Author: Nancy Basile (Page 1 of 113)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Review

‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2’ Review

Let me be up front. This Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 review is not going to be as glowing as the pages and pages of reviews out there. So, if you want to find out why I’m all “meh,” keep reading.

The Basics

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 begins not long after the gang defeated Ronan. They have clearly gelled into a routine, although they’re still working out some minor irritations with each other. They wouldn’t be the Guardians if they weren’t bickering.

The sequel focuses on what it means to be a family even more than the original. In this case, family for Peter Quill could be Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, or it could be Ego the Living Planet, or even that blue rascal, Yondu.

What Worked

Spoilers ahead. Beware!

Peter Quill and Ego the Living Planet

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Ego (Kurt Russell)..Ph: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2017

Marvel has a successful formula for blockbuster superhero films. Although director James Gunn has described Guardians of the Galaxy as a space opera, akin to Star Wars, rather than a superhero film, the same formula that made Avengers work has been applied to Guardians of the Galaxy, both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. All the ups and downs come at the right time, all the beats work rhythmically, and every single character gets their shining moment.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 covers a lot of ground in just two hours. The beauty of Marvel is that the media company knows how to serve up complicated stories and mind-blowing explanations in digestible bites. When Ego the Living Planet describes the timeline of meeting Peter’s mom, for instance, we get some easy-to-follow visuals that match an easy-to-follow monologue.

All movies set in some kind of outlandish world where people have powers require a great deal of suspension of disbelief. Guardians of the Galaxy movies require even more than usual. So many space things make little sense in these movies, if you think about them too hard. To keep audiences from falling into the “that would never happen” trap, the pace of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is super-fast, like, blink and you’ll miss something.

All the actors are spot on, as usual. Each of them gets their starring moments to shine. Kurt Russell, who plays Ego the Living Planet, does a tremendous job of playing a character who is sometimes sympathetic and sometimes terrifying.

Groot in the Captain's Chair

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

What Didn’t Work

The things that didn’t work in the movie are fairly minor.

Like I mentioned above, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 covered a lot of story at a quick pace, all the while giving each character their own special moment. The result, however, was that I walked out of the theater with my head spinning a bit. I had trouble remembering anything specific from the movie, because I had a general blur running through my brain. I can seize on plenty of moments, and the more I think about it, I can tease out moments that I enjoyed. Overall, I wish there had been less.

When you have too many characters in a movie, which Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 does, the audience doesn’t get to spend enough time with the right people. What do I mean? Chris Pratt is the star of the Guardians, far and away. His off-the-wall line delivery, combined with his mischievous smirk, was what made Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 different from other superhero movies. He was the glue that held together the disparate parts of the story and the cast. There’s not nearly enough of him in Vol. 2. He has a few great scenes, but the Chris Pratt concentration is far too diluted by having to cover everyone else. Not enough Star-Lord.

Which characters could have been jettisoned? Mantis, for sure. Yeah, she plays a great straight man to Drax’s shenanigans (actually, it’s hard to say who’s the straight man in that comedy duo), but she was completely unnecessary. That whole scene where she revealed what everyone already knew, that Peter was hot for Gamora, was entirely unnecessary. One could argue she was instrumental in moving the story about Ego along, but I’m confident the writers could have come up with other plot devices that wouldn’t have wasted time introducing a new character. Plus, a little Drax goes a long, long way.

Drax and Mantis

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

The Ravagers got way too much screen time, as well. Again, I understand that their mutiny played a big part in Yondu’s evolution, but he was already well on the way to becoming a better man (alien?). Gunn could have cut down on a lot of their comedic scenes and just gotten on with it. The whole “taser face” running gag was just indulgent.

Let’s take a moment to talk about special effects. Now, my husband will be the first to tell you that I am dazzled by special effects. Usually, the more the better, I say. I love spectacle, so big explosions and highly choreographed action scenes make me bug out. However, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is so saturated with special effects, even I disconnected from the movie. At times, when the only organic things on the screen were actors, I could actually see them standing in a cavernous, green soundstage. The special effects were terribly well-executed, and gorgeous, but I could have used more practical effects and sets, and less green-screen.

Gamora on Ego

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Gamora (Zoe Saldana)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

Finally, my last complaint about Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is that it was too serious. I know, I know. You’re like, what? Look, if I want get all weepy and covered in snot, I’ll watch Logan; I knew I’d be crying in my Coke in that movie. Guardians, however, shouldn’t have been reducing me to a blubber. And it did. A lot. Sure, I tend to shed tears like Beyoncé sheds costumes at the MTV Awards, but about two-thirds through the movie, I was thinking, enough already! There’s way too much soul-searching going on in a movie that’s supposed to just entertain me. Every frickin’ character had some kind of breakdown moment. Even Rocket, who usually couldn’t care less about matters of the heart, was all up in the feels. Here’s hoping Vol. 3 kills off more characters, and does it in the most hilarious way possible. (Dance-off?)

Bottom Line

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is a fun movie. It’s even “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes. But it’s more like a theme park ride than a story, with too many characters, too many special effects, and too little Star-Lord.


Media Medusa is Getting a Makeover

Media Medusa is getting a makeover!

The only thing that is constant is change – Heraclitus

Like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast.” What he didn’t know was that the internet moves even faster. To keep up with expanding screen sizes and mobile optimization, Media Medusa is getting a makeover. (She’s hissing with excitement!)

New WordPress Theme

Lovecraft WordPress Theme Screenshot

For all you techies out there, here are the nuts and bolts.

  • Media Medusa currently uses the Gonzo WordPress theme
  • We will be moving to a new and improved theme, Lovecraft
  • Changes will happen within the next few days

We hope you’ll bear with us during our makeover. You might see some wonky text or images that look pretty funky. Give us about a week. After that, if you’re still seeing crazy stuff, email Nancy at [email protected] with the web page address. She’ll send her minions into the internet to fix it.

via GIPHY

Legion Review Header

‘Legion’ Review: Visually Stunning, Mentally Challenging

Legion is one of the trippiest TV shows I’ve ever seen, and I was a fan of L.O.S.T. and Twin Peaks. Like L.O.S.T. and Twin Peaks, you can’t just jump into the series here and there and expect to know the full story. On the other hand, you can just pop in to see a random episode to enjoy the visual feast and the fascinating characters. The beauty is that someone who has seen only one episode may understand just as much as someone who has watched the whole enchilada.

Legion focuses on David Haller, a man who may or may not have some kind of psychosis, but definitely has powers of some kind. In the beginning he is surrounded by people who may or may not actually be there, may or may not be ill, and may or may not also have powers. If you come to Legion without any knowledge of the show’s background, you can enjoy the plot twists more than someone who is familiar with the character. However, even someone who knows the character will not be able to predict anything on Legion. More on the character and the plot below the spoiler warning.

The most striking aspect of Legion is its visual style.

LEGION -- "Chapter 6" – Season 1, Episode 6 (Airs Wednesday, March 15, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Dan Stevens as David Haller, Aubrey Plaza as Lenny "Cornflakes" Busker. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

(l-r) Dan Stevens as David Haller, Aubrey Plaza as Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

The look of Legion recalls the ’60s, very mod, with sleek lines, lots of orange and green, shiny white plastic and far out clothing. The set design lends itself to the topsy-turvy story, with incongruous pieces and stark spaces. Some settings are scarily shabby, while others are so pristine they almost hurt your eyes. Watching Legion is like solving a visual puzzle, a “look and find” kind of game, because a lot of the story’s secrets are represented in the sets.

The second most entertaining part of Legion is that the story meanders, rather than coming at you in a straight line. A scene might be a flashback, or it might be happening inside David’s mind, or it might really be happening in present time. Trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not is part of the fun of Legion. Without knowing which parts of the story are real, it’s nearly impossible to know what the heck is happening. Rather than being frustrating, though, Legion becomes addictive, because while you’re trying to suss out what’s really going on with David, you’re entertained by the strange dialog and the stunning visuals.

Legion does not talk down to the audience. Legion doesn’t apologize for its outlandish style or wild storytelling. If you’re looking for a brain dump at the end of the day, queue up Bob’s Burgers, which doesn’t require a lot of brain cells, but is clever enough to keep you laughing. Legion is meant for savvy TV viewers who are looking for something new.

SPOILERS AHEAD

LEGION -- "Chapter 7" – Season 1, Episode 7 (Airs Wednesday, March 22, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Jean Smart as Melanie Bird, Bill Irwin as Cary Loudermilk. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

(l-r) Jean Smart as Melanie Bird, Bill Irwin as Cary Loudermilk. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

One of the things I love about Legion is that there’s really only one very recognizable cast member. Most viewers will recognize Jean Smart, of Desinging Women fame, when she shows up after several episodes. She plays Dr. Melanie Bird in a role that isn’t her usual type. She’s very serious, almost dour, yet quite compassionate. She runs a sanctuary for mutants, and she’s the one who orchestrates David’s rescue.

Did you catch that? Mutants. That’s what the show is about, would-be X-Men. Legion is the name of a complicated character from Marvel comics who has unbelievable mental powers. I won’t specify what he can do, because the show is about the cast, and the audience, discovering his abilities. David Haller is played by Dan Stevens, who you might recognize as the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, if you pay close attention to two minutes at the end of the Disney movie. You might also recognize him from Downton Abbey. He’s known as Big Cousin, or so I’m told. He is fan-freaking-tastic as David Haller. Seriously, watching him ping between personalities and psychotic breakdowns requires more than a few reverses on the DVR. He is engaging and intriguing.

The other cast members aren’t very recognizable, which I love, because that allows you to really immerse yourself in the show. There are plenty of actors and actresses whom I follow, but when I watch them, I’m always watching them on two levels: 1) following the character and putting myself in their shoes 2) watching the actor or actress to see if they measure up. Having mostly unknowns in a TV show also helps the show create a stronger brand; it has fewer ties to the cast’s previous work. (As an example, someone recently told me that he had been excited to see The Flash when it premiered, but that Grant Gustin, who plays the Flash, was too “Glee” for him. Gustin had previously been on Glee.)

Legion Hospital

(l-r) Rachel Keller as Syd Barrett, Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

I am loving Legion. It’s one of the only shows I watch, anymore, that fills me with excited anticipation for the next new episode. For even some of my favorite shows, like The Flash, I feel like I can let a couple of episodes pile up on my DVR queue without much worry. Whereas with Legion, I nearly tap dance in front of the TV waiting for the next episode.

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