Guardians of the Galaxy Review

4 Aug

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper

Directed by: James Gunn

 

Guardians of the Galaxy is the newest installment in the Marvel franchise and it is once again a juggernaut at the box office. It made $94 million on its opening weekend and will probably end up near the billion dollar mark when all is said and done. What makes this so different from other summer blockbusters is that it is really good. It actually reminded me a lot of the Avengers. What this movie did the best was knowing exactly what it was. This is a comic book movie, but unlike other superheroes Guardians of the Galaxy was always meant to be a little more humorous and off the beaten path. The movie does a great job of embodying that. As soon the scene starts to get a little serious or emotional there is some joke to lighten the mood. I spent most of the movie laughing. Part of what makes this film so enjoyable are the actors. The show stealer is definitely Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). I honestly thought Rocket was going to be the worst character just given his appearance but I actually liked him the most. The other actors are also great and they all work really well together as a group. Obviously the film has great visuals and I expected nothing less from Marvel. The soundtrack was another surprise. Instead of writing a whole bunch of original pieces or using popular songs from today, Marvel brought in a whole bunch of oldies that worked so well with the story but also made the audience laugh. The only other movie that has made me laugh from soundtrack alone is Django Unchained but Guardians of the Galaxy can be added to that list. The weak part of this film was the plot. Marvel usually does a better job with story although when creating a new universe with 5 different characters sometimes it is more important to introduce all the characters instead of crafting a wonderful story, so I’ll give a pass for the first film. All in all this is a great film and definitely worth seeing in theaters as soon as possible.

9/10

The Imitation Game Trailer

22 Jul

I just saw this trailer today for a new movie, The Imitation Game. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock), Keira Knightly (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones). The story revolves around Alan Turing, the father of computer science and the man who Winston Churchill said was the single biggest contributor in defeating Nazi Germany. Turing was also a highly controversial figure at the time because he was a homosexual which in the 1950’s was a crime in the UK.

Add all of these pieces together and you have the plot for an incredibly interesting movie. There is a great cast, an interesting historical figure at the center, an incredible time period and some social controversy thrown in. All these pieces can come together for an Oscar winning movie (Lincoln) or a box office bomb (J. Edgar). I am leaning more towards the former.

 

Why I am still proud to be Brazilian

8 Jul

When the semi-final today started I was nervously excited, then I was upset, then angry and finally I ended completely demoralized. Hats off to the German team, they were everything a good soccer team should be, precise, ruthless, clinical and professional. All those compliments aside did not make the sting of defeat any less painful. In fact at one point during the game I had to turn the TV off because I could not watch the beating my birth nation was taking. However, looking back on the game and the tournament as a whole I cannot feel sad.

This Brazilian team gave it their all. Many are going to point to today’s lackluster performance and say they should have been better and I agree. However it is hard to expect a lot from a team that lost its star player and captain in the same game. Along with that, they held the hopes of a nation for 7 games. 7 games they made Brazilians believe again, believe that soccer would run through the giant of South America. I cannot feel sad.

For a tournament that many people thought would lead to riots in Brazil and would be a security risk for all tourists, Brazil provided the fun atmosphere that it is famous for. The riots that threatened this cup have been kept to a minimum. For all intents and purposes this World Cup is exactly what people expected, a little disorganized but fun nonetheless. I cannot feel sad.

Brazil put the hopes of a nation into 23 individuals. Soccer, politics, economy, and religion are all interrelated in Brazil and during the World Cup one of those carries more weight than the others. 23 individuals and a coach were supposed to return glory to Brazil, save it from political strife, and fix the economic problems. This is a team of boys faced with the tasks of men. They performed admirably. Watch any commercial in Brazil, look at any advertisement, even the music. All signs pointed to Brazil winning the sixth championship. It is not surprising that the team did not live up to those goals. And yet they put on a brave face, even when they lost their star player and their captain. All through the week with murmurings of them flaming out, of being a one man team, they still showed up to play the game. I cannot feel sad.

I like many other Brazilians wished for this to be the year we won the sixth cup. It will not be. I am still proud of my team. They put their heart and soul i\onto the pitch over the past 3 weeks. Unfortunately when the whistle blew for the start of the game, they had nothing left to give. For 3 weeks the Brazilian team gave us everything they had and yet we want to look upon them as if they owe us more. I do not blame the officials, or the injuries, or the coach, or the players. At the end of the day soccer is 90 minutes of 11 individuals doing their best to win. Today that nod goes to Germany.

When the 90 minutes ended and I was fuming with anger over how poorly my Brazil played, I saw something. Every Brazilian was crying, or on their knees praying, or looked completely lost. Oscar crying, Thiago Silva crying, David Luiz praying, Luiz Gustavo praying, Julio Cesar crying, Marcelo crying. This is the look of a team that had given its all. For that I say thank you.

I do not feel sad that we lost. I only feel sad that I could expect so much for so long from 23 people. I thank you for what you gave Brazil. For three weeks you gave us hope when for years we felt hopeless. For 3 weeks you gave us excitement and pure joy in a world that is filled with sadness. For 3 weeks you gave us a sense of community when the world has become ever more fractured.

I am still proud to be Brazilian, you have accomplished so much more than people realize.

Game 2: Rio de Janeiro

25 Jun

My trip in Brazil is almost over but I am lucky enough to still have a few more days here. I recently returned from a little trip around Brazil to Sao Paulo where I stopped in Ouro Preto, Rio de Janeiro and Niteroi. I also was able to see another Belgium game this time versus Russia. Once again Belgium scored in the last minutes to seal their victory. I am not sure the Belgian fans can handle another last minute victory in their last group game tomorrow. Nevertheless the atmosphere at the most famous stadium in Brazil, the Maracana, was unbelievable. I am sad that I will not be able to be there for the final (when Brazil wins their sixth World Cup). While in Rio I also went to Fan Fest to watch the US game. I know the fans of the US team are disappointed that they did not win but you have to remember that two weeks ago no one thought the US would have any points let alone 4.

I said it before and I will say it again. This is the World Cup for non-soccer fans. The games are still averaging a crazy amount of goals and cards. And now there is Bitegate in which the infamous Luis Suarez could not help but take a bite out of the Italian defender Chiellini. I beg all non-soccer lovers to tune in for the next two weeks because I have a feeling it will be unforgettable.

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My First World Cup Game

19 Jun

A few days ago I got to attend Belgium vs. Algeria in Belo Horizonte. It is hard to describe in words what the stadium energy was like even though neither of the teams that played were very big name teams. I was also lucky enough to sit right next to the Algerian section. It was incredible how loud and excited they were especially after they scored a goal. Also in a world cup that has been defined by come back victories and exciting goals the Belgium vs Algeria match was no different. Belgium stormed back to tie it up and then put in a second goal to seal the victory. It was truly an unbelievable experience.

For anyone not watching this world cup start watching. This World Cup is averaging 3 goals a game with plenty of red cards and controversial fouls to go around. Even for the average American that claims that soccer is boring this World Cup is markedly different.

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World Cup 2014: Day 3

14 Jun

I have been in Brazil for close to a week now and the World Cup has been going on for two days with the third day of games starting in about an hour. Sao Paulo is a city that is unlike an city I have ever been in. For one, it is massive and it is not at all walkable. You can walk within a barrio but if you want to go to a different neighborhood everyone drives and I mean everyone. The traffic in Sao Paulo is allegedly worse than L.A. Second, I really hoped that once the World Cup started the protests would stop. Not because I do not believe Brazilians have a good reason to protest, but because I had hoped that hosting the biggest even in the world would bring the Brazilian people together for a month. On the flip side of that the opening match was something unlike I had ever seen before, and I do not just mean the game. I never thought that downtown in a major city people would be allowed to shoot fireworks, but the rules here are a little lax especially during the World Cup. Last night I went to a barrio where two of the main streets were closed down. Not because it was organized to be like that but because so many people were just milling about, they were even starting to cause a traffic jam.

After a week here I am still finding new things and having new experiences and with the tournament in full throttle I can only imagine that it is going to get better. As for the tournament there has already been so much to talk about. Brazil’s opening win among controversial calls, Netherlands’ throttling of Spain, Mexico’s strong statement against Cameroon, and the amazing offensive ability of Chile. I still find it hard to believe that I am here, in Brazil, for the greatest event in the world and I consider myself lucky for being able to experience it.

World Cup 2014

7 Jun

In December of 2006 Brazil officially won the bid to host the 2014 World Cup. When Brazil won the bid, I said that when I graduated from college I would go to the greatest event in the world back in my home country. That was 8 years ago. I never thought that I would actually be so lucky to get to attend the World Cup. On top of that I am lucky enough to get to attend three different games.

This World Cup, like many before it, has been the scene of many different controversies. There have been protests, strikes and the threat of unfinished stadiums. Despite all that has happened I am still excited. In a few short hours I will get on a plane headed to Sao Paulo and tomorrow I will arrive in Brazil. In five days Brazil will open the greatest two months in sports. The World Cup is like March Madness of steroids. March Madness gets all of the US excited, the World Cup brings together the whole world.

There will be controversial goals, unfair refereeing, possibly allegations of cheating and throwing games and I am excited for it all. Every four years a new champion is born and for the first time in my life I will be able to see the action unfold in person. Everybody brush up on your soccer knowledge because the World Cup is only hours away.

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