Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

" I’m no bastard. I’m Bruce Lee. "
— Jason Scott Lee, Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story

MRQE Top Critic

Les Choristes

The French confection Les Choristes is now available on a skimpy, movie-only DVD —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

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Guardians of the Galaxy, another Marvel Studios space adventure, seems to have been cobbled together from diverse genre elements in an effort to achieve a supreme level of silliness — and that’s one of its good points.

You have to give some kind of credit to a movie that asks us to develop affection for a talking tree that does little more than repeat its name: “I am Groot.” Voice courtesy of Vin Diesel, who — as it turns out — may be better heard than seen.

Will there be a sequel? Is the orb round?
Will there be a sequel? Is the orb round?

Then there’s Rocket, a talking raccoon (voice by Bradley Cooper) who fills the obligatory wise-ass niche.

2001, this ain’t, but Guardians inoculates itself against serious criticism by adopting an ethos that goes something like this: Hey, we know this is crap, but we’ve gone through a lot of trouble to make the best crap possible.

If that’s too pejorative, substitute the word “junk” and you’re on your way.

To take the most generous view, it’s fair to call Guardians a celebration of genre junk: The movie’s director — James Gunn — also directed Slither, an unashamed and reasonably well-received B-movie from 2006. Guardians qualifies as a more expensive, but still unashamed leap into B-movie tropes.

Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill — a.k.a. Star Lord — a galactic scavenger who steals and re-sells his plunder.

The movie begins with a prologue explaining that Quill was born on Earth during the 1980s, but was abducted by aliens shortly after the death of his mother. The story then leaps ahead 26 years, locating itself in a mixed-species galaxy.

Familiar from TV’s Parks and Recreation and from small roles in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, Pratt relaxes into a big screen lead as the mildly cynical hero who, in the end, takes his galactic responsibilities seriously and who clearly evokes memories of Star Wars’ Han Solo.

The drama revolves around a stolen object called The Orb, a soft-ball sized gizmo with major destructive powers. Lots of folks want to get their hands on The Orb, including Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).

Ronan yearns to destroy the planet Xander, which is led by Nova Prime, Glenn Close with a platinum blonde hairdo that curlicues upward like something that plopped out of a Dairy Queen spigot.

Is it possible to care whether Ronan succeeds? Not really: The movie’s fight against evil couldn’t be more generic: The intention, one presumes, is to keep the characters engaging enough to sustain involvement.

Sometimes it works.

Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, a green-skinned alien who’s also trying to take possession of The Orb, but who ultimately joins forces with Quill.

The other fledgling Guardians — aside from Rocket and Groot — include Drax (Dave Bautista), a heavily muscled hulk who comes from an alien race that has yet to master the concept of metaphors. No, really.

Then there’s Yondu (Michael Rooker), the space pirate who abducted Quill and who since has become his ostensible boss.

Gunn manages a couple of tender moments between Quill and Gamora, but they amount to little more than flirtations. The movie’s PG-13 rating derives from violence and language.

Guardians is one of those movies that blurs the line between violence and action. There’s plenty of it, although none of it struck me as particularly exciting absent anything more than the most perfunctory of rooting interests.

Gunn has given the movie the kind of borderlne cheesy look that requires lots of effort: Like Star Wars, Guardians tries to capture some of the cheap-looking innocence of a bygone days — albeit in hipper fashion.

Not your average comic book hero, Quill has a fondness for a mix tape that was given to him by his mother. Gunn uses ’70s music from this tape throughout, adding an element that may be foreign to younger audiences who know as much about Walkmans as they do about typewriters.

Will there be another Guardians movie?

Is The Orb round? Is Gamora green? Is Marvel an apparently bottomless well of comic-book characters?

I think you know the answer.

  • louis bouchelle: I'm not sure you have a heart or just know how to relax and have a good time. Stop what your doing and just breathe. Take a deep breath...everything is going to be okay. -You probably didn't like star wars either. October 20, 2014 reply
  • Dashie: I'm not entirely sure what your argument here is...if there is one? Essentially the only criticism you give is that its 'junk' and that its typical. The rest of the review you are reciting plot points, very unprofessional for a movie critic really. November 20, 2014 reply
  • Tom: No, this isn't Citizen Kane, but it isn't trying to be either. Ebert used to rate movies on how effective they were at doing what they were meant to do. This movie was marketed well and everybody who went to see it knew what they were getting into; most liked it because they got what they wanted. Sorry you didn't want to see it, but had to for your job. November 25, 2014 reply
  • timmz: junk? seriously? maybe the movie might be your genre but junk? the movie was action packed with alot of space fighting. it was also hilarious, i dont know about you, but alot of people loved the movie and you shouldnt be calling it junk like that November 26, 2014 reply
  • DCrosby: I agree with the reviewer. I'm halfway through the movie and wondering if I should continue or just remove it from my hard drive. I like special effects though, and this film has some. Plot and character be damned, just gimme some eye candy. Recommended for those who watch the Superbowl for the commercials. November 27, 2014 reply
    • anoneeemoose: Um remove from your hard drive? You must have pirated this movie then. Your opinion doesn't count. December 23, 2014 reply
  • Anonymous Jones: These characters are truly original. The jokes in this movie are truly hilarious. There is great character development and a plot that leaves you wanting more. Violence is commonly a part of action. You say that the fight against evil is "generic", but how can you have a fight against evil that isn't? Also, you have many incorrect technicalities, such as calling the orb "a soft-ball sized gizmo with major destructive powers". The orb itself is not a "gizmo" and has no destructive powers. The infinity stone, or one of the six stones created from singularities that were compressed during the Big Bang, inside of the orb, is what they actually care about. The infinity stones have a limitless source of energy that can be used for destruction. Nobody actually cared about the orb that surrounded it, it was only there so someone could hold it without being consumed by its power. The audience does care whether Ronan will succeed, because it is a good movie like that. You complain that Quill makes you think of Han Solo, but isn't that a good thing? To have a character be so well played that he comes close to the personality of the famous Han Solo? You should look forward to the sequel, not despise it. In conclusion, this movie is not "crap", it is very far from it. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. December 14, 2014 reply
    • Farty McGowan: I agree. This is a top ten all-time classic, probably better than Star Wars. The casting was spot on. I rarely look forward to sequels but the ending leaves so much wanting for. Who doesn't want Groot to return? December 27, 2014 reply
  • Sean Kennedy: This critic has a job? He couldn't be more wrong and 92% of the other critics agree. This critic is so wrong, I had to post a message. As EVERYONE stated in these comments, he needs to relax and watch a movie based on merit. Not what the guy did before, or who the comic book company is. Frankly no one cares but you! If this movie is crap, then I wish all movies were crap! This critic is so pretentious, I am shocked he has a job. He must own this website? I would understand a B or a B-, but come on!! December 29, 2014 reply
  • D: I agree with the critic. The movie was terrible - I really expected a genuinely humorous and good action-packed movie. This was the opposite, cheesy and dumb humour for a 5-year old. All the reviews it got made me watch it, together with my partner we regret this every day since. If you are not a half-wit person, don't watch.

    To those that compare GoG to Star Wars - hey, stop spitting on SW! You compare a really bad movie to a really well-made one - hard to compare really, the two are so different (one aims at an audience with taste, the other at an audience that has a very shallow sense of aesthetics).

    Good review - wish I read it before watching the movie. January 10, 2015 reply
    • jesus: lmao star wars is shite bud. February 16, 2015 reply
  • payuatt: Hmm curiously 1 of only 2 comments is written by user name"D" Same as the first letter in "THE Critic's" (And I use that term with wild abandonment ) curious, or insidious??? July 28, 2015 reply