Mixtape

Guardians of the Galaxy is a total change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that the film isn’t set on Earth and features characters quite different from the characters that we have been used to seeing in this films. Well most of them anyway.

The main character, Peter Quill, a sort of Han Solo rogue type characters who goes searching for items of interest to sell to the highest bidder and it appears that he was actually from the planet Earth and had a human mother and an unnamed and unseen alien father but was taken from the Earth, just after his mother’s death from cancer when he was about eight years old, by a group of space pirates named the Ravagers.

On one of his missions Peter steals a strange orb which sets into motion a whole series of events where an assassin is set after Peter and not only that the space pirates also set a bounty on his head so at that point he is one of the most wanted people in the galaxy.

He then gets mixed up with a load of other ne’er-do-well’s including a modified racoon with an attitude and a walking talking tree and all them (the assassin included) are thrown into a prison home of the worse of the worse of the universe’s criminal society.

They soon discover that the orb contains one of the infinity stones which have been hearing about in all the other Marvel films.

This is where this film links in with the others as, otherwise it would be a totally different sort of film more Star Wars than Superman as it were, and there wouldn’t really be any other visible links with films such as Thor or Iron Man or Captain America.

However, even with this link it does seem to be a bit too different for the cinematic universe, as it just feels totally different to the other films in more ways than not.

As a result I enjoyed this film for what it was, and not really as one of an ongoing series of films, which was a rather pulpy sort of space adventure with plenty of laughs, and a really decent soundtrack which was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and make you forget about the drudgery of day to day life without having to have any thoughts about the characters or what might happen next, which sometimes is just the tonic for the weary viewer.

Winter is Coming

I really enjoyed Captain America The Winter Solider as there was a heck of a lot going on. We found out that Hydra had not been destroyed after the events of the first Cap film and that it has been infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. ever since it was formed and that it might be responsible for certain events throughout history since then, such as the deaths of Tony Stark’s father which was also reported as being an accident and many others.

I did think that it was a bit of a shame that for only his second film Captain America had to share the screen not only with the Black Widow, but with a newcomer Falcon and Nick Fury, but actually it worked better than I thought it would and we still got a lot of Cap doing what Cap does best, but also got to see Scarlet Johanson (which is always a good thing) a lot and Samuel L Jackson who is quite simply the coolest pensioner ever.

It made sense that Cap would have become embroiled as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. as I don’t think that he would have coped if he had just woken up and tried to live a normal life after being frozen for 75 years and that he needed a purpose in his life, which is what he wanted before he became Captain America and was just plain old Steve Rogers so nothing has changed for him since then so being given orders was just the thing for him to be able to make sense of everything that had happened.

I liked the fact that he had a notebook where he listed all of the things that he felt like he had missed and wanted to get to know and I liked the fact that he would use the internet to find out about the past which is what most other people do if they weren’t around in those days.

It might not mean that you get to find out what actually happened but get to find out a version of what had happened so that he does not feel like he has missed out.

You have to admit that he would have been totally lost when he realised that he would actually be in his 90’s if he had actually lived and that most people he would have know would either be very old and might not be able to recognise them but long dead so he really had to start from scratch, which would be very hard for someone if that was to happen to you.

Apart from the whole conspiracy within plotline in this episode there was also a new villain in the shape of the Winter Soldier who Cap realises is actually his best mate Bucky Barnes who had apparently died in the first movie but had been resurrected as a super assassin and if he hadn’t of removed his mask then Cap would never have recognised him and then had the gut wrenching anguish of fighting his oldest friend even if Bucky didn’t have a clue who he was.

You would have thought that the fact that Bucky didn’t recognise him would actually make it easier for Cap to actually kill him as he clearly wasn’t the person he remembers and, more importantly, actually wants to kill him but as Cap is an old fashioned sort of guy he just can’t bring himself to divorce his oldest friends from the killing machine he has become.

It was nice that they didn’t totally forget about Peggy Carter in this film as she was the girl that Cap was waiting to go on a date with when he got back from the mission which saw him plunge to his apparent death with a nice little cameo from Hayley Atwell as the now nonagenarian Peggy who married in the end but still held a torch for Steve after all those years.

It was also nice that the Black Widow and Cap didn’t get it on the movie with her it would seem holding a torch for Hawkeye and also Cap still being in love with Peggy. It was amusing to see Natasha suggest all these girls that he might ask out on a data and it does beg the question was she aware that the cute nurse who lived next door to Cap was actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. Operative.

One assumes that she would have know this which is why she would have suggested it but you can never tell with Natasha that what comes out of her mouth is actually what she means or what she needs to tell you at that moment in time.

There is a hell of a lot going on under the surface in this film and it will be interesting to see how on Earth what will become of S.H.I.E.L.D. after its apparent toppling as things cannot possibly be the same as they were before after everything thing that has happened not only in this movie but for years and years prior to the events in this film.

Hammer Time

Thor Dark World is not a bad film. Loki is kept prisoner on Asgard after his actions in the first film and Thor is trying to be the best future king that he can and is also keeping an eye on Jane Foster from afar. Some more shit from the past of Asgard comes back to haunt Odin and by some strange coincidence, well not really, Jane gets embroiled in this plot from the long distance past of Asgard when she ends up being infected by this energy known as the Aether which Odin’s father had managed to prevent the Dark Elf’s and their leader Malekefi from using.

Poor Jane went through a lot in this movie, and had to spend most of the time hearing people tell her that she wouldn’t survive for much longer, and also getting a trip to Asgard in the bargain to meet Thor’s folks now that they are going steady as it were.

However Odin is not happy to see Jane as it brings back bad memories for him and also for Asgard itself as this is not good news for the world as the leader of Dark Elf’s is resurrected and uses all of his powers to find Jane and get his hands on the Aether which is not a very good thing for any of the nine realms.

Now that his beloved Jane is at risk because of this Thor is adamant that not only will he stop Malekefi but that he will also save Jane from an almost certain (if you believed Odin and many others) death but not so that they can live happily ever after as he disappeared and left her on her own for more than a year with the rather thin excuse that the bifrost had between destroyed and thus not allowing him to visit her realm until it was restored.

Now that seems like a bloody good reason to me, but women can be fickle so that might not have been a good enough excuse for Miss Jane Foster. Still it must be nice to have that sort of effect on women, that they drop everything else that they are doing at the time if you just so much as turned up because that isn’t usually the case, although perhaps if you had the physique of Chris Hemsworth then perhaps it is more likely to happen.

I thought that Christopher Eccleston was excellent as Malekefi and it wasn’t until the end of the film that I realised that it was him. He was a very effective bad guy in this film and eased menace in every single scene that he was in.

Tom Hiddleston was also very good as Loki in that he always managed to take centre stage whenever he was on the screen and just lifted the scene with his mere presence on the screen and with Eccleston and Hiddleston and Hopkins on screen you got three very powerful actors in this rather silly comic book movie who made the whole thing very believable by them taking it just as seriously as they might say a Shakespeare.

Hiddleston is a far better actor than Chris Hemsworth but Hemsworth is a far more believable Thor than Hiddleston could ever be and likewise Hemsworth wouldn’t have been as effective as Loki, so both of them are very well cast in parts that suit them.

Once again this is a film that you really cannot enjoy without having seen at least the first Thor movie and the first Avengers film as most of the characterisation in this movie is influenced by the events of those films.

That is the only problem with these Marvel comic universe films is that they are not really stand alone movie as they are much better when watched as part of series of films. I guess that there is enough action and spectacle in these films to watch them out of order but for the most part you at least have to have a passing knowledge of the other films for it to really make any sense.

I am not sure that this really is a problem just more of a comment on the very serial nature of these films which is great from a binge watching point of view, which is how I am enjoying them at the moment and enjoying them more as an ongoing series rather than just as stand alone movies.

Irony

Iron Man 2 is another testosterone filled movie where men tried to outdo each other, just because they think that they are better and stronger, and just for the pleasure of outdoing each other. It isn’t even over a girl which is normally is when this sort of stuff goes down, as that’s something to fight over isn’t it?

Iron Man 2 is a revenge based film as the son of a scientist who worked with Tony Stark’s father builds his own version of the Iron Man suit and wreaks havoc all in the name of vengeance against Stark for what he believed that they did to his father and by proxy to him.

Mickey Rourke plays this character who like Tony Stark is a technology genius even if doesn’t really look like one and is more than a match for Tony and does a decent job of kicking his arse, well to a point anyway and is probably just as much a genius as Tony, but is a lot more bat shit crazy.

Tony also had to spend quite a bit of time in this film trying to replace the batteries that kept him from dying as a result of the shrapnel in his chest as the ones from the previous film were slowly killing him which is another very ironic thing that happens to Tony Stark in these films. Of course, as he is a genius, he manages to work it out and also sort out the Daddy issues that he had in the first film.

Here we actually get to see Howard Stark and at first he does seem to be the person that Tony was castigating for much of the first film, but also shows a more human side to his character and actually shows Tony that he his father did actually care about him, just in his own, rather unorthodox way, and helps him in more way that he could possibly have imagined.

Pepper has a lot more to do in this film what with being handed the CEO role at Stark Industries from Tony, which is pretty much what she did before just now in name as well as deed which did seem a bit of a silly thing for Tony to do even if she was more than capable of doing it probably with her eyes closed.

Gwyneth Paltrow got a better and bigger role in this film which counterbalanced her smaller role in the first movie but despite that she still ended up being the damsel in distress, just this time a damsel in distress with a lot of responsibility, but who still needed rescuing.

Pepper then got Tony a new personal assistant in the shapely shape of Natalie Rushman, who turned out to be a lot more than just a personal assistant, but not in the way that you are thinking.

Scarlett Johannsen played Natalie and was, for some of the movie, being the perfectly capable and hyper efficient personal assistant ala Pepper in the first film, and part of the movie being a kickarse super heroine, in a tight leather costume, who kicks arse for fun.

It was amusing when Stark invited her into a boxing ring and then she proceeded to virtually knock out Happy with her moves and also, later on in the film, when she changed into her costume from her normal clothes as Natalie, in the back of Tony’s car, as brazen as you like.

Quite how Happy managed to carry on driving whilst she was undressing in the back seat in anyone’s guess as I would defy anyone not to take a sneaky peak under the same circumstances and that scene certainly got watched again and again and again.

There were plenty of exciting action based scenes in this movie and some more character based scenes which co-exist rather well in this film but which were dwarfed by the actions scenes which are the best things about this film such as the scene at Monaco where Mickey Rourke’s character lets rip against Stark and manages to cause a major kerfuffle at the grand-prix meet,, or the fight sequence between Natalie and lots of SHIELD guards which is done is nice looking slow-mo, to name but a few.

After the talk of people wanting to weaponize the process which turns Banner into the Hulk in the previous movie that is very prevalent in this movie with the military spending the entire film trying to get Tony to hand over his designs for Iron Man so that they can have their own army of Iron Men to fight all of the bad guys with. When Tony doesn’t play they go to another arms manufacturer who doesn’t have Tony’s qualms about selling out.

This is a very enjoyable film which is actually a bit better than the first Iron Man film and that is mainly because of Scarlett Johannsen, who was sorely missed in the first film. It is far better when she is present, especially in that costume.