Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Film

Guardians of the Galaxy

Do you remember when the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer was released to the masses and the masses balked? This isn’t a Marvel comic book film, were the cries. There was space, and spaceships and people with green skin. Ohh… people.

That trailer totally got me. My knowledge of the Marvel universe is limited. Did not have the remotest clue about Guardians of the Galaxy. Nothing. It was new. It looked different. And after the disappointment of Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World and, to a lesser extent, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I really needed to see a comic book film that would restore my faith in the genre.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Peter Quill – sly devil.

James Gunn’s Gaurdians of the Galaxy did just that. Guardians takes us out of the well-known universe and plonks us somewhere completely alien, while still building a universe and arc that’s going to be pivotal in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s funny, witty, dry and sarcastic. It’s a mainstream James Gunn film. And a good one. A GREAT one.

Guardians of the Galaxy felt very much like The Avengers – putting the band together. But with Guardians the band of misfits really felt like a proper band of misfits. Misfits, outcasts and those who don’t fit in. None of these guys can be classed as “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” – somewhere Peter, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket just fell of a wagon and carved their own paths.

Thoroughly enjoyed the action in the film. It just feels like it’s been forever since there was a good space based film. (Just as I typed that, my brain went to Interstellar. What I mean is a space sci-fi pulp feeling film. K?) The final battle was incredible. It was perfectly done with some actually very emotional moments alongside Gamora and Nebula slogging it out and epic air battle going on around it all.

Guardians of the Galaxy

I am Groot.

The score disappointed. Tyler Bates’ score didn’t shine in the film. It didn’t bring anything to the moments it was backing. Then on listening to it as a standalone album, I can’t remember much of it. Perhaps I’m moving on from the “soundtrack-y” sounding scores. BUT the actual movie soundtrack is fantastic – the awesome mix vol. 1 was the oddly perfect selection of songs for the film.

Chris Pratt knocked it out of the park as Peter. Funny, intelligent, witty – completely sold on Star Lord. Was surprised how attached I got to both Rocket and Groot. Especially Rocket – the film did a brilliant job at not over sentimentalising the shitty situations each of the Guardians were previously in. Or saw themselves as.

Guardians of the Galaxy

An utterly magical moment in the film.

And it’s that that made the film for me. Despite all the glorious space opera going on and the action – the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves were each incredibly relatable characters. At one point in our lives, we’ve all felt some of what these characters have portrayed. And look at them – they’re fucking heroes who still have a long way to go.

120+ Movies: Update!

120+ Movies of 2011

This post has taken me over a week to finally finish writing. Must not leave it this long in between updates!

I dread to think how much money I’ve spent going to the cinema this year….

X-Men: First ClassX-Men: First Class (01/06/11)

In 1962, Charles Xavier starts up a school and later a team, for humans with superhuman abilities. Among them is Erik Lensherr, his best friend… and future archenemy.

X-Men 1 and 2 are among my favourite comic book films. You’ve got to hand it to the first X-Men film, that effectively kicked off all of the current comic book movie adaptations we’ve got now. Well, you might or might not be grateful for that.

Last Stand had some good bits, but on the whole it was a mess. The less said about Wolverine, the better. So First Class had a lot of work to do. The terrible film posters before release didn’t help it.

Though am happy to say that it surpassed my expectations! Okay, so said expectations were probably quite low, but they were still surpassed.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender held the film together brilliantly. I loved James’ portrayal of a young Xavier. Michael’s Erik was excellent too. Even if his accent slipped all over the place a little bit.

Some of my favourite bits were the training montage of the new mutants. Love me a bit of split screen. The closing credits were beautiful! I just blocked out the song they were playing over it. Oh and the score has been one of my favourites of the summer blockbuster season.

The not so good were probably the villains. Not Kevin Bacon (who was rather good!), but the other villainous mutants. January Jones sucked the life right out of Emma Frost. Azazel and Riptide weren’t given the courtesy of actually having a character past their mutant abilities.

The cameos were brilliant and I may have snorted a little bit when I saw Michael Ironside appear in the film. He has that reaction for me when I see him in any film these days!

While Thor remains my favourite comic book movie adaptation of the summer so far, this is a close second. Glad to say the X-Men movie franchise has found it’s feet again.
Rating: 4/5

Electra LuxxElectra Luxx (04/06/11)

Life for porn actress Elektra Luxx gets turned upside down when she finds out she’s pregnant.

For the love of JGL. That’s the reason I watched this. It’s turning into a habit. First GI Joe and now Electra Luxx. However, unlike GI Joe, this was more of a better film! With the added bonus of Timothy Olyphant. I’m not a totally fickle film viewer, honest.

It’s a funny little film. Funny ha-ha, not funny odd. Well, maybe a little odd, but the good kind of odd.

Sadly, it’s been so long since I saw this film I can’t remember all too much about it save that I enjoyed it, laughed a little and at the end was rather happy that I decided to watch it.

Oh and the opening credits are among the best I have ever seen. Reminded me heavily of the Queens of the Stone Age music video for Go With the Flow. Just gorgeous to watch!
Rating: 3/5

The Usual SuspectsThe Usual Suspects (05/06/11)

A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.

Yes, it has taken ME this many years to see this film. Woops! Was the whole ending ruined for me? Not really. Somehow I’ve shielded myself from seeing the twist here from the never-ending lists on film sites about the ‘best film twist ending’. Probably my own subconscious knowing that some day I would finally see The Usual Suspects.

Loved it. From start to end. Very tense. Very cool. Questions at every turn, up until the ending. Not much more that needs to be said! I understand why this film is a modern classic. Though I think I need to see it again.
Rating: 5/5

SennaSenna (10/06/11)

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

In 1994 I was 10 years old and I remember watching the Formula 1 race at Imola that Ayrton Senna had an un-spectacular crash that ultimately killed him. I also remember playing my F1 game on my Amiga and the only driver I wanted to play was Ayrton.

I’ve been looking forward to the release of this film since Jeremy Clarkson mentioned it way back on Top Gear. Though, this was not the documentary I was expecting.

What I got was an impressive documentary magically stitched together using footage from races and the behind-the-scenes of Ayrton’s life as a racer and a very proud Brazilian. No talking heads. Instead we’ve got Ayrton narrating his own life along with the people he worked with and his family.

The film charts his life from his go-karting career into F1 where he his the spotlight being a bit of a risk taking driver. No doubt about it, when he got into the cockpit and out onto the track, all he wanted to do was win. And why not? He was known for doing some insane things on the track and you get to see a few of them.

The portrayal of the ongoing battle between him and Alain Prost was amazing to see. I’m not sure how much of it was over-hyped for the documentary’s purpose. Or how the saga had been manipulated for the film’s purpose. It made for some good drama.

There were lots of emotional moments in the film. Seeing the aftermath of Martin Donnelly’s crash was tough to see. Equally emotional was watching Ayrton Senna’s career unfold.

But the bit that hit me hard was moments before Senna’s own crash. I knew it was coming. I remember, vaguely, watching that race. I think my heart was beating in my throat, then it happened. My memory made it look a lot more violent than it actually was! Strange to think that that was the accident that killed Senna. After that, my emotions were all over the place. Which made Senna’s funeral all the harder to watch with tears streaming down my face!

Right, this is a bit long already. I should end it now. Go watch Senna. Even if you’re not a driving/racing fan. I’m not an F1 fan. I was back then. I went with a non-petrol head person and he seemed to enjoy it! Senna is a brilliantly put together documentary with a very moving soundtrack about one of the best sportsmen of our time.
Rating: 5/5

The Human CentipedeThe Human Centipede (10/06/11)

A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a new pet – a human centipede.

From Senna to this. And the less said about this the better. It’s a very bad film. Sure the subject matter is horrific, but in the execution of it, they’ve skipped the majority of the gross-ness.

Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad everything. Why did I watch this? Like a lot of people – I was curious!
Rating: 1/5

Green LanternGreen Lantern (17/06/11)

A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Considering how many comic book films there are already out, getting released and have all ready come and gone, there’s a bar up there which they all need to hit. Green Lantern just didn’t cut it.

As origin stories go, this was your average story. Childhood trauma leads to unstable adult who eventually overcomes his own shortcomings to become the hero he’s known to be. There was nothing along the way to attempt to change things in any way. Just to shake it up a little bit at least.

Ryan Reynolds made the film watchable and amusing at times. The rest of the cast weren’t all that engaging. The CG wasn’t all that fantastic. There just seemed to be so much of it. I understand the need for it, but if you’re going to throw that much CG at a film, at least make it good. Most of the time it looked like I was watching a digitally animated film. Yes, those moments on the Green Lanterns home planet.

The underlying notion of will vs. fear was an interesting one, though I don’t think they made full advantage of it. It was just used in passing to explain a few little things. Which is a shame – could have been what was needed to give the film some added depth.

Had I seen the film in 3D, I might have called it a waste of money. I was grateful that there was a 2D showing that I could see. Which might have given me the inclination to give this film one more point that maybe it’s worth. It’s light entertainment. Not a great comic book film. Not a terribly bad one either. Definitely not as bad as Wolverine. Just doesn’t match up to what has already come this summer with Thor and X-Men: First Class.

(I think I’ve been a tad harsh giving this film a 2/5, but I couldn’t justify a 3! Even though I did partly enjoy it.)
Rating: 2/5

PaulPaul (18/06/11)

Two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.

I think Paul lived up to expectations. Funny, silly and full of Simon Pegg/Nick Frost bromance. With an added alien. Lots of fun cameos. Jason Bateman being pretty damn awesome. Tonnes of other sci-fi movie references. Made for a very entertaining film.

I didn’t find it hilariously funny. Just had a bit of a smile on my face throughout the film. The film rattled through to the end pretty swiftly. With one little surprise.

Paul himself I loved. I wouldn’t mind my own little Paul. He made me laugh! And surprisingly good CG on him.

Fantastic score too – thanks to David Arnold. Really made a big impact during the more action packed scenes. It’s not the kind of film I’d pair up with having a score on par with Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. Wouldn’t have been possible without David Arnold.

A very silly but fun little film.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ Movies: From the small screen

120+ Movies of 2011

Going to try to make some headway with the mountain of films I’ve got recorded on my Skybox. Here are the first couple down:

The WolfmanThe Wolfman (15/01/11)

Upon his return to his ancestral homeland, an American man is bitten, and subsequently cursed by, a werewolf.

I can’t remember this film being very well received and I’m wondering why that could be. I thought it was a good werewolf story, with the traditional mythology. A nice classic re-telling. There was some shonky CG animals though and I’m not entirely convinced of the make-up used on the werewolf. But I liked the story and the characters. The mood in the film was wonderfully gloomy, which reminded me a little of An American Werewolf in London. There was some gore and bright red blood which made me think of Sleepy Hollow.

The werewolf transformation scene was really well done and had some moments where I cringed a little, but An American Werewolf in London still wins hands down on best werewolf transformation scene. Don’t think anything will beat that.

Really enjoyed watching The Wolfman. Tragic. But then, don’t think it could go any other way.
Rating: 3/5

Believe: The Eddie Izzard StoryBelieve: The Eddie Izzard Story (16/01/11)

Chronicles comedian Eddie Izzard’s rise to fame from early influences – losing his mother to cancer at a young age before being sent with his brother to boarding school – to his close relationship today with his father.

I think I’ve always liked Eddie Izzard as a comedian. I don’t think I call myself a fan. However, I’m more of a fan of Eddie’s than I was a couple of years ago after I saw him live at Wembley a couple of years ago, live at Laughs in the Park last year and after seeing him run all those marathons on the TV last year. Thought this was a great documentary looking at his life, where he came from and how he got to where he was. Inspired by his tenacity to be who he wanted to be. Being a comedian really didn’t come easily to him, but he fought really hard, worked hard and he did it. That’s what I love about Eddie – he comes across as a really hard-working person. Sets himself goals and does what he can to achieve them.

I didn’t realise he was accused of being a fraud a few years back! There were definitely some eye-opening moments in the film. Think it was a very honest look at his life and really well done. It wasn’t too sappy, but had enough emotion in it for not to be a clinical and boring documentary looking at his life.
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far: