Guardians of the Galaxy: Marvel’s Other Superhero Team

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

STARRING: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

DIRECTOR: James Gunn

GENRE: Superhero

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States

After discovering a mysterious orb in another part of the galaxy, Peter Quill from Earth, is now the main target of a manhunt led by a genocidal maniac Ronan The Accuser. Being hunted across the galaxy Quill gets lumped together with a group of misfits that need to learn how to get along before they can become the “Guardians of the Galaxy”. This team includes, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Groot, and Drax the Destroyer.

The story focuses on the five main characters, and the way in which these radically different beings form a bond. Each character – Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) – is given just enough back story and setup that they have specific personality goals to achieve over the course of the film. Rocket Raccoon has an inferiority complex, Gamora has daddy issues, Star Lord has mommy issues. Even though they’re comic book badasses, everyone is flawed and vulnerable in some way. Those character pay-offs, in tandem with the story pay-offs, give the film numerous chill-inducing moments.

What holds Guardians of the Galaxy together is its humanity. Sure there’s lots of action and humor but it’s the quiet moments, the pauses, the knowing glances, that make the experience feel so wonderful. That humanity (or whatever passes for humanity when talking about Rocket and Groot) grounds an otherwise fantastic movie as something we can all relate to.

It rides the line of its PG-13 rating content wise but never demands much of the audience. There’s very little subtext or subtlety. Very few beats aren’t laid out to easily digest, save for some of those quiet pauses. Not that a movie like this needs them, but with such a diverse cast of characters and locations a hint of deeper meaning would have enhanced the story.

The film  feels way too busy for its good, crowded with more characters than is possible to keep up with. Solid actors like Benicio del Toro, Glenn Close, and John C Reilly barely get any screen time, while an important character like Thanos is introduced but never adequately employed. It’s evident also that the makers couldn’t decide on one definitive conclusion; the film has multiple endings. Yet these are minor issues in a film that is mostly enjoyable, and one that gives us such a charming set of heroes.

PROS:

  • Story.
  • Characters.
  • Main cast performances.
  • Set design.

CONS:

  • PG-13 rating.
  • Too many characters.
  • Interesting side characters not enough screen time.

SCORE: 8.9 / 10

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Deep Rising: Poorly CGI Tentacle Monster

DEEP RISING

STARRING: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Kevin J. O’Connor, Anthony Heald, Wes Studi, Derrick O’Connor, Cliff Curtis, Una Damon, Djimon Hounsou, Jason Flemyng, Clifton Powell, Trevor Goddard

DIRECTOR: Stephan Sommers

GENRE: Action, Horror

YEAR:  1998

COUNTRY: United States

When a band of ruthless hijackers invade the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, they’re shocked to discover the passengers have mysteriously vanished! But that doesn’t mean they are alone! Something terrifying is lurking just out of sight: a deadly force from the unexplored depths of the ocean that begins to snatch the horrified intruders one by one! On one hand, we’ve got a luxury liner making its maiden cruise whose passengers include a sexy burglar and a crook. On the other hand, we have a small, very fast ship full of mercenaries and torpedoes, whose crew is asking too few questions. In the middle, a member of the Ottoia family, and no, that’s not a drug lord. It’s a giant priapulid worm.

 

Sometimes you have generic no-brainers that bore you (like “Virus”) and other times you get generic no-brainers that actually entertain. Deep Rising is part of the latter category. This movie is stupid and it knows it. It’s very déjà vu and it knows it. But most of all, it’s guilty fun and it knows it! You want to see lots of gunplay? Tough guy stare downs? Chase sequences involving giant CGI tentacles? Or maybe some sea-doos riding around inside a cruise ship? If so, you’re in the right spot. To make everything even more enjoyable, we’re also treated to some sometimes-excessive gore (didn’t see that axe thang coming), funny one-liners (Williams and O’Connor are all about that) and situational humor that actually works (Wes Studi’s last bullet scene cracked me up).

The CGI is at times very obvious (the full creature looks like shite) and the blue screen gives a lot of potentially scary scenes away (you know something is going to happen before it happens because you see the flick jump into blue screen mode). The movie also overstays its welcome by about 15 minutes, gets very repetitive (creature attacks, they run away, creature attacks, they run away…) and is fairly predictable.

It could’ve skipped on some of the more tired conventions: The stalk sequences involving characters wandering alone in the dark take a bit too much time to get to the point (mainly because we know they’re gonna die). And did we really need the token traitor that winds up getting the worst death? Or the guy that always seems to know where the creature came from (actually the same guy)? Not really. The film could’ve also upped Tooch’s girlfriend subplot. Why did they even write her in? They hardly use her or capitalize on the fact that she’s his girl. Could’ve increased the stakes with her character.

PROS:

  • Stupid and fun.
  • Gunplay & other action elements.
  • Excessive gore.

CONS:

  • Obviously obvious.
  • Repetitive.
  • Lenth.
  • Too many conventions.

SCORE: 6.0 / 10

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