Saturday, August 30, 2014

Marvel’s Fantastic Space Gamble

Marvels Studio's visually-intense Guardians of The Galaxy offers viewers an interesting new take on sci-fi 


ARTH VADER (AV): I'm hooked on a feeling! And while no part of this film shares any connective tissue with the books, at this point, we should acknowledge that all Marvel (Studios) films are kissing cousins. The eco-system of Marvel is brilliantly manifested as all films that reference and wink at other Marvel flicks. While non-fantasy film critics tend to get all fussy over Marvel’s “formula” I, sir, am all about it. And after only 10 films, Marvel Studios is now THE definitive, undisputed most successful movie franchise of all time. By the numbers, that means it bests James Bond, Star Trek, Borne franchise—even Star —as the definitive collection of the most influential box office success in the history of film making. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Wow Vader…just, wow. Well, in terms of continuity with the books for this film.… there is none. In the books they banded together to oppose the Phalanx, not Ronan. Yondu in the books is also as far from his film iteration as a character could be. That said, continuity with the books isn’t an issue when you aren’t trying to stick to it and are bringing something entirely new and fresh to the big screen, in the Marvel cinematic universe. This film fits the events in previous Marvel films, and thus preserves the continuity of the Marvel cinematic universe. 


AV: Once again, the mighty Marvel movie machine strikes gold with a cast of characters that are just downright perfect. We all know the headliners but the support cast comes in off the bench and hits another one out the park. John C. Riley and Glen Close come in as reps to the infamous Nova Corps, we get a Nathan Fillion cameo early on, Lee Pace whupping backsides and taking names as Ronin(!), and lest we forget, Josh Brolin’s Thanos which was solid. James Gunn’s vision was stellar. While the direction was good, the visuals were a sensory overload. But the direction was detail-laden and rich. Thoughts, Pontificator?  

TP: Casting for this film was superb! Marvel has a magic to picking the right people for the right roles and this film is no exception. The full cast is an extensive list of talent lead by a great performance by Chris Pratt. The characterization of Rocket Raccoon by Bradley Cooper was just as stellar making it hard for anyone else to break out, but not impossible. I was particularly invested in the performance of both Lee Pace and Michael Rooker in their specific contributions. Dave Bautista certainly deserves credit for bringing Drax to life, a reflection of the hard work he put into upgrading is acting skills. For a film introducing largely unknown characters to the general public, the direction was spot on and delivered an energized and steady pace that kept me constantly engaged. 


AV: Ok, I have not seen a movie that has looked this good in a long time. That says a lot, even for a Marvel movie. The sets and environments were–naturally–out-of this-world. The colors were beyond gorgeous and the environments and landscapes were terrific. The animated characters of Groot (Vin “Fast 6” Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley “Hangover” Cooper) were especially well done and characters like Ronin, The Collector (Benicio “Wolfman” Del Toro) simply brought Guardians off the screen and into your mind. The space scenes were just good and the quirkiness of Peter Quill’s Starlord was endearing and funny. 

TP: Unbelievably real. The CGI goes to another level as Marvel is making millions from a talking raccoon. There is no part of the film where my mind wandered and thought about the realness of the effects…it just accepted that everything I was seeing, was real. In a film completely loaded with effects in literally every frame, this is a serious testament to how well they were done. The 3D effects were not overdone or later forgotten (as happens in many films) and to see this movie in anything less than IMAX 3D is a travesty. This film is an excellent example of all the lessons learned in earlier films coming to a head and delivering a superior product. 


AV: As Marvel Studio’s 10th film, it represents some really special concepts. First, it shows that as formulaic as the Marvel masterminds are a accused of being, this film is a real gamble. It is NOT a super hero movie, but exists squarely in the hero universe. So many concepts were reintroduced in this film, the Kree (who created the Inhumans), the Celestials (ancient God-Like galactic beings) and even the hint at Adam Warlock’s cocoon. I am sorry if you don’t understand these references, dear reader but I have been waiting for these films to hit the big budget screen my whole life. I am in heaven. A year ago, I predicted that this film would be a billion dollar film. After three weeks in theaters, the films has grossed $421,9 million. It has NOT yet opened in several major overseas markets. What this film–and it’s success–ultimately mean, is Marvel can mine it’s near-endless well of properties and tap the skills of fan favorite or A-List talent for their films and make magic happen. This film is a delight on so many levels, it boggles the Earth-bound mind. 

TP: There are a lot of places to look here as Marvel begins phase two of their cinematic universe, but the real story is not all the nods and eggs placed throughout the film. The story isn’t the awesome effects used to bring epic awesomeness to the silver screen. The story isn’t how a taking raccoon can rake in millions of dollars seemingly cementing the fact that Marvel can do no wrong. The real story is the dedication of the cast to make this film one of the best so far. Chris Pratt said he would lose fifty pounds for the role…and lost sixty instead! Dave Bautista teared up upon getting the role of Drax and committed himself to further acting lessons to enhance his performance. Djimon Hounsou took the role of Korath the Pursuer to be an example to his son. There are probably more such stories scattered throughout the rest of the cast and crew, and I wouldn’t be surprised if so…but it’s these personal stories of motivation and dedication that truly bring the greatness of this film as reflected in the finished product. 


AV: Are you kidding me? With the pseudo cliff-hanger we were left with? Who is Quill’s father? Is there a new Groot? Will Rocket find love? Will we see the Nova Corps and will Drax come face-to-face with Thanos? James Gunn has already official gone on record to discuss the next Guardians flick. Guardians of the Galaxy 2, so… yeah. P-Man?

TP: This movie wraps up Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and there will certainly be another (and probably more) as Marvel expands their onscreen universe in their quest to bring one of the most pivotal story lines to the silver screen (Infinity Gauntlet). Salivate on that Vader!

ARTH VADER rates Guardians of the Galaxy: Salivate? Oh man, I need a full-body bib, Ponty! Ever since the announcement off this film at ComiCon San Diego, I predicted this film was going to be huge. With the perfect meld of sci-fi, comedy, terrific appearances and characterizations (Groot, Rocket) and super-hero awesomeness, Guardians is fun. And the winning result of Marvel’s ‘grand gamble’ and if at all possible, see this bad boy in IMAX 3D. So I dance the dance of the Baby Groot around 10 Busted Blocks. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Guardians of the Galaxy: This film is easily one of the best Marvel has made and that says a lot when you consider the subject matter and characters presented. With a perfect mix of action, comedy, and drama this film takes the audience on a magnificent ride, steadily destroying nine (9) busted blocks along the way.

Guardians of the Galaxy: 9.5 / 10 Busted Blocks 

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