Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1E2 “0-8-4”

agents of shield castAs it turned out, last week’s premiere of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC was the kind of show where the bloom fell off the rose as the week went on. The more opinions we read and heard, the more we realized that the episode was a bit dull and probably wouldn’t have hooked nearly as large an audience as it did had it been presented as a completely original show. But, a generally likable cast and the intriguing tease of an O-8-4  were interesting enough to bring us back for me. As you can imagine, SPOILERS follow.

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Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1E1 “Pilot”

marvel's agents of shield castAs everyone knowns by now, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted on ABC last night at the 8:00 PM spot. We here at Explosions Are Rad don’t cover too much in the way of comic book news because plenty of other sites do it incredibly well, but there aren’t too many shows out there that fall into the action vein. We were stoked to see a new comic book-based show on the air and figured we’d give it a watch and then give you, gentle reader, a few paragraphs of our thoughts. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

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Revisiting Scream 3 (2000) & Iron Man 2 (2010)

Sequels are funny things. Like a lot of people who think about movies way too much, I tend to judge them pretty harshly. Do they hold up to the original? Are they better? Does this story make sense? Is it necessary? The real question should simply be, is it any good? Was it entertaining? Did I like it? Upon re-watching a pair of sequels recently, I feel like I’m either becoming a nicer viewer or (hopefully) less judgmental. I think there’s also something to be said for experience with a story making it easier to digest even if there are elements that you find bothersome. You know they’re they, you see them coming and you adjust your viewing as necessary.

That actually wasn’t the case with Scream 3, which I watched towards the end of last week. The first and only other time I saw this movie was in the theaters when it came out in 2000. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Scream series (you can read my review of the first one here), but they were gigantic to the horror community that I was just getting into as they came out. I remember liking the third installment, thinking that the filmmakers were really playing with the genre and having fun with it. I mean, it’s not a flat out comedy by any means, but I remember feeling a sense of winking towards the audience, especially in the scene where the killer throws a knife at Dewey and the handle smacks him in the head. That bit still made me laugh.

But, I wasn’t seeing or noticing the humor as much this time around. Yes, I was working and it was kind of on in the background while I was doing other things, but it just wasn’t as prevalent. I still liked the movie and think it’s pretty good, but there were two aspects that got on my nerves. First off, and I know I liked this at the time, but the Jay and Silent Bob cameos are just super weird and kind of pointless. I’m saying this as someone who loves those characters, those movies and Smith in general, but they really took me out of the movie. But, they weren’t nearly as bad as that ridiculous voice modulator thing that so much of the movie depends on. Does that kind of thing even exist? I feel like if it did, there would be an app. Anyway, I get the idea that it makes everyone you’re not seeing directly in front of you suspect, but it gets to the point where you as a viewer can’t trust anyone and just become more and more disconnected. It also made me far more aware of off-screen dialog which took me out of the store even more. Without that aspect, the movie would actually be pretty damn solid. I don’t even mind the retconning stuff because I think it fits in pretty well and all makes sense. Plus, it’s another not to old horror movies, though this one far more unsettling. With that, I’ve watched the first and third movies in the past few years and just need to rewatch 2 and see 4 for the first time. I’ve heard good things.

After writing up a piece about Iron Man 3 for Spinoff, I remembered that 2 was on Netflix Instant and gave it another watch. I honestly didn’t remember many of my opinions about the movie from the first time I saw it other than a deep desire to punch Justin Hammer in the face. After going back and re-reading my original review of the film, it turns out that that same elements spoke to me both times. I liked it, it’s a big fun action movie. The performances are great. I didn’t like Sam Jackson that time around, but none of that stuff bothered me this time. And, while I still despise Justin Hammer as a character and think he came off kind of cartoony, I don’t think Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of him is all that far from people like him in the real world.

It’s actually kind of funny that I remembered most of the scenes of the movie, but couldn’t remember how I felt about them. There were bits I forgot, like Tony Stark’s dad as a kind of Walt Disney character. I’m actually listening to a book about Pixar right now that got into some of the “I’ve got these ideas, but haven’t developed the technology just yet, maybe they will n the future” ideas that were directly stated in this film. It’s interesting how the things you’re reading/watching/listening to can inadvertently segue into one another.

Anyway, I’ve found that repeated viewings of the first Iron Man tend to leave me a little flat. I still like all the character stuff they did and Robert Downey Jr. makes an awesome Tony Stark, but the ending definitely has diminishing returns. I understand that they wanted to show that Tony Stark could perservere over a larger, more powerful oponent, but that battle is just boring the third or fourth time around. Similarly, the one between Iron Man, War Machine and Mickey Rourke at the end of this one’s a bit lame. You get that awesome sequence with them taking on the drones and then you finish up with Tony and Rhodey aiming blasters at the Ruskie and he explodes? Eh. These things are great the first time around, but don’t always make for the best repeated viewings which is what I want from my movies. Still, it’s a movie packed with fun and shows just one small aspect of how cool an Avengers movie can and hopefully will be.

Quick Movie Review: Thor (2011)

I feel like a bad geek. Three pretty well regarded comic book movies came out this summer and I didn’t see any of them in theaters. Younger me would be in there opening weekend, if not at a midnight showing. Ah well, I’m a dad now, I guess that counts as a good enough excuse. Anyway, the wife and I finally got around to watching Thor the other night after the DVD sat around from Netflix for a while (bumping down to one at a time has been rough).

The movie was good. The cast was fun and interesting, but what else would you expect from a Kenneth Branagh film starring Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Natalie Portman, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings and Skellan Skarsgard? Even Chris Hemmsworth who I knew nothing of did a good job with the character of Thor, balancing out the brash warrior and “needing to learn a lesson about life” student.

I think what kept me from loving the movie stems from the fact that I just read and flipped through a big stack of Thor comics from the late 70s/early 80s and discovered that nearly every Thor story is the same: something big and evil happens, Thor rushes in and Loki tends to be behind it. Meanwhile, Odin’s usually being tricked or is asleep and the god of thunder deals with some small human problems that are supposed to show how good of a guy he is while also not really posing any kind of danger. I’m sure there are plenty of Thor stories that don’t follow this model, but I was surprised to see how many of them do.

So, with those in my head, I wasn’t surprised to see a movie where Loki was ultimately the bad guy, Odin sat out most of the movie and Thor wound up proving how good of a guy he can be. It was interesting watching the movie with the missus though as she’s never read anything having to do with the characters and yet she called Loki as a bad guy about 10 minutes in. It made me realize that the uninitiated would definitely go into this movie differently than the comic fans and would possibly enjoy it more, but I also thought it was interesting that it was kind of “on the page” as it was.

As far as the Marvel movie universe building goes, it was fun to see Hawkeye have his scene and the SPOILER appearance of Nick Fury and the Cosmic Cube at the end of the movie. I’m not sure what to believe when it comes to the Avengers movie, but it would be rad to see that come into play. If so, it’s pretty cool that the ante will truly be upped.

At the end of the day, I liked the movie, but thanks to my recent reading adventure was already keyed onto the story. I think, had I watched it when it came out or maybe even a few months from now, I’d dig it more. At the end of the day, it’s a solid movie with a great cast, some really fun and funny moments, maybe not as much action as the Thor movie in my mind had, but a great appearance by the Destroyer and some cool looking Frost Giant battles. Plus, watching a guy beat bad guy ass with a hammer just never gets old. Now, when do the Warriors Three and Sif get their own movie? That, I want to see.

Quick Movie Review: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)

I was not surprised that I liked (500) Days Of Summer. It had a lot going for it. First off, I have a gigantic crush on Zooey Deschanel (she even sings in the movie!). Second, I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (especially the way he’s handled his career even though I don’t always like his movies, I respect his choices). And third, the Totally Rad Show guys all liked it. So, yeah, as it turned out, I liked the movie a lot, which is funny because the plot is somewhat similar to that of The Wackness, which I reviewed a few days back and didn’t really like. Allow me to explain. The story is told from G-L’s perspective for the most part and follows him on his journey through love and heartbreak with Deshanel (Summer), who isn’t as into him as he is into her. The plot sounds simple and tired, but it’s not thanks to the way director Marc Webb tells the story. For one thing, it’s told in scattered order jumping back and forth through time in the 500 days G-L found himself fawning over Deschanel. We also get these wonderful flourishes that step out of reality and show the viewer things from more of an emotional perspective. There’s a mini documentary about love and, in my favorite moment in the scene, G-L walks out of Deschanel’s apartment and then the city turns into a drawing and then starts disappearing until it’s just his silhouette standing there. Sure, they could have just showed him smiling, but these kind of moments make this more than just an average movie. There’s another full-on dance number and a scene where G-L dances with a light-up sidewalk like a Michael Jackson video (this may even be in the same sequence with the city fading away, I can’t quite remember). And I’m glad these moments are there, because it’s not always easy to see G-L struggling so hard with a job he doesn’t really care about and, more importantly, a girl who doesn’t necessarily care about him as much as he does her. Em didn’t like the almost-ending, which I won’t spoil and kind of comes out of nowhere, but then the very end of the movie wrapped things up really well and in a clever way to boot. I will warn you that this isn’t an easy movie to follow if you’re not paying attention because it does jump around so much. So, this one’s highly recommended and kudos to Webb, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.