Movie of the Month: Guardians of the Galaxy

Over Christmas vacation we finally got around to watching the latest movie offering from the world of Marvel Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy. I know, I know, it’s been out for ages, relax already. After hearing so many good things about it I’ve been eager to sit back and put my feet up and enjoy.

And I did.

[Warning: Spoiler Alert!]

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Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, is a space scavenger seeking his fortune and he believes he has found it when he is commissioned to find a valuable orb on the dead planet of Morag. He’s not the only one who wants it either. When he finds it first he becomes the target for the universe’s most despicable baddie, the megalomaniac Ronan, who sends his assassin Gamora to hunt the orb down. Peter has also double crossed his partner Yondo Udonta, who now will do anything to hunt him down. Lastly, bounty hunters Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon, and Groot, a sentient house plant/tree, want Peter as well but ultimately they end up joining him for a share in the money. Peter is captured by the benevolent Nova Corps on Xandar and thrown into prison where they meet Drax who has a score to settle with Ronan. Long story short, Peter, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax end up joining forces and become the Guardians of the Galaxy. They escape the Kyln prison and try to sell the orb to the mysterious Collector, who finally tells them what it actually is. Because of the orbs immense world-destroying power, the Guardians decide that the orb must be delivered to the Nova Empire for safe keeping from Ronan. Ronan, however, has other plans, and intercepts them at Xandar in his mammoth ship the Dark Aster.

If you want to know how it turns out, you’ll have to watch it!

As for me, I loved it. It was a highly entertaining romp through the galaxy with a cast of super-likable characters.  Someone told me that it was essentially the Space Avengers, and they’re right.  Each of the Guardians match up to one of the Avengers.  Rocket is Iron man, Gamora is the Black Widow, Drax is Thor, Groot is the Hulk, and Peter Quill is Captain America.  We can even stretch it to say that Yondo Udonta is Hawkeye with his super cool psychic arrow.

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If I were to choose  favorite, it’d be Rocket.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he seems to know what’s going on long before the others, he’s even cute and furry.

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News!

I have a book release coming up on January 31st! The book is “The Toll of Another Bell” a fantasy anthology from Xchyler Publishing.  You can pre-order a copy on Amazon today. There will also be a release party on Facebook with lots of great prizes. Check out the links for more details!

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Winnie the Pooh – Who are you?

I’ve been reliving many of the cartoons from my past, including a few from the Winnie the Pooh franchise. Even as a kid these weren’t my favorite, I grew up in the middle of great cartoons such as Duck Tales and Rescue Rangers.

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Winnie the Pooh has had staying power, I’ll give it that.  They are classics and will be perpetually renewed, just like Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson.

Part of the reason that Winnie the Pooh tends to stick around is that each of the characters are so distinct.  There’s Winnie of course, the bumbling silly bear who’s none too bright but friendly nonetheless. He has an obsession with honey and will do anything to get it, including putting himself if danger.

Then there’s Piglet, who is scared of everything to the extent that he won’t try anything new without a whole lot of support from his friends.

Tigger only wants to have fun and is the Polly Anna of the group.  This fun often bothers those around him and causes him the majority of his problems.  He can’t see the effect his actions have on others and is selfish.

Eeyore is perpetually depressed.  He believes that nothing can go right for him and as a result nothing ever does.  He’s not very pleasant to be around but is lucky that he has a great group of friends willing to overlook is dour demeanor.

Rabbit always has a goal, and will do everything in his power to get to that goal, even when it means sabotaging everyone else’s fun.  He is responsible, dependable, and perpetually cranky because no one can manage to do anything right in his eyes. If anything he is the most grownup of all the characters.

As I was watching this with my three-year-old this week I had a chilling realization.

I’m Rabbit.

This stung more than you’d think. You see, I hated Rabbit growing up.  He was the one who was always ruining everything for everyone. Sure, he knows what it takes to get things done, but those things are often not worth doing. Or if they are, they don’t have to be done in the precise anal OCD way that Rabbit insists on.

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What character are you?

Related pages:

Mental Disorders of the Winnie-the-Pooh Characters

A Very Brief History of Idiots Banning Winnie the Pooh

19 Incredibly Wise Truths We Learned From Winnie The Pooh

Yikes, it’s the Grinch!

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss books and loving them. In fact, one of the first books I remember reading by myself was “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” The pictures were fanciful and fun and the rhymes whimsical and silly. What was there not to love?

And then it hits me.  They made a live-action, high-budget version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” with Jim Carrey no less, in one of the most horrific movie adaptation decisions of all time.

First of all, Dr. Seuss stories are simple and sweet and in no way adaptable into full-length feature films. The only one that I like, but not love, is “Horton Hears a Who,” and even then the writers went a little nuts bringing out the dark undertones of the story. It survives my cut because at least they had the wisdom not to try to use live actors and animals.

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At least he looks like a Who

The Grinch, however, creeps me out.  It fall squarely into the uncanny valley class of creepy where things are just messed up enough to make them repulsive. Yep, I’m creeped out by the Whos. It’s the same feeling I get when I see circus clowns. The Grinch himself was alright, at least they pushed his makeup effects far enough past the realm of normal that it doesn’t trigger the creeps. He’s just plain strange, and that’s ok. These guys on the other hand are down-right repulsive.

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Creepy Who Mayor

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Just two steps left of terrifying

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Nightmare fuel

I take it back, he's creepy too.

I take it back, he’s creepy too.

The original Whos are adorable and distinctly not human and were never meant to be. Check it out, Cindy Lou Who is so cute that I’d put her on a top ten cute Christmas icons list.

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Squee!

Strange, but still cute.

Strange, but still cute.

I’m biased – I like things that stay true to the original. You can keep your weird and creepy whos. I’ll take my guppy-tailed Cindy Lou any day.

New Trailer Release: Star Wars, the Force Awakens

Possibly the biggest thing that happened in the fantasy/scifi world this weekend is the release of the teaser trailer for the newest chapter in the Star Wars saga – if there was something bigger, fill me in.

Star Wars, the Force Awakens (episode 7, for those who are still counting) occurs 30 years after Return of the Jedi where the Death Star is taken out once and for all by the Rebel Alliance and Luke confronts Darth Vader and learns of his true lineage.  It ends with the big party in the Ewok forest and life is good, or is it?

No real spoilers have leaked about this newest chapter but there are tons of theories floating around.  Obviously there is some threat that requires the Jedi to return in force to handle it, most likely the Sith, since they are they only bad guys from the first six movies that could exist and grow stronger over the thirty year gap in the story. To face this threat the Jedi are going to need to do something to be sure they are strong enough to win.

Some of our favorite players are returning to their respective roles including: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2).

This episode is both directed and written in part by the illustrious and trend setting J.J. Abrams who brought new life into the Star Trek universe with his work on the movies Star Trek and Star Trek into Darkness. Let’s hope he can do the same for the Star Wars universe as well. And hey, who doesn’t love more lens flares?

Thankfully, John Williams has been enlisted once more to create the awesome music that has always been a part of the Star Wars saga. I’d be angry if they had found someone else, although I would love to see what Hans Zimmer or James Horner would have come up with.

Here is the link, enjoy!

Official Teaser Trailer #1:

 

 

 

Movie Review: Maleficent

Ok, I’m well behind the times when it comes to seeing this. That said, I’m well behind the times about seeing anything in the full priced theater, perhaps you are as well.  This weekend Maleficent came out to Redbox.

I was sceptical at first.  The original Sleeping Beauty as imagined by Disney was never my favorite and I’ve found many retold fairy tales lacking. Then again, I loved Ever After and Wicked so let it not be said that I’m overly biased.

I adored Maleficent.

Whoever they found to create and piece the story together to cast Maleficent as a misunderstood and misused magical creature was either a mad genius or made a pact with the devil to get it this good.

Maleficent-(2014)-59Not to mention Angelina Jolie. If there was ever a woman who looked so perfect that she is nearly alien, it’s her.  Wow, there are so many facets to her character that it’s hard to know where to start. [Warning, there be spoilers ahead!]

In this story, Maleficent begins as a carefree and kindhearted fairy of the Moors, a wild and wonderful place filled with all manner of magical creatures. The Moors kingdom has always had a rocky relationship with the adjoining kingdom. She meets Stefan, a peasant boy who wanders into the Moors to find treasure. The two begin a friendship that evolves into what Maleficent believes is true love.

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Stefan (played by Sharlto Copley), as we remember from our Disney of the past, is King and father of Princess Aurora. He has to do some pretty terrible things to become so, including taking from Maleficent the one thing she holds most dear. If you want to know what that is, watch the movie – it’s really horrible. Needless to say, Maleficent is heartbroken, enraged, and willing do anything to make Stefan pay for his betrayal.

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This is where the curse and those silly fairies come in. Aurora is taken from the kingdom to be raised by these truly annoying woman who don’t have a half-a-brain to rub between them. In fact, their incompetence is so severe that it is Maleficent herself that unwittingly begins to look after and care for the child from a distance.

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For me, this is where things get interesting. Enter Diaval played by Sam Riley, the raven Maleficent turns into all sorts of different creatures, including human, to be her spy. The writer in me wants to go into all sorts of detail on why he’s there and why his character is so effective, but I’ll spare you.  He’s awesome, and quite possibly my favorite character.

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Prince Phillip is played by Brenton Thwaites and in this movie he does pretty much nothing than provide some continuity from the original Sleeping Beauty. He’s there for the kiss – but wait, there’s a twist!

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And then, of course, we can’t forget Aurora played by Elle Fanning. As much as Sleeping Beauty is her story, she spends this entire movie being acted upon.  She gets cursed, she gets raised by the idiot fairies and indirectly by Maleficent, she meets Phillip, she pricks her finger, she falls into an endless sleep that doesn’t seem to last more than a few minutes in this movie, and she wakes up and becomes queen.

What makes the last half of the film so interesting is how Maleficent changes from kind and free-spirited to dark and brooding and then back again, and the realizations she has to make to do so. In the process of raising Aurora she discovers the one thing that she thought didn’t exist, the one thing so vital to her life that all that is good disappears when it’s gone and returns when she rediscovers it.  To find out what it is you’ll have to watch the movie.

Happy Halloween!

dark crystalHappy Halloween dear readers, it’s time to get your creepy on!  Whether it’s hanging out at an awesome party with friends or watching a spooky favorite at home with your favorite person or fur baby, have a great time and stay safe.

Don’t know what to watch? Here are some of my favorites-

Kid Friendly Picks:

The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth – Growing up, it became tradition to watch both of these movies in the week leading up to Halloween.  There was something about the magic and the puppetry that was very appealing to me.  Well, that, and David Bowie has an appeal all of his own. Rumor is that there is a sequel to Labyrinth in the works, I’ll keep you updated.

Watcher in the Woods Admittedly this is an oldie, but it still gets me everytime. And, yes, that is Betty Davis.

Nightmare Before Christmas – I say that this is kid friendly even though I can’t get my kids to watch it still. I get a kick out of it.

Not So Kid Friendly:

army-of-darknessArmy of Darkness – Ok, I’ll admit this is slightly out of my comfort range when it comes to language and gore, which shows immediately what kind of horror film watcher I am. (A wimpy one, not going to lie). But, there’s something about Bruce Campbell that I love. Plus, it’s laugh out loud funny.

The Mist – This movie based on the Stephen King novel packs so many punches that you’ll question going out into the fog for the rest of your life.

Shaun of the Dead – Take your classic zombie movie and turn it upside down and you get this hilarious parody. Again, this is more funny than scary, and that’s why I like it.

 

What are your favorite creepy movies? Share in the comments below!

 

Michael Jackson’s Ghosts Music Featurette

Just in time for Halloween I’ve found what has to be the strangest Michael Jackson music video out there – the 40 min long “Ghosts” featurette. In it, a quiet community is up in arms about one of the stranger residents because he doesn’t fit the norm.

Although it was shot in 1996, the film is meant to be set somewhere in the fifties which makes it stranger to see an angry mob of Leave it to Beaver wannabes storming his house armed with torches, yes, actual flaming torches, but no pitch forks – that would be silly.

Jackson does his best to scare the townsfolk away by making silly faces. They aren’t impressed so he summons his legion of ghost family who dance and gyrate and pelvic thrust in a way that only is found in a Michael Jackson video.

Some interesting notes – the film was co-written by none other than horror novelist Stephen King. Also, Jackson plays five different roles including that of the stuffy town mayor who wants to run him out-of-town.

It isn’t Thriller by a long shot and I can only guess that this was trying to relive those glory days. If anything it comes across as gross and a little silly.  Still, it was enough to keep my nearly three-year old up all night with nightmares.

Wanna know more? Check out the wiki.

 

Why I can’t go see Maze Runner, yet

MazerunnerOne of the biggest movie releases this fall is the Maze Runner based on the #1 New York Times bestselling novel by James Dashner. My Twitter feed has buzzed about everything about this film for weeks now which makes it all the more sad that I won’t be able to see it until it hits Redbox.

It’s not that I don’t want to see it right away, I do. I read the book several years ago and found a brilliant and innovative world with a compelling story. It has the right bones to make an awesome movie. And from early reviews, it is meeting expectations.

I guess I’m picky. When I go see a movie I want to go with my hubby which means it has to be in the evening or during the weekend. I can’t bring along the kids for two reasons, the first being that the oldest two don’t handle situations of peril very well and would either begin crying or would demand to leave and the youngest would simply cry and demand to leave because he doesn’t like movie theaters after the first 20 minutes. The second reason is that buying tickets for five at full evening prices and then add in the popcorn and drinks costs about as much as a car payment.

My apologies to the franchise in advance. Come December I will get the DVD, pop some of popcorn and curl up with my sweetie in my jammies and see what everyone has been talking about.

What movies are you waiting to watch?