Monday, August 04, 2014

Movie Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - 9.1 Stars! $94M Opening!!

I have to say that director James Gunn has really nailed this one (9.1 stars - details below), and Marvel has yet another trophy opening on their mantle. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY earned $94 million + over the weekend with a worldwide take of $160 million +. This is getting to be a habit Marvel!

But this movie is more than just your standard Tier A comic book hero movie release. These guys are Tier B, unknown and unproven outside of a core group of comic fans - a huge risk for Marvel and Disney. However with large risks come large potential rewards! How does owning the box office record for best August opening sound? And not by a small margin - GOTG beat out THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM by $25 million.

AND... GOTG has tied or beat out it's own family's recent juggernauts, namely CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER ($95m) and THOR: THE DARK WORLD ($85.7m). How's that for unknown? It's a testament to the marketing power of Disney and the brand of Marvel - an unbeatable pairing. Nobody is going to be in Disney's neighborhood for the next decade with their onslaught of Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm productions, not to mention their own formidable studio offerings.

But this is not just about short term box office - to the contrary it's more about long term. GOTG opens up, well, the galaxy. Nothing really is untouchable now for Marvel and their vault of characters. Sure Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot can all have their own standalone movies. Sure the Avengers are sure to line up with these guys at some point in the future, especially when Thanos fully hits the scene. But now Marvel can feel much more confident about opening up their roster into the very depths of their library. I'd like to see some standalone / team up villain movies too. The sky is not the limit these days. The galaxy is.

So just how good was the movie? I won't spoil anything here for you but I can tell you this - it is the perfect blend of action, comedy, character development and visual effects that leave you wanting much, much more - and thinking about the movie the next day. THAT'S when you know you've hit the nail on the head. Top of mind discussion.

Some things that disappointed me (few and far between) were suspension of disbelief first and foremost - in some scenes, the visual effects were absolutely jaw dropping - some of the best I have ever seen, if not the best (some flight scenes with the Milano (spaceship) for example); however some other scenes were jarringly fake like and immediately yanked me out of enjoyment (some skyline scenes) - it just looked fake and hand painted. The lighting was off too. If I had to wager, I'd say different VFX companies were working on those scenes and believe me when I say to you Marvel, hire the Milano crew back and expand their tasks next time around. Heck I still gave the movie a 9.2 out of 10 for VFX, mainly because of those Milano flight scenes, etc. Don't NOT go to the movie because of this though, just be weary of it.

The stereoscopic 3D was good. Not as great as other Marvel productions, but good. A 9 out of 10 might be a little high, but the 3D didn't bother me much - it just didn't punch it to me. I noticed that both Stereo D and Prime Focus did the conversions - perhaps that split affected the end result - I don't know. Heck I wish Marvel would just go with native 3D and get it over with. For the life of me I don't understand why DC doesn't go native for a further differentiation between them and Marvel - more of a "high class" move. *Shake my head*

3D screenings were responsible for 45% of ticket sales which is not bad for a conversion. IMAX 3D was definitely enjoyable (I saw it in that format, and I will see it in Real D again this week) - with $11.7 million coming from IMAX showings.

The story is brilliant. Just it uses tropes but it does so with original and unknown character and seeing their story's develop, especially Star-Lord's was heart warming. A couple of times I had to wipe "moisture" from my eyes. It's a seriously good story. Love how Gunn pulled in the soundtrack too. LOVE it.

Acting was par at best, but we're not talking about a drama here - and comedy is hard to convey adequately - I thought Chris Pratt nailed it (the reason why my score for acting is as high as it is) and Dave Bautista shone. Saldana left a little on the plate I think. I know what she is capable of (AVATAR anyone?) and while her fighting skills were clearly excellent, I'd like to see more character depth in her portrayal of Gamora. The character definitely deserves it.

So yeah, 9.1 stars out of 10. A blockbuster breaking box office records and a heckuva summer movie. GO SEE IT!

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