Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy

I often find myself trying to specify my level of geekiness in any specific genre/catagory, usually to avoid arguments and hurt feelings. For instance, i know a crap ton about star wars, but it applies almost exclusively to the original trilogy, and a handful of books. I never watched the clone wars cartoon, didn’t read the vast majority of the books or comics that expanded the star wars universe, and I only ever played one of the Star Wars “Force” games.

Compared to most of my friends I would be considered the expert when it comes to Star Wars, but compare to many Star Wars die hard fans, I would only have a general knowledge; a n00b if you will.  There’s some other subjects that are considered geek staples that I have no interest in at all like Dr. Who and WoW, and some that I use to have an interest in that has died down like comic books.

It’s my place in that last category that gives me mixed feelings about the latest trailer from Marvel Studios.  Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live they showed the first non-comicon trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, and I have to say it really swayed me. Check it out below.

Let’s give a little of my own back story regarding the Guardians of the Galaxy before I delve into my thoughts on the upcoming movie. I read comic books, like, actually bought and read them and collected them when I was in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. Maybe a year or two off, but you get the idea. It was fun at the time and I really only focused on a few characters that I really liked. Well to be more accurate, there was one character I loved reading (Silver Surfer), and then a few other comics that I would pick up here and there (Spider Man, Thor, X-men), and then several comics that were brand new that I subscribed to thinking their early issues would end up being worth money (Darkhawk, Sleepwalker, Deathlok)

Only one of these guys has a movie coming out this summer, and with good reason.

By the way, I challenge anyone who thinks Darkhawk wasn’t a good comic.

I happen to have been into comics at kind of a sweet time for the industry, especially when you consider it’s affect on the current comic landscape. For instance the X-men and Bat Man animated series seemed to closely mirror the comics way better than most other TV or Movie attempts up to that point. They didn’t seem either ashamed of the source material or of highlighting the serious tone some of the stories presented, and I think that has been mirrored in the recent string of big budget movies.  But the biggest deal in the comic book world, at least for me, was the Infinity Gauntlet, which was one of those giant crossovers that happened to feature Silver Surfer and his arch enemy Thanos.

To quickly recap the story, there is this big bad space bad guy named Thanos who is crazy smart and powerful (and is a documented rip off of Darkseid from DC), and serves as the main threat to the universe every 10 years or so whenever he gets his hands on some ultimate power.  So this time he gets his hands on 6 cosmic gems that each have their own thing going on, one controls time, the other souls, another… power? I don’t remember them all but when you combine them together you basically are god… and not a god like Thor, or a space being like Galactus, but you have complete control over the entire universe.

By definition you shouldn’t be able to beat god, but that would make a shitty comic if thanos just snapped his fingers and killed everyone… instead he snaps his fingers and only kills half the universe to try and impress Death, who is an actual being in the marvel universe and Thanos has the hots for her. He’s weird. So to impress her he puts part of his cosmic awareness on hold and battle all the earth heroes and a bunch of space bad asses and in the end he looses cause, you know, it’s a comic book for fuck sake.

This has a much happier ending than Watchmen.

So Thanos and the infinity “stones” as they are called in the marvel movies now are the driving force behind the last several movies. The “Ether” in the last Thor movie was an infinity stone, and so was the “Teseract” from the Avenger’s and Captain america movie. The guardians movie will also, probably feature an infinity stone or two, and might also have Thanos show up, something he hasn’t done since the stinger at the end of the Avengers movie.

This is where my feelings for this movie kind of got off on the wrong foot; I was really excited for a marvel movie, or movies based on the infinity gauntlet, but I only remember the Guardians of the Galaxy comic being kind of shitty.  Maybe shitty isn’t the right word, since I never really followed it, I just remember it as a comic I would sometimes read when Silver Surfer made a guest appearance, or when they crossed over into one of the other more mainstream comics.

honest to god, i still have this comic somewhere in my house.

So when I read comic books the gaurdians were comprised of some huge muscle dude who looked like his aspect ratio was all messed up. Some super powered light cosmic dude who would also sometimes turn into a chick with possibly similar powers, a blue alien with a giant fin/mohawk, some chick who’s hair was always on fire, and a captain america knock off. None of that intrigued me honestly, but I think they were around because marvel had all these space characters created over the years but no real vehicle to feature them on a monthly basis.

So when they said there would be a Guardians of the Galaxy movie I thought, ummmm ok, I guess, and then i read about how the roster had changed over the years and how possibly none of the characters I remember would even be in the movie. So the addition of Drax the destroyer and Gamora seemed pretty good since Drax was basically Space Hulk during the infinity gauntlet stuff and Gamora was also a decent character that was involved in a lot of the stuff that happened in the aftermath of that big event. Then I read that one of the characters would be a talking raccoon named “rocket” and another would bee a talking tree (basically a less whimsical Ent) that only said it’s own name; “Groot”.

I hope screw attack does a groot vs. treebeard episode…. no one reading this understands what I just said.

So that kind of seemed like a major step backwards since it seemed like they were ditching the serious/deadly yet at times fun aspects of the comic book movies of the past decade and were now going to do one that was more Batman and Robin than it was the Dark Knight Rises. I’m not saying there’s no place for camp, but I didn’t want them to just have a talking raccoon going around spouting animal puns like Arnold did when he played Mr. Freeze. ,

So I had low expectations from the jump, even when I started to hear about some of the casting choices which included big hollywood draws like Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, and Bradley Cooper. Then I didn’t know what to think again when Chris Pratt was cast since he is god damn fantastic in comedic roles like on Parks and Rec, but was also not bad in more serious stuff like Zero Dark Thirty.

Having watched the trailer I know am very hopeful for the movie. This will be an awfull analogy if you take it at face value, but it reminds me of the first ninja turtles movie. Ok, just give me a second here to explain myself. The majority of the movie was silly and fun, even the fight scenes early on had a lot of slap stick and were fun for the kids, but as the movie progressed there was kind of a mood change. The stakes got raised, and these characters that were just having a good time, actually were faced with dire consequences. I just remember that last battle with shredder on the roof top was really well done because all of the sassy talk and banter from the turtles were gone because they knew they were up against someone who required all their effort and attention. They weren’t fucking around, and neither was he.

What? No! Wrong fucking TMNT movie.

So I’m kind of hoping that is how this upcoming movie goes. It’s a lot of fun and kind of goofy with a rag tag group of misfits, but as it goes on they get into some heavy shit that is maybe beyond them a little bit where they have to rise above their preconceived limitations.

Ok so here are some quick notes I made while watching the trailer:

  • Is Chris Pratt/Star Lord going all temple of doom on an infinity stone at the begining there?
  • I can’t be the only one hoping to see some green boobies in the movie… from Gamora/Zoe Saldana, Not Drax.
  • Supposedly the walkman is Star Lords only remaining link to earth… not sure how that happened, maybe a buck rogers type thing, just without the time travel, so him getting into a fight over it and it being sentimental to him could add some odd emotional weight to the movie.
  • The action in it looks like it should be awesome, though i am kind of dissapointed that this version of drax isn’t Space Hulk like he was in the early 90s. I guess he is smaller now and more into swords or daggers… I think it has something to do with him either being undead or having no soul or some such shit.
  • Looks like Benicio Del Toro will be returning as the collector which is who he played at the end of Thor the Dark World. In the comics he is, surprise surprise, a collector of unique stuff throughout the universe, even gathering up people from lost civilizations and even has an infinity Stone now.

Is that outfit any less ridiculous than the one they have Del toro actually wear?

The big bad in this movie is supposed to be Ronnan the Accuser, who if you ever read the comics would know is… a guy.. in space… who accuses people of.. stuff? I have no idea, i never read any comics he was in.  He could literally just be a space auditor who is after the guardian’s for not paying use tax.

 

My thoughts on the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham creation debate

Three days ago there was a debate held at the Creation Museum in Kentucky in which Bill Nye, known by many as “The Science Guy”, debated Ken Ham, the founder/CEO of the Creation Museum, regarding whether or not the creationist/young earth view of evolution and the age of the earth was a valid scientific… something.  This is a very difficult debate to review because so much of the debate really boiled down to an argument over semantics and wording.  In order to do both sides justice, this review would need to take great care to make sure that the word choices are accurate and precise.

But we all know I don’t have the patience or follow through to do that.

That caveat aside, I still want to toss around some of my own thoughts having just watched the debate, which I highly suggest you do as well since it’s currently hosted for free on youtube, and some other places as well I’m sure. WARNING: the debate is over two hours long and contains lots of big words.

As I mentioned above, I really felt like the debate boiled down to an argument over word choice and semantics; I know that’s not an entirely fair assessment, but I think that is the view a lot of people will come away with having watched the debate.  If you watch the debate you will hear a lot of mentions of “Science” (obviously), “Natural Law”, “Historical Science”, “Predictions”, and “Observational Science”.  At the risk of over simplifying the debate; Ken Ham feels there is a distinct difference between science that happened in the past of which there is no record and that of which we can see and record today, where as Bill Nye feels that there is no separation, or at the very least is no evidence that supports a need to separate the two.

I’ll give an example that is discussed in the debate that I believe should sum up this rift fairly succinctly.  Scientist have for years been drilling into the ice in the arctic to collect samples just like in the movie “The day after tomorrow”.  I know you might be thinking “Wait, that movie was terrible”, to which I would reply that you are missing the point and are a movie snob who can’t enjoy a dynamic story that features a perfect blend of action and drama.

why are they all looking in different directions… is the bell hop just starring at the one dudes shoulder. Pay attention dude, it’s the end of the world.

These long cylinders of ice they collect have layers to them, much like how trees have rings for each year it lived. These layers are only formed through a full rotation of seasons where there is a build up of ice during the winter with a melting over the summer.

Bill Nye, and by extension most mainstream scientist, point to this as a way of determining how old something in the ice is.  If you find a microbe that is all the way down some 10 thousand layers, then it mean that the microbe is 10 thousand years old. Scientist know that to be the case because they have observed through experimentation that ever year a new layer is added to the top of the arctic ice. Because they can tell with certainty that each year they have observed the ice a new layer has formed, they can predict that going forward there will be a new layer added each year, and that each layer that currently exists represents one year of the ice samples past.

Ken Ham, and other scientists that prescribe to the same view as he does, believe that because no one was there to actually witness these layers forming, there is no way to know that these layers only formed once every year. Instead it may be possible that a thousand years ago these layers formed at a rate 40 or 50 times as often as they do now.  This is why he separates science into two categories; what can or has been observed and recorded, and science that happened in the past in absence of observation.

If you stop and think about these two viewpoints you can see why they would butt heads, and ultimately come to an impasse. One side, which represents the majority of scientists, believe that what holds true today, and continues to hold true through repeated testing in the future, must also hold true in the past. The other side in the minority says, “but how do you really know?”

Yes, I know that being in the majority doesn’t automatically make you right, and there are many instances in history where the majority was incorrect. That being said, I still find the logic of Ken Ham to be flawed and troubling, mostly because it reminds me of the type of logic I’ve heard from people who don’t believe we landed on the moon.

I worked with a woman who believed that the moon landing was a hoax, and nothing I said would dissuade her from this view because in her mind she had the ultimate rebuttal. No matter what I presented as evidence, her response was “Well were you there?”

Me: If you have a telescope that is powerful enough you can see the landing sight.
Her: Have you actually seen it though?

Me: Myth busters actually did a test where they shot a laser at a reflective pad that was left on the moon and it bounced the laser beam back to them there by proving that we landed on the moon.
Her: How do you know they didn’t fake that? Were you there to shoot the laser?

Me: They brought back moon rocks from the moon that are completely unlike any rocks from the earth, in part because they are littered with impact marks from meteorites of all sizes since the moon does not have an atmosphere to protect its surface.
Her: Did you actually see any of these rocks?
Me: Yes, when we had a NASA guest speaker at my school as a kid.
Her: How do you know they were really moon rocks and weren’t fake?

I could go on but you get the point.  If someone already knows what the answer is, and they believe it with certitude, then they will manipulate the facts, and the conditions that apply to those facts, to support the answer they believe. Kind of like on a cop show when a shitty cop is like “I think the ex wife is the murderer”, and the rest of the episode shows how the much more competent cop let’s the clues and facts of the case lead him or her to the guilty party thereby absolving the innocent ex wife of the murder.

I googled “Terrible cop” and this is what I got. I couldn’t stop laughing at the tag line “Shoot first. Translate later.”

That to me is the crux of the debate in my opinion, and as long as I’m tossing around opinions, here’s mine as it relates to Ken Ham’s view of creation and evolution:  Although things like the age of the earth and evolution over the past 14 million years was not observed, the laws and theories put forth by popular science have a very very high degree of probability especially when compared to the young earth model that postulates the earth is only six thousand years old.

So, is it possible that the earth is only six thousand years old and that many laws of physics and nature behaved dramatically differently a few thousand years ago?  Yes, but only because science is not all knowing and never claims to be and there are almost never absolutes. And when I say yes, that shouldn’t be interpreted as there’s a 50/50 chance, or even a 1 in a million chance.

The better questions is: is there any scientific reason to believe the earth is only six thousand years old? No.

There is no evidence to support that the laws that govern the universe (which obviously includes the earth and everything on the earth) were ever different than they are today.  I can’t prove that magical tree elves don’t exists.  That doesn’t mean that a belief in magical tree elves, of which there is no evidence of their existence, should be given equal billing with a belief backed by fossil records that prehistoric horses with three toes existed.

I know that using an analogy like the one above can sometimes come off as being condescending, especially since religion is involved in this debate, but i feel the comparison is still just. If the bible didn’t exist, there’s noting in nature and science that would lead you to come up with a hypothesis or theory that was in any way similar to the book of Genesis’ story of creation or of Noah and the Great Flood.

Relavent

Ok, now that I done with the substance of their arguments, let’s talk about the more superficial aspects that a lot of the media has focused on in the aftermath of the debate. First of all, I’m not going to answer the question, “Who won?”, cause I think for most debates it is a stupid question that has no real meaning. In fact I think that way of thinking is counter productive since it makes debating complex issues devolve into a contest where the winning side is determined by factors that shouldn’t have any impact on the discussion.

For instance, Ken Ham’s suit looked like it was about 5 sizes too big and it was kind of distracting. Ham’s visual aids were way better than Nye’s. Nye had a propensity to stray off topic, and seemed to assume a level of knowledge by the audience that probably wasn’t reasonable.  Those things don’t actually have anything to do with the viewpoints of the two debaters, but sadly it is the type of thing that many will focus on.

Also, Bill Nye is starting to remind me of the rooster lawyer from futurama for some reason.

If someone was on the fence before watching this debate (first of all… why?) and they are the type of person who puts more value in how someone presents their argument and them selves than in the nuts and bolts of what the are presenting, then I could see those people swinging towards Ham’s corner.  Honestly Nye was kind of at a disadvantage from the jump since this specific topic is something that Ham lives and breaths.  Nye on the other hand has a much broader knowledge base that isn’t focused as sharply on this topic as it is for Ham.

Ham also has an argument that is much easier to communicate to a wider range of people, versus Nye’s argument that is more complex and nuanced. As I kind of mentioned much earlier, Ham is basically saying “Yeah but you weren’t there so you don’t know”.  That is a very easy argument for someone, especially the less intelligent, to digest. Nye was also disadvantage in this regard by the fact that he, and all of science, embarrass the unknown and are happy to admit they don’t have all the answers.  People like things that are simple without ambiguity. There were several instance during the debate where a question supplied by the audience led Bill to say that something like what came before the big bang is a mystery but he’s excited to find out what the answer might be. Ham has the much simpler response and confident inspiring answer that the bible answers the question and the answer is God.

What about people who were on the fence (and once again, … why would anyone be on the fence about this?) but were more concerned with the substance of the arguments? I think that group of people, which is probably a very small number, would have been more likely to have been swayed by Nye. Sadly I think most people who watched this debate already had their mind made up, and were not really that open to new ways of thinking.  Really, if you already believed in the young earth theory, what are the odds that anything said during the debate would make you change your mind?

And if you already believed in evolution as theorized by Darwin and backed by mainstream science, you probably wouldn’t have changed your mind either because…. well lets be honest, it’s because you are right and Ham is wrong.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply