Tag Archives: Guardians

Movie Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

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The Guardians are back, even with a Baby Groot, in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

We first met the Guardians Of The Galaxy back in 2014. The Guardians are back in Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2. But do they have what it takes to deliver this time?

Back when the first Guardians Of The Galaxy came to the big screen, most people have not heard of them. This was a chance for Marvel to introduce them to the world. It was a unique mix of quirky characters, both virtual and live, loads of action, and a mix of both music and humor that made it a hit with families and superhero movie fans alike. The movie became the third-highest grossing movie of 2014 and turned the Guardians into household names. In fact “I am Groot,” became the top movie line of that year.

This time around is about bringing about the sequel.  Most of you already know my feeling of Hollywood sequels in my review of Furious 7. However sequels can either propel a movie franchise further or sink it. Sequels are hit and miss. I’ve seen so many sequels where they simply rehash the formula of the first movie plot-for-plot, moment-for-moment. That’s why I’m mostly turned off sequels. That’s also often all one needs to do to end a franchise. Nevertheless there are a good number of sequels or second-movies that do differ a lot from the original. That’s often the better idea but even that’s a gamble. One example is the second and third film of The Matrix. It was too different from the original film that blew audiences away in 1999 and they disappointed fans.

This sequel for Guardians takes the chance of being very different from the first film. One can already notice the differences here: animosity between the members, the stormy family relations of Peter and his father and Gamora and her sister, the people of the various galaxies going against each other and all galaxies being threatened by Ego. I appreciate them creating a scenario different from the original. Nevertheless there were some things from the original that they had to bring back into the sequel like the humorous tones in various scenes, the unique and sometimes crazy personalities of each of the Guardians, and of course the use of 70’s songs in the many scenes. It was all a case of making the right choices of what to include from the first and what to change up. I feel they made a lot of the right choices here.

Another difference I noticed in Volume 2 is that there are a lot more ‘salty’ and ‘spicy’ things in the film. For example, I noticed there was more swearing included and a lot more lewd talk. There were even scenes hinting towards sex or even showing suggestive situations like a stripper bar in another galaxy. Sometimes I think ever since Deadpool shook things up in the world of superhero movies, directors are less afraid of including risque stuff even if they know children will be watching. However unlike Deadpool, the film knows it’s supposed to be a superhero movie and the theme of heroes and the values they stand for and fight for is definitely not forsaken. Whether it’s okay for parents to take their children to see it or not is completely the parents’ call. I’d say it’s best for 11 and older.

James Gunn again delivers as a director and a writer in this sequel. He takes some of the first, some new ideas, and some racy choices and turns it into a movie that works. Chris Pratt delivers again as Peter and Kurt Russell does a very good job in playing a deceptive villain. Zoe Saldana again proves why she’s the top actress in sci-fi movies with her performance as Gamora. Dave Bautista was hilarious as Drax as was Bradley Cooper as Rocket. Michael Rooker was also good as Nebula. Baby Groot had a lot of funny moments but there are times I felt in retrospect that he went too much on the ‘cutesy’ side. Michael Rooker was also good as Yondu. The two newcomers–Karen Gillan as Nebula and Pom Klementieff–were good in their roles even if Mantis did come across as too weird or ditzy. Judianna Makofsky did a very good job in designing the costumes to fit the story, Tyler Bates delivers a fitting score to the film, and the visual effects team with hundreds of credits again delivered effects to make the action and drama that more exciting.

It seems appropriate that Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 kicks off the 2017 Summer Movie Season. It’s a sequel that delivers the right stuff most of the time. It’s able to deliver some new magic without compromising the magic of the original and keeps one thrilled one moment, laughing another moment, and entertained throughout.

My 2015 MTV Movie Awards Predictions

Movie (640x306)Of course I’m better at predicting Oscar winners than MTV Movie Awards winners. Nevertheless it’s still fun to predict and it would be interesting to see who wins.

MTV Movie Awards have always a ‘people’s choice’ type of awards and they can go to anyone. Even the surest of the sure don’t always happen. One example is in 1998 right when Titanicmania was happening,  Leo & Kate’s kiss in Titanic lost to the kiss between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer. Even though the MTV Movie Awards hail themselves as an awards show ‘about movies, not films,’ independent films like Menace 2 Society and Napoleon Dynamite would win the Best Movie award. Even though sure bets have won, there have been some sure bets that weren’t really all that sure.

Anyways before I predict the nominees for the 24th MTV Movie Awards for Sunday, my comments about the nominees. The MTV Movie Awards have been commonly known in the past as the ‘Anti-Oscars’ for the show to give awards and nominations favoring towards popcorn movies with big fanfare that normally get Oscar accolades in the more technical categories like sound mixing or visual effects. Even categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Hero and most recently Best WTF Moment are an element that separates the MTV’s from the more stuffy Oscars.

This year I’m surprised to see a lot of Oscar fare among the nominations. Just look at the movies with nominations: Selma, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, American Sniper, even Birdman has some nominations. Sure there’s popcorn flavor like Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fault In Our Stars, The Hobbit and of course the latest Hunger Games movie but seeing more Oscar fare than usual this year is a surprise. I often feel it’s because it’s a reflection of the movie year that just passed. If you remember the 2014 movie year, it didn’t give the most memorable of movies. Good fare but not much that would remain beloved over time. I have to say that if there were people complaining about how lackluster this year’s Oscar fare was, they should remember how lackluster the popcorn fare of 2014 was.

Anyways without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. My prediction who I feel will win the bucket of popcorn will be marked with an * and my prediction for the most likely upsetter will be marked with an +. So here goes:

Movie of the Year
“American Sniper” (Warner Bros.)
*“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ (Lionsgate)*
+“Guardians of the Galaxy” (Disney)+
“Gone Girl” (20th Century Fox)
“The Fault in Our Stars” (20th Century Fox)
“Boyhood” (IFC Films)
“Whiplash” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Selma” (Paramount Pictures)

While the Academy has eight Best Picture nominees, MTV has eight Movie Of The Year nominees. This year there are four that stick out: Mockingjay because of the Hunger Games following, The Fault In Our Stars because this is the mushy romance with the biggest following since The Notebook, Boyhood because of a story that is a reflection of so many young people and Guardians Of The Galaxy, the summer movie of 2014.  I would still have to go with Mockingjay as the buzz is still active despite lower box office take-in.

Best Female Performance
*Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″*
Emma Stone – “Birdman”
+Shailene Woodley – “Fault in Our Stars”+
Reese Witherspoon – “Wild”
Scarlett Johansson – “Lucy”

Jennifer lawrence has been going strong. I think her only real threat would have to be Shailene Woodley as The Fault In Our Stars turned out to have a bigger following than expected. Nevertheless I expect Jennifer to hang on strong.

Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper – “American Sniper”
+Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”+
*Ansel Elgort – “Fault in Our Stars”*
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”
Channing Tatum – “Foxcatcher”

No doubt about it. This has been the year for newcomer Ansel Elgort. Already I’ve seen his face on magazines and The Fault In Our Stars still has the buzz that it first had when it hit the theatres. It’s his for the taking.

Best Scared-as-S*** Performance
+Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”+
Annabelle Wallis – “Annabelle”
Jennifer Lopez – “The Boy Next Door”
*Dylan O’Brien – “The Maze Runner”*
Zach Gilford – “The Purge: Anarchy”

I admit I’ve only seen one performance: Rosamund Pike. So this has to be a random guess. I predict Dylan O’Brien because of the young following of The Maze Runner. Like I say, don’t take my word on these predictions.

Breakthrough Performance
*Ansel Elgort – “The Fault in Our Stars”*
+Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”+
David Oyelowo – “Selma”
Dylan O’Brien – “The Maze Runner”
Ellar Coltrane – “Boyhood”

Let’s face it. Ansel is definitely the breakthrough of the year. Even Rosamund doesn’t stand too much of a chance.

Best Shirtless Performance
+Zac Efron – “Neighbors”+
Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy
Channing Tatum – “Foxcatcher”
*Ansel Elgort – “Fault in Our Stars”*
Kate Upton – “The Other Woman”

Ansel again. Besides Zach is becoming yesreday’s news according to the young set and Channing is neither a superhero nor Magic Mike.

Best Duo
Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill – “22 Jump Street”
Zac Efron & Dave Franco – “Neighbors”
+Shailene Woodley & Ansel Elgort – “The Fault in Our Stars”+
*Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel – “Guardians of the Galaxy”*
James Franco & Seth Rogen – “The Interview”

Duos are always a hard call. Couples, partners in crime, partners in biz or buds? I went with the Guardians duo here.

Best Fight
Jonah Hill vs. Jillian Bell – “22 Jump Street”
Chris Evans vs. Sebastian Stan – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
+Dylan O’Brien vs. Will Poulter – “The Maze Runner”+
*Seth Rogen vs. Zac Efron – “Neighbors”*
Edward Norton vs. Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

Admit it. Often comedic fights win us more than the intense fights. So I went with the Neighbors fight.

Best Kiss
*Ansel Elgort & Shailene Woodley – “Fault in Our Stars”*
+James Franco & Seth Rogen – “The Interview”+
Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone – “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″
Scarlett Johansson & Chris Evans – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
Rose Byrne & Halston Sage – “Neighbors”
This is one where you don’t know where it will go. Will it go to the more romantic kisses or will it go to the more humorous kisses? I still have a feeling the Ansel & Shailene kiss will win.

Best WTF Moment
*Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne – “Neighbors”*
Jonah Hill – “22 Jump Street”
+Jason Sudeikis & Charlie Day – “Horrible Bosses 2″+
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”
Rosario Dawson & Anders Holm – “Top Five”

Best Villain

*Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”*
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash”
Jillian Bell – “22 Jump Street”
Meryl Streep – “Into the Woods”
+Peter Dinklage – “X-Men: Days of Future Past”+

It’s hard to pick out which villain most kept moviegoers spellbound. I picked Rosamund for Gone Girl because it was her story of how clever she was that really had people at the edge of their seats.

Best Musical Moment
Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
*Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”*
+Seth Rogen & Zac Efron – “Neighbors”+
Bill Hader & Kristen Wiig – “The Skeleton Twins”
Miles Teller – “Whiplash”

Musical moment doesn’t necessarily mean singing or performing a straigh number. That explains why none of the numbers of Into The woods are nominated. It can include goofy karaoke or just dancing around. That’s why I went with Chris in Guardians. He had us all laughing.

Best Comedic Performance
Channing Tatum – “22 Jump Street”
Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Rose Byrne – “Neighbors”
+Chris Rock – “Top Five”+
*Kevin Hart – “The Wedding Ringer”*

Hard call between Chris Rock and the man many believe to be his heir apparent. I’ll go with Kevin.

Best On-Screen Transformation
Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything”
Elizabeth Banks – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
+Zoe Saldana – “Guardians of the Galaxy”+
Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher”
*Ellar Coltrane – “Boyhood”*

This is interesting to see who will win. My best hunches are with either Ellar and Zoe. I think Ellar because of how Boyhood has a following with the young.

Additional category added after original nominees announced:

Best Hero

Shailene Woodley – The Divergent Series: Insurgent

*Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1*

Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner

Martin Freeman – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

+Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy+

The buzz over Jennifer Lawrence and the Hunger Games hasn’t died yet so I assume a win here.

And there you have it for my predictions. There will also be three additional awards given out:

  • MTV Trailblazer Award: Shailene Woodley
  • Comedic Genius Award: Kevin Hart
  • MTV Generation Award: Robert Downey Jr.

Anyways stay tuned for the winners. Comedy Central star Amy Schumer will host. There are five musical performances lined up. Tomorrow should be an exciting night.

2014 Box Office: Bumpy Summer, Bumpy Year

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You may have seen my blog about the VIFF already. One thing some people may not have noticed about my blogging is that I haven’t been doing tracking of the year’s box office pace. Normally I do. Maybe one or two of you have noticed. Anyways this is my first look at 2014 at the box office and it doesn’t look too pleasant right now.

Decent Winter

The first quarter of 2014 didn’t make as much as the first quarter of 2013. Nevertheless it did provide for an excellent January and February. Neither January or February set a box office record for that month but both outgrossed their respective month from 2013. January 2014 was almost $60 million higher than January 2013 thanks to hits like Frozen, Lone Survivor, Ride Along, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Nut Job. February 2014 was almost $175 million higher than February 2013 thanks to the phenomenal success of The LEGO Movie and other hits like The Monuments Men, About Last Night, Three Days To Kill, Non-Stop and Son Of God. However all that extra wouldn’t be enough to outgross the winter of 2013 thanks to March 2014 grossing almost a quarter-billion less than March 2013. Strong openings for the 300 sequel, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Divergent and Noah didn’t carry far enough in the end and the winter of 2014 just missed by that much.

Spring Falls Slightly Short

Don’t get me wrong. Spring was loaded with movies to get people to the cinema but it didn’t outgross last year’s spring. Once again no month set an all-time high but April was more than a quarter-billion higher than April 2013 thanks to Captain America 2, Rio 2, Heaven Is For Real and The Other Woman. May 2014 was more than $225 million shy of May 2013. Some could say there was no real big bang like Iron Man 3 from last year. Others could say too many competitors like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Neighbors, Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past opening at once.

However don’t get me started on June. June was the month that sent the message that 2014 was going to have a tough summer at the box office. First off June had the only weekend where a movie released in 2014 grossed more than $100 million on its opening weekend: Transformers: Age of Extinction with a paltry $100,038,390. That’s only 27th on the all-time list. Secondly were the ho-hum openings of movies like Maleficient, The Fault In Our Stars, 22 Jump Street, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and Think Like A Man Too. At the end of it all, June only grossed $995.4 million: $230 million less than June 2013 and the first June since 2003 to gross below $1 billion!

Summer’s Bumpy Road

You shouldn’t rely completely on the totals over at Box Office Mojo because the list of July totals shows July 2014 telling one story and the Weekly chart of 2014 and doing quick math in adding the July weeks telling another. One thing is certain is that this July didn’t outgross July 2013 despite continuing success of Transformers 4 and openings for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Lucy.

The bright light not just of the summer but of the movie year so far has to be August. This is the one month that set an all-time record this year: $983 million. Definitely the success of the Guardians Of The Galaxy has a lot to do with it. There were other box office pumpers that month too like the Ninja Turtles, Into The Storm and Let’s Be Cops.

I decided to pass up reviewing September even though it hasn’t grossed as much as last year. Nevertheless the next three months will be a challenge. I don’t think 2014 will set an all-time box-office record but it will draw huge crowds with Fury, Nightcrawler, Horns, the latest Hunger Games movie Mockingjay Part. 1 and sequels for Night At The Museum and Madagascar. I’m confident 2014 will end past $10 billion but that’s something only time will tell.

WORKS CITED:

“Yearly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/

“Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/

“Weekend Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/

Movie Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Meet the Guardians Of The Galaxy: a superhero quintet that went from misfits to household names this summer.

Meet the Guardians Of The Galaxy: a superhero quintet that became household names this summer.

Oh boy. Now my time to catch up on movie reviews. This is the first of two reviews of summer blockbusters I saw. I will admit I’ve been a bit laxed in watching big movies this year. One of which I did feel I had to see was Guardians of The Galaxy. I’m glad I did.

I won’t go into giving a brief description of the story since it’s safe to assume most people have already seen it. This is one of those superhero movies that tries to balance out the comedic parts with the dramatic parts and the action parts. It does a very good job of it. It succeeds in giving the movie intriguing characters like Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket and Groot. However like every first movie or introduction movie of a superhero or superhero ensemble, it has to have a very good story of how the superheroes came to be or in this case, came to be an ensemble. It does a good job of creating an introduction movie of such. It may not be as heavily dramatic as your typical superhero movie. It’s a mix of drama and comedy that many will find entertaining. I will admit there are a couple of cornball scenes in there but the movie does a mostly good job.

I will admit that when I first saw the trailer for this months ago, I thought this would be a cheesy movie. I think what got me thinking it would be cheesy was seeing a raccoon as part of this superhero ensemble. It wasn’t until I learned the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie is based off of a Marvel Comics series that I thought that this might be something good. I will admit I’m like a lot of people that probably never knew of the Guardians Of The Galaxy until I saw this movie. Anyone else? Yeah, I’m sure there are a bunch of you guilty of it too. Guardians Of The Galaxy has probably been one of Marvel Comics’ least known comic heroes or hero ensembles. Actually the Guardians we know of are not the original Guardians. The first Guardians came out in 1969 and consisted of a different set of Guardians including one named Captain Marvel. Then came the 2008 ensemble of Guardians that consisted of some of the original characters but added in others like Groot, Rocket, Star Lord and Gamora but the total number of Guardians is in the dozens.

This also makes for an additional point for the challenge it had. Marvel and the producers had to work with creating a hit movie about a superhero ensemble that most of the general public are not very familiar with. It’s definitely more challenging as doing such a movie with a more celebrated superhero like Superman or Captain America. The example of John Carter demonstrates the challenge; Disney hoped to introduce the world to John in a big way but it didn’t work. Here it’s Marvel’s challenge to introduce the Guardians to the world and no doubt it would be a huge cost risk: $170 million to be exact. It paid off as it was the #1 movie for a total of five weekends. Its total box office is $313.7 million in North America and $632 million worldwide which is a modest number for a movie of that much success. Nevertheless I’ll save it for when I give my upcoming movie year forecast. The movie’s success also has paved the way for an upcoming sequel in 2017. The question is will they stick to the original five Guardians or will they add some additional Guardians in?

The first person who deserves acclaim for the success is director James Gunn. He hasn’t had too huge of a resume as far as directors go. Actually he has a major blemish as he is one of the many directors with the atrocity Movie 43. However this is his breakthrough and should make a good name for him in the future. Possibly even a director of the sequel. Additional kudos to Nicole Perlman who co-wrote the script with Gunn. The collaboration paid off in giving a story full of action and humor and being what a script for a superhero movie should be.

Chris Pratt was entertaining as Peter Quill. He does a good job of balancing the role of a superhero with adding comedy plus he doesn’t make dealing with his late mother too seriously dramatic. Zoe Saldana seems to be the actress made for sci-fi. First Avatar, then Star Trek and now this. Nevertheless I can’t think of a better choice as she nails it again here. Dave Bautista also did a good job. And it’s good to see since I don’t normally think wrestlers make good movie stars as seen by past wrestlers. Bradley Cooper added great character to the voice of Rocket and Vin Diesel was good as Groot. Actually some of his better acting as of late. Other highlights include the visual effects of the movie which are probably some of the best of the year. Another plus is the inclusion of 70’s music. At first you’d think it was cornball. However it becomes more evident why it’s incorporated as it’s this music that connects Peter to his mother. It also adds to the humor too.

Guardians Of The Galaxy is not just another good movie from the Marvel Comics team but a commercial achievement too in making household names of their lesser-known comic book characters. Good job.