Bradley Cooper

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Stellar Review

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Released in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy is the new kid on Marvel’s block of comic book adaptations. Featuring a band of less than savory characters who become unlikely heroes, the film also is an unlikely success that managed to sidestep many pitfalls common to comic book films with slick presentation and cleverness.

First off, the cast is quite good. Going into this film, I was not one who was necessarily a fan of any of the actors, per se. It was more ambivalence than anything else, but I was surprised at how the actors won me over with their solid portrayals. Chris Pratt makes a dashing and charismatic leading man (and his famous transition from comedic fatty to svelte fox didn’t hurt). Zoe Saldana entertained me more in this film than any other role of hers, even more than as Uhura in Star Trek. Bradley Cooper stole the show as mutant raccoon Rocket, and he didn’t even have to rely on his good looks, which is a testament to his skills. Even Vin Diesel, with his minimal lines as Groot, brought to life a CGI character who added so much life and, dare I say, cuteness to the party.

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Lee Pace also gave a great performance as the film’s villain, even if you didn’t recognize him under that makeup, which is just another addition to the many roles this underrated actor has played. Even Karen Gillan, of Doctor Who fame, was fun to watch, even if I missed her Scottish accent.

I’m glad that the characters were so engaging, because the plot of the film was probably the weakest point. It wasn’t bad, but it was pretty straight forward and I got the sense that there was an implied wink and nod that suggested, “just stick with it, we’ve got big plans for this stuff”. Of course, the plot was serviceable in that it provided the means for all the characters to act and interact, but I had figured out all the twists and revelations in the first half hour.

I suppose that I could chalk up my lack of surprise to the mythic nature that comic books and their stories tends to follow, and in that sense the film did very well. In fact, I even found myself wondering if this film was the next big Star Wars type thing, but we have yet to tell on that.

Further, the wink and nod tended to address the fact that much of the plot has that been there done that feel. In particular, one fight scene was humorously abbreviated by a character’s use of a secret weapon that has been hinted at all through the movie. It still conveyed his danger, but it didn’t burden us with too much unnecessary action. In general, the film didn’t *try* to take itself to seriously, which allowed it to deliver fun times and gorgeous special effects without leaving the audience to worry about the film meeting drastic expectations.

Marvel was also a little too obvious with its attempts to plug this movie into its current franchises. While assembling The Avengers together film by film has so far been a successful undertaking, I get the feeling they are going to do more later, and hopefully they don’t tarnish what Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be doing well all by itself so far.

The biggest risk, I think, with this film was tying pop culture into a science fiction story. Film history is replete with attempts to do this that come off as tacky and exploitative, but this movie nails it. Not only is the soundtrack fun and classy, it is also part of the back story. The risks this film took on all paid off because all of the elements synergized wonderfully.

While Guardians of the Galaxy was not series I was previously familiar with, I am now eager to see what else is coming when they return.

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Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?

Carrie and the girls are out, about, and all are single. They decide to indulge in tequila and Latin music on the eve of Carrie’s photo shoot showcasing fabulous single people. Samantha even turns down a guy in favor of spending time with her friends.

Classy lady. Sometimes.

Carrie’s decision of one more drink turns into many more, not sleeping, except when she accidentally passes out. She arrives “a fucking month late” as Stanford’s (yes, Stanford is back!) new boyfriend puts it. Everyone is pissed at her, she looks like shit, hoping that she will get new makeup at the shoot. She gets about as much makeup as she does caffeine in her coffee. Decaf is all that’s left.
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Later Charlotte leads them in a power waking session. While Miranda does her weird arm exercises, a former fling stops by to say hi. When he’s gone, Miranda admits she used to fake climaxes with him, hence their former-ness.

While picking up more ciggies, Carrie discovers she made the cover of the magazine. Looking like shit. Single and fabulous? While lunching, the girls try to be supportive, but they all feel the effects of Carrie’s assault by punctuation.
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Almost instantly, the single girls are all coupled. Samantha goes back to the Latin club to pick up the guy from the other night. Miranda goes back to the guy she faked it with. And Charlotte seduces her man friend who fixed up her home.

Then we are treated to an interview segment. Last episode Carrie broke the fourth wall for the last time. And now finally we get one more interview. And I stand corrected, because I always forget about this one and think that the previous one I mentioned is the last one. This one explores the lies we tell people.

Later, Miranda complains about faking it. It’s her own mess and her own fault. Samantha brags about her date with William. All through their date, he deluges her with streams and streams of we. He can’t stop taking about the future.
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Miranda on the other hand does stop. Faking it that is. This opens up the can of worms for her man that she’s been faking it, and perhaps so has every other women he’s slept with. Reality hits him like a big fake orgasm, and he dives headfirst into how to make women climax.

Charlotte is also enjoying a big we, with her man friend whom she convinces to move in instead of pursuing acting with the Mormons.
After copious self pity, Carrie heads out on the town with Stanford and his bitchy boyfriend. He clears his name and Carrie does her best to deal with some of Stanford’s we.

Meanwhile, Samantha waits for William while her waiter looks after her and worries about her fiber (yes, it’s future Fiber One spokesman!). He attempts to go home with her to validate her since William ditched her. Samantha refuses because she doesn’t need a man to validate her.
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Carrie does, though, and finds a cute Bradley Cooper look alike who smokes. Oh wait, it is Bradley Cooper.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, after coaching her man friend on the female orgasm, he is still failing. So Miranda decides to reward his effort with one last fake.

Back to Carrie, Bradley Cooper makes a quick trip for more cigarettes and finds her magazine cover. Apparently that issue is popular with smokers. Anyway, Carrie realizes she doesn’t need a man to validate her after all. Even Bradley Cooper, er Jake. Whatever.

Charlotte realizes she’s been faking with the fix it guy, and when he confesses his desire to go west for acting, Charlotte fakes some minimal protest, because she knows that they won’t work out, too.  Neither do Miranda and her sexually challenged man work, and everyone is back to square one and single again.

First of all, the couple of cameos in this episode are funny in retrospect, considering the roles are pretty small and nameless. This episode works pretty well. The theme of faking gives each character a challenge and a clear and humorous story for each lady. The running joke about the showers of “we” is pretty golden. Wink, wink.

There’s no major exploration of any major story arcs here, though none have really emerged yet, and the characters don’t really change by the end. However, we’ve all been through periods of self doubt when we’re single, so this episode is great for identifying with these ladies in that way. Unless you’ve never been single in your adult life. In which case, why are you watching Sex and the City? Go watch Married and the Suburbs instead.