Archive for April, 2016

Captain ‘MURICA and other Marvel movies

NO CIVIL WAR SPOILERS

If you liked the last Captain America I’m pretty sure you will like this one to. It has the same tone and style as the last film, winter soldier, but it isn’t the same film (unlike a certain Age of Ultron).

The last few Marvel movies have been mostly refreshing viewings. Maybe not overly refreshing, they are superhero movies still, but phase I’m glad that the movies haven’t grown stale as of yet. The movies I’m referring to are Guardians of the Galaxy (henceforth referred to by simply ‘Guardians’), Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Captain America Winter Soldier.

What made the Winter Soldier into such a hit, partially, I would propose is that it dared to be different; it dared to do something new. It wasn’t much of a typical superhero movie, the likes of Iron Man, Hulk or Thor have been. This was more akin to a spy thriller, and it established more of the Marvel universe. We got to see S.H.I.E.L.D. in action, HYDRA came back, the villain wasn’t as much a “boss fight” as it was plotter that had to be stopped and the actions in this film had consequences in the upcoming movies. Those are what made this movie so different and exciting. All other movies after this couldn’t of course turn the Marvel universe upside down like this one did but the Winter Soldier dared to not only be self-contained. (Iron Man 3 do have some references to the Avengers, but they aren’t super influential to the movie (that or my memory might be falling me)).

Next up we have Guardians, the smash hit. It is basically Avengers in space but none the less it works so brilliantly. But why does it work, it works cause this time “everyone” is so over the top and the heroes aren’t all that serious. Not all heroes are serious, just look at Iron Man, he jokes all the time, but the rest of the old crew? Pretty serious dudes all of them. In Guardians, everybody jokes (maybe not intentionally…) plus it managed to do a “Avengers” without first having 4-5 movies as setup.

Age of Ultron. Why is this movie here? Because that one did everything wrong. Okay, that is too harsh, it didn’t do everything wrong and I’m pretty sure it was a nightmare to produce since it had to include so many big heroes and let them all shine and at the same time set the stage for Captain America Civil War and a few other films. However, we shall not let it pass just because of that. It was sadly a kind of lame movie, not a bad one by far, at minimum a 7/10 but it lacked originality. It was just a rehash of the first Avengers in all too many aspects.

Finally we arrive at the Ant-Man, a film some people say is just Iron Man 1 in a new skin. A statement I see some truth in, but what to me made this movie was the heist aspect of it. Yes, in many was it was the typically “origin movie” for Ant-Man but I think it worked since it was a pretty different origin and that our hero was a small time crook. But since Ant-Man and Iron Man both relied on suites and science and such I can see how that might make them feel similar, but the movies are so very different. One of them are the fights. The Iron Man films do have fight scenes… some pretty good, but most I feel aren’t that inventive. In Ant-Man, they’re as inventive as they can get (maybe not, but almost). Perspective is played with and since they change size, now anywhere can be a battle field. The fights stink of creativity and it’s a good stink.

So why this rant? Because after thinking about these movies and having seen the latest Captain America I feel hope full that we will get many more inventive and different superhero movies in the coming years.

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Impressions of: Gardens of the Moon

Friends are people you trust, people that try to be nice to you. Friends are not people that make you read a book that gives you a headache.

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Doesn’t it need a few more plants to be a garden?

A friend of mine told me to read this book, he said it was awesome, better than food, that I would either love or hate it (take note here dear readers, this last piece of information is a good indication that something might be iffy with what you are being “sold”).

But he was wrong, oh, so very wrong. I didn’t hate or love it; I just liked it, a 6/10. Now I don’t think it was a bad book, it had moments of brilliance, especially a character introduced later on, called Kruppe, he was fantastic. In fact, many of the characters in this book are interesting and fun to read about, even if we don’t get to know them enough to call them acquaintances. Then where is the problems/lack of excellence that makes it into a 6/10 instead of a 10/10?

There are four main problems in this book, according to me, the first is: What the heck is even happening?!

I am able to find the thread which is this book’s main plot (even though it took a while) fairly easily, but at the same time we get to know about 3-4 other bigger plots, that are on a world level, while the main plot of Gardens of the Moon is on a group/country level. Mostly group. Furthermore, there is the problem of characters acting all “YOLO” and doing whatever they please for seemingly no reason, but to be fair it isn’t very common.

The second problem: Where did that come from and stop pulling things from Uranus!?

When I read this book one of my most common thoughts was “where the hell did that/this come from?”. If I had a dollar for every time I thought that I would have at least 50$, which wouldn’t get me a ticket to the Bahamas, but the next town over and a change of scenery is always nice. However unserious that was this is a real problem I believe. The reader shouldn’t constantly feel like almost anything could jump out behind the next corner, at least not in this kind of book. Had it taken place in a surreal dream world, than by all means, throw crazy at me all the time, but this is a serious, albeit fictional, world with what I guess are strict rules.

Problem number three: Who was that again?

Okay, this one is also one of the strengths of the book and the world but when you are first introduced to this universe it is annoying beyond belief. What am I talking about, I’m talking about names. Everybody and their grandma have about 20+ names which the author decides to switch between now and then. Sometimes it’s used to great effect when you think it is a completely new character we’ve been following but is actually someone we know just going by a different alias. Alas, it can be cool and the world is kind of sort of built around this practice but it is irritating when you have to learn over 9000 names just to follow the basic happenings from one page to the next.

Fourth of the problems: I know nothing about this place!

Right from the outset I understood that this is a grand and complex world that the story will take place in. A bit too grand and complex one might say. This is the mother of all the problems, at least all the ones I have called out. As you read the book, the grandeur of the world slowly dawns on you and you see that there are bigger things at stake and far from every card has touched the table. Big and complex worlds are not bad in and of themselves, but when you as the reader are thrown right into them with little to no explanation it makes your brain fry. It’s overwhelming. Normally you as the reader have a mug that can be filled with new information. This mug can hold about 10-11 ounces of new information, and then you need to drink it and contemplate over it during a sunset in a rocking chair. Sometimes Gardens of the Moon gives you the right amount of information, sometimes it gives you a tsunami.

Even though I have problems with the book I still feel like I should give the next one a chance. However, if that one doesn’t get a good grip on me then I’m out here.

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