The Ultimate “ASSEMBLE” Collection

I apologize for my absence. I’ve been pulling some Tony Stark-level hours trying to release a specific collection before Avengers: Infinity War on April 27th!

*Deep breath*. Okay, who else is both insanely stoked and also coldly terrified for this movie? Every warning the Russo brothers release just terrifies me more and more. I really have no idea what to expect, I just know I will not be wearing makeup to this movie for fear I will come out smeared like some wayward clown.

But for now, we get to anticipate the unknown with joy. We are blissfully unaware of the tragedies and heartbreak to come, so we enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and discuss our theories, eagerly look forward to seeing our favorite faces, and watch every new TV spot that hits the social media channels.

We are in store for so many goodies, but we must prepare. If you are going to fight a war, you need to put on a uniform.

I’ve got you covered! No, you won’t need to pillage some poor mannequin at the Smithsonian for this uniform, you can get your perfect size.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I have created the ultimate ASSEMBLE collection for Marvel fans of all shapes and sizes. And this time, no heroes are left out. Are you a Dr. Strange fan who has been left without fanwear? Do you feel like the only The Vision fan in the world, not important enough to be recognized? Are you one of the many Clint Barton fans who are sick of feeling like the “forgotten” Avengers?

Y’all, I’ve got them all. I have been that fan, the one who loves something deeply, but no one thinks I’m worth making a shirt for. I started designing t-shirts because I was fed up waiting for someone else to design them for me. I made this ASSEMBLE collection as a Marvel fan, with Marvel fans in mind.

I hope you enjoy them! You can like my t-shirt page G’STEES on FB, and follow me on instagram @gsteeshirtdesign to stay updated. May the Force be with you, fellow Avengers.

Check out the collection here!

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Infinity War: The Avengers We Will Lose

You’ve probably seen the epic second trailer for Marvel’s highly anticipated film Avengers: Infinity War by now. If not, here you go.

Once we get past the awesomeness of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Starlord giving Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Ironman some sass, or the sweet adorableness of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker introducing himself to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange

“Oh, we’re using our made-up names? Then I’m Spider-Man.”

Could this baby Avenger be any cuter?

And let’s not forget the intensity of Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers/currently The Nomad screaming at Thanos while holding back the Titan’s guantleted hand. Excuse me while I go find some AC, cause it’s getting HOT in here!

Obviously we all have one, very dreadful question hanging over our heads right now….

….who are we going to lose?

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We have been teased by multiple Marvel people that this movie is gonna hurt, and once the dust settles we will never be the same. The Marvel movies after Avengers 3 will be a completely different direction than the one we have been heading for the last ten years.

We’ve also been told to prepare ourselves, cause some of our most beloved people are gonna die. 

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I don’t relish character deaths. They hurt like heck and leave me in a fog for days as I mourn the loss of someone I counted as an old friend (NEWT, WHY???). But I’m going to try and look at this from an analytical angle and keep my emotions out of it.

So, my theories on the chances of which Avengers we will be saying goodbye to.

Tony Stark

Tony Stark/Ironman 7/10 Chance of Death

Tony has been with us since the beginning. 3 solo Ironman films, 2 Avengers films, and 2 major appearances in both Captain America: Civil War and SpiderMan: Homecoming. He is like the father of Marvel as we know it, and we would not be here without him. Tony’s personal character arc is deeply intertwined with the overall MCU story. He’s gone from being a reckless weapons dealer/playboy, to leader and father figure. Tony has faced some pretty fierce demons, but he’s still standing.

Tony’s arc feels like it’s heading to a point of finality. Either he will make the ultimate sacrifice and end his story with a heroic death, or he will survive and move into retirement where he just keeps making toys for “the kids”. I WANT Tony to make it. I feel like he should get to come home to kiss Mrs. Pepper Stark *squeal*, pick their baby up out of a high-tech crib, and have Star Wars marathons with Dum E.

But what I want, and what may end up happening could be two very different things. One point of hope we might be able to cling to is that Tony almost did make the ultimate sacrifice in the original Avengers movie, so perhaps to repeat that scenario would be repetitive. It may be a fool’s hope, but it’s still a hope.

Nat trust

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow 1/10 Chance of Death

Given that it was recently announced that a Black Widow solo film was in the works, I highly doubt Natasha will be the Avenger to buy it. Not only is she a survivor, but Nat is a character with a lot more story to explore. Even though Nat’s arc has followed the typical pattern of making her a better character over time, her story is a reverse. She started out with her worst fears, there is almost nothing in her future that can compare to the terror and horror she endured as a young child/women in the Red Room. To Nat, fighting and potentially dying alongside people she loves and trusts is a gift, therefore, she has little to lose.

A character like Nat is deeply intriguing. We’ve literally watched her learn how to be human again. I believe that her film should focus on her future, rather than be a prequel film about her past. If I’m right about this prediction, our Nat is safe even with the Mad Titan roaming around. Which is good, since she’s my second favorite Avenger.

hawkeye

Clint Barton/Hawkeye 4/10 Chance of Death

We got a major fake-out foreshadow of Hawkeye’s death in Age of Ultron, only to be taken by surprise with Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver took the bullets for him. Hawkeye is the coolest Avenger. His ability to stay focused and on target #punfullyintended #yourewelcome shows his steady personality and grounded character. Hawkeye is also the happiest Avenger. He is the only member to have a settled home and family to return to. He only comes out of “retirement” when the other Avengers get extra unruly.

The only reason I have any fear for Hawkeye’s potential death is because he is so happy, I’m afraid the writers won’t leave him in peace. They had better leave him alone. The knowledge that the Barton farm and family exist have literally kept me going during the most upsetting Marvel moments. I need to know at least one of my Avengers is happy. And I am willing to bet he will get to stay that way.

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Bruce Banner/The Hulk Chance of Death 8/10

I hope you didn’t just choke on your drink. I’m gonna go out on a limb here with this one, so bear with me.

The Hulk is “unkillable”. He’s a powerful smashing machine who has survived death a hundred times and ways over. That’s exactly why I think The Hulk may be the one to go. Our MCU world is about to be turn upside down! It would shock everyone if the second-most powerful Avenger was the one to buy it well before his fellow Avengers did.

But shock value aside, here is another reason. I think Bruce Banner is nearing the end of his story. I don’t see much of a future in following MCU films for this character, and it feels as if his light might be fading. Banner is tired. He was just trapped as The Hulk in space for 2 years. Fun fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the vision that Scarlet Witch gave Banner back in Age of Ultron. His worst fear, being trapped as a smashing machine with no control. And that’s exactly what happened for two years.

Banner hasn’t really been a part of the continuing story on earth for a while now. He’s not as vital to our overall story as other characters, but his death would still punch us in the gut.

One final reason? I think Bruce would be okay with dying. As I said above, he’s tired. Other than his science sessions with Tony, and his feelings for Natasha, Bruce doesn’t feel he has a whole lot left to live for. I believe that dying for someone he loves would be perfectly okay with Bruce, I think he would almost welcome it.

Okay, okay, stop crying! I know *sniffs*, it’s so sad. But I can see it happening.

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Thor/Himself 7/10 Chance of Death

Directly after Thor: Ragnarok I would not have thought that Thor’s chances of doom were so high. A whole new chapter had just been opened up for the prince, no, the King of Asgard. Despite the fact that he lost his father, and his planet, Thor’s character was given new life and purpose as he led his people into space in search of a new home.

However, that end scene in Ragnarok where we see the Asgardian ship come upon a oh-so-familiar hostile alien ship left me feeling very nervous. I got even more nervous when the first Infinity War trailer came out and showed Loki (who has chosen to stand by his brother in Ragnarok) holding the Tesseract/Space Stone, surrounded by dead Asgardians. Loki has had dealings with Thanos since Avengers, and Loki didn’t deliver his end of whatever bargain was made. Thanos is not one to forgive past grievances, as the dark scene on the Asgardian ship could mean that the Asgardian people are dead, thus freeing Thor up from the task of leading his people. Which means he’s now open for the kill.

Another reason Thor could be in danger is because Chris Hemsworth who has brought The Mighty Avenger to life recently announced he is thinking of retiring from acting for a while so he can watch his children grow up. An incredibly noble choice, one I applaud him for, even as my fan soul sinks a little.

One hope we may have is that like Tony, Thor has already sacrificed himself in his first movie Thor. He allowed himself to be killed so that Jane Foster and the small town in New Mexico would be saved from Loki’s wrath. Perhaps killing him again would also be repetitive.

Then again, maybe it just proves Thor is fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision Chances of Death 5/10

Again, I hope you didn’t just choke on your drink there. I know I must sound like a crazy person since Vision literally is a host for the Mind Stone, and we have seen Thanos attempting to remove this stone in one of the trailers while Vision screams gut-wrenchingly. Something has to have happened to Wanda for Thanos to have gotten that close to hurting the one she loves. And that “something” has to be drastic as Wanda is the most powerful Avenger, something she proved when she brought even the Hulk to his knees.

However, I am betting these two are safe for a couple of reasons.

One, they’re the new kids on the block. They haven’t had the years of tragic backstory and fighting to wear them down like the veteran Avengers have. They are new, fresh, and have a lot of story left to tell. Vision is just learning what it is to be human, to feel, to love someone. He is a puzzle of a character, and fans love a good puzzle.

Wanda is a beautiful character, she has come so far, and she has so much to learn. Her character, as well as her mind-blowing powers make her ripe for more movies, perhaps even a solo film in the future. She’s still got a lot more to give to the MCU, a fact that I think makes her very safe. Her brother has also already made the ultimate sacrifice, it seems like at least one of the Maximoff twins should remain standing.

Wanda and Vision being together as a couple also protects them from death-by-gauntlet. A love story creates this other, new angle that needs to be followed through and explored. Unless the writers are able to follow-through with this story and wrap it up properly in Infinity War, Wanda and Vision have plenty of time left!

Unless they pull a Romeo and Juliet on us. But that’s been done, let’s leave the one to Mr. Shakespeare.

And as a final bit of ammo for my argument, Paul Bettany was filming for Avengers 4So, while it could be a flashback, there is a good chance that Vision lives. And if Vision lives, I’m betting Wanda does as well.

dr strange

Dr. Stephen Strange/Dr. Strange Chances of Death 0/10

Dr. Strange is a fresh, unique new face that was recently added to the MCU with a great reception. He can venture into dimensions that other heroes cannot, which makes him extra powerful and gives him a way of survival.  He also has a great future and much more story to be told, as is confirmed by the fact that Dr. Strange 2 is a future MCU film on the docket for 2021. I believe Strange may get some bruises along the way, he is after all, the caretaker of the Soul Stone, so Thanos will be paying him a visit. But the Sorcerer Supreme (sounds like a knockout pizza) will survive.

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Bucky Barnes/White Wolf Chances of Death 0/10

Bucky has been to hell and back again. His worst fears have already come true. Bucky has recently been reborn and given a new purpose as well as a new superhero title after his healing in Wakanda. And dogon-it he deserves it! I am convinced if death even tried to send Bucky so much as a text a horde of rabid fans would arrive on scene and kill death on the spot!

On a more practical note, Sebastian Stan still has quite a few Marvel films left on his contract. Our boy is just getting started!

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Sam Wilson/The Falcon Chance of Death 3/10, James Rhodes/War Machine Chances of Death 5/10

Rhodey almost bought it in Captain America: Civil War. He’s back on his feet thanks to some snazzy Stark tech, and as we have seen from the trailers, he’s not only back in the fight, he’s fighting alongside Avengers that he formerly fought against in Civil War. This is a big deal, since in my opinion, Rhodey was the strongest supporter of the Accords. I think Rhodey could make for a lower impact death that kind of softens us up for a bigger character death. I could also see him walking away from the fight. (was that joke too soon?) I’m pretty much 50/50 on his chances.

Sam Wilson (who is my 3rd favorite Avenger) I believe, will survive. Sam is one of the most amazing and underrepresented characters in the MCU. The way he just calmly walked into Steve Rogers’ life and never left, come heck or high water, blows me away. Top that off with a smooth, oh so smooth, personality, and a combat skill-set from a normal guy that puts some super-powered individuals to shame? SAM WILSON FOR PRESIDENT!

Sam just has the feeling of a survivor. He’s a great character who I would love to see pulled out of the woodwork and given more limelight.

tchalla

King T’Challa/Black Panther. Chances of Death? Death asked Okoye for permission, very politely, and she stabbed Death to death. 0/10

The King isn’t really an Avenger, he’s his own thing. Wakanda is it’s own version of the Avengers. Not to mention that T’Challa and Black Panther is making massive waves in the world right now. He has a second movie coming, and like I said, Okoye said NO to death.

The King is safe!

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Scott Lang/Ant-Man Chances of Death 0/10

Look at this goober, he’s gonna be fine! Ant-man is a fresh new hero who brings a lot of heart, and a lot of laughs to the table. Even though his next movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of Infinity War, Scott has a long and happy future ahead of him. The potential for his character in the future MCU is huge, especially since Hope Pym/The Wasp is joining on as his lovelier co-star. There is a lot of untold story to look forward to, and we can’t wait to hear Luis narrate it!

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Peter Parker/Spider-Man Chances of Death….if you touch my baby Avenger I WILL END YOU! But for real, 0/10.

Look at this precious boy! I love him so much, I want to adopt him. Tom Holland has brought our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man to life in such an endearing way, I know we have a long and happy future with this character. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s energetic and because he is choosing (oh so maturely) to take his time and build up, he has a long runway ahead. Spider-Man, I believe, will be a key player in the future of the MCU once our Avengers’ chapter has been closed. God bless Peter Parker!

 

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The Guardians Chances of Death 1/10

If anyone buys it, it will be Nebula. And she will die doing something that hurts Thanos, perhaps even eventually destroys him. I hope she gets the killing stroke, she deserves it the most.

Our Guardians are pretty safe. They have a whole galaxy to keep worrying about, we already lost Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Yondu in Vol. 2. Our Guardians also are a key part of the MCU after Phase 3 closes, and they have one more movie to go. I anticipate a happily-ever-after for them. After all of the chaos, the pain, the horrible backstories, it just feels right. This family has a future.

And you’re thinking, she’s missing someone very big.

No, I haven’t forgotten. I left him to the very last for a reason.

the nomad

Steve Rogers/Captain America/The Nomad Chances of Death 5/10

Really, you need to stop drinking your beverage right now, I don’t want to be responsible for you choking to death. Yes, I did just give Steve Rogers a 50% chance of surviving Infinity War. And no, I didn’t do it just because he’s my favorite Avenger, my main man, and one of the greatest characters to ever be created in the history of stories.

I say it, because everything is pointing at his death. He’s Steve Rogers, he’s the guy who throws himself on top of the grenade. He’s the guy that ditches the plane and is frozen in the ice for 70 years. He’s the guy who takes down Hydra and still lets his best-friend-now-assassin beat him almost to death because “you’re my friend”. He’s the guy who is willing to stand against an entire room in opposition against him and stay true to what he believes.

Yes, I saw the same trailer you did. I saw Thanos going one-on-one with Steve. I’ve seen Steve’s nightmares in Age of Ultron where he couldn’t be at peace. I’ve seen it all and been terrified the whole time.

But now I’m starting to wonder if it is all too obvious. Marvel is great at the big fake-outs. We expect one thing, and then the opposite happens. They do it over and over again, and we still don’t see it coming. Steve is the most glaringly obvious choice for a sacrificial character, which is exactly why it would be perfect for him to actually survive.

Clearly the Steve Rogers we will meet in Infinity War is a bit darker, a bit badder than our Rogers of the past. He’s been off with his two amigos, Nat and Sam (a triangle of perfection and my top 3) doing Secret Avenger stuff. I think he’s only grown stronger, more strategic, and more determined than ever. I wouldn’t count America’s golden boy out yet.

Chris Evans has said that he is open to more movies with Marvel. Whether they choose to head in that direction or not, I’m not believing that they have signed his death warrant. I think Steve may have just bought himself a happy ending after all, one where he finally gets some peace and can pass his shield on to a “younger” generation.

I’d love to see him get to settle down with the right partner. I don’t know if that will be Sharon, a resurrected Peggy (it’s Marvel, we know it can happen) or my personal choice, Natasha. But Steve is a man who will always have friends, and after the dust settles, I believe he will finally come home from the mission he set out on all the way back in the 1940s.

So, what do you think? Who is going to buy it in Infinity War? Are my predictions sound, or way off? What do you hope happens? Who do you hope survives?

Share and write your predictions!

 

Black Panther, Mostly Spoiler-Free Review

Black Panther is unlike any other Marvel movie you have ever seen. It is a story that is in many ways self-contained, fantastical, a fairytale of sorts. And yet, it is grounded in the heart struggles and deep questions that our world has been wrestling with since the dawn of time. Wakanda may not be real, but the battles it fights most certainly are.

I was deeply drawn in to these characters. They are complex, beautiful, mysterious. They are unlike anyone you have ever met before, and yet they seem like familiar friends. They surprise you regularly. The past and the present are entirely intertwined in this story, and that is something the characters themselves struggle with.

T’Challa is a beautiful character. He’s kingly, regal, and a strong warrior. The greatest strength of his character, however, lies in his gentleness and compassion. He makes compassion look like the most macho thing ever, and he uses his power to heal. I could scream at the world with how delighted that message makes me.

Nakia, she’s magnificent. Passionate, constantly in motion, and so strong. You feel the life and the heartbeat in her every look and word. I found her character to be so beautifully balanced, she was T’Challa’s equal, his perfect match. She was beautiful and vital to this story. I especially loved how they highlighted her compassion, something that many women carry but rarely get credit for. Her compassion changed the course of this story as it influenced those around her. Can I get an amen?

Princess Shuri. Hilarious. Lovely. Intelligent. Full of surprises. The dynamic between her and her older brother warmed my heart. Shuri is magnetic, you could see her winning the hearts of nations by just being herself. She’s like the Phineas and Ferb of Wakanda, and she will knock the socks right off of the other “brains” of Marvel.

Okoye. I think she is the character that intrigues me the most. General of Wakanda, their greatest warrior. I wasn’t sure how layered they would make her, I didn’t know if we would stop at just making her a warrior. But she was more than a warrior, she was deep. I felt like she represented an aspect of tradition, and yet it didn’t hold her character hostage. She surprised me with a rare sense of humor, an almost motherly attitude, and my favorite moment in the film involved something most unexpected with her character. She was fully a woman, fully a warrior, fully a Wakandan. Beautiful in every way.

Everett Ross. Well, if Bilbo showed up in Wakanda, this is what would have happened. Martin Freeman has played the same character in everything I have ever seen him in, and not once have I been disappointed. I think Ross was an important aspect of this film. The Wakandans were mostly raised with an air of superiority over the rest of the world, they hold the secrets no one else has. And they’re smug about it. Ross carries himself in this movie with a quiet confidence that remains unshaken, his faithfulness and steadfast courage take the other characters by surprise. He has a job, and he will get it done. I think his presence also did much to change the course of the story.

Erik Killmonger. He’s one of the coldest Marvel villains I have ever come across. He’s so full of hatred and bitter darkness it terrifies you. But he represents the opposite side of the coin from T’Challa. They are meant to be opposites even as they reflect one another, the contrast is there to be a lesson. Killmonger’s story moved you to a place of compassion, even if you abhorred what he became.

I still believe this to be one of the most violent Marvel movies I have seen. This is for two reasons.

(1) The violence is deeply personal. It’s hand to hand combat with sharp weapons. It’s full of betrayal, a life and death struggle for a nation and a set of ideals. Former allies turn on each other, and they do actually kill. This isn’t the Avengers fighting Chatauri, or drones, or Ultron bots. This isn’t even the Avengers fighting each other where the injuries could all be healed. These people KILL each other, and it is heartbreaking.

(2) It’s deeply raw in the emotions, which makes the blades all the sharper. I shook for hours after watching this movie. During the end climax I heard muttering, and looked over to see my mom praying tensely under her breath. It’s so intense you forget it’s not real. She was praying for T’Challa because it’s that intense.

This Marvel movie is so worth it. It takes on some of the hugest issues we are struggling with as a nation, and as a world; beautifully, this movie ends with the truth. It doesn’t deny the pain of past tragedies, you ache with that pain during the entire movie. Pain can move you to hatred, or it can move you to compassion. Both results are shown in brilliant colors in this movie, but we end in the right place.

I am so proud of the people who made this movie. It’s life-changing. It’s honest. It’s heartwarming and funny. And it puts value on the right beliefs. Beliefs that if carried out, will change our world for the better.

Wakanda forever!

*Deeper article to come later.

black panther car scene

7 Ways to Enjoy More Movies

What do I watch now?

Ever been in a show-hole? Ever had a really good movie run that ended before film studios could come out with the sequels, three-quels, and spinoff titles?

Our ability to consume movies is much faster-paced than the ability for film companies to produce new films. This can leave you feeling hungry for more movies, with no immediate way to solve the problem.

I decided to share a few ideas today about how you might open up your movie world to include more films; giving yourself a longer runway before you run out of stories to watch. These are tricks of the trade that have proved very enjoyable for me and my family, and hopefully they can open up your world a little bit more as well.

1. Watch Old Movies

The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn), Going My Way (Bing Crosby), Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Ingrid Bergman), Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck), Gentleman’s Agreement (Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart), Holiday Inn (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire), The Inspector General (Danny Kaye) Bedtime for Bonzo (Ronald Reagan), The Magnificent Seven (Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson), The Great Escape (Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson) Desperate Journey (Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn) Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), Foreign Correspondent (Joel McCrea, Laraine Day), Never a Dull Moment (Dick Van Dyke)

These are just a few little nuggets of gold in the goldmine that is old movies. A movie being made decades before your birth in no way diminishes its value. Watching old movies can be a delightful way to experience the evolution of films earlier on. You can also get a taste for normal life and cultural mindsets in previous decades. There are endless possibilities and literally hundreds upon hundreds of films available.

I have discovered amazing stories, endearing characters, and a heartbeat in some old films that I could have just passed over. Human beings have not changed in who we are at our core, only our technology has changed. There were compelling stories being told long before the days of green screen, CGI, and high definition.

Don’t limit yourself, try something “new” for a change.  After all, in this day when retro is cool, old is the new new.

Retro

2. Expand Your Genres

Picky eaters and picky viewers have this in common, they have very few options available.

Opening yourself up to new genres can open up hundreds of new movies titles for you to browse and enjoy. Even if the new genres you try are not as dear to you as your favorite genre, you still may find that you actually enjoy a lot more than you thought possible. Keeping an open and non-cynical mind about movies can do wonders for your viewing soul.

3. Enjoy Each Story For It’s Own Value, Not Another Story’s Value

This trick has been incredibly useful in my own family where we have many different ages. It can be hard to find a film that’s safe and enjoyable for everyone. My mom worked really hard to teach us the perspective of enjoying each story for its own value.

This means I can enjoy Cars, The Avengersand the Indian-made film LagaanThey are all across the board in purpose, message, and storytelling. Cars is a sweet and humorous story that is a mix of speed and taking its time. The Avengers is flashy and showy with superheroes, alien invasions, and explosions. Lagaan is hot, dusty, and not even in English-you have to read the subtitles-but it is a compelling story nonetheless.

I have enjoyed each one of these films, because I enjoyed them for their own, individual value. If I used the same criteria for evaluating Lagaan as I did The Avengers, I would be disappointed. Why? Because Lagaan was never intended to be The Avengers, therefore, it will only fail to meet my Avengers standards.

This way of looking at things is actually really useful in life, especially when looking at people. If I judge one person based on the criteria used for another, completely separate individual, I will be disappointed. The same principal applies to movies.

Enjoy each story for its own merits, gifts, and yes, even its flaws. This will open up many more movies for you as you set your expectations accordingly.

 

 

4. Watch Movies You’ve Seen Before

If you are like me, then you already love to watch some of the same movies over, and over, and over again. Not everyone enjoys this, and once they’ve seen a film they may not care to see it again.

Let me encourage you to revisit movies you’ve seen before. It is possible to enjoy a movie the second time through, sometimes it is just about the amount of effort you are willing to put into it. There are multiple ways to enjoy movies again.

Look for details in the backgrounds, costumes, or electronics of the film. Pick a topic and pay attention to it.

Research for a few minutes online for trivia involving the film. Then look for the moments mentioned. I have done this at movie marathons with friends and it gives you an entirely new perspective on the film.

Invite friends over who have also seen the film and keep a running commentary going with them. I love watching movies I’ve seen a million times with friends because you feel the freedom to talk all that you want. This is a really fun way to enjoy a film and relational time with other people. You will have a good time and create memories.

*Who cares if you’ve seen it 11 times, there is always a fresh way to enjoy something. Don’t box yourself in!

5. Just For Kids, I Don’t Think So

So what, you’re 35, 46, 73? I don’t care, try a “kids” movie. The mistake many adults are making nowadays is believing that movies geared toward children are only for children. WRONG! I dare you to watch any Pixar film and have your mind blown.

Children’s films often have soft, approachable layers of storytelling and clear truths that adult movies don’t have. What is simple and understood in a children’s film is often lost in the chaos and complications of an adult film.

Many children’s films are often quite profound and touching. There is a special sense of wonder about them that adult films rarely seem to grasp. There is a reason we remember our favorite films from childhood, because they touched our hearts in a way that changed us. Who knows, you may actually need to hear a simple truth from a children’s film more now than you ever did when you were 7.

Open up your heart, you can still enjoy some Bourne movies while also diving into the delightful world of “children’s” films. After all, adults are just kids a bit older and bigger, right?

 

6. Don’t Be A Critic

Yeah, I know this one sounds a little hypocritical coming from the woman who is running a blog where she analyzes movies. But there is a difference between analyzing in order to understand and engage a story, vs critiquing a story and only looking for the faults.

One can enrich your mind and help you understand stories and people better, the other can make you cynical and jaded. Why? Because there is no perfect movie, and the ones that make the cut as being “good enough” in professional critic’s minds are far and few in-between, even if regular audiences loved the films.

I often think that professional critics must have a hard time enjoying movies anymore. When you are paid to go see a movie with a critical eye, that will soon become the lens that you view everything with. How many caustic and sarcastic critic reviews have you read from professionals? I’ve gotten to the point where I read what normal, everyday viewers thought of the movie before I would read a critic’s take on it. I trust a fan’s perspective more than I do a professional’s.

Granted, I do critique movies sometimes. I find fault with them, and I point those things out. I will even do so many times on this website. But, critiquing is not my top priority here. My top priority is to engage in movies and discuss them through the eyes of a storyteller and a fan.

I never want to lose my joy in movies, be they perfect or largely imperfect. And I don’t want you to lose that either by being overly-critical.

So, did that car chase seem a bit far-fetched? Sure. Were the special FX in that film from 1965 kinda hokey? Yeah, so, what? Put down the critic’s chart and just watch the movie. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

7. Chill Out, Lighten Up

This one is really a compilation of all of my previous suggestions. The best way to limit your viewing options is to have a very narrow set of standards and criteria when it comes to what you will view.

Now, please don’t hear me telling you to violate your conscience. I would never, ever do that. When I say “standards”, I am speaking artistically. Here are a few phrases that might explain what I am saying.

The graphics are terrible on that, this was pre-CGI. Forget it!

That would never happen in real life. (This one is so ridiculous it makes me laugh. Dude, what do you think movies are, reality caught on camera after make-up and  costuming?)

I’m too old for that.

No, none of us are going to enjoy everything in every genre. We are each going to develop our own set of likes and dislikes that will exclude some films. But you can open yourself up to many, many more films if you will relax and give them a chance. Will you still dislike certain films after watching them? Of course, but at least you gave it a shot.

We can get too “sophisticated” for our own good, and it is limiting our viewing options and making our movie diet too strict. Having variety is good and healthy for our perspective and for our movie-watching list.

Explore, step out of your comfort zone, make the old new again, lay down the critic clipboard and watch the dang movie! Life is too short to be uptight when you don’t have to be.

Chill out meme

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I hope that these ideas will can help breath a little fresh life into your movie-watching experience. They have worked wonders for me, and I hope that you can also benefit from them. Movies are an amazing and unnecessary gift that we often take for granted. Here’s to the hope that we can all appreciate them more!

So, do you have any ideas on how to enjoy more movies? Have you tried any of these options before? What was a movie experience where you tried something new and loved it? I would love to hear from you.

Like and share! Let’s open up our movie cabinets and our minds together!

 

 

 

 

 

What Pacific Rim Got Right About Lead Characters

I didn’t see this movie until just yesterday. The news surrounding casting choices for Pacific Rim 2 brought the film back to my attention. I had read feedback saying that the movie was all visuals with poor acting and storyline. I had my expectations set for moderate, but when I actually saw the movie I was blown away.

The visuals were unbelievable. This movie had to be incredible in 3D. Watching the battles between the massive Jaegers and Kaiju gave me a giddy feeling that only the greatest action movie battles can offer. I found the concept of connecting two people through “the drift” to be creative and fascinating.

The music was fantastic. I will listen to that soundtrack again and again.

But the aspect of this film that stood out to me the most was the characters. Yes, the characters. The ones that were said to be “poorly acted”.

Characters are in my opinion, the most crucial part of any film. Why? Because characters are the closest point of connection between a film and its audience. We have thoughts, characters have thoughts. We have struggles, characters have struggles. We have emotions, characters have emotions. A character doesn’t have to be a human in order to connect with us, it could be a little cowboy doll, a dog, or a talking tree.

I have noticed that many action films tend to rely on large explosions and intense gunfire exchanges rather than on good characters. Many action film characters are one-dimensional robots. For the men, they are filthy mouthed robots with muscles and stubble. For the the women, they are also filthy mouthed robots with muscles and chests. There is very little that I find approachable about these robot characters, and I most certainly do not end the movie feeling connected to them.

Pacific Rim could have limped along with action movie cliches for characters. They had visuals, battles, and explosions that were more impressive than most. I anticipated action movie cliches upon going into this movie, but what I found instead was a lovely cast of lead characters who had depth and personality. By the end of the film I felt very connected to them and wished to see more of their stories. Now, on to these surprising characters.

Raleigh Beckett

Raleigh Beckett, a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother to a Kaiju. At first glance, I had anticipated Raleigh to be yet another muscle-bound fighter with a chip on his shoulder. I was so wrong. Raleigh, while bearing sorrow and scars, was actually about the nicest guy you could meet. He was brave, smart, and the most capable pilot available. But he never flaunted this fact, not once. Even when enduring taunts and slights from young Hansen, he kept a straight face and held onto his dignity.

You got the greatest view of Raleigh’s character when you watched his interaction with Mako. He instantly picked up on her skills and potential, and he wasn’t afraid to speak up for her. He valued her as an equal in their job, but at the same time he treated her like a lady. He is proof that chivalry can exist without chauvinism.

As an equal he believed in her skill, never gave her a hard time when she failed during the first drift, and was delighted to have her on board with him.

As a gentleman, he told her that she looked good in the uniform (which she rocked). When young Hansen was badgering Raleigh and Mako in the hallway following their near-destructive mind drift, Raleigh said nothing about the slights to himself. But the moment Hansen started calling Mako obscene names, Raleigh stepped forward in her defense and gave Hansen a good whooping. I’ll admit, I found that scene incredibly satisfying. And then, as the Gispy Danger was drifting down to destroy the breach, Raleigh made sure Mako got out in her pod first before he worried about himself.

Raleigh and Mako

Raleigh was relate-able in that he readily admitted to his emotions. He was deeply saddened over his brother’s death, and traumatized by the shared feelings he had experienced.

He was brave, stepping up to do a job that was likely a suicide mission. He treated those around him with respect. He knew his skills and was confident in them, but didn’t feel the need to flaunt those skills or prove himself. He was kind and encouraging to Mako.

I would love to see more male heroes like this in action films. Raleigh Beckett was a breath of fresh air. His humanness in no way compromised the strong, effectiveness of his character; but rather, it enhanced it by allowing me to connect with him. I want to see more of Raleigh Beckett.

Mako Mori

Mako Mori, one of the programs “brightest and best”. Mako was everything that I could have dreamed up for a female heroine. She was strong, intelligent, and capable. But the thing that delighted me the most about her character were the softer aspects. She was very feminine, and she carried herself with a sweet humility that was refreshing. She was gentle and vulnerable, her character showed real emotions regularly.

Somewhere along the way, Hollywood decided that strong women characters needed to sterilize their emotions. Perhaps this was an over-reaction and poor attempt to compensate for the over-dramatized emotions women displayed in older decades of film. I don’t care for either extreme, since real women in the real world are a mix of both strength and emotion. I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for some real women characters that make me feel.

I felt when I watched Mako. I connected with her. She wants a chance to fight against the evil monsters who haunt her dreams and destroyed her family. She has worked very hard to get where she is. At the same time, she respects Marshall Stacker Penecost and knows that his negativity towards her involvement stems from love.

Mako wanted an opportunity to fight, but she didn’t insert herself to the point of becoming obnoxious. That’s fine, because her eager willingness is all that she needed to catch the attention of Raleigh Beckett, who went to war for her right to become his co-pilot. This created a fantastic point between the two characters where their separate character threads became woven together.

She didn’t fight it when Raleigh stood up for her, nor did she throw his efforts back in his face like many female characters would. Instead, she accepted it gratefully which gave her character all the more dignity and legitimacy.

Mako was adorable, strong, and endearing. I loved everything about her, from the soft way she spoke, to her blue hair, and her non-air-permitting hug of Raleigh during the end scene. Mako Mori was exactly what a strong female character should be. She was a real woman who I connected with and would love to see more of.

Marshall Pentecost

Marshall Stacker Penecost. He actually fit into a very typical action movie role of the veteran leader with a soft side. I don’t really mind those roles though, as this type of character lends a gravity to the story and creates a reference point for the other characters to revolve around. Plus, these types of characters are usual played by legends such as Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and in this case, Idris Elba.

I greatly enjoyed seeing (and listening to) Idris Elba in this role. He has a rich and handsome quality to him that is riveting. He wasn’t unnecessarily harsh, had clear motivations for his actions, and the thought of him raising a tiny little Mako was simply adorable. His death at the end of the movie was a fitting and majestic end to his character.

I really have no idea why this movie didn’t do well in the US. There were many moments that just thrilled me in my movie-fan soul. Seriously, watching the Gipsy Danger drag a cruise ship into battle to use as a weapon was so exciting. My life-long movie dream was fulfilled when Raleigh said, “Let’s check for a pulse.” on the dead Kaiju, and proceeded to blast it to death beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one ever makes sure the enemy is good and dead, and it often comes back to bite them in the rear. Future action heroes could use some pointers from Raleigh Beckett in just about everything. The music made me feel energized and excited. The characters were awesome. Oh, and a shout-out to the little girl who played mini Mako Mori, she SOLD that role amazingly. How many kids do you see who can pull off intense emotions like that little lady did?

I am so excited to know that there is a sequel in the works, Pacific Rim 2: Maelstrom. There is very little known about the movie as of yet, beyond the fact that it was just announced John Boyega will be playing the lead. His character will be the son of Idris Elba’s character. John Boyega brought new life to the screen in The Force Awakens back in December, and it is rare that I have connected with a character as quickly as I did with Finn. I look forward to seeing what both he, and this sequel have to offer.

What did you think of Pacific Rim? What aspects of it blew you away? Were there any aspects of the film that disappointed you? What was your favorite moment? Did you also connect with the characters?

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