October 31, 2014

Avengers Age of Ultron Trailer Initial Thoughts

I know I haven't put up a review since last month, and I'm sorry about that. I'm planning to just power through this semester of classes and then hopefully I'll be able to crank out a few reviews in December and January. But I'd thought I'd pass the time by reflecting on the by now nearly two-week old trailer for the upcoming Age of Ultron film, because hell, if I didn't talk about this, well that would be the equivalent of being an astrophysicist and not talking about the discovery of new life on Mars or something.

Anyway, this trailer is pretty good, though quite honestly, not a whole lot in here surprised me. And really, it's a teaser trailer; it's supposed to get you interested and engaged and show off the action, and this one does so very well. We've got the Hulkbuster armor, Cap's broken shield, Thor dropping his hammer- in fact if this film actually is about the heroes losing hope and representing that by having their weapons taken away or smashed or whatever, that will be awesome, because we've never seen that before really in this franchise. And hell, this can even extend to Tony's Iron Man armor being used to make the villain, so I'm hoping that that's the tone that this film decides to go with.

As I've said in the past, my relationship with the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been kinda rocky; I'm not head-over-heals in love with it like a lot of Marvel people; my feelings towards this are often teetering between mixed and positive. But this trailer really makes me curious about what they're going to do with this. Like Iron Man 3 and Winter Soldier, this one feels like it's taking elements from the comics but also doing its own thing instead of constantly referencing itself and the comics just to get a reaction out of the fans- the tone of this one is darker, the stakes feel more personal, and the villain Ultron seems like a far better antagonist than Loki.

And I'm reminded of what Joss Whedon said about this whole project at the very beginning. He said that their aim with this film was "not to go bigger, but deeper", and I'm getting hints of that with what is shown here. It seems like the Avengers are actually at odds with each other instead of having witty banter battles like in the first one; there seems like there could be an actual moral or ethical debate going on about Ultron, about who he is, about why Tony has done, etc. I don't know, this trailer made this movie feel so much more substantive than most Marvel films have in past, and I really hope it is, because Joss Whedon is such a capable writer and the sequel is really where you can explore stuff and shake things up, and I have a feeling that we're going to be seeing a lot of that come next year.

And no, I"m not going to go into all the comic-specific easter-eggs that are sprinkled throughout the trailer, because I'm not familiar enough with the comics to do so, and quite frankly, speculating about setup for future films or characters is of little interest to me; I'll let the film make a case for why these characters and set pieces and objects are in here.

So yeah, I'm excited for the film, I'm hoping that it'll have a deeper character-driven narrative than its predecessor, and I have a feeling that it is just based on what we've been presented with here. So what did all of you people think? You probably had a much stronger reaction to it than I did, so let me know what it was in the comments below!

October 20, 2014

5 Scenes I Love in Movies and Shows I Hate

So, with every positive there is a negative, and what better way to contrast my last post than with this little thing? This one will likely be a more positive post, though I did enjoy writing the last one, so strap in, because I'm gonna take us through five scenes I love in movies and shows that I hate.

October 18, 2014

5 Scenes I Hate in Movies and Shows I Love

It's no secret that I love film and television, and my love for the medium and the content that it produces runs deep. So please keep that in mind as I point out some flaws that have always bugged me ever since I saw them. Also, while these faults are present, they by no means diminish the greatness or the experience of any of these shows and movies in any fundamental way; they're all still amazing, I still love them all, but there are just these little things that get me every time. So here are my top five scenes I hate in movies and shows I love.

October 8, 2014

Robots in Disguise Trailer Initial Thoughts

Alright, so as some of you may have been able to tell by the content on this site, I'm a bit of a Transformers Prime fan, so when I heard that they were making a follow-up series, I of course had a reaction, and then I didn't really hear anything about the show for a while. But now we have our very first trailer (besides the sneak preview shown at some convention), and I have to say, this looks pretty good.

Right off the bat, we get things going with Bumblebee speaking to... I guess it's Optimus' ghost. I don't know; I really hope they bring this Optimus back. I know he was a bit bland of a character (granted, most of what I see in him is stuff based solely on conjecture and from like three episodes), but he has the potential to be something consistently complex and interesting. And this Bumblebee, man! I love him! One of the few good things I can say about Predacons Rising is that Will Friedle did a great job as the voice of Bumblebee in that! He really turned that character into so much more of a badass and I think him as the voice of the new Autobot leader in this show will really make this Bumblebee something special.

We also get snippets of other characters. Accompanying 'Bee on Earth is Strongarm, another (I think original) female Transformer like Arcee, which I'm always happy to see! It's also nice that she's not a bike robot; we get a female who is just as muscular as the dudes on the team, and she even transforms into an armored truck, which really sets her apart from female Transformers in past, and I'm all for it! We've also got Sideswipe, who looks kind of interesting. I like his transformation and he's got all them awesome Tron Prime light lines running all over his body!

I'm also intrigued by the inclusion of the beast-bots. We see a pretty cool rendition of Grimlock and a few others and that's kinda neat. I'm thrilled that at least some of these dudes have the beast form as their "robot" form and turn into vehicles! That's just such a compromise that I'm actually surprised that it took this long to figure it out. It's a neat concept and I'm glad that it's there (though if they turn out to have actual robot forms and be triple-changers, that'll be even more awesome). It seems that much of the plot will revolve around an episodic manhunt for a bunch of loose Decepticons, which I'm alright with. That's at least better than Prime's relic hunt thing they had going on back in Season Two.

And that leads into a pretty good climax for this thing with just awesome action shots (plus a good cast screencap I can use for the header image to this post!) and, for me, lovely transformations (even if they do have the stupid "motion lines" thing that's so prevalent in 2D animation)! They even retain the Prime transformation sound effects, which I'm super happy about because that really cements this as being in the same continuity! So yeah, I'm pretty excited about this. The animation looks pretty good; I am in love with the Prime animation and still think it's some of the best animation put to television on a TV budget, but this hybrid of Prime and Animated does seem to be working for me at the moment. It's also nice to see Transformers return to 2D animation, because as much as I loved Prime's animation style, 2D is where the franchise started off and I think returning to that after three years of CGI stuff is a good breath of fresh air.

So that's my look at the trailer (I guess it kinda went all over the place)! I'm looking forward to this new series. You can watch the full trailer here!

October 5, 2014

Shadowcon Mini-Views- The Lego Movie

I haven't laughed so much or smiled so much in a movie like this in a long time. Even Frozen didn't make me this happy or this filled with joy. The Lego Movie is fucking awesome! It's funny, it's engaging, and it has heart that really speaks as much if not more to adults as it does to children. I'm super glad I saw this and kinda disappointed I missed it in the theater. The reason I didn't see this in the theater was because of how terrible the trailers made this look. All the jokes in the trailers seemed waaay too much like they were catering to children under six, and it just didn't look appealing to me.

Also, the amount of hype that this movie got really set me on edge; critics were claiming that this was awesome, and so I was both kind of excited for it and wary because that happened with Frozen, and while that movie was amazing, it was overhyped and I did get tired of it after a while. I haven't been this wrong or surprised about a movie since Frozen actually, and much for the same reasons: the trailers looked bad, the press was all over that film, etc. The Lego Movie was one of the funnest films I've seen all year, and just loved it!

First of all, the plot of this film is very simple: we have an ordinary Lego man who finds an object of great importance and thus gets swept up in a situation involving good vs. evil, prophecy, finding out who you really are, etc. What makes this better this time around is how The Lego Movie uses the formula as a means for injecting all this awesome pop-culture references, Lego references, and having a twist at the end that was both unexpected and so heartwarming/breaking that it just tugged at the heart strings. The movie has an ending that makes you cry; I related to this so much because it totally captured that adults-don't-play-with-toys mentality that I think is so common in our society now. And the way the message of being your own kind of person is conveyed constantly in the movie was cool because it made the point that different generations of people see Legos, and more broadly toys and toy-collecting, differently, and that was super fun to see. We don't often get a film that shows us both perspectives of that.

The animation too was super fun and engaging. We've all played with Legos, we know what we can do with them. So going into this movie I was like "okay, I want to see some awesome shit built with these Legos" and that's exactly what I got! Just the innovation of everyone here, the way things move and interact with their environment all Lego-like and whatnot was thrilling and always put a smile on my face. I loved how even the environment was Lego-lized, like the water and the explosions and fire and clouds were all made out of Legos; it really gave the impression that this was more of a stop-motion type of film than a CGI one, and I really appreciated that.

The pop-culture references are abundant and might get a little grating for some (I didn't really like the Space Man), but most of it is all well and good, and I loved when they were explaining the different worlds and it showed everything like an instructions catalogue with all the worlds laid out page by page. It really had me chuckling at that point. And when everyone was working together to build their ship to escape, that was so funny because it captured what it's like to work in a group building Legos when you're like five or six, and that was just so fun!

The Lego Movie has an exceptional level of sophistication and at its core a heart that really speaks to the child in all of us adults (man it feels weird to write that). I honestly really can't think of a film besides Toy Story that really made me care about this kind of subject matter as much as this one did. Its animation is innovative and engaging, its story is straightforward but works, and its characters are funny and lovable. Definitely check this one out if you haven't already; it's such a surprising movie and I had just a ball with it!