Guardians Of The Galaxy Is Out Of This World

 

Alright, I’ve had 4 hours sleep, which was interrupted thanks to a lovely pounding headache, but I have to write this now because I cannot stop thinking about Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, as I do with all the films Marvel releases, but the Guardians have had a special place in my heart for a while. The first film was a triumph, and made me fall in love with how different they are from other superheros in the franchise, how the humour is kicked up a notch, and just simply how lighthearted this rag-tag team of misfits are.

But Volume 2 hit me sideways. I was not expecting the turns this film took, I was expecting a laugh out loud comedy action film, instead I got a funny, but poignant, film focusing entirely on one important thing: family.

When we left the Guardians Of The Galaxy had just learnt to work together as a group, and in this film, they still work together, but they’ve become a family. And by family, I mean a very dysfunctional one. Peter and Rocket argue constantly, Gamora is ignoring all of Peter’s advances, Drax doesn’t listen to a word anybody else says. Groot mostly stays out of it, because he’s just a tiny baby tree (and by just I mean the cutest thing Marvel have ever created), who is in essence a toddler who likes to cause trouble. The arguing is getting worse and worse, they all love each other in their own ways, but they haven’t learnt to live together, and they are getting close to tearing each other apart.

Meanwhile, Yondu’s crew have mutinied against him, The Sovereign are after the Guardian’s, and there’s a mysterious man hanging around with an alien claiming to be Peter’s dad. That’s right, Peter’s¬†dad¬†has found him, and we finally find out why Peter could hold an Infinity Stone without dying instantly.

I won’t say who he is for spoiler reasons, though if you’re on the internet as much as I am, you’ll know by now, as it was announced months ago. All I’ll say is that the man is full of mystery, and thanks to him, we find out so much more about each member of the team, things that we were desperate to know, some we really weren’t.

I’m making this sound like it’s really angsty all the way through, and it really isn’t. The essence of what makes Guardians Of The Galaxy is still there, the humour definitely more adult in places, but this is still as fun as the first one, if not more so. The plot is great, with some fantastic plot twists that hit me so hard in the chest I nearly wanted to cry. The stakes are higher, the bad guys are more powerful, and most importantly, the films heart got bigger. The Guardians have always been about family, and this time it shines brighter in the most beautiful way.

Volume 2 is like Volume 1, dialed up 100 notches, it’s brilliant, fantastic, just as mind-blowing as the first. I loved every second. I laughed, I nearly cried, I¬†freaked out¬†in places at references as to what is to come later in the MCU. Essentially, I loved it. Plain and simple.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 is an awesome mix of fun, love, and consequences. A film I feel that everyone should watch. Marvel have once again hit the nail on the head, and made one amazing film.

 

Legion Is Unleashed

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Last night, Fox released a new TV show from the Marvel universe – all about Legion, otherwise known as David Heller, and his struggle to deal with his powers. Or, more accurately control the powers he doesn’t even know he has.

David doesn’t know that he’s a Mutant, instead he thinks he’s a paranoid schizophrenic, who has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and is trying to deal with his illness. But as a viewer, we are shown that this is not the case. David in an incredibly powerful Mutant, who can do incredible things. Things like switch bodies, move objects with his mind, possibly even read minds too, and so much more that hasn’t been explored yet.

And, there’s been a murder. Or someone has disappeared, and only David knows what has happened, but his fractured mind can’t make sense of anything that has happened. Someone desperately wants to know though, and more importantly, want to study David’s powers, leading to more mystery and intrigue.

What is really clever about this show, is how the writers show David’s perception of the world. We see his memories, his fantasies, and through trippy graphics, hints of his true power, all while not being given all the answers to what is going on. Right up until the end of the episode, we are kept guessing as to who everybody is, what is happening, and what is real and what is David’s imagination. It’s confusing, but in a good way, you can follow along, but there’s still mystery as to what is actually going on, and I absolutely loved it.

I know I say that a lot about Marvel’s TV adaptions, as well as it’s films, but I did genuinely love this too. Going in, I had no idea just what Legion was, further than the fact that David was a Mutant, and I came out absolutely gripped, and desperately needing more of this series.

I must commend Dan Stevens for his acting skills, he has made David come to life brilliantly. And after some internet research on the original comic counterpart, I can see how well he has laid the groundwork for David’s powers and psyche to come to life. It was subtle, yet excellently done, I can’t wait to see what he, and the rest of the series, does next!

Westworld Goes Down Fighting

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Last night, Westworld’s season finale aired in the UK, and showed every other show of a similar nature exactly how to end a season. With plot twists, a lot of questions answered, and more brought forward, the hour and a half long episode had me hooked from the opening second, right to the very end of the credits.

I’ve been a fan of the show since the start, and in fact wrote a piece on the opening episode on this very blog a few weeks ago. After every episode I was looking up fan theories, trying to figure out what The Maze was, who The Man In Black was, and just what the¬†hell¬†was going on. Last night explained it all. It explained, tied everything together, and created mystery for the next season, all in one go.

In many TV shows like Westworld, the writers generally like to keep you guessing constantly, and use season finale’s to create more questions than answers (I’m looking at you, Lost). Sometimes, TV shows like this don’t give you any answers at all, and it’s up to the audience to interpret everything for themselves. This show though, the writers actually answered¬†almost¬†everything¬†the audience wanted to know.

The Man In Black’s identity was revealed, in a plot twist that had me screaming, even after seeing many internet theories which predicted it. The Maze was explained. Robert’s new narrative was revealed. Some characters got what they wanted, others not so much. Everything tied together¬†beautifully,¬†which really speaks to how well the show was plotted by JJ Abrams and his writing team.

But, can things continue on, if everything has been revealed? Where’s the mystery? What’s to keep the audience coming back?

Simple, with Robert’s new narrative. I won’t give away too many spoilers for those who have not seen the episode yet, but let’s just say that The Man In Black got what he wanted, Wyatt is loose, and there’s a lot more Hosts with a thirst for bloodshed running around.

That, and the new subtly-hinted-at plot points dotted throughout. Who messed with Thandie Newton’s Maeve’s programming, to make her wake up in the first place? Has Dolores gone completely psycho? Why are the Japanese fighter hosts ‘complicated?’ And possibly most importantly, does this mean that there are more parks than just Westworld? Are there more parks, more hosts, more robots waking up and deciding to revolt?

So many questions, so much more to explore in this captivating world. Things I can’t wait to puzzle over and watch unfold. Westworld was a brilliant series, but the finale was a masterpiece in story telling. Other TV shows, take note.

Doctor Strange Mind Trip

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Anybody who knows me will tell you the same thing – I love Marvel, and I love Benedict Cumberbatch. So as you can imagine, Doctor Strange has caused a lot of excitement for me. And by a lot of excitement, I mean it’s been a huge part of my life ever since the casting was announced on this film. My favourite actor, and my favourite franchise combining? What could be more perfect? (Well, a McFly song somewhere in the film would have been wonderful, but hey, two out of three isn’t bad)

Never before in my life have I followed the production of a film so closely as I have done for Doctor Strange, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally see the film yesterday, after two long years of waiting.

And all I can say is¬†wow,¬†just¬†wow.¬†This film is brilliant, in so many ways. It’s an origins story, which could seem outdated and boring by now, but this film does it in a slightly different way.

I’ll start from the beginning. Doctor Stephen Strange is the best neurosurgeon around, he’s at the top of his game, working only on the hardest (but curable) cases he can find. He’s arrogant,¬†rich, and only out for himself. He has to be right, constantly, and does not hold back when he finds someone stupid. But it all changes when he has a violent car crash, which crushes his hands, leaving him with nerve damaged hands which constantly shake, and unable to do surgery.

After hearing that there’s someone out there who can cure him, he goes in search of The Ancient One, and that’s when his entire world is turned on it’s head. He’s introduced to magic and the mystic arts, and after some false starts, starts to train and learn everything he can about them, slowly becoming entrenched in this world of magic, albeit reluctantly.

Sounds like a normal Marvel origin story, right? Wrong. Because unlike Iron Man, Captain America or Thor, Stephen Strange doesn’t¬†want¬†to be a hero. He just wants to be a surgeon again, he doesn’t want to kill others to save the world, or anything like that. He wants to save lives in the operating theater, like he’s been doing his entire life. There’s several arguments throughout the film over this, and in the beginning he only fights when he¬†has¬†to, not because he wants to. It’s only towards the end of the film when he¬†changes his mind, unlike all of our other heroes in this universe.

Another thing that stands out in this film is¬†how¬†Doctor Strange battles. He doesn’t have a special suit, isn’t enhanced in any way, isn’t a Demi-God, or battling alongside aliens. He’s completely human, a human with magic, and mystical objects which help, sometimes hilariously, along the way, but he’s still¬†human.¬†And he gets hurt, a¬†lot,¬†in this film. Not just in training with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), but in actual fights with the enemy.

His powers sometimes fail him, he loses important objects he needs to battle, he doesn’t fully understand the mystical powers that are working around him. For once, we saw a hero actually get¬†beaten,¬†several times over in fact, and in ways that made everyone wince in sympathy in the cinema.

It was a refreshing thing to see, and made the character more realistic in my opinion. I’m sure others are getting slightly tired of the hero winning battles without much issue their first time round, so to actually have someone get seriously beaten really grounded the audience in reality, despite all the magical things going on.

Even the magic seems sort-of grounded in reality. Of course, it’s as trippy as the old Steve Ditko comics, and it takes you on a wild ride through the weirdest of dimensions, but the characters make this all seem rather normal, because it’s normal to them. It’s their way of life, their way of protecting the world, and has been for centuries. The way it’s been done gives the audience just a glimpse at what’s out there, what Doctor Strange will go on to accomplish as the Sorcerer Supreme, while still making it accessible, and not making the whole thing seem too… well,¬†strange.¬†

All in all, Doctor Strange is possibly now my favourite Marvel film (sorry Civil War), it had all of Marvel’s hallmarks – great wit, engaging characters,¬†amazing¬†end credit scene (stay right to the end of the credits, there’s two end credit scenes) – but it was different from the classic origin stories we know and love.

It’s needless to say, but the acting was also superb, the casting on point, and the costuming/effects were done beautifully. Everything came together perfectly, setting up a sequel in the future, expanding the MCU even further, and changing up everything. It’s a must see film for any superhero fan, and hell, even if you’re not a superhero fan, go and see it anyway, because it’s possibly the best film I’ve seen all year.

To say the least, it was worth the two year wait.

Westworld Brings Fantasy To Life

Last night I started watching the JJ Abrams show Westworld, and instantly fell in love with it. For those who don’t know, Westworld is a show set in a future where a company makes incredibly human-esque robots, puts them in a ‘park’ make to look like a cowboy western, and let rich people in to carry out their fantasies with them. These fantasies can include murder (of which there is a¬†lot¬†of in this show), sex (again, of which there is a lot of) and basically anything the person wants. All the while, these robots are glitching, remembering what is happening to them, which could put the humans in danger.

Currently there’s only two episodes out, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both episodes. It’s the perfect mix between Channel 4’s Humans and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, just with a¬†lot¬†more blood and violence. And when I say blood and violence,¬†I mean that this should would fit right in with Game Of Thrones and Marvel’s Netflix TV shows. Blood flies as fast as the bullets do, and the creators don’t hold back with it.

Really, the creators don’t hold back on anything in general. This show is created like it has the budget of a film, with enough characters and story lines to keep everybody interested. The acting is superb, as you would expect from the all star cast. Anthony Hopkins’ Doctor Ford is a mystery and Ed Harris’ nameless character is even more so. The way actors like Evan Rachel Wood can instantly jump from being an emotionless robot during a diagnostic, to a terrified human being is incredibly and has to be commended.

Everything adds to the creepy feel of the show, it’s almost enough to put your teeth on edge. All the way through, you’re majorly creeped out, and questioning your own morality. If you were in this situation, would you be one of the good guys, or one of the bad? Would you go and hunt down the bandit, sleep with the prostitutes in the tavern, go hunting for treasure? Would you have an innocent holiday in Westworld, or would you act out every depraved fantasy you’ve ever had?

If you were a fan of Dollhouse back in the day, or Humans now, this is definitely the show for you. It’s clever, sleek, and brilliantly written. Everything is interwoven, mysteries are opening up, and there’s a Jurassic Park-esque feeling that something is going to go wrong at any moment. I love it, and cannot wait for the next episode.