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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Out of the Furnace: Christian Bale is Definitely in the Furnace

Hello everybody! Today we have an ensemble cast in Out of the Furnace.

OUT OF THE FURNACE

DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper

STARRING: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard

GENRE: Thriller

YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY: United States

Russell and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother becomes involved with one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.

 Out of the Furnace is one of Christian Bale’s first post-Dark Knight films. The film overall has received much praise for its storytelling and its acting. The film had a very interesting story, following many different points of the main character’s life. The characters are my favorite aspect of Out of the Furnace. We really get to watch Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck) grow and then demolish and or self-obliterate themselves. Now that its what makes a great picture. I have to point out that my favorite performance was Woody Harrelson. I forget how absolutely great he is when he portrays a sociopath. the craziness really emanates within him.

Despite all of the praise Out of the Furnace was given, I really didn’t enjoy it (except for Harrelson). Christian Bale was horrendous, but I think that is just being biased I haven’t liked him as an actor since the Dark Knight trilogy. This is very disappointing since I liked him in Reign of Fire, Equilibrium, and The Machinist. He just doesn’t do it for me anymore.I was surprised that Casey Affleck, who isn’t as big of a star as Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson, had the most screen time. His character was on a self-destruction path from the start and they had to show every minute of it. My biggest peeve though is that while overall I liked the story, I was disappointed that they didn’t show certain events from his arrest and jail time. I felt that they should have added more just so we could actually understand why he was there. I get that they showed him killing the mother and child, but what about his conviction? That could have made the story that much more interesting.

PROS:

  •  Ensemble cast.
  • Casey Affleck’s performance.
  • Woody Harrelson’s performance.

CONS:

  •  Christian Bale’s performance.
  • Waste of an ensemble cast.
  • Amateur writing.
  • Can I have 2 hours of my life back?

SCORE: 5.5 / 10

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