August 3rd, 2014


6 Billion Degrees of Kevin Bacon

And now we get to the big blockbusters of the summer. Last week's Lucy was #1, but this should be a huge opening weekend. Or rather it damn well better be. Still, the Holland 7 parking lot was pretty empty at 1:25pm, filling in quickly. Maybe 30-50 at our showing, including another handicapped user. He had a power wheelchair and a relatively quiet ventilator. I was glad he got out to the movies. And you can never feel sorry for yourself -- I'll keep the walker, the two canes, the AFO brace, and the bandage, thank you.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3D [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #5 1:45pm 2x$9.00

We've seen more and more evidence that Marvel has done it right. Comics to movies, Marvel is the game. The Avengers and company are serious, with a twinge of humor. Guardians of the Galaxy? It's comedic gold with a twinge of seriousness. Oh lord, what a fun romp.

First we have a killer cast.

Zoe Saldano has become quite the SF action movie heroine. As Uhuru she had the green girl roommate at Star Fleet Academy and was the blue girl in Avatar. Now she is the green girl. And one helluva kickass fighter.

I know Vin Diesel is really a nice guy and not a hardass. I can imagine him in drama class being told to Be The Tree, holding his arms out and trying to feel the wind rustling his branches, the warm sun on his leaves... Well, Vin Diesel IS the tree. With just one line. "I am Groot." And he's so good he makes you believe.

Drax isn't just the heavy fighter guy, he's literate -- and literal. Also prone to act without thinking it through. "My name is Inago Drax. You killed my family. Prepare to die." Starlord/Peter is a charming rogue, even smoother than Han. But if Han understood the Wookie, the raccoon understands the tree.

Rocket Raccoon, the only 100% CGI character in the bunch, is the star of the show and the brains of the operation. Starlord is the heart, but Rocket will grow one.

There's a plot. It's actually a bit engaging. But by golly they remembered to write a script and not just a bunch of wisecracking lines. There are sudden course changes and a huge set piece battle. And history. Lots and lots of history, of which we only know a fraction.

Guardians of the Galaxy does not disappoint. I have been waiting for this one for a while and we got a great, good-looking blockbuster here, with an engaging cast. See it in 3D if that works for you. They did a nice job, not too overt or overblown. But should be just fine in 2D. Also playing in IMAX 3D.

Oh, and for once they actually advertised a Dr. Phil Special at the end of the credits. Maybe 80% audience stayed for it -- for once we were not the last to leave.

HIGHLY Recommended

TRAILERS: From the pregame First Look program, they showed some nice bits of the crosstime Highlands series Outlander. Alas, it's on Starz, which we don't get. And it's not a new Highlander series. 3D movie, so 3D trailers. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, and with the third installment, and Peter Jackson's last effort, it gets serious. The Box Trolls is amusingly animated, about a human boy raised by box trolls -- trolls that live in boxes and disappear in them. Also recycle and reuse cast off stuff from the humans. Complications ensue. Cute. And Riff Trax LIVE - 1998 Godzilla... it needs robots. I miss the robots.

Dr. Phil

I Am Groot (80s dance remix)

More comments on Guardians of the Galaxy... probably more aimed at the couple of people who might have seen the movie, so as far as spoilers go, Ye Have Been Warned.

The "I Am Groot" meme is spreading in just 24 hours. I imagine that if you have children, hearing that phrase, "I am Groot" as the answer to any and all questions will get old very fast -- for the kids, repetition is of course kingly behavior.

In case you aren't quite sure what "I am Groot" means, I believe I can translate into the language of another place and time:
Hodor, hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor!

There's a lovely Are You Groot? quiz, which C.C. Finlay had linked on Facebook.

And then there's the whole 80s music thing that Peter Quill had going from him. First, there's the technical detail of whether a 26-year old cassette tape played almost continuously and taken into all sorts of hostile -- and wet -- environments would play at all, let alone sound good. For that matter, the foam on the headphones would rot off after a while. So during the movie I assumed that Peter spent some of his illgotten gains on repairs, restorations and replacements. I was expecting -- and still expect in Guardians 2 (Friday 28 July 2017) -- a moment when the tape either gets eaten by the cassette player or otherwise destroyed. For you kids out there, an eaten tape is a tragic and sorrowful sight. I also wondered, since he had his backpack, how many cassettes did he have. I never got a good look at the label of the that was in his spaceship, versus his Sony Walkman, to see if there were one or two tapes. That he had been carrying around Yet Another Tape for 26 years and didn't know it, could even have been mined for cathartic comedy gold. Instead of tape tragedy or tapecide, we get A Clockwork Orange moment, which I'll take.

I fully expect in the next movie that Peter will meet a more recent kidnapped Terrian, who has an iPod. Blows his mind, until he hears the crap coming out of it. (grin)

Of course in the late 70s and 80s no one I knew was making mix tapes. We copied whole albums onto cassettes. And fitting double albums onto a C90 cassette was a trick. It still seems wrong when there is no pause in the middle -- or tracks I never hear -- on a CD from that time. You kids still on my lawn? Get the hell off! I am Groot!

So... how long CAN you survive in the vacuum of space? It's a debatable point. And there's a difference between explosive decompression and a more subtle transition to vacuum. General consensus seems to me that you have some time, but you'd be unconscious pretty quickly. Of course, Gamora has been modified and we don't really know what the hell Star Lord is.

I loved all the extended cast. They played their parts seriously, the humor coming from context most of the time. I'm Star Lord. Who? Djimon Hounsou gets a spectacular nod as Korath the Pursuer. Hopefully we'll see more of him, because Guardians isn't just a Marvel comic, it's built into the Marvel universe, including that Avengers thing. Three years to Guardians 2? I predict we'll see some crossover or at end-of-film peak in the next Avengers flick. Marvel has been integrating and churning the multiple threads for years -- and have clearly demonstrated that they can create manipulation magic in films as well.

Glen Close is practically channeling her Vice-President from Air Force One, though her hairdo is not. John C. Reilly is in everything -- my favorite is Gus from For Love of the Game -- here he manages to do a lot with a minor role. All the various heads of security or criminal gangs... closest reminder is those roles in Riddick.

I've seen several commenters today expressing dismay at the language in a kid's PG-13 movie. First of all, if you insist on thinking that PG-13 is only for kids, you really need to rethink your idea of entertainment. Secondly, this movie isn't aimed at kids, though as a comic inspired movie it's pretty kid friendly. No, Marvel has to be totally applauded for created a comedy for a wide demographic, that still has some thinking in it and doesn't sink to the level of today's R-rated comedies. And if having a foulmouthed raccoon and sidekicks isn't funny -- or stuff that most kids above the age of 13 run into everyday -- then of course You are going to have a problem. Or be the problem.

For example, the prison scene could be totally predictable, but it plays out with twists and quirks that seem fresh. Maybe less, if you have memorized the Marvel canon, but the way they bring in Drax to complete the team was fun.

All told, I had such a great time yesterday at Guardians of the Galaxy. It is a keeper and a more than worthy trophy on the Marvel cinema wall. No doubt I will learn of many more insider jokes in time. Speaking of which...

About that postscript after the credits. It's all over the place -- I am sure that Howard the Duck will suddenly get rented all over the place. I've never seen. It got bad reviews at the time. But I have been amazed for nearly thirty years how many people I've run into who think this 1986 movie is classic.

For them, Guardians of the Galaxy is perfect.

Dr. Phil