Trailer: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2

A new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, means a new 1970s pop-rock collection of song, and that is led off here with Fleetwood Mac. All of showcased here, including a lot more of the effortlessly effective humour from James Gunn’s direction. Oh, and Kurt Russell. This particular corner of the Marvel universe is the only one I bother with, because it more than the rest of the studio’s franchise building efforts feel beholden to corporate sameness. Guardians of the Galaxy still feels like it has its own personality, and some directorial auteurism, propelling it along.

Cinecast Episode 362 – Primordial Dwarfism

 
Aafter nearly a three week hiatus, Weeeeee’re Baaaaa-aaack. In what is a true first on the Cinecast’s 8 year history, all three of Andrew, Kurt and Matt assembled in the same space to do a show with no telecommunications/web bridge. So, of course we pick a noisy bar and record over too many cocktails. With munchies and Montreal Smoked Meat, on the docket are three main reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood and Lucy which, oddly enough GotG gets the consensus favourite. Ever want to hear Kurt praise a Disney-Marvel production, now is your chance.

There is no 1984 project this week, but rest assured things will return to tomorrow with 2010: The Year We Make Contact next week, and Stop Making Sense after that.

Kurt does his annual 1+ hour recap of The Fantasia International Film Festival (which was also the source of the imported smoked meat) which is followed by a slew of titles from Matt (James Cameron Rape Sci-fi, Abortion Comedy, Punk Catharsis) and Andrew (Zach Braff, Heavy Metal, Alan Partridge and the last of Phillip Seymour Hoffman) with a little Terry Gilliam to round out the picture. LIVE FROM MINNEAPOLIS it is a lengthy, boozy, robust episode of the Cinecast, where bartenders, paramedics, rowdy billiard players, and the odd waitress all make for background character and salty language is tossed around in public spaces.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 
 

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Fantasia Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy


Confirming two axioms of popular cinema simultaneously, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (hereafter Guardians) demonstrates that there is nothing new under the sun, but also that execution can easily trump story to make a pretty swanky piece of pop bubblegum. Director James Gunn and his capable writers are only a few fourth wall breaks away from Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs in that Guardians is a loving parody of the space adventure genre while also delivering memorable characters and banter and sight gags. Every place name is ludicrously silly, all the stakes are kept thankfully low due to the attitude of the characters and the movie. It puts the fun back into the multiplex popcorn film that this summer has been lacking outside of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Guardians feels like the entire film is set in the key of that dense, fun, and most importantly, cocky scene.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gunn’s voice is not silenced by the Marvel machine, I am curious to see if this movie changes the way people look at Jackson Pollack, or for that matter, parents have to explain that one-off joke to their kids (it will likely sail right over their tiny little heads like the blow job gag in Ghostbusters). Much like Sam Raimi’s initial foray into studio filmmaking, Army of Darkness, Gunn gets to bring in all of his favourite peeps to the party: Nathan Fillion, Gregg Henry (the filthy mayor from Slither), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma), even his brother Sean get cameos to pop in on the periphery to the main action. Even Kevin Bacon, who worked with Gunn as fried-eggs-loviing villain in Super, is here in spirit, mildly begging the question of whether or not he gets paid for his presence. Michael Rooker, in blue face paint right over top of his beard, enjoys a pretty significant opportunity to that thing he does. That is to look distinctly uncomfortable for our amusement, like he is having an unexpected orgasm in his pants while trying to make polite conversation at a party. This is the spirit of Guardians, in a way. Rooker is indeed excellent and off kilter as Starlord’s passive-agressive father-figure, and lover of troll dolls and kitchy knick-knacks.

Christ Pratt, as Peter Quill, aka Starlord, sports the tone, all-america surfer body of Caspar Van Dien in Starship Troopers, but is anything but vacant. He is self-away, sharp, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker all-in-one. Pratt nails timing of the screenplay and the sight gags. The tone of his salvage-man loner, happily adrift in the junkyard of space oddities feels not one bit realistic in someone surviving as the last man in space, but nevertheless very right. When he gathers all of these oddballs in the opening act of the film, 100% at odds with one another (one character even phones the villains their location to come and fight) he charmingly negotiates their foibles with wit and grace, but mainly invites everyone (audience included) to dance this little dance with him and enjoy the beauty and the fury of this wide universe.

The movie effortlessly cribs from Star Wars, The Heavy Metal Movie (particularly the John Candy driven Loknar segment), Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond The Stars and even the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Forgive my need to catalogue this kind of minutiae. All of this Mega-franchise connectedness of the Marvel-verse seems to invite this sort of thing, even when it isn’t important or necessary.

More than all of this, Guardians feels like an Edgar Wright movie (note the Peter Ser. All the best jokes in Guardians involve either character driven humour or visual gags involving framing and film grammar; the way stuff happens in the background, or looking away from a dense action set-piece to a nonchalant bit of calm negotiation happening just off to the side of all furious noise. The wicked soundtrack of precisely calibrated and implanted pop songs is perfection, even if many of the cassette tape moments were omnipresent in the marketing. Seeing how well Guardians works outside of the usual tone of the studio makes Wrights firing from Marvel’s Ant Man utterly baffling.

Like many a Marvel movie, the villains, look great in leather costumes and fantastic body tattoos. Apparently, everyone in this film goes to the same tattoo and accessory shop. Ronan, Korath and Nebula (more consonant-vowel-consonant, generic-ridiculous naming, in a movie with oh so plenty to spare) are completely uninteresting and self-serious-silly. Shades of Colm Feore, Karl Urban and Thandie Newton in similar, if not as good The Chronicles of Riddick, which, now that I think about it, also echoes a Heavy Metal Comic-vibe. The reavers, er whatever they are, baddies exist to merely to endanger the universe for no real compelling reasons other than to give the heroes fodder to mock in the middle of familiar CGI space battles and fist fights.

I was very happy to see, in the current ADHD blockbuster landscape, for Guardians to often slow down and spend time hanging out with Quill, Rocket, Gamora, Drax and Chewbacca…er…Groot for long stretches such that one could easily be convinced that this is a re-imaginging of Firefly/Serenity under the watch of Joss Whedon. I was surprised by how effective they get the CGI right. Rocket’s racoon bed heat, Groot’s charming presence and facial tics, the beautifully bright planet (where we encounter Glenn Close as the cheery governor and John C. Reilly as the guard-slash family man) has open vistas and bright clouds highly reminiscent of Farpoint (The Star Trek Next Generation pilot, as does a certain safety-barrier). The planet offers something to save, but also suitably serves up a complex introduce the characters chase with winning choreography, worthy of Buster Keaton. Furthermore, there are moments when the film stops to smell the CGI-roses in slow motion, engaging camera work that does what Brad Bird suggest these types of movies should always do: offer audience a little joy and wonder.

If I never bothered with story details in this review, please forgive me, but you’ve seen Star Wars and its plethora of derivates over the past 35 years, so don’t sweat the generic ‘subway-stop’ plotting (a Marvel-Disney speciality, but in all fairness, Spielberg and all those beloved ’80s fantasy films do it as well) and logistics and enjoy how much Guardians get to take the piss out of it all, with just more than a pinch of sweetness, and an Awesome Mix Tape #1 to make care just enough to not nitpick.

Extended Trailer: Guardians of the Galaxy

The promise of Guardians of the Galaxy, to me anyway, is quoted directly here, “Something good, something bad, a bit of both.” A Whedon-esque tone with the edge of James Gunn. Apparently, these two are long time friends, and this is their first real collaboration, and it continues to look like a winner.

We do not often get excited about those super hero movies in the third row, but there are exceptions to every rule. Here is presumably the final, and quite extended, trailer for this comic Marvel space movie. Happy to see the powers that be emphasizing the goofball aspects over the ‘spectacle’ aspects again. And kudos to the editor of this ad on the timing of the text during the Runaways tune portion of the trailer.

Trailer: Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s marketing team is taking a slightly different approach in this new ‘more epic’ Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. Emphasizing the scale and hero-journey aspects bore the hell out of me and frankly, make the film look less interesting, but this one is catering more to the Marvel/Disney crowed who wolf down their product like sugary breakfast cereal.

The trailer hedges its bets a bit at the end, which gets back to the quirky character goofiness. I’m far more excited for this particular project due to the director James Gunn, who has specialized in R rated genre fare with a humourous bent (Slither, Super) than the usual Marvel tropes, but your mileage may vary.

Second Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

This might be as close as one gets to 2005’s Serenity: a dead-pan, but slyly earnest, space romp that somehow keeps its focus on the characters against the spectacle. Certainly the glossiest James Gunn (Slither, Super) directed film, Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be the one Marvel product to stride the line between ‘mass appeal’ and ‘quirky.’

Is this the movie that Warner’s Green Lantern should have been? Perhaps. At the moment, it exists outside of the, frankly, exhausting mega-franchise building framework of Marvel-Disney as a fun stand-alone movie, and seems all the better for it.

Cinecast Episode 327 – Building Gazebos


You might be interested in Kurt’s rather epic, “Kermode-ian,” Ender’s Game rant which tackles one of the key issues with modern blockbuster storytelling. He uses Gavin Hood’s slipshod execution and shading as a kind of Case Study in lazy storytelling and not realizing how rich the material one has at hand. But before that, there is a more civilized and in depth conversation on Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave which looks at what the likely future Best Picture winner does well, and where it perhaps mis-steps. Andrew grades the homework assignments, and hands out a new one, regarding World War I films. And a lengthy watchlist segment sees a couple of underrated Wes Anderson titles under discussion (well, full out praise is more like it), the laundry list of V/H/S 2 failures, a little love of body horror-comedy in James Gunn’s Slither, some talk on Kubrick’s The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, Tarantino’s Kill Bill as it quickly approaches being a decade old, and the ‘it’s not for us’ aspects of Steven Spielberg’s Warhorse.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


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Mamo #282: Guardians of the Internet

We look a three recent releases: Lincoln, which is doing better than expected, and Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians, which are doing worse. Plus, we inadvertently delve deep into this week’s James Gunn fiasco, and do a bit of plugging for our new podcast, Very Important!

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo282.mp3

Cinecast Episode 234 – High-Five, Movie. I’m outta here!

A high energy show, especially so considering the lack of Matt Gamble. Kurt and Andrew talk a little Tower Heist and the public whipping of Brett Ratner – due to more than one recent public faux pas and his penchant for being a douchebag in public. They then move into the meatier movie meal that is Martha Marcy May Marlene **SPOILER WARNING**. But wait, there is more: A new Top 5! Plus, the Watch List keeps the fires burning, all toasty-like, as Kurt gets really, really enthusiastic about big screen viewings of Kubrick and Gilliam films. There is a fair bit of disagreement about the pleasures of David Twohy’s Pitch Black. Also We Live in Public, Streets of Fire, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn (the proto-Grindhouse vampire flick), Super and Sexy Beast keep things lively and lengthy right to the very end. Have at ‘er, folks, she’s a good ‘un.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

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Review: Super

[In light of its limited (and VOD?) release this weekend, I happily re-run my review of James Gunn’s scuzzier and funnier version of Kick Ass. Worth a trip for good supporting roles by Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon and James Gunn’s amusing sense of humour]

 

Do not let the sprightly pencil crayon song-and-dance credit sequence fool you, James Gunn’s latest film, a send-up of amateur vigilantes called Super, wants to give you some awkward, messy violence for your entertainment dollar. The drama is mostly of the sad-sack variety, the laughs are mostly of the gallows kind, and while the film seems a bit late to the party (despite being written years ago) it will satisfy the culty niche that considers Watchmen was too glossy and Kick-Ass too mainstream. The line between superheroes and sociopaths has for some time been a blurry one, but Super takes great pleasure in kicking the line completely out of existence.
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Action Fest Full Line up!

Well, my hotel is booked and the car has been serviced for an early April road trip down to Asheville, North Carolina for ActionFest – the worlds first film festival dedicated to action movies, will be running from April 7th-10th. So, lo and behold they’ve released the remaining titles at the festival and added some special guests and panels (and tucked way down there under the seat is the original announcement and the all new festival trailer) It should be a grand time!

Bail Enforcers – A bounty hunting babe tackles the tough guys in this World Premiere starring seven-time WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, who will be in attendance!
Never Back Down 2 – World Premiere of this anticipated MMA fight flick, directed by and starring Michael Jai White, who will be in attendance!
Battle Royale – The official US theatrical debut of the popular and controversial Japanese cult classic.
Fightville – Fresh from SXSW and a month before HotDocs, this hard hitting doc about the art and sport of mixed martial arts fighting follows two up and comers as they shed blood, sweat and tears to rise to the top.
Bellflower – From Sundance and SXSW, this indie gets under the skin of the action genre with a story about two apocalypse-obsessed friends.
Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie – World Premiere Kung Fu documentary based on the book by martial arts cinema expert Ric Meyers
The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch – Regional Premiere of this adaptation of the popular French action-adventure comic book hero
Lonely Place to Die – World Premiere about a group of five mountaineers who find danger while hiking and climbing in the Scottish Highlands.
Tomorrow, When the War Began – North American Premiere of the Australian box office hit flick based on best-selling novel series that pits teenagers against an army invasion.

On Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th, there will be two panels: great stories from the legendary careers of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Buddy Joe Hooker and representatives of Stunts Unlimited, and a discussion of the role of the Modern Fight Director, featuring Larnell Stovall (Undisputed III), Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Never Back Down 2) and martial arts film expert Ric Meyers (Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie).

Additionally, ActionFest 2 will pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of Stunts Unlimited, an elite organization comprised of Hollywood’s A-list stunt performers (including original member Buddy Joe Hooker), which has become one of the most sought after group of action performers. Their work has been seen in a wide array of film and television including Die Hard, Fast and the Furious, Mission Impossible 2, Point Break, Rocky, Spider-man and The Terminator.

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