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Book Review: The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, by Edward Feser

I have recently finished reading the book entitled The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, about which you can learn more here, by Edward S. Feser.  Feser is an associate professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College, visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, and a visiting scholar at the social philosophy and policy center at Bowling Green State University.

Professor Feser is unabashedly a Roman Catholic philosopher who wrote this book specifically in response to the writings of the New Atheists.  One cannot get more than a few pages into his writing without realizing that, in addition to being a Roman Catholic, Feser is a totally committed devotee of the philosophy/theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  What is also notable about Feser’s writing, unlike what one may expect from a philosopher, much less a Christian one, is that it drips with acerbic sarcasm, humor, and wit, which makes what could potentially be very dry material very entertaining (or very annoying and infuriating if one is on the other side of the positions he argues).  Indeed, Feser ensures this book is very readable to even those who are most unfamiliar with philosophy as he goes to great lengths to explain basic philosophy before embarking on the meat of arguments.

Feser’s main agenda in the book is to demonstrate why and how the primary arguments proffered by the New Atheists are without merit.  His arguments are far more pointed and directed than, say, David Bentley Hart‘s are in his book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss (see more on that book here), which deals with many of the issues raised by the New Atheists.  The distinction is that Hart’s thesis is to present a “definition” of the term “God,” which also just so happens to address and expose many of the errors of the arguments put forth by the New Atheists, as opposed to Feser’s approach which is to formulate specific arguments in opposition to the New Atheists.

Feser’s book is more than just “negative” however (by negative I mean demonstrating how the New Atheists are in error); his arguments against the New Atheists generally take the more positive form of demonstrating how Thomism, and by genetic connection, Aristotelianism, are far more cogent and coherent worldviews, especially as it relates to God.

Feser, like Hart, has an extremely low opinion of the arguments presented by the New Atheists, and it is also clear, like Hart, his opinion is not merely due to some sort of personal bias toward theism or Christianity; rather, both men note the intellectual bankruptcy in the arguments and positions of the New Atheists in the face of authentic scholarship, indeed even the scholarship of atheists of better reputation.  Of course, as implied above, Hart’s approach to the New Atheist arguments is as merely an ancillary to his greater point in developing a clearer picture of God, whereas Feser meets them directly.

Feser, like Hart, notes that the New Atheists’ rejection of, or disbelief in, “god” does not at all speak to the Christian’s God as the “god” the New Atheists disbelieve in bears little resemblance to what Christians mean by “God.”  Furthermore, Feser takes the time to provide the reader a brief overview of the history of (relevant) philosophy so one can see what came before in philosophical thought, what now exists in it, and how that transition was made.  Upon setting the philosophical stage, Feser picks off each of the New Atheists by demonstrating and exposing the fact that none have “done their homework” due to their rather obvious unfamiliarity (or lack of understanding of) basic philosophy.  Furthermore, he reveals that their lack of philosophical literacy has caused them to develop their own philosophies (intentionally or unintentionally) to provide the foundations for their views that are completely incoherent and unable to withstand the most elementary of arguments and analysis.

Through the use of the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, and ultimately St. Thomas Aquinas, Feser convincingly demonstrates that cogent, coherent, and rational cases can be made for the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, non-physical reality, and teleology.  Indeed, perhaps most central to Feser’s thesis is his approach to teleology, which is to say the purpose or function something has.  For the atheist, by definition and also, indeed, through his own arguments, teleology simply cannot exist as teleology assumes, by its own terms, a purpose or function giver (e.g.: God) which the atheist fundamentally rejects.  As a result, the atheistic approach to life, philosophy, and science is ultimately one which flounders around trying to develop a sensical worldview but is unable to do so as it rejects the tools available to do it.  Instead, without an understanding of basic philosophy and with a rejection of teleology, New Atheist philosophy has been forced to embrace completely irrational, incoherent, absurdist, and, indeed, superstitious, philosophies like eliminativism, scientism, idealism, and/or anti-realism (among others I am sure).  By contrast, Feser asserts, unlike the irrational worldview of the New Atheists, he can present a worldview that makes sense, is consistent with what we intuitively know to be real life, and can provide context, answers, and explanation for what we experience as life and reality.

Finally, it is worth noting that, despite being a Christian philosopher, Feser makes his arguments in this book without resorting to the Bible, Church teaching, or other religious authority.  Instead, his arguments are exclusively philosophical and arrived at through the use of reason and rational thinking.  Perhaps this aspect of the book is what will make it most powerful with the non-believer as it requires no submission to, or acceptance of, any religious teaching or text.  In order for one to understand and arrive at Feser’s conclusions, all one has to do is think, but, unfortunately, all most atheists are interested in doing is disbelieving.

Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

I recently saw the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron and these are my thoughts about it (this review contains some spoilers).  It should be noted that I am a big fan of comic books, and Marvel Comics in particular, and have been so since I was at least five years old.  I am sure that fandom biases my review in some way.

By way of introduction for the uninitiated, Ultron is a movie based on Marvel comic books that falls at the end of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This movie is the eleventh in the film series, which also includes nearly two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a television series), one season of Agent Carter (also a television series), Daredevil (a Netflix series), and five Marvel One-Shot films.  Needless to say, this film is deeply entrenched in a clearly established, long running, and sprawling interconnected media universe.  I point this out at the outset as I think a lot of the criticism this movie has received forgets this fact.

Now, like anything else, a review of a movie really depends on what one expects from it.  This movie is not deep, complex, or profound cinema.  It does not have remarkable acting.  This is a science-fiction action movie based on comics books and should be measured accordingly.

This movie is really good in that it does not fall victim to a lot movies of this type, which includes bad acting (saying it does not have bad acting is not the same thing as saying it has remarkable acting), an incomprehensible and/or non-existent plot (the plot is pleasingly straight forward), terrible dialogue (the dialogue is actually very good as it continues the fun, light hearted and quippy dialogue from the first Avengers movie), and scenes which engage in way too much expository.

If the viewer is a comic book fan and/or Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, this movie hits all the right spots.  This movie is nearly top to bottom action and almost all of it is really well done.  One of my friends said that after this movie one may feel like he needs a nap because there is just so much happening.

This film finds the team united and fighting missions together and opens with a great action sequence showing the team in action.  So, unlike the previous film which had to spend most of the film showing how the team gathered together, this film opens with them already being a well oiled machine.  As a result, one sees a lot of the action sequences and team work hoped for by the end of the previous film, as well as their team camaraderie.  Therefore, this film also dispenses with any explanations as to the team members’ powers, motives, and history, as all of those things have already been established in prior films.

As this film is part of a larger and ongoing series of movies, not only does it fail to explain a lot of the past (as noted above) it does not take a lot of time to flesh out various brief references to things as Marvel is confident those things will be fleshed out in future films or television shows.  So, for example, there are passing references to the Infinity Gems without explanation, but the viewer is presumed to know what they are (from prior movies and television shows) and to have confidence more information will come in future films and television shows.  Another example is the 5 minute (or so) scene featuring Ulysses Klaw.  You learn a little about him here but his scenes really do not add anything significant to the film.  For the uninitiated, his scenes seem superfluous in an already full movie, but for those “in the know” his scenes are an obvious set up for the upcoming Black Panther movie and possibly others (like Captain America: Civil War).  Also, when I first heard about the full cast in this movie which, in addition to the Avengers line up from the previous film and Ultron (the bad guy), also includes three new superheros (Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch, and the Vision), Helen Cho, the Falcon, War Machine, and Agent Hill (and others), I got concerned that this film would fall prey to what afflicted Spider-Man 3 and the later Batman films in Burton series, which was way too many characters crammed into a film.  Fortunately, despite the long list of characters, they do not weigh the film down as there is no imminent need to flesh them all out in this film in particular as Marvel is confident future films will do the job.  Merely adding in those puzzle pieces for the purposes of advancing the story of this particular film suffices for the moment.

After seeing this movie, the fact that this movie is part of a huge serialized movie franchise really hit home and why some of the criticism leveled at it is unfair.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, I think, a new way of movie/television entertainment that, as far as I know, has never been done before.  Some of the criticism I have seen complains that there is not enough character development for some characters (e.g.: Baron Strucker), not enough for others to do (e.g.: War Machine), random superfluous scenes (e.g.: the Klaw scenes), and too many characters (e.g.: introducing the Vision).  What I think these critics forget is that this movie is not a stand alone film; those “missing” features will be developed in future films or television shows.  It is not even a “middle film” in a trilogy.  It is just a cog (albeit a larger one) in a huge wheel of movies, television shows, and characters.  It does not need to meet all of the needs noted above because other films or television shows will do it or have done it already and to expect those things from this movie is to expect something it was never designed to deliver.  This new way of movie making really, I think, ought to be viewed as if it was a really large, well produced, and enormously budgeted television series.  One would not make the criticisms like the ones above for a middle-season episode of a television show.  So, I see no reason why they should be made for a serialized film of this nature.

Is this film perfect?  No.  I have to say that at some point “saving the world” becomes just another day at the office, and that, I think, really takes the wind out of the sales of this movie in terms of suspense or impact.  We all know the world is not going to end and all of the characters have future movies to appear in so nothing too terrible will happen.  Perhaps that is why the threats in the individual movies, though smaller in scale, are a little more compelling as they seem to have real consequences.  When everything is world ending it gets a little tiresome and trite.  It may be a minor thing, but I am disappointed Ultron does not look like his comic book counterpart.  I never envisioned him with lips and speaking like a human, much less having the smarmy, sarcastic, and snarky demeanor of James Spader, complete with a series of one-liners.  I would also like to point out that the trailers for this movie have features (and even scenes) which are not in this movie, which is annoying.  Also, Ultron’s army of robots was rather silly.  When you see their sheer numbers it may seem to be challenge for our intrepid heroes to defeat them all, but when you realize that they all crumple like soda cans, you realize that maybe Ultron should have spent a little more time on R & D before be created them.  Of course, where Ultron gets the time, energy, and resources needed to create himself, much less his huge army of robots, is never really explained, which is a little annoying to me.  Also, despite all the buildup about Strucker in the SHIELD television show (and the mid-credits scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), I was rather disappointed to see how little he was in the movie.  Finally, although I acknowledge the serialized nature of this movie franchise above, I was under the impression that the individual movies would all serve as plot and character development which would each culminate in an Avengers movie which would in turn break out into further development in individual films and return to culminate those developments again into the next Avengers movie and so on.  This movie did not do that.  This movie seems just “there” in that it does not seem to be the culmination of the Phase Two movies like the first Avengers movie was the culmination of the Phase One movies.  I guess this movie serves to introduce some important new characters and formally establish the mind gem and set up the events for future films, but any Marvel movie could do that.  I really had greater expectations for an Avengers movie than just serving to advance the story.  I expected it to be the next turning point in the story like the first one was.

All-in-all Marvel has another winner on its hands even though the events in the movie were not quite as pivotal as I was hoping them to be.  It is worth seeing if only for the sheer spectacle and, if one is a fan of these characters and/or the movie series, it is a lot of fun and really enjoyable.

Book Review: Men at Work, by George Will

I have recently read the book Men at Work by the political and social commentator George F. Will.  Although Will is mainly known for writing about his conservative politics, he is also, as it turns out, a nearly fanatical baseball fan with an absurdly encyclopedic knowledge of its history and all manner of common and obscure facts and statistics.

I am a big baseball fan myself – though apparently that fandom is dwarfed by that of Will’s – and, as a Christmas gift due to my fandom, my friend and law firm associate Adam S. Bernick, Esquire gave me Men at Work.

In Men at Work, Will attempts to provide the reader an inside look into the internal mechanisms of baseball.  He divides the book into four sections: managing, pitching, hitting, and fielding.  In each section, he highlights a player which most typifies that aspect of baseball.  So, the sections are represented by, respectively, Tony La Russa, Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn, and Cal Ripkin.

I could not possibly detail all of the things noted by Will in the various sections.  Suffice it to say that he conducted dozens of interviews and apparently combed an incredible amount of historical data and synthesized all of that information to assemble what could be considered the archetype of the optimal player in each of these sections.

I absolutely loved how “insider” the book gets; Will really draws out some really great details delving into the the nitty-gritty of the most minute decisions and observations made by players and managers before, during, and after each game and even during the off season.  Reading this book revealed to me, in all my years of watching baseball, just how much I do not see, notice, or even perceive when I watch games, either on television or in person.  For a sport that many claim is boring and “slow” moving, there is an incredible and almost unbelievable amount of data being processed and applied with each pitch, and Will tries to describe it all.  Will also delves into the history of the sport comparing and contrasting eras and players from each era so the reader can gain a good understanding of how players across the years compare and why.

One of the fun parts of the book, for me, is the fact that it came out in the early 1990s.  All of the “modern” players contemporary with the book were those players from my childhood who I have such fond memories of getting to know so well as my fandom initially developed and whose baseball cards I voraciously collected.

As a note of interest, also, is that this book was written when the so-called Moneyball experiment was being conducted.  As a result, Will looks into the then new phenomenon of “sabermetrics” and provides contemporary commentary on it which one can consider when looking at sabermetrics through modern eyes.

This book may be a fun curiosity for the average reader, but for a baseball fan, this book is a so-called “must have” as it really helps a fan delve deep into the sport and mine all of its intricacies.  Great book!

Book Review: The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss by David Bentley Hart

I have recently finished reading the book entitled The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, about which you can learn more here, by David Bentley Hart, who is an Eastern Orthodox Christian theologian, philosopher, and cultural commentator, and currently a professor sitting as Danforth Chair at Saint Louis University in the Department of Theological Studies.

I do not want to overstate my thoughts on the book, but it is hard for me to say that it has been anything other than life changing for me.  I have been reading the Bible, theology, and philosophy for effectively my entire life and I am embarrassed to say that perhaps the most fundamental aspect of theology – who or what is God – is something I have merely taken for granted without a whole lot of thought.  Dr. Hart corrects this oversight.

The main thesis of the book is to develop a clear definition of what is meant by the word “god.”  Surprisingly to me, as I am not terribly conversant with non-Western religions, is that the definition for the word “god” is fairly consistent across every major religious traditional in the world today.  So, while Dr. Hart may be a Christian theologian, the applicability of this book cuts across virtually all religious lines.

The twenty-first century has seen the debate regarding whether God exists become perhaps its most contentious, but Dr. Hart points out that this debate, often in the form of competing books or public and moderated debates at universities, has become something of a parody of itself as very few of the participants in the debate accurately define what the term”god” means before the debate commences, which has led to hours of debates expended and gallons of ink spilled to facilitate people talking past one another and/or going on extended non sequiturs.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Dr. Hart’s thesis in this book is that it is not unique or new or innovative.  Dr. Hart cuts through all of the noise in popular culture about God and his existence and, instead, goes back to the basics.  Dr. Hart, instead, relies on the long standing traditional explanations of the great religious traditions before the so-called modern era.

Dr. Hart describes and defines God using three basic parameters: being, consciousness, and bliss.  Perhaps the most important drum beaten into submission throughout the book is the idea that God is not a being within the world.  He is not a so-called “supreme being.”  He is not in the “genus” of “god” in which there is only one entrant: himself.  Instead, Dr. Hart, falling back on the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas, recognizes that God does not “exist” but is, in fact, the very essence of being itself.  Establishing God as “being itself,” Hart establishes that to exist is to be conscious and, therefore, God is the ultimate embodiment and/or expression and/or revelation and/or essence of consciousness itself.  As a corollary to that, Hart provides a litany of reasons as to why consciousness, as experienced by all human beings, simply cannot have an origin found in nature.  Now that God has been established as being itself which is the ultimate expression of consciousness, Hart further establishes that the very essence of conscious being is to be in a state and/or directed to bliss as God’s consciousness, indeed, his very being, is beyond all of the difficulties of our finite and temporal lives and is focused upon that ultimate beauty, which is being itself that is, in turn, God himself.  In making his case, Hart points out that ultimate concepts like beauty cannot find their origin in natural existence, and indeed have no purpose or need or function in our natural existence, but can only finds its origin and explanation in God.

This book really is not one of apologetics, though it sometimes goes in that direction, and nor is it an argument against various arguments raised by atheists against God’s existence, though it sometimes presents those arguments as well.  This book, at heart, is one which really only serves to clarify terms or, more specifically, a single term, that of course, being “God.”

By the end of the book the reader cannot help but realize that the vast majority of arguments one sees against the existence of God are not really arguments against God’s existence, but the existence of any number of so-called deities which exist in the universe.  This is why, for example, Bertrand Russell’s teapot or the ever popular “spaghetti monster” are so silly as neither have even the basic characteristics of God and, therefore, cannot serve as adequate targets for the arguments raised by atheists.

This book does not strike to add really anything new to theology in terms of data or insights, but it does serve the eminently important function of ensuring what is (or ought to be) meant by the term “God” is clearly understood, otherwise all of the debates and controversy about his existence are, ultimately, pointless diversions.  For this reason, I highly recommend this book.  It clarifies theology and provides a firm footing for any believer to stand on and, perhaps equally importantly, it also casts a rather long and imposing shadow against the arguments of the atheists in their effort to disprove the existence of God, showing them to be intellectually deficient (and perhaps intellectually ignorant), weak, and, ultimately, irrelevant to what is actually meant when believers refer to “God.”

Book Review: A Certain Kind of Affection by the Rev. K. Brewster Hastings

I have recently finished reading the latest work by the Rev. K. Brewster Hastings entitled A Certain Kind of Affection (you can find this book on Amazon here).  This is his second published book of fiction, his first is a novel entitled The Only Way Out for Henry Clatt, and is a collection of short stories.

I have known Father Hastings for many years.  He is an Anglican Christian priest and the rector of Saint Anne’s Church in Abington, PA, and was my pastor for the years I spent as a parishioner there.  As it turns out, Fr. Hastings is the only published author of fiction whose works I have read that I have known personally.  I believe that this affords me a unique view and perspective of his writing that another reader may not have.  While another reader may appreciate his writing in his own way, I find Fr. Hastings’ words a little more intimate and personal than I would of other writers.  I have spoken with Fr. Hastings many times and have been blessed to hear many of his sermons over the years.  As a result, when I read his fiction, I cannot help but recognize many of his word choices or turns of phrase or descriptions of people, places, and/or things as something that can only be described as “very him.”  Indeed, my internal ears heard many of the lines of his books in his voice while I read them.  Perhaps knowing Fr. Hastings personally colors my view of his writing, but rather I think it allows me to appreciate his writing in a deeper way.

This brings me to A Certain Kind of Affection.  The book is a slim volume which consists of several short stories.  As one reads through the stories of the book, each story presents a main character different from the previous story, ranging from a monastic novice, to a disabled man, to a little girl, to a thirty-something woman, to a bishop.  Perhaps expectedly, considering Fr. Hastings is a clergyman, each main character encounters with God/spirituality in his or her own way in his or her own circumstance; through this device, Fr. Hastings draws out the reality that, whether one wants to admit or acknowledge it or not, God will meet someone where he is no matter who or where he is in a way that speaks to him.

The real strength and attraction of the stories lies in the emotional and spiritual depth of the characters.  It would seem Fr. Hastings’ experience in pastoral contexts over his many years in ministry helped him understand and really bring out the emotional and spiritual reality of the characters.  Further, if I may say so as someone who was once in Fr. Hastings’ spiritual flock, one of his strengths as a pastor is his ability to empathize with the emotional states in which people find themselves, and this strength is on display in this book in how the characters are presented.

I found it interesting that the stories did not preach or judge the characters regarding their spirituality.  In other words, the flaws and/or imperfections and/or misunderstanding (or whatever term one wishes to use) the characters have regarding God and/or spirituality is presented merely as the reality of that person at that moment without a judgment on it.  Instead, the stories present people, in their individual context and extent of spiritual development, honestly and realistically wrestling with his or her own spirituality in his or her own way, each revealing God intervening in their lives in ways unique to each character.

Interestingly, the various stories do not really come to a tidy conclusion that ties up all of the loose ends of the plots.  Instead, each shows a window into someone’s life at a specific moment in a person’s spiritual development, but leaves the reader to wonder how the characters will wind up at the end.  This seems intentional as the purpose of the book, and its stories, seems to be, as implied above, simply giving a vignette of various people of various types in various times and situations encountering God and spirituality and working through it in those brief moments.  It allows the reader to identify with the characters as, I would think, most people have found themselves with the thoughts and feelings presented in each of the characters at one time or another.  The stories, I think, help the reader identify the moments of his own spiritual life and development in those of the characters in the stories.  The encounters with the divine in the stories are sometimes obvious and other times subtle, but always identifiable and relatable.  At the end of each story, the reader is often left with a knowing recognition of the spiritual component in each story as something he can identify with in his own life as well.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book of short stories to anyone who is interested in reading short, compelling, punchy stories which involve realistic people encountering God in ways that should seem familiar to us all.  May God have mercy on us all that when he does encounter us, we respond to him with acceptance and surrender.

Guardians of the Galaxy: a Movie Review

As many of you know, I have been a comic book fan and reader since I was five years old, so as a result I have really enjoyed the trend of comic book based movies over the last several years.  One of the most recent ones I have seen is the new Marvel Comics movie Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians is the tenth movie in a sequence of movies known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Guardians is probably the most obscure Marvel Comics offering yet as the comic book series of the same name is not among their most popular titles.  The Guardians are a team of characters who are space adventurers and, well, guard our galaxy.  The Guardians had their start back in 1969 and have existed with a cult following for many years in various incarnations and titles.  It was not until a reimagining of the team in 2008 that it started to take off and creep its way into mainstream fandom.

The Guardians are a team of rag tag characters from diverse backgrounds, motivations, and abilities.  The team in the movie consists of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (a half human swashbuckler), Drax the Destroyer (a person whose was killed along with his family by Thanos who was eventually resurrected and enhanced specifically to hunt down and kill Thanos), Gamora (Thanos’ assassin protégé), Groot (a living and sentient tree), and Rocket (a genetically created being that just happens to look like a raccoon).  Note that the character descriptions I provide above are based on their comic book iterations and not the movie’s version of the characters.

Thanos is the overarching villain of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe set of movies (he had a very brief appearance in The Avengers) and he makes his presence known in this film as well.  Guardians also allows the Marvel Cinematic Universe to introduce and engage with all manner of space, sci-fi, and cosmic characters, themes, and concepts which allows the normally Earth bound characters and stories of the Marvel movies to expand to nearly limitless possibilities.  Indeed, what comic book reader, even five years ago, would have ever thought seeing such obscured characters like Ronan the Accuser, Nebula, Yondu, and the Collector on the silver screen in a major motion picture?  It’s good to be a comic book fan right now.

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty consistent with the traditional Marvel Universe, Guardians included, some changes in the characters were made, most apparently to Ronan and Yondu but to others as well.  Perhaps most notably, Star-Lord’s father is not revealed but is obviously not the alien ruler J’Son of Spartax but is hinted to be someone else much more powerful and significant, so it is interesting to see how that plot point will play out.  On the bright side, if you look closely in the background in some scenes with the Collector, you will see the cocoon of Adam Warlock, which is exciting news for me as Warlock is probably in my top five favorite comic book characters, which includes Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer, and Jim Hammond.  So, as the cocoon is visible, let’s hope Warlock will make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon!

The movie was very well done, fun, entertaining, and fits well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I think the film is appropriate for viewers at least twelve years old, but some scenes and words in the movie may be inappropriate for younger viewers.  The film balances well between serious action sequences and rather funny and light hearted parts and lines.  The characters were developed reasonably well in order to prepare then for future films.  This was obviously an origin story for the Guardians.  Like most rag tag groups in movies, they come together somewhat unwillingly for a common cause and, during their struggle, they develop affinity and loyalty to one another.  The central MacGuffin is the pursuit of the Power Stone, one of the Infinity Gems, as further development of the overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is the story of the Infinity Gauntlet.  The movie is really carried by the charismatic Chris Pratt as Star- Lord who retains his dopey-every-man-comedic-persona but seems to successfully merge it into a swashbuckling, plucky, and resourceful space adventurer.  I do not want to over state it, but Star-Lord could be viewed as a modern, 21rst Century, Han Solo-type character.  Over all, the movie had decent acting, fun plot (though predictable from both a movie and comic book view), an absence of noticeable plot holes, and a sense of grandeur due to  its deep space focus.  What makes the predictable plot tolerable are the facts that, first, it fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a crucial way, and second, is presented in such a fun way that does not take itself too seriously (but also successfully avoids camp!).

Although I think comic book fans will really enjoy this film (but for its deviations from canon described above), I also think the fun tone of the film will make this movie appealing to non-comic-book fans as well.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this movie ties in with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its second installment due out in 2017.  This movie is highly recommended.



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