch.  My first example is the grand daddy Jedi of them all, Master Yoda.  When he faced off against Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, he had a chance to beat the guy.  Instead, he took a beating and ran.  “He who lives to run away, lives to run another day,” right?  Why, Master Yoda, did you run?  Was it so that you could train Luke Skywalker?  Possibly, but you never sought him out.  You waited for him to come to you at an age you considered too old for training.  Then you became one with the Force when poor Luke came back to you to finish his training.  You hid for years instead of attempting to train Luke as a youngster.
  2. Obi-Wan Kenobi cowardly walked away from his former best friend, Anakin, allowing the lava of Mustafar to finish the job for him.  Yes, Kenobi probably walked away due to the fact that he couldn’t bear killing a man that he considered his brother, but letting him burn to death is a better fate?  Let me say right now that if I ever turn to the Dark Side and my death can stop a whole bunch of terrible events from happening, you all have my permission to take me out with a lightsaber instead of letting me die in agony while burning up and lacking appendages!  This is the second time that the Dark Side could have been stopped or at least slowed down, and the Jedi didn’t follow through!
  3. Yoda and Mace Windu knew something was up with Anakin, but they still allowed him to be trained (by a newly crowned Jedi Knight, no less, with a hippie Master).  They still allowed him on the Jedi Council.  Yes, supposedly it was to keep tabs on Palpatine, but they treated Anakin like a punk that didn’t belong with their “elite” group of Jedi.  On top of that, Obi-Wan would often berate Anakin in front of others, adding fuel to the fire.  The kid was obviously messed up and struggling with some big internal demons, yet they allowed it to happen.  Why?
  4. The Jedi freely accepted a Clone Army given to them under suspicious conditions.  They didn’t know who ordered the creation of the army.  Was it Sifo-Dyas?  Perhaps, but he was supposedly dead when the order was put in, but let’s go ahead and use this army any way since we really, really need back up!  The Emperor didn’t even have to be that smart to put his plans into action with these guys!  Now, in the EU, Sifo-Dyas did put in the order for the clones, but only with a lot of persuasion from Count Dooku.  This isn’t made clear in the films, but I did want to mention it in this post.  Still, even with this knowledge, why did the Jedi agree to use the army?  Were they so certain of themselves that nothing could happen to them that they went ahead with the army’s usage?????
  5. Once they got their paws on the Clone Army, they allowed them to be slaughtered willy-nilly by the Separatists.  Why?  Because they were cannon fodder, right!?!?!?  In the Republic Commando novels, the clones and many of the Jedi Generals found it odd that they were spread so thin across the galaxy fighting outmanned and outgunned, but the Jedi Generals went along with Palpatine’s plans any way because he apparently knew something they didn’t!  In the films and on the cartoon series, the clones were sent in to defend people they didn’t know in a war they didn’t sign up for.  They were basically pressed itno service and the Jedi allowed it to happen.  Only Anakin seemed to really treat them as human beings.  An excellent example of this is at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith whenever he and Kenobit are attempting to rescue the chancellor from Grievous.  When the Vulture Droids and Buzz Droids attacked, Kenobi allowed them to pass and attack the clones while he and Anakin stayed on course for Grievous’ ship.  When Anakin heard that the clones were in trouble, he said that he wanted to go back and help them.  Kenobi told him not to, stating, “They have their job and we have ours.”  Granted, they were on a specific mission, but Kenobi’s response was so cold and instant that I lost a little faith in him.  The clones were essentially a slave army.
  6. One of my biggest hang-ups is how the Jedi, specifically Yoda and Obi-Wan, treated Luke.  As already stated, Yoda didn’t seek out Luke to train him from an early age and then griped that he was too old to be trained once Luke made his own way to Dagobah.  Then Yoda and Kenobi hid the fact that Vader was Luke’s father from him and even told him that Vader had murdered his father!  Sure, they did this to protect him until he was ready to know the truth, but by hiding this fact from Luke and then essentially letting his pops spring it on him open Luke up to the Dark Side of the Force?  Why should he trust these old Jedi who are keeping secrets from him about his father and, later on, his sister?  The dude with asthma, as evil as he might come across, was pretty straightforward about everything.  Luke could have easily turned to the Dark Side due to the deception of the Jedi!!!!
  7. Another reason that the Jedi aren’t as great as they initially appear is their “holier than thou” attitude.  They clung to their dogma as if it were a life or death situation.  Instead of changing when things started going south, they put all of their faith in the Force.  They essentially allowed Anakin to turn to the Dark Side.  They allowed the Clones to be used in a war that the Jedi believed was possibly manufactured.  Their egos got in the way of common sense!
  8. Finally, the Clone Army was bred for war and genetically modified to take orders without question.  When Order 66 was given, few of them hesitated to follow through.  Why?  Perhaps it was because the Jedi came across as always a bit “better” than the Clones.  The clone commanders had built up relationships (and not necessarily good ones) with all of their Jedi Generals, but who was it that they fell into rank behind to destroy the Jedi Temple?  Anakin, that’s who!  They supported the one Jedi that treated them like humans and like individuals that mattered in this crazy war they were impressed into service for against the Separatists.

So, there are just a few of my reasons why I believe that the Jedi aren’t necessarily as nice and wonderful as many people believe.  I’m not saying that the Sith are any better, mind you.  I’m just saying that the Jedi weren’t the best of Boy Scouts either.  In fact, you could say that the Jedi were just as bad as the Sith, because ultimately both of them used the Clones for their own purposes.

Some will probably say that the Jedi were blinded by the Emperor, but if that’s the case, why did so many of them have doubts and bad premonitions and still did nothing about them?  I could see them being blinded if they never doubted what was going on, but their was a lot of doubt from many of the Jedi.

Ultimately it’s all a matter of opinion, but I think I’ve stated my case pretty well.  If you believe otherwise, let me know in the comments below.

Also, I must admit that despite my sour taste for the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Yoda, and Plo Koon are some of my favorite Star Wars characters.  Kenobi is probably my favorite character in the entire saga.  I’ve always looked at the prequels as being more about his development than Anakin’s, because I honestly believe that he felt bad for everything that he did to both Anakin and eventually Luke.

As always, thank for reading.  Feel free to weigh in on this topic below.

 

 

Bat-Tastic!!!! Celebrate Seventy Five Years Of Batman Today!

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Worldwide

Today, DC Comics officially celebrates seventy five years of Batman.  Events are scheduled to happen all across the globe in book stores such as Barnes & Noble and in comic book shops everywhere.  Some events include exclusive free comics, masks, capes, and tons of other freebies.  Are you hosting a party to celebrate the Bat today?  Perhaps this weekend?  If you are having an event or attending one, be sure to comment about it below.

Batman is, was, and always will be my favorite superhero.  For anyone that’s ever read a comic and/or dreamed of being a superhero, he’s the one person that we all believed we could potentially become.  Why?  He lacks super powers.  All of his success against crime is based solely on his intelligence, hard physical training, and, here’s the kicker, money.  Sure, there are other heroes out there who lack super powers that do quite well for themselves such as Iron Man, the Punisher, and even the Boy Wonder, Robin, but Batman seems the most real character of them all.  Heck, even Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory believes that he can become Batman!

So, go out into the world today and share your love of everyone’s favorite detective.  Wear a Batman tee, read a Batman comic, watch one of the many Batman films, or watch Batman:  The Animated Series or any of the other wonderful cartoons featuring the Bat.  Do it with your family, friends, and loved ones.  Oh, and don’t forget to show some love and become a fan of the Discount Dark Knight at http://www.facebook.com/discountdarkknight.

Happy birthday, BATMAN!!!!

USS Lafitte/CATS 20th Anniversary Party

Lake Charles, LA

On Saturday, July 19th, I attended a wonderful party in celebration of the twenty year anniversary of the U.S.S. Lafitte/C.A.T.S. Star Trek Fan Club.  The group, founded twenty years ago by Stuart Griggs, was originally called C.A.T.S. (Calscasieu Area Trekkers Society).  As it grew in numbers, it eventually became an official part of Starfleet International as the U.S.S. Lafitte.

The group holds monthly meetings that include a viewing of a Star Trek series episode (currently TNG episodes) and also a science fiction or fantasy film.  The group also enjoys a number of other fandoms, from Star Wars to Firefly, Battlestar Galactica to Lord of the Rings and beyond.  The group also attends science fiction and comic conventionst to promote all things Trek.

I have only been with the group for roughly nine months, and in just that small amount of time I have gained quite a few new and solid friends.  We come from different backgrounds, generations, and interest groups, but Star Trek binds us all together as one happy family.

If you happen to live in the Lake Charles area, look up the group on Facebook and reach out to us about joining.

I Want You!!!!

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Everywhere

Here’s a shout out to each and every person out there who reads this blog regularly or just happened to stumble upon this page out of sheer dumb luck.  I want YOU to tell me which topic to blog about next.  Simply comment below as to which topic needs to be addressed by yours truly from the list that follows and I’ll write up something about it next week.

  • Doctor Who
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Batman
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Bad Superhero films
  • Good Superhero films
  • Firefly
  • Toy collecting
  • Randomizer (post this comment and I’ll randomly choose a topic from the list)

 

The Houston Con

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Houston, TX

I’ll be attending The Houston Con in about a month’s time.  I am not 100% sure if I’ll be there strictly as an attendee or as part of a fan group, but I’ll definitely let you know here whenever I find out.

This event was formerly known as Space City Con, which was awesome in its own right.  For reasons that I personally am not aware of (although rumors are rampant), that event was dissolved and from its ashes rose The Houston Con.

The guest list includes numerous Power Rangers actors, members of the cast of Star Trek:  AxanarTeen Wolf celebs, a cast member from the upcoming (and highly anticipated by me ) The Flash series, plenty of comics artists, authors, and those wonderful ladies in green, Orion’s Envy.

Check out the link below and if you’re going to this event, lemme know and maybe we can talk a bit.  Also, I’ll be the Discount Dark Knight at some point during the convention.  Come by and talk to me!

As always, thanks for reading.

The Houston Con.