Meet Halo 5 Guardians’ Team Osiris and Team Blue


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Video games are something I will probably never outgrow.

While I’ve slowed down in the amount of time I play them, I still put in the time when it comes to some of the more classic and iconic video game franchises. One such franchise is set to mark it’s return to the video game world with the release of it’s first title on the Xbox One. The game I speak of is Halo 5: Guardians.

Halo was a franchise that helped revolutionize the first-person shooter on the console platform and added a touch of the cinematic to what in the past were just your typical run-and-gun gameplay. As console platforms become more and more advanced the very gamers who buy them demand better graphics, gameplay and, for some, a much more immersive experience.

I will say that I am a huge Halo fan so this upcoming title in the franchise is very much in wheelhouse. As more and more information filters out of Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries (producer and developer) about this title I’m more than hyped to see how they plan on making Halo 5: Guardians stand out from the previous titles in the series and from the multitude of other first-person shooters set to come out this holiday season.

For now, time to meet the two rival teams that the game will focus on during the games very cinematic campaign gameplay: The upstart Team Osiris and the old-school Team Blue.

Team Osiris Opening Cinematic

This cinematic literally will open up the game’s campaign and the action is very reminiscent of the opening action scene in this past summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron with it’s sweeping camera angles that moves in concert with the characters. The only thing missing is a slo-mo reveal of Team Osiris.

Team Blue Opening Cinematic

Where the Team Osiris opening cinematic showed just how badass the genetically-modified Spartan-IV members of Team Osiris act when in concert against a large number of enemy forces, we get with Team Blue’s opening a more subdued, but no less kick-ass opening. Where Team Osiris was all about shock and awe. Team Blue’s older Spartan-II super-soldiers show that one doesn’t need to overpower an enemy force to defeat them. Sometimes a battle could be won with a minimum amount of fuss.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Guardians Of The Galaxy”


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Here’s a question I can’t see any rational human being asking themselves, but apparently someone did : what would happen if you took bog-standard Marvel Studios super-hero fare, threw in a couple dozen extra jokes, and scooped a heavy layer of incredibly lame ’70s “power-pop” numbers like “Please Go All The Way” and “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” on top?

The answer, of course, is director James Gunn’s newly-released Guardians Of The Galaxy, and if I’d been that hypothetical irrational person I just alluded to maybe I’d be a couple million bucks richer thanks to this film rather than sitting at home writing a review of it. So kudos to you, whoever you are, for your idea to bring this C-grade (at best) team of also-rans from their frequently-cancelled printed pages (there have been, what? Four or five Guardians  series to this point, and none has lasted more than a couple of years) to the big screen and making DisMar — a studio that has apparently entered “too big to fail” territory — hundreds of millions in box office receipts. I hope they compensate you handsomely, though given their track record I wouldn’t bet on it.

As for the rest of us, well — if you like this sort of thing, then this will be the sort of thing you like, but if you don’t, you won’t find much here over and above what you’ve already come to expect, despite the best efforts of Gunn (who also co-wrote the script with Nicole Perlman) to inject a little bit of personality into the proceedings. Any Troma alumnus who makes it to the big leagues like this (which reminds me, be on the lookout for a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo from Lloyd Kaufman — oh, and one from Rob Zombie, too — and one from Nathan Fillion — and one from — well, you get the point here) deserves a pat on the back, to be sure, but there’s only so much our intrepid former low-budget maestro can do in the face of Marvel’s juggernaut-by-the-numbers style of production. Truth of the matter is, take out those couple dozen extra jokes and horeshit songs I mentioned and this thing is completely indistinguishable from its peers like Iron ManThe Avengers, or Captain America. Not that many folks seem to mind — but we’ll get to the sociological implications of this flick in due course.

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First off, credit where it’s due : Chris Pratt has displays admirable “regular-guy charisma” as Peter Quill, the self-proclaimed “Star Lord,”  leader of our planet-hopping mercenary crew; Zoe Saldana continues to her series of impressive acting turns as Gamora (and looks damn good in green body paint);  pro wrestling star Dave Bautista showcases a surprising level of humanity for a bulky alien brute;  and Bradley Cooper brings a fair degree of enthusiasm to his voice-over work for Rocket Raccoon. Vin Diesel could probably be said to do a decent enough job as Groot, the living tree, as well, but I think he just recorded one line that they play over and over again in an endless loop, so let’s not go too overboard in praising his efforts.

Anyway, the cast is good — even if its two most accomplished members, Glenn Close and John C. Reilly, are given precious little to do — but the material they have to work with is positively atrocious, and you know the old line about trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. By and large the “humor” in this film feels forced and pre-planned (“okay, it’s been two minutes — time for another semi-snappy one-liner”), and when Gunn tries to play it straight, the emotional “beats” he’s going for fall flat and and hit the ground with a thud. Some of the pseudo-momentous dialogue in the “important, character-defining” scenes is so strained I literally had to wince. Ladies and gentleman, this script is just plain bad.

It’s also incredibly simple and, frankly, hackneyed. At the end of the day all we’ve got going on here is a regulation-issue “misfits forced by circumstances to work together and find their inner heroism”-type story, with a dash of “keeping a dangerous object out of the hands of the wrong people” thrown in for good measure. All the CGI in the world (and frankly some of that is surprisingly half-assed given this flick’s enormous budget) can’t cover that fact up, nor can all the precisely-timed melodrama, cribbed-from-a-greeting-card catch phrases, or mega-noisy battle sequences. I give Gunn props for trying to bluff his way to being the last guy at the table, but in the end he can’t do much about the fact that Marvel has dealt him an empty hand. Shoot — his two most interesting characters are pieces of computer animation that aren’t even really fucking there.

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I do believe the director and his cast tried their best to incorporate some heart into their beast — the kind of heart that Rocket’s creator, Bill Mantlo (and please, I implore you, do what I did and donate the same amount of money you paid for a ticket to this movie to help pay for Mr. Mantlo’s continued medical care by visiting gregpak.com/love-rocket-raccoon-please-consider-donating-to-writer-bill-mantlos-ongoing-care/ —- last I heard, Marvel’s not giving this guy a dime) always brought to his scripts — but the “Marvel Method” for films is as set in stone as it always has been for comics : give the punters the illusion of something different, but for heaven’s sake, whatever you do, make sure you’re not actually doing anything truly different at all.

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I’m slowly coming to a depressing conclusion, though — maybe the problem isn’t everyone else, maybe it’s me. The entire goddamn world is part of the Merry Marvel Marching Society now, and try as I might, I just can’t get on board. When Gunn shows Stan Lee behaving like a lecherous old creep in Lee’s studio-mandated cameo this time around, the audience in the theater howled with laughter and all I could think was  “hey, wait a minute, don’t they get it? This is what the guy is really like!”

And then it occurred to me — maybe they do get it, they just don’t care. Yeah, Lee is a rather slimy individual who takes a lot more credit that he deserves for pretty much everything, and yeah,  he’s left a trail of destitute and broken actual creators in his wake, and sure,  he even stole the idea for “his” Stiperella TV show from an honest-to-goodness stripper who he regularly spent all that money he earned from other people’s labor on, but — Stan Lee “won.” And American society loves a winner, right? We barely blink an eye when Wall Street scumbags fleece us out of trillions of dollars in order to save them from a mess they created by dint of their own greed and hubris, but when poor single mothers get  a paltry $200 a month, we’re up in arms. We even have the temerity to call them “takers,” while referring to those just-mentioned white-collar crooks as “the productive class.”

Yeah, they’re so “productive” that they can’t even run banks that make a profit while getting free money from the rest of us in one hand and charging us interest with the other. But I digress. America is no longer a nation that roots for the underdogs, or the “have-nots” — we’re too busy giving everything we’ve got the the “already-haves.” And maybe it’s high time I learned to check my brain in at the door and play along. It would save me a lot of grey hair and I’d probably find it really easy to make new friends.

What kind of friends would I be making, though? The folks in the theater I saw Guardians Of The Galaxy at laughed at every one of those cookie-cutter one-liners I was bitching about earlier. They got lumps in their throats at all the plastic-passioned “emotional turning points.” They hooted and hollered at the pre-determined outcomes of every generic battle. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, exactly when they were supposed to do it — and all I wanted to do was stand up and scream at the top of my lungs : “Dear God, is this really all you fucking people want?”

Apparently, it is.

Guardians of the Galaxy 5-minute Extended Clip


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“Hold on…what’s a racoon?”

With just a little over a week before Marvel Studios releases it’s latest comic book film with Guardians of the Galaxy it looks like the Disney marketing machine is in full swing.

Last week saw them give a 17-minute preview on IMAX screens which was well-received by those who actually went and watched it. Then just over the weekend a select number (200 or so) film journos were invited to the Disney lot to watch an advance screening of the full film. From the reaction by those who saw this screening over on Twitter it looks like Marvel has another hit in their hands which should feed the hype machine leading up to next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

I’ve already bought and reserved my seat for the early Thursday night screening next week in San Francisco’s IMAX @ the Metreon. The year-long anticipation is almost over, but for now here’s the latest offering from the Marvel and Disney marketing machine.

Guardians of the Galaxy Extended Trailer Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bombs In


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Marvel Entertainment just released the extended “Cherry Bomb” trailer for it’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s been known coming straight from the film’s director, James Gunn, that Guardians of the Galaxy will feature a very eclectic selection of 70’s and 80’s tunes. These are songs that’s become part of Peter Quill’s hold on his Earth-heritage. It’s all he has left of his time as a child on Earth before leaving for a galaxy far, far away. We’ve already heard two songs that have been confirmed for the film with “Hooked On a Feeling” and “Spirit In the Sky”.

Now we have another song featured on this trailer that Gunn himself has confirmed as part of the film’s soundtrack with The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb”.

Oh yeah, the extended trailer also includes some new scenes that doesn’t spoil the film, but just extends the smaller sequences we’ve already seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy is set for an August 1, 2014 release date.

Trailer: Much Ado About Nothing


There’s finally a trailer out about the little film that Joss Whedon made while doing post on his previous little film called The Avengers.

Much Ado About Nothing is a modern and Whedon’s own interpretation of the classic William Shakespeare comedic play. Filmed over the span of 12 days in Whedon’s own Santa Monica home, the film has a cast of Whedom alumni who either has worked with the writer-director on one of his tv series or in his films. The trailer itself has a coolness factor that has to be part jazz used in the trailer and half seeing all the familiar faces Whedon fans have come to know and love through the years like Amy Acker, Alex Denisof, Nathan Fillion and, more recently, Clark Gregg.

Much Ado About Nothing premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival  and will make it’s North American wide release on the date of June 7, 2013.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Trailer)


Since this weekend has turned into Green Lantern weekend due to the promotional blitz by Warner Brothers to hype up it’s upcoming live-action film of the same title I would be remiss not to include as part of his hype the upcoming animated film from Warner Premiere and DC Animation: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

This latest in DC animated films (all of which have been good to great. Not a stinker in them) is an anthology film which takes six stories of the greatest Green Lanterns and links them to the current danger threatening the Guardians (creator of the Green Lantern Corps), the GL Corps and the universe itself.

Before this weekend’s WonderCon footage for the live-action was shown I was more excited for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights than I was for the Ryan Reynolds live-action. It had a great voice cast with Nathan Fillion (fans’ first choice for live-action Hal Jordan) as Hal Jordan with Elisabeth Moss, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Hu, Henry Rollins and Steve Blum rounding out the ensemble cast.

I think with the batting average of the DC Animation being quite high I have high hopes that Green Lantern: Emerald Knights will follow in the footsteps of it’s predecessor and have critical and general success.

James Gunn’s Super: Official Trailer


In what could be 2011’s version of Kick-Ass, the latest film from writer-director James Gunn looks to take the superhero genre into the realm of ultraviolence and some heavy dark comedy. The film is simply titled Super and stars Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon and it’s about Wilson’s character deciding he’s had enough of being the meek and the weak. His decision to take control of his life takes him into a very dark place where superheroes are made and lots of vigilante justice served on crime everywhere.

From the look of the trailer it definitely looks like its going to go even farther than what Kick-Ass did in 2010. This film may also share something with that film in that it probably won’t make the sort of money it’s supporters and fans are hoping it’ll make.

So, I suggest people see this film as soon as it comes in their area. People need to support films like this or they should just shut up about how Hollywood has run out of ideas and only cookie-cutter flicks are being pushed on the audience year in and year out.