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San Diego Comic Con 2017 — Trailer Roundup and Good Stuff

Holy heck there’s a lot of news coming out of Comic Con. It’s lucky Luke Miksa has your back with a roundup of the best stuff.

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Ready Player One

Based on the wildly popular novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is set in a dystopian future where humanity now escapes the now-harsh reality by spending every waking moment in a virtual reality called Oasis; an adventure world filled to the brim with 80’s and 90’s nostalgia. Directed by Steven Spielberg — himself responsible a lot of that nostalgia first-hand — Ready Player One is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated movies of 2018. Between the Iron Giant and the DeLorean time machine, how many Easter eggs can you spot in this trailer alone?

 

Thor: Ragnarok

If you had any reservations at all about the direction Marvel’s Thor universe was headed, this trailer should rectify that. With an inspired choice of director in Taika Waititi, the neon-soaked, synth-laden trailer for Thor: Ragnarok appears to be the absolute business! October can’t arrive soon enough! Let’s have some fun!

 

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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — The Most Fun You Can Possibly Have Watching A Movie, All Thanks To Marvel’s Unlikely Cosmic Heroes

The popular cosmic team from Marvel Studios is back, but can they replicate the surprise success from 2014? Luke Miksa finds out.

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In 2014, we were introduced to Guardians of the Galaxy; a ragtag combination of obscure characters seemingly plucked from the most obscure Marvel comics title. That was then. Now, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a big deal. With characters like Rocket and Groot leading the way, beyond all expectations the Guardians became cultural icons and some of the most recognisable and popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

With the surprise factor no longer an option, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 now has the burden of high expectations. But is this a sequel that squanders the possibilities presented in the first instalment? Thankfully the answer is no: Guardians 2 is just as hilarious, just as exciting, and just as heartfelt the second time around.

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The gang is back!

After the adventures of the first film, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the newly pint-sized Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) are now known throughout the cosmos as the Guardians of the Galaxy. In exchange for their services, the dysfunctional team acquires Nebula (Karen Gillan), sister and rival of Gamora. With Nebula secured on board their spacecraft, the team now has to not only deal with the pursuing Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) and his team of exiled Ravagers, but the sudden appearance of Quill’s estranged father Ego (Kurt Russell) threatens the dynamic of our new favourite team.

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Review: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) — It’s the End of the World as we Know It, and I Feel… Fine?

Bryan Singer is back to direct his fourth X-Men film; X-Men: Apocalypse. Luke Miksa checks to see whether it stacks up.

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The year is 1983, ten years after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Upon awakening after thousands of dormant years, the first mutant, the immortal En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), embarks on a plan to destroy humanity and remake it under his will. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the X-Men must band together to face the cataclysmic force that is Apocalypse and his disciples of doom, the Four Horsemen: Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto — mutants lured by the charismatic allure of Apocalypse.

X-Men: Apocalypse is the sixth X-Men movie — ninth if you count spin-off films from Wolverine and Deadpool — and the fourth run at the helm from director Bryan Singer. Having practically pioneered the modern run of superhero films with 2000’s X-Men, Singer certainly has experience in films of this nature, but this really is his weakest effort with this franchise to date. Not to say that this film is bad, it honestly isn’t, but it just feels like a stale retread as opposed to advancing the X-Men films to the next level.

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As with most X-Men films, Apocalypse features many characters, probably too many by normal standards, but these films have always been about the large ensemble. Most major characters are actually well formed despite the sheer number of them. Their motivations are juggled reasonably well: senior characters like ‘Beast’ Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), ‘Professor X’ Charles Xavier, and ‘Mystique’ Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) get to continue on the paths set from prior films, with the ongoing tragedy of ‘Magneto’ Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) a highlight thanks again to some solid output from Fassbender. But it’s also the fresh faces, the younger cast of ‘Cyclops’ Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), ‘NightCrawler’ Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and ‘Storm’ Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp) showing promise for the direction of these younger versions of characters we know and love.

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Review: Fantastic Four (2015) — Fantastic Faux Pas: Defying the Odds to Become the Worst Fantastic Four Movie

Fantastic Four is back, and this time it’s serious. Luke Miksa reviews:

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Based on the popular Marvel Comics characters, Fantastic Four is another attempt at a big-screen adaptation for Marvel’s First Family. Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle), Fantastic Four (Fant4stic if you’re an idiot) is a more serious take at the origin story of the super-team and follows a young Reed Richards (Miles Teller, Whiplash), a hyper-intelligent young man who is recruited into the “Baxter Foundation” and joins a team including Sue Storm (Kate Mara, House of Cards), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, RocknRolla). The team develop a transporter capable of inter-dimensional travel, but when the team, including Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, Snowpiercer), encounter problems on “Planet Zero”, they return with their molecules altered, resulting in various powers and abilities which will change them forever.

Fantastic Four is a movie that has been plagued with well documented production problems. I shouldn’t be getting into on-set dramas while reviewing a film, but the squabbles between director Josh Trank and 20th Century Fox have unfortunately manifested into the finished film, which is a jumbled mess of ideas, tone, and plot. What we have with Fantastic Four is two movies. One being the directors vision: a serious scientific exploration into inter-dimensional travel combined with Cronenberg-esque body-horror. The second: an action based movie where the team gets together to stop a cataclysmic event. It’s obvious where the different visions intersect and the resulting mess is the worst-reviewed Marvel-based movie to date.*

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Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) — All The Eye-Popping Spectacle You Want, No Strings Attached

But of course this is a Marvel Studios film, and ALL strings are attached, but does Avengers: Age of Ultron surpass the original? Luke Miksa reviews:

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Avengers: Age of Ultron is a movie that genuinely needs no introduction. If you are not familiar with billionaire philanthropist Tony Stark (aka Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.), Asgardian prince Thor (Chris Hemsworth), or time-displaced World War II super-soldier Steve Rogers (aka Captain America, Chris Evans), then perhaps you have been in suspended animation the last eight years. Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to the 2012 superhero team-up film The Avengers and the 11th film in the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time, the Avengers must again team up to fight a power of their own creation, the sentient artificial intelligence known as Ultron (James Spader), a being with the intent of cleansing the world of humanity.

The boys are back (plus a girl or two, I guess).

The boys are back (plus a girl or two, I guess).

The movie opens right in the thick of The Avengers raiding the Hydra base of Baron von Strucker to regain the sceptre seen in previous films. Director/screenwriter Joss Whedon doesn’t bother with building up the opening — we have seen this before — so jumping straight into the action from the get-go is the perfect way to establish what this movie is all about: all action, all the time. This opening scene in particular features a wonderful long tracking shot following all the characters battling the Hydra army, with many insta-iconic imagery coming from just this single scene; welcome back, everyone!

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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — Marvel’s Weirdest Team in Marvel’s Strongest Movie

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Space Avengers.

Space Avengers.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the tenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is directed by James Gunn (Slither, Super) and co-written by Gunn and Nicole Perlman. In a departure from the highly interconnected, Earth-bound Marvel Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy takes place in a galaxy far, far away (hmmm). Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, a massive departure from Parks and Recreation) aka Star-Lord, was abducted as a child by a group of inter-galactic marauders and has since grown up as a thief and rogue. When Quill discovers an ancient orb on a desolate planet, he finds himself in the crosshairs of Kree warrior Ronan (Lee Pace), who is also after the artefact. In his journey Quill encounters Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin who looks to redeem her nefarious past; Drax (former WWE Champion Dave Bautista), looking to avenge the death of his family at the hands of Thanos (that big guy at the end of The Avengers!); Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a genetically engineered raccoon with a penchant for weaponry; and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a hulking, anthropomorphic tree and companion of Rocket. Quill must tag with this renegade group of extraterrestrial fugitives to outrun Ronan and his subordinates who are in pursuit of the orb, which holds one of the powerful Infinity Stones and the capability to destroy the galaxy.

The strong point of this film is the outlandish cast of characters. Each character has different backgrounds and different motivations, and the greatest moments come when they are interacting with each other — both clashing and bonding. The humour is never cheap either; there is never a moment where you are laughing at Rocket just because he’s a raccoon. On the contrary, Rocket is initially established as a no-nonsense, sarcastic badass, and the humour comes from the fact that he actually doesn’t realise he’s a raccoon. That’s great scripting, because the character of Rocket is established without a mention of raccoon, that point comes up naturally in the dialogue. Another great character trait belongs to Drax, as his people do not understanding metaphors, this creates some great comic banter between himself and the sassy Quill. GOTG has a level of entertaining character interactions and dialogue on par with The Avengers.

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