Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Summer Sizzle reviews! Guardians and Turtles


It’s been a long time my dearly faceless so let’s get to it:

Guardians of the Galaxy:

Marvel Studios announced production on Guardians a short time ago- it’s got some big names attached to the project, it’s part of the Marvel Universe, and it’s a summer blockbuster- almost all of these things are promises that guarantee at least a decent return in the box office: But it also has director James Gunn at the helm and this changes the dynamic quite a bit for little old me. You see, director James Gunn is a ringer- he’s a guy I keep my eye on. Troma alumni, risk-taker, and the guy who brought us one of the best zombie-alien-comedy-horror hybrids to ever feature Nathan Fillion in a starring role. (Counter THAT argument!) So these are some pretty strange hands to place a huge project of this magnitude- the end question is whether or not the risks were worth taking.

Let me make something clear: Guardians of the Galaxy is NOT a superhero film. Despite taking place in the Marvel Universe, there’s very little that connects this film to any of the previous films beyond the existence of Thanos (who appeared very minimally in the Avengers film and was quite often forgotten by most non-hardcore comic book fans). So there isn’t much to keep the film grounded in the current mythology of the Marvel Universe, and that allows the film to exist on its own merits. And that merit is “Space opera”!

Okay, here’s the thing about Space Opera- there used to be a lot of them. It’s a sub-genre of a sub-genre with a specific niche that has recently been filled by Star Wars and Star Trek with almost total exclusivity. Few movie companies are willing to risk a Space Opera venture- Serenity having been the last one I can remember while everything else is either hardcore science fiction or a “Future War” sort of deal like the Terminator. Whatever- Space Operas are fun little hero quests set in space and Guardians of the Galaxy never lets you forget it. It’s light, it’s fun, the effects are stunning, and the world hopping is always impressive with beautiful shots of the most wondrous and horrifying places to see in the known galaxy.

Be on the look out for cameos galore- Rob Zombie, Nathan Fillion, and Lloyd Kaufman all poke their heads into the film and I’m sure there were more but I lost track. Great fun film for the whole family- well, assuming you’re okay with the occasional cuss word, hand gesture, or body melting laser blasts… okay, fun for a geek family like ours who enjoy Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

4 out of 5. A definite must see.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Heroes in a half shell- with turtle power! Cowabunga dudes! And all that-

Okay, truth be told I wasn’t a big Turtles fan when I grew up. Let me be clear- I was alive and in my early tweens when the show hit the airwaves and my brother got big-time into the turtles. We had the figures but that was largely HIS show- I had my own stuff, he had his stuff, and we didn’t often mix our interests. I could enjoy the turtles but they weren’t the biggest thing in the world to me- but I didn’t hate them either. They were just sort of there and it was a time waster- the movies were interesting if a little on the cheesy side. The comic books were much better…. Darker, grittier, something a bit more vicious and therefore more in my line of interests.

The Michael Bay-produced “Turtle” film is based more on the comic book in regards to the general look and atmosphere- it diverges from traditional source material with regard to some of the background, but not at the cost of the characters themselves. We still have the Turtles, their master Splinter, and the evil dreaded Shredder in all their glory. And it’s a fun ride- Bay’s traditional race-baiting, chauvinism, and potty humor is in low supply (It’s still there, but the supply runs very low) so the film doesn’t drag itself down too much. Action is good, the Ninjas are well animated, and I don’t have all that much to complain about.

On the other hand, it’s not really all that much to talk about either. It’s just a fun little summer film and I’d recommend it if you enjoy genre films. That’s about the best I can say.

3 out of 5.