Guardians Of The Galaxy – (2014)

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Original Theatrical Release: August 01, 2014
Director: James Gunn

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is an intergalactic outlaw and treasure hunter who calls himself Star-Lord. When he nabs a mysterious artifact in the form of a powerful orb, he discovers that it is being sought after by a powerful individual known as Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace), who will stop at nothing to get it. The orb, as well as Peter’s outlaw status, puts him in contact with other misfits like Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) – all of whom must band together to survive Ronan’s crusade.

Guardians of the Galaxy was always a fringe title. It never really registered with me. I was pretty familiar with most of the characters, especially Rocket, Gamora, and Groot – but Spider-Man was usually the title I gravitated toward with mainstream comics. Maybe some Avengers or X-Men stuff. But not Guardians of the Galaxy. And if they are lesser-known to me and I’ve been reading comics since I was a wee lad, I can only imagine the reactions of some folks to these characters who are new to comics or who have no idea about the franchise. A musclebound killer? A green-skinned femme fatale? A walking tree in desperate need of a dictionary? An angry, anthropomorphic raccoon who fires guns? A sarcastic, egotistical human male flying around space like he’s a badass? Who knew it’d be so good and work so well as a film?

The key to the whole film’s success is the fact that the above characters sure ARE cool – but also the film’s resonance with our pop culture psyches via Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix-Tape that he plays on his Sony Walkman. (He was abducted by aliens in the late 1980’s – long story, and I don’t want to give anything away – so go see the film and see for yourself). The soundtrack had people swaying and bopping their heads in their seats during the showing I went to. It also makes Peter Quill accessibly human. Music is an access point that knows no language boundaries to be enjoyed.

Aside from the interesting characters and the amazing soundtrack, the casting was well done. The only complaints that I really had about the film were actually the villains. The heroes were well-established and had screen time together so that we really felt like they bonded, but Ronan’s motivation was flat and predictable. Ditto with Nebula (Karen Gillan). I would have liked to see more established backstory and/or screen time for those characters. As it is, they are very generic “we want ALL the power” villains. That is a really small gripe, though, because the main focus was really supposed to be on the Guardians themselves –  and Gunn (as well as the cast) not only excelled at that but as of right now, this is my favorite Marvel film to date.

Go see it, and make sure to stay for the end credits for a surprise cameo!

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Guardians Of The Galaxy

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Original Theatrical Release: August 27, 2004
Director: Jared Hess

Napoleon (Jon Heder) lives in a small Iowa town, where there seems to have congregated a long list of off-the-wall eccentric characters including his crazy family – Kip (Aaron Ruell), Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) and Grandma (Sandy Martin). At his school, he pursues a girl named Deb (Tina Majorino) and tries to help his newfound friend Pedro (Efrem Ramirez) become the class president and defeat the obnoxious Summer Wheatly (Haylie Duff).

The big draw to this film, in case you couldn’t already tell, are the zany characters. The story is there to fit the characters, and not the other way around.

Heder is definitely at his best here, playing the squinty, annoyed and overly-confident but tragically clumsy Napoleon who must constantly wade through the others in the cast to get anything accomplished in his life…from his squabbling brother Kip, who wants to be a cage fighter and somehow gets more attention from the ladies….to his Uncle Rico who does nothing but eat steak and wish he were still in the 1980’s.

There are many worthy moments of comedy cold and there are lots of catchphrases still being used even today from the film (and even a new animated show, which I’m not sure is still on or not).

The locations where the film was shot hold a sort of nostalgic charm that you can’t find in today’s hustle-and-bustle cities and it’s really fun to see a world where you’re really not sure if it’s supposed to be the 1990’s or if it’s really just that backwater there.

This is a classic, for sure.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Napoleon Dynamite

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Starsky and Hutch (2004)

Original Theatrical Release: March 5, 2004
Director: Todd Phillips

David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is, at least in his own eyes, a super cop. He narrates his own life with a sort of grim, noir commentary and takes pleasure in being an officer of the law…one of the good guys. Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson), often called ‘Hutch’, is the exact opposite. Ending up as partners, they must resolve their differences and work together to take down the drug czar Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) using intel and help from their informant, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg).

I was never a super-huge fan of the show, as I only ever saw reruns when I was a kid. Once I reached college age, though, I started consuming some media I missed when I was too young to appreciate it, and Starsky and Hutch was one of the shows I started getting into.

First of all, the show isn’t really anything like this movie so it’s no use really comparing the two. One is mostly serious, one is pretty much a parody of the buddy-cop genre. With that fact kept firmly in mind, I must say the film was extremely successful with what it set out to do.

Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, love ’em or hate ’em, do what they do best in this movie – which is to butt heads for comedic effect. They are, to me, a modern day Abbot and Costello and I thoroughly enjoy every movie I’ve seen them in together.

The movie isn’t too long, running at only 95 minutes or so, and that is just enough length for a movie like this. It’s not overly ambitious, but it’s a lot of fun to watch the interactions between Starsky and Hutch or really any of the characters in this film.

There are some cool car chase sequences in the film, making use of the Ford Gran Torino that is pretty much the flagship image of this movie and of the television show.

Overall, there’s not much to complain about here unless you don’t like the kind of humor that comprises the entirety of this flick. If so, you picked the wrong movie to watch.

Oh, and the Will Ferrell cameo is HILARIOUS. (Carmen Elektra, Brande Roderick and Amy Smart didn’t hurt, either…)

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Starsky & Hutch