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Guardians of the Galaxy isn't Star Wars and That's OK


Marvel took a gamble this summer on a third tier comic property called Guardians of the Galaxy.  Even the most ardent fans of what the Marvel/Disney machine have been pumping out of their cinematic universe were concerned that Guardians of the Galaxy might be the first flop.  The string of successes and increase picture over picture for properties like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America allowed Marvel Studios to take the risk.  As we saw it ended up being the number one grossing movie in the US and third worldwide for 2014.  I feel that Marvel accomplished this by taking most of the things that made Star Wars THE space epic sensation that it was and doing the opposite.
Guardians of the Galaxy was able to ditch the now traditional music score made famous by John Williams and used in most genre films thereafter.  James Gunn opted for 70’s pop music to guide us through Peter Quill’s encounters with strange worlds and stranger characters.  Just as John Williams opening fanfare and George Lucas’ crawl sucked us into the world of Star Wars, James Gunn did the same with 10 cc’s “I’m Not In Love” and Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”.  The Guardians soundtrack had such an impact on the movie and the moviegoing audience that the soundtrack was just recently certified Platinum.  
With Star Wars, George Lucas gave us Luke Skywalker as the main character and our introduction into a larger world.  With Guardians, we got Peter Quill, a scoundrel, thief, and a womanizer on a good day.  He teams up with a band of equally questionable characters.  Gamora (the killer), Drax (the destroyer), Rocket (bounty hunter, ex-con), Groot (Rocket’s muscle).  A pretty sharp contrast to Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2.  Granted Han Solo’s scoundrel has more in common with Quill than Luke Skywalker but he’s the exception and not the rule.  The characters of Guardians are motivated by their own agendas through most of the movie.  It isn’t until the end that they decide to work together for the greater good at their own expense.  With Star Wars everyone except Han Solo is working for the greater good from the outset.  Their goal is to topple an evil Empire from ruling the Galaxy with an iron fist.  
Guardians was able to use fullly CGI characters that didn’t make people throw things at the screen. Where Jar Jar Binks was loathed, Rocket and Groot showed that you can create fully CGI characters that connect with the audience and are believable.  With three words Vin Diesel and the animators at ILM sold Groot as a real character.
Star Wars took place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.  This kept things mysterious.  How long ago? How far away?  I always felt this was done so as not to make comparisons to Earthbound sci-fi hits such as Star Trek, Alien, 2001 A Space Odyssey, etc.  Guardians kept us within our universe and tied to Earth.  Peter Quill was born on Earth and taken to the stars.  There are obvious ties to current Marvel Cinematic Universe features such as Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers.  For us geeks, it pulled us in closer to the world created by James Gunn.  For more casual fans, it allowed them to see something familiar, something they’ve seen elsewhere and enhance that Marvel brand.  
In the end I’m not trying to say that Guardians of the Galaxy is a better movie or franchise than Star Wars.  Guardians was able to finally move away from the Star Wars model of space epic that many filmmakers have tried to copy unsuccessfully over the past 38 years.  Guardians broke that mold and gave us a new space epic to root for.  A new space epic that has us all humming songs that most people have never heard before and others haven’t heard in decades. A new space epic that can give us the nostalgia we’re craving and the newness we’ve come to expect.  A new space epic that proves this genre can make us feel the way we did that summer in 1977.  Now that Marvel and Lucasfilm are in the same house it makes it all the more special.  After all, it’s all connected...


The Flash ‘Revenge of the Rogues’ Review

The forecast for Central City didn’t call for a cold front or a heat wave, but the rogues plot revenge and Captain Cold and Heatwave blow into town.
Here is my review:

Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell do a great job as Leonard Snart’s Captain Cold and Mick Rory’s Heatwave.  They spend their efforts on enticing our speedster into a trap by luring him with crimes that The Flash would not usually hesitate to stop.  Mick is confused as to why they should care and devote time to taking down the Flash instead of getting on with more profitable crime.
The episode opens with Barry sparring with Cisco’s drones.  This was very well done and the special effects were as good as they have been on this show, which have been excellent.  This was one of the more full CGI use in the series thus far and it was better than what we see on most television shows of the genre.
Since his run in with the Reverse-Flash, Barry has been obsessed with increasing his speed.  The episode opens with Barry saying ”My name is Barry Allen and I am not the fastest man alive.”  Wells is keen in keeping the obsession going.  When it is evident that Captain Cold has returned, Wells convinces Barry that he needs to focus on his speed training more than worrying about Snart.   Joe even picks up on this when he catches Wells using a phrase that Barry said earlier.
Snart’s next caper is to steal a $25 million dollar painting being brought in by the Rathaways.  It is interesting that they refer to a son that does not exist as far as they are concerned.  Get ready for the Trickster folks!  In stealing the painting, our rogues are faced by cops with shields tricked out by Cisco to combat cold.  Yet again, Snart fails in luring the Flash to his trap.
Meanwhile Caitlin is tracking down Jason Rusch as he is her only lead to the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project and what happened to her fiancé.   After the meeting she is taken by Captain Cold and Heatwave.  If committing petty break ins and robberies would not lure the Flash, maybe taking one of his team will.
The final battle is very comic book like and fun.  Barry needs to get Captain Cold and Heatwave to cross their streams.  Hey!  It worked for the Ghostbusters didn’t it?  Anyway, after the battle our foes are heading to Iron Heights. 
Barry handles his romantic and friendship issues with Iris in a manner that was mature and drama free.  Arrow should take notes here.  In the end it looks like Barry and Joe will be roommates with Iris now shacking up with Thrawn.
Our post scene is Snart and Mick being transported to prison.  There is a commotion and the door swings open as Snart says hello to his sister.  For those that don’t know, she is Lisa Snart known as the Golden Glider in the comics.
Overall, this was another solid episode of the Flash.  I give it a 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Age of Ultron Trailer 2 Breakdown With Screenshots

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer 2

Hawkeye on the ground, getting people out of harm's way
Some sort of transport, an evac possibly?
Cap's helmet has seen better days
You can't hide that pretty face
Stark looking at an old lab, possible tie in to Pym?
Looks like an Iron Patriot flavor of Ultron
No strings
Calling in the troops
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
Banner about to Hulk out
Fury is back
Who is the mystery woman?  Wakandan perhaps?
Assessing the damage
Thor isn't happy
Scarlet Witch about to lay the smackdown...
...on Iron Man
Another mystery woman
Looks like she's being experimented on.  Possibly a flashback?  Widow's mother?
Chasing an Ultron under the freeway.  Similar to Iron Man 2
Iron Man getting his bearings.  More red in this suit than the Mark XLII
Iron Man's repulsors
Well Hello Black Widow...She's ready for the party.  Those machine guns look high-tech.
Ulysses Klaw?  Necklace a hint?
Ultron vs. Cap
This iteration of Ultron looks almost complete, he's blue at this stage instead of red.
Hulk and Widow sharing a moment
Magic fingers
Thor redirecting lightning.
Thor giving it to Tony, Scarlet Witches influence?
Hulkbuster taken out with a pole
Hulk Smash!
Hulk getting Rock bottomed?
Something's up with the Hulk, more Scarlet Witch influence possibly
Massive Repulsor




5 Questions from the Latest Avengers Age of Ultron Trailer

5 Questions from the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer

The latest version of the Age Of Ultron trailer dropped last night during the big game and with it came a ton of both new footage and new mysteries.  Let’s take a look out the top five questions it raised in the eyes of the HHWLOD gang!
5. How does Ultron evolve into this?
At this point we have already seen several different versions of the evil AI known as Ultron. What starts off as a hobbling mess of spare parts, ends up a polished and sleek killing machine. What’s most interesting is how he will get from point A to point B.  Ultron is more of a program or a virus rather than a single robot and I think that is the key to figuring out how he will change forms in the film.  Does Ultron infect all of Stark Industries and gradually transform Tony’s drone building system into an Ultron building system?  If so, how did he get in?  Maybe this is a clue as to why everyone seems to be so mad at Tony.  Maybe Tony took some risks with his drone programming that led to the rogue AI taking over.  Banner also does not appear to be innocent, he calls Ultron by name in this trailer.  We have also not yet mentioned The Vision.  Another AI possibly created by Stark/Banner?  Could the tech used to build Vision have some way been turned to also become Ultron?  Possibly vice versa?  Let’s also not dismiss the theme of Pinocchio that has been front and center.  The story of a wooden puppet becoming a real boy.  We’ve heard a couple renditions of the song “I’ve Got No Strings” and Ultron monologues about puppets and strings in a previous trailer.   It’s obvious that Ultron wishes to evolve into a higher being and we see several phases in this trailer.
4. Who is Andy Serkis playing?

From the claw necklace he is sporting, to the same chinstrap beard that he wears in the comics, all signs point to Andy Serkis playing Ulysses Klaw.  This has pretty much been the guess of the entire internet since the first shots of Serkis in character surfaced. His physical likeness isn’t the only reason that this character seems to be a great fit.  Klaw also has major ties to Wakanda, Vibranium, and the Black Panther.  

In the world of the comics, Klaw is a hired assassin who kills T’Chaka (father of T’Challa) after he refused to negotiate the sale of Vibranium, Wakanda’s most rare and powerful resource.   Making things more interesting, Vibranium is also the alloy used to forge Captain America’s shield and Howard Stark mentions that he used all he had to make it.  It will be interesting to learn who Klaw is working for and how it effects the movie universe.
3. What’s going on with Black Widow?
The answer seems pretty obvious at first if most internet theories on this topic are true.  These are more flashback scenes for Natasha, much like the shots of her ballet dancing in the last version of the trailer.  It seems to make the most sense, especially when you add a hairstyle that we have not seen before...and Natasha has changed her hair a few times over the course of these films.  Lets consider that theory to be true for now and dig a little deeper.  What is going on in Natasha’s past?  There is another female here (the red nail polish drives that home right away even in the quick cuts of the trailer), she has manhandled Natasha pretty easily and then thrown her on a gurney.  The next shot is of surgical tools.  Maybe this is a look at her early days in the KGB, and we are seeing parts of her brain washing or mental conditioning?  OH MY GOD, WHAT IF IT’S HYDRA!?  Seriously though, is that even Natasha being thrown down on the gurney or are we witnessing two different scenes put together for the trailer? The hair doesn’t look to be quite as red in that shot.  Her mother perhaps?  The possibilities are endless at this point, but it is very exciting to think we may get some extended backstory on our favorite female Avenger.  Especially since her name never came up in the Phase Three slate of movies.
2. Is the Hulk even more mad than usual?
As we all know, Hulk smashes like its his job, so in the early trailers it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him getting out of hand and going up against Iron Man.  This new trailer sheds a different light on the Hulk’s rampage in Age of Ultron, though.  In the Mark Ruffalo transformation shot and in the Black Widow/Hulk “Beauty and the Beast” scene, you can clearly see that the Hulk’s eyes are bright green just like in the past films.  But that’s not always the case in this trailer. His eyes are actually glowing red when he is fighting Iron Man, and they are also a close match to the glowing red eyes of Scarlet Witch!  Is the Hulk under some kind of spell cast by her?  If so, Black Widow seems more successful talking the Hulk down than Tony is trying to beat him physically in the Hulk Buster armor.  Hulk does love the ladies.
1. Who is that mysterious person in the cave?
This is the shot that really came out of left field and makes for the most new discussion.  Everything else in the trailer was basically extended footage of what we had seen before, but this was a completely new addition and it was quite intriguing. We know that at least part of Age Of Ultron takes place in South Africa and this portion of the trailer seems like this could reflect that.  The figure also seems to be African American, and I would take away that he/she is a young man or woman, based on the slight frame.  At first glance, I was sure it was a woman, but after a few views I now feel like it could be a boy.  This is mostly due to the fact that I think his head is shaved and Marvel also doesn't show too many women dropping their clothes. Could this be a young T’Challa?  That would be very awesome, but I’m not sure you give away a reveal like that in a trailer.  It seems too obvious, but that’s my only current theory besides the very far fetched chance that there could be Terrigen Crystals/Mist down there.  That would tie in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans very nicely, but I’m not sure it is going to happen this soon.




The New Age of Ultron Trailer Has Arrived!

The new trailer for Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted tonight during the college football national championship game and now it has hit the net in glorius HD.