Guardians of the Galaxy- The First One

The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space with the film's title, credits and slogan.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies where positive reception from fans and critics alike was a near-certainty. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films people will look back on because it was an innovator especially for 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy mostly works because of the humor, drama, and likability of characters which is what drew me into liking this film.

The plot: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals an orb that has the power to destroy life in order to sell for cash (not knowing the powerful nature of the orb at the time). This gets him in a tangle with bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) who have to work with each other to defeat a bigger enemy called Ronan

The plot summarized: I am Groot

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I want this to be on my drivers licence

I liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Did I love it? I’m not so sure. What I credit Guardians of the Galaxy in doing is getting a film containing a multi-star cast over with critics and audiences and myself as that is a tough task to accomplish. I also appreciate it for being innovative by being a superhero movie that wins the audience through humor while mixing in a tinge of drama. In most superhero movies pre- Guardians of the Galaxy that was the other way round.

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The power of dance knows no bounds. If only this was used on Doomsday in Batman vs. Superman, it might have made more sense. Shots have been fired.

The problem is, I am watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time in 2017 is that I have seen many superhero movies doing exactly the same thing: Using wacky jokes in order to be liked. Power Rangers, Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie, and Deadpool have also tried to succeed by using lots of in-jokes and meta humor to varying degrees of success. Still, I would rank Guardians of the Galaxy second behind Deadpool out of the movies that I mentioned. That’s a good ranking considering the other movies could have refined what Guardians of the Galaxy paved.

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Peter explans to Drax the meaning behind slitting a person’s throat by putting his finger on his throat. This goes for nearly thirty seconds. It’s a rare movie where a lot of the humour comes from explaining jokes or gestures.

I liked the meta humor to a point. That point was reached when the would be a dramatic point in a conflict in which one of the main characters (mainly Peter) would interject by saying jokes when I thought it was unnecessary as it patronized the main villain Ronan. It watered down the payoff of key fight scenes in the movie. It made me believe that the heroes were not taking the main antagonist Ronan seriously. If the Guardians of the Galaxy treat the villain like a joke, I see no reason to take the threat seriously and therefore I don’t care for the Guardian’s fates. It felt like the movie was selling itself short.

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I say that this secne where the guardians unite is a good scene however Rocket the raccoon believes they look like “A bunch of jackasses” You be the judge.

What wasn’t sold short was everything else in the movie from the character development of all four Guardians of the Galaxy as a cohesive unit from bounty hunters who are all in for themselves to the bonding through grief in order to work together and destroy the villain. The emotional payoffs of the four characters worked and made me want to see them fight and win.

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The special efferects are great. It’s not exclusivly purple like Battlefield Earth. There are a variety of colours and textures that are pleasing to the eye in this movie.

The special effects were wild and beautiful to look at most of the time. Marvel have this thing nailed down where they show a lot of colors and shades in their special effects and you never feel like you are drenched in it. Doctor Strange, in my opinion, is still the best superhero movie for the GCI that it had, but Guardians is yet again a close second. It adds a lot of life to the movie and it’s always got me in wanting to see it.

So, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as perfect as what people made me believe, but I am still happy with the final product. Like a lot of three-star movies I give, all they need is some refining and it would have gone a long way with my enjoyment of it. Still, like any three-star movie, I cannot deny I enjoyed it ***3/4

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The Fate of The Furious: Still chugging along

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They say you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. They never said you can’t judge a movie by promotional picture!

The Fate of The Furious is one-upping itself by having bigger action set pieces than ever before. There are cars that topple over a multi-story parking lot like tears in the rain, five cars trying to hog tie another car, there is a car race were one of those cars was on fire and a goddamn submarie break thes ice of the Russain freaking ocean chasing our heroes. None of which is a spoiler because either 1. They happen early on or 2. They revealed them in the trailer.

The reason I describe the movie like that is simply for this one notion:

What more did you expect from this franchise?

Despite the enthusastic tone, let’s not be mistaken, The Fate of the Furious is an unsurprising, middle of the road film. To continue this car analogy, this installment of the franchise is the pitstop. A 1 billion dollar pitstop, but a pitstop nonetheless. At least it was not the car crash of the franchise. The pitstop isn’t a bad place to be but it isn’t running the laps. That’s because this movie was a hit and miss: some action scenes worked, others were too ridiculous. There is a story in it that darting around, but at least there is a story to this movie. If you are a fan of the franchise, you will like this because The Fate of the Furious keeps chugging along rain, hail or shine.

The Positives: The story and the Script

The plot: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue because the antagonist Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on him and uses that to her advantage and Toretto helps her against his will to implement her own plans (and to the horror of his “family”).

There is a reason I mention the plot and that’s because it’s somewhat important. Yes, in movies as a whole, that’s a given but in action movies not so much. A prime example of bad storytelling being xXx The Return of Xander Cage in which the story was so aimless, scattershot and boring that it became laughable. The Fate of the Furious actually has some restraint in what it shows in terms of keeping the plot together as it kept me focused on the story which is a relief.

The other thing that was restrained was the script. It wasn’t cringeworthy like I have heard in most action movies. They only mention the word “family” thirteen times (I predicted twice the amount and it being more explicit than subtle). Therefore I consider it a success. The script isn’t Shakespeare but it doesn’t have to be. The funniest lines occur when Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) has a hang up that he didn’t make it to the ten most wanted list whereas the other friends did (conveniently, he was number 11). So the movie was salvageable in the script department as well.

Furiously Burning the Budget: The Action Sequences

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The picture totally doesn’t make me the think of the song “America, Fuck Yeah” from Team America World Police

What was not restrained was the action sequences. That was exactly what I expected. They normally started off by being cool and/or clever but then change gears and amp up the ridiculousness. A prime example is an opening scene where Dominic races a Cuban with a poorly run car that he soups up at the last minute. During the race, the engine catches on fire while he is neck and neck.

That was fun. I have seen it before, but it was still fun.

Then the engine combusts and the flames obscure Dominic’s vision so he decided to finish (and win the race) by driving backwards while the crowd is cheering that a flaming car is racing toward them.

That was dumb.

To be honest, Fate of the Furious was mildly interesting throughout. It is certainly not the best in the franchise (that was Fast Five for me) but it is certainly not the worst (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). It aimed to be the biggest action film of the year in terms of sheer scale and yet I didn’t feel that way. In terms of money at the box office, that is a real possibility. **3/4

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage: So Fantastically Stupid.

Written by Nelson Cumming

The first 20 seconds of this movie consisted of a satellite dropping down and crashing to earth. I then asked myself “Shouldn’t that satellite have disintegrated upon re-entry?”

That was when I realized the xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. was not designed to make you think.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is fantastically stupid. So fantastically stupid that it was funny (for awhile). I have reviewed nearly 100 movies and I have never seen a movie that I have laughed so hard at for all the wrong reasons. I started to enjoy its stupid antics. That is until it took itself too seriously.

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This scene was unintentionally funny. Vin Diseal’s horrific dialogue was what made it watchable.

This movie was like a comedian suffering a mental breakdown halfway through their act. You wouldn’t know if this was part of the act. Then you realize it isn’t a part of the act and you have this sudden rush of concern and disappointment.

This is why I have to give it a negative review. I don’t know its intentions and therefore I don’t know how to take it. If this film intends to be a stupid as it comes off, I would be more open to it than if it was trying to take itself seriously.

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Their bond is like their tattoos: Skin deep.

As I said, I think that the humor was unintentional (I think) which is why this movie isn’t ingenious. To prove to you how stupid and unintentionally funny it is, I will reveal a segment from the first half of the movie:

It is established that Xander Cage has a girlfriend in the Dominican Republic. That girl has never seen again in the movie.

10 minutes later, Xander is trying to hook up with a girl in London. She brushes him off by saying “9 out of 10 sexual relationships fail to last”

Xander Cage responds with “But I know you like to gamble”.

She says she is not a gambler but instead gives him 7 girls to have sex with.

After Gage beds all of the women, Cage smiles at the camera before saying “The things I do for this country”

Rainbows of Stupid.

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When Yu-Gi-Oh came up with the idea of card games on motorcycles I thought, “No movie could top that level of stupidity” I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Don’t worry, this movie has a broader range of unintentional comedic stupidity. You have motorbikes that work like jet skis riding on the oceans and riding the tubes like surfboards. You also have Cage traversing down a jungle using skis, risking his life so he can connect a cable so his community would have TV reception.

This is the kind of stupid that goes on which makes xXx: The Return of Xander Cage so funny. It is only when it is serious when the movie crumbles. The action sequences are edited poorly with frantic quick cuts that your brain won’t process. The combat sequences are cliched and unoriginal. The characters are one-dimensional and the script was dead.

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If only they had another one of these…

F.Scott Fraiser is the scripwriter. This is the first film I have seen of his work. If he writes stories like this reguarly, he will be one of the worst scriptwriters on this planet.

If you are into campy movies. Watch the first half of the movie (up to and including the motorbike jet-ski scene) and then leave. It rivals with The Room in its unintentional comedy.

This is, so far, the funniest movie that I am giving a negative review. *1/2