Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Movies 2014, Good Super Heroes

            I liked this movie.  It does a lot to correct what I think are some issues with how Disney has been managing Marvel, 1) most of Marvel's animated properties are frothy mugs of poop, and 2) serious lack of diversity on the macro scale, especially considering how many diverse Marvel characters there are.
            This movie is colorful, has likable characters who have a lot of visual personality, with clothing and costumes that give the audience quick insights into their characters.  He's precise (and works with lasers), she is bubbly (and works with bubbles of strange chemicals), he wears a beanie and is clearly the stupidest person in the film.  It is all very clean and uncomplicated allowing for them to put in a lot of action, gags, and cool inventions.  And I really liked the robot, I like pretty much all robots in fiction, but this one especially.
I love Baymax.  I feel his existence is damn near an absolute good.,
            That being said there are a lot of little things about this movie that drag it down.  The bad guy is so obvious that the red herring they threw out seemed insulting to my intelligence. There is also some clunky dialogue that tells the audience explicitly what they already knew by implication, they live with their aunt so their parents are gone, he bult a robot so he is really smart and wastes his genius... but one brother tells the other brother, "Our dead parents would not want you to waste your super smart brain, dur, dur, dur".  That is lazy writing.
            There are sections that I think missed a gag (at one point a character has to spin at super speed to escape a slowly crushing space, she gets out and is then fine... I wanted her to say, "Yeah, I am *Hurk*" and puke, that would have been a good punctuation to the scene).  Even in a world of super science some of the things the characters do stretch believability (the main character whips up about 7,500 lbs of tiny robots in his garage in two weeks... Bull shit, even writing the soft ware for such a program... THAT READS THOUGHTS would require more time than that) when your movie starts to make Iron Man look like a drooling buffoon you might want to dial things back toward reality. 
            And now for some SPOILER discussion because I want to talk more about the bad guy.  In them movie the college professor who I consider to be too obvious a villain is a villain, he does this because his daughter was ostensibly killed while testing a teleportation device.  Except that is not foreshadowed, he is working with numerous young geniuses and not once do you see him wistfully look at them like they were his own kids, not once does he let slip a remark about missing his daughter, and at no point do you see a picture or memento that would hint to the audience that he had any personal tragedy.  It is revealed at the end of act two.  That is weak writing.
            STILL SPOILERS: Also, the professor is a weak pick for the bad guy.  The main character only knew him for two weeks, not long enough to form a bond, so when the opportunity for bloody revenge comes along (the professor having caused the death of the main character's brother) of course the protagonist attempts to kill him without moral consideration... and in most instances he would be totally right, the bad guy has a doomsday weapon and is a real danger to lots of people, and it could be argued that he deserves to die for his reckless violent behavior causing the deaths of others.
            STILL SPOILERS:  Here is a better idea for a villain: make it the main character's brother.  Have it so the fire at the beginning kills the professor and it is revealed that the reason the brother went bad is that the rich guy of the movie caused the death of he and the main character's parents in a reckless experiment.  So now you have the brother (who built a healthcare robot) using the main character's robots as a weapon for evil, and the main character using the healthcare robot to fight back.  You have parallels, and a moral question as to whether you stop you brother from avenging your family.  There is complexity.
            In a way this movie fails the same way "Rise of the Guardians" failed in that there is just a much better, deeper, richer movie that could have been made from the same parts... and they didn't.
Overall: 7/10 
I actually find this poster to be rather awesome.
            Bryan Singer hated all the movies following his departure (with good reason) so he killed them... and the original movies he made that spawned them.  This thing has so much going on that I wrote a trillion random thoughts down in a mild haze and am trying to connect them together into a coherent whole... Like this movie tried to do with the rest of the franchise.
            (So are spinal injuries a super power in this universe?)
            It felt like two movies... The final two movies for the franchise.
            The first was "Wolverine sent back in time to stop an assassination" it has the stakes (multiple X-Men murdered by robots in the future), it shows the means (psychic time travel to rewrite reality), it has the players (Magneto who is in prison and Charles who has no powers will need to convince Raven from killing Bolivar), Wolverine goes into the past, finds Charles, they gather allies (Beast, and more importantly Quicksilver), they spring Magneto, go to the assassination, stop it, and then the climax happens (Wolverine freaks out, Magneto takes the practical unethical measures, Charles is the powerless idealist, and Beast is a blue wolf man), then that movie ends, with the bad guys getting away, the group broken up and the assassination stopped.
Think about this for a second.  The cast is so large, that Emmy Winner Kelsey Grammer is an uncredited cameo.
It is so big that Anna Paquin has an Oscar, but no lines.  They got talent coming out of their ears and ass over here.
            (Why did they kill all the villains from the first movie off?  Why did they do that off screen?)
            Then the next movie starts.  They show the stakes (still killer robots), they have the means (Raven's DNA which will ultimately make for deadlier robots), they have the players (Raven, Magneto, Xavier, Wolverine, and Trask), they rally their forces (Xavier commits to using his telepathy, Magneto gets his helmet and sabotages the original Robots), then they collide, and then that movie ends with half the "bad guys" getting away and the killer robots defeated.
            Seriously, its like they had two movies and just put them together.  Like they were going to have trilogy of First Class films and this is the last two of that series combined.  It erases a lot of continuity (thank the gods) and makes things smoother and all tied up.  You could end the entire franchise here because it shows the brighter world of tomorrow at the end, all of the sins of the first few movies got resolved.  There is nothing left to say.  Really, if they wanted to shake things up they should have just killed Wolverine for real and left the future up to interpretation.  That would have shaken the franchise to the core.  Wolverine dying would have changed everything and been a lot more ambiguous.  Instead, not only does he get a happy ending.... Everyone does including a lot of people who died.
            (Why were there so few returning characters from "First Class" [Banshee is gone, Moria is gone, White Queen is gone], and so many new ones that had nothing to do?)
            This movie has the exact same themes as "Captain America: Winter Soldier".  Drones in the sky killing extraordinary people who would upset the status quo.  Wolverine and Cap are the heroes of different eras (though Charles is really more the hero than Wolverine toward the end).  Bucky and Mystique are the wild card middle men who need to be stopped/saved.  Beast and Falcon are the ones encouraging the hero to just take out the bad guy rather than save them.  Black Widow and Nick Fury take the role of Magneto, more ambiguous characters who are about practical mission objectives.
            (Why would Mystique's DNA help make robots that can steal powers?  She can't mimic powers... And ROBOTS DON"T HAVE DNA!)
Just for your knowledge, this type of Sentinel is called a Nimrod.  In the comics they were damn near unstoppable.
            Magneto's plan would have worked better had he just covertly used the sentinels to kill President Nixon, his staff, and a lot of civilians, and then just let the humans eventually kill the robots.  People would have blamed the MUTANT TARGETING SYSTEM as being unable to tell the difference between humans and mutants and then scrap the idea of robot soldiers altogether.  And he wouldn't of declared war on behalf of mutants like a crazy asshole.  Also, all humans are mutants, blonde hair, dimples, webbed toes, and nearly any genetic trait is a mutation... so is dwarfism.  The main villain is a dwarf and the idea that he creates a robot apocalypse because he got stunted growth rather than laser eyes and well defined abs is an interesting idea left bubbling under the surface of the movie, but it also asks the obvious question of how a mutant detector would work and why it doesn't kill everyone.
            (Why did they write the movie to send Wolverine back to the past?  Yeah he is a popular character but the last movie did fine with only a cameo by him.  Why not send back some of the cool new characters and Ellen Page' Shadow Cat?  Would have done a lot to further the idea of minority rights by having some characters who are minorities in the picture.)
            This movie has both a great ending, and a bad one.  Because, they clearly want sequels, but you already know what is going to happen ultimately as it shows a future with the X-Men triumphant in a utopia... so I guess the next movie is not going to have any affect on that?  Is Apocalypse not going to do anything?  That is not good.
            The movie holds together so well though, and has depth and themes explored by skilled actors with good effects, and a sense of scope and creativity that makes it so good that I forgive the flaws (mostly).
Overall: 8/10
I would also like to point out that several of the predictions I made for this movie were right.  Though I cast a wide net and thus was bound to catch something.  (Poster)
            I do not know why everyone thought this movie was going to be a huge gamble.  Everyone kept saying that an obscure comic book would never be able to carry a movie... But let's be honest, pretty much 99% of comics are obscure, and 99% of movies are adapted from books or TV shows and other mediums that have audiences of less than 1,000,000 people.  And original movies have no audience till release.  So why would something like Guardians be seen as so out of the box?  Because it has aliens?  Shit, that has been around since the silent era.  Because it is more of a comedy?  I think there is a clear track record in modern history that comedies can be about anything ("Galaxy Quest", "Shaun of the Dead"... hell, look back to the 80's and you have "The Princess Bride").  I was looking at it assuming it would be an interesting addition to the Marvel movies and guess what: IT WAS!
Look at this.  It is the severed head of a god that floats in space and is a city.  How is my life not enriched by this?
            This movie is gorgeous.  The dialogue pops.  It is funny.  It has heart.  It has broad appeal with a big diverse cast of characters traveling thru beautiful living environments dealing with a villain that is clearly out of their weight class.  Leading a rag tag group in resistance to a total planetary genocide.  It is awesome.  Even the cheezy part where they use the power of friendship to beat the bad guy like it is a freaking "My Little Pony" episode (Though I guess Nightmare Moon was more like Malakith in "Thor: The Dark World" with the eternal darkness and all).
            I am not going to say this movie touched me on some deeper level, but it did its job well, and I am glad that Marvel feels that space is a much more creatively free place for the Marvel universe to be silly and strange.  I look forward to the sequel which I am sure will be even better.  (Here is my pitch for it, they are employed to break into Asgard and steal the Tesseract in hopes of keeping it out of Loki's hands... and inadvertently put it into the hands of Thanos.  It could be a heist movie, "Guardians of the Galaxy: The Asgardian Caper").

Overall: 8/10
This is a third party poster.  One of many alternate designs that these people whipped together.  Check them out.

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