Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy PosterRelease Date: August 1, 2014

Directed by: James Gunn

Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

Starring: Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista

Synopsis:

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.

Super Movie

James Gunn made the movie that ruled the summer, which is really fucking weird. Not because he isn’t talented (because he is), but because his rise to prominence doesn’t make mathematical sense. The odds were astronomical. To think about it in the worst way possible, Lloyd Kaufman — the founder of Troma — is still hustling Troma films wherever he can while his Tromatic protege has the #1 movie of the year. He’s a bona fide mainstream success who got his start rewriting Shakespeare so that Juliet becomes a monster with a giant dick. Now, the world has officially gotten his dick message. But to try to nail down Gunn’s style is impossible. Beyond the genre fuckery of Troma which has proven itself to be a borrowed language, Gunn has also written and/or directed stripped-down horror, a surprisingly family friendly series where a talking dog solves mysteries and a hero satire that’s far smarter and more earnest than Kick-Ass. Gunn has a fantastically twisted sense of humor, but instead of toiling in obscurity or b-level experimentalism, he’s making blockbusters that millions of people love. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who learned everything from the Toxic Avenger.

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Stan Lee in The Incredible Hulk

Journalism isn’t what it used to be. That’s what any old hat will tell you. In this 24/7 world of interconnected data tubes and hashtags, it’s easy for a small rumor to become a big story in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes. Me personally, I still wait for things to show up in my local newspaper. I’m kidding, what’s a newspaper? Earlier this week, a perfect example presented itself in the form of a story about the year’s highest grossing film, Guardians of the Galaxy. According to reports, a planned cameo for Stan Lee was axed by the overlords at Disney due to its somewhat racy nature.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark Throne Room

Steven Zeitchik recently recognized Guardians of the Galaxy as the most recent in a string of modern blockbusters that are essentially plot-free films. Citing a respect for witty banter over storytelling, he also offered the criticism that several studio movies had motivations that were murky and details that were intentionally blurry. I love Zeitchik’s work, but this assessment is confusing for two reasons. One, his argument is a misunderstanding (or at least a misappropriation) of what “plot” — the cause and effect-based sequence of events — actually is. It would be difficult to make a movie without a plot that isn’t raw abstract experimentation. On the other hand, “post-plot” is a catchy, succinct phrase, so I get it. Two, within his argument, Zeitchik remarks offhandedly that, “[t]here is a strange, perhaps super-meta irony in [Guardians] making frequent reference to cinematic classics like The Maltese Falcon, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars, all movies in which storytelling matters very much,” but Raiders is certainly no more plot-tastic than Guardians. If you’re going to grouse about a talking raccoon and an Infinity Stone, then you’ve got to roll your eyes at a Nazi monkey and a face-melting God Box.

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Back to the Future Biff Pleasure Palace

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Pierce Brosnan in The November Man

It wasn’t until this week that I became aware of The November Man, which opens as early as next Wednesday. Hey, it’s not like I write about movies for a living or anything. But outside of barely paying attention to a commercial for the Pierce Brosnan-led action thriller the other night, I still haven’t given it much thought. I also haven’t heard much buzz or anticipation for the movie, which is directed by Roger Donaldson (reunited with his Dante’s Peak star) and is about an ex-CIA operative who has to take down his former protege while tiptoeing around a compromised agency. Should be interesting to see another evocation of Three Days of the Condor so soon after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yet unfortunately it looks more generic than that, like it’s following instead in the footsteps of another movie with the same number in the title: 3 Days to Kill. Today I’ve been made more curious about The November Man, though, thanks to the announcement of a sequel. According to ComingSoon.net, Relativity Studios has already greenlit the follow-up in advance of the first movie hitting theaters. This isn’t that strange considering the prospective film franchise is based on a series of spy novels by Bill Granger. Just think of that author (who died in 2012) as the latest Ian Fleming or Robert Ludlum, especially since the president of production at Relativity is calling this a reinvention of the genre “combining the best elements of James Bond and Jason Bourne while echoing the cool, sleek action movies of the 70s.” […]

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Marvel Studios

2014’s summer movie season comes to an end in a week or so, but while some folks will be editorializing about the box office being down 15-20% compared to last summer and others express surprise that a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy could be days away from becoming the year’s highest grossing domestic hit, we here at FSR have a different agenda. Simply put, we saw a lot of great movies this summer, and we hope you did too. The year’s best “big” movie (per me anyway), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, missed the summer cutoff as it opened in early April, but there were still some fantastic blockbuster-type flicks that entertained the hell out of us over the past four months. Of course, there were also some brilliant smaller films too. An informal staff survey revealed a mix of both to be our favorites of the summer. Keep reading to see which movies moved us the most from May through August.

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Thanos-The-Avengers

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Guardians of the Galaxy Abduction

One of the burning questions left at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy concerns Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father. Who is he? What is he? With a sequel already in the works, due in 2017, the apparent certainty is that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will either answer the question or at least address it more in full. But does it have to? Must it? Can it not, please? I’d like to address Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer/director James Gunn here and simply plead that whoever and whatever Star-Lord’s father is to keep him out of the next movie and any installment of the greater MCU franchise. Here’s what we know: Peter Quill was raised by his mother and possibly grandfather, never knowing who his real dad is or was. Around the age of 10, his mother died and he was immediately abducted via spaceship captained by a blue-skinned alien who would become a sort of father figure. About 25 years later, he still hasn’t met his pops, but it’s definite that the guy came from outer space. Quill’s mom said his dad was an angel made out of light. Later we hear that Quill is half-human and half some unknown cosmic entity. It’s a hybridization quality that heroes have had since heroes were first conceived. He’s basically a demigod, not unlike Hercules.* Maybe Quill’s father is some character we haven’t yet met. A notable hero or villain. Or maybe he’s actually just the kid of Yondu (Michael […]

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Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix

Just as Marvel’s The Avengers gave shawarma sales a huge boost in the summer of 2012, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has brought forth a newly-rediscovered love for cassette tapes. This is thanks to the “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” that Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt), dying mother made for him in 1988. Quill kept the joy of mix tapes alive while he bounced around the galaxy for 26 years, rocking out to music from Blue Swede, The Jackson 5, David Bowie, and The Runaways. As a child of the 80s, I am intimately familiar with cassettes, Walkmans, old-school 1/8” headphones, and the awesomeness of a mix tape. However, I also remember burning through my fair share of cassettes in my youth (and needing a pencil more than a few times). Of course, the track list for “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” will always be awesome, but seeing all that Quill goes through in Guardians of the Galaxy, it got me thinking. Would that mix tape have lasted for 26 years in space? Would it even still work?

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Infinity Stones

It’s always been possible to watch a Marvel movie – an individual entry in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” if you want to be precise – independent of the rest of the franchise, but why would you want to? Especially as the now-ten-film-strong series continues to steadily move towards one blockbuster wrap-up (most likely The Avengers 3), as both characters and plots converge in ways large and small. One thing that keeps running through the MCU in unavoidable ways is the appearance of the powerful Infinity Stones, and the lingering understanding that the artifacts are just a few more movies away from joining up at the hands of some supervillain hellbent on destroying the entire universe as we know it. Now that’s build-up. Spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy. There are six Infinity Stones – called “Infinity Gems” in comic book lore, and damn if that doesn’t make them all sound a mite more sparkly, but what can you do – lurking around in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just waiting to be found and put together for some major mayhem (we already know that it’s Thanos’ master plan to do just that, but the big purple guy isn’t having much luck lining those damn Stones up, at least not yet). We’ve seen three of the Stones so far, but while we’re waiting for the other half to show up, it might be wise to remember, oh, yeah, that’s where we put them.

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Sharknado 2

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Spaceballs Barf and Lone Star

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie where we could go on and on with relevant recommended titles. Its main hero, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), is a guy who spent his first 10 years on Earth enjoying a lot of movies and music. He’s a good representation of many people his age who are still Earthbound, because he’s focally nostalgic for ’80s pop culture and is always ready to make a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or some other property that existed prior to his abduction in 1988 by the space pirates known as the Ravages. In addition to the direct allusions spoken or spotted on screen (it’s cool that Star-Lord is familiar with a classic like The Maltese Falcon and apparently had an ALF sticker in his backpack when taken), the movie is highly influenced by past movies, with some big antecedents such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark being too popular to bother including. And of course Guardians of the Galaxy is also reminiscent of the many followers of those two George Lucas productions. As John Gholson notes in his spot-on comic-strip review, the new Marvel movie “has more in common with Star Wars wannabes,” as he features posters for four examples: Ice Pirates, Battle Beyond the Stars, Serenity and The Last Starfighter. On top of all the movies we could urge the fans go back and watch, this release had me wanting to also do a whole list of TV series to watch after you’ve seen it. […]

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Must See Movies of August

When it comes to major releases, this summer was somewhat junky. Before this season is even over already A Million Ways to Die in the West, Malificent, Transformers: Age of Extinction feel like distant memories. This summer wasn’t packed with offensively bad movies, but a few too many middle-of-the-road ones. Thankfully, there was enough standout major releases to not make this summer of popcorn eating a total loss. We got Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, and, a real delightful surprise last week, Lucy. We also saw a slew of great limited releases with Boyhood, Coherence, The Rover, Obvious Child, They Came Together, Snowpiercer, and more. They also helped make us forget about the more underwhelming blockbusters that were released these past three months. At first glance, summer 2014 doesn’t seem so hot, but once you look at all the good films that came out, we don’t have too much to complain about. The same goes for this August, which begins with Marvel’s most fun movie yet. Here are the 8 must see movies of August 2014.

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Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Studios is still new. Based on their track record, that’s almost hard to believe. Of the nine movies they’ve put out, all of them have performed considerably well, if not completely gangbusters, at the box office. Considering their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy, is on track to make over $70m this weekend, their luck will continue. At this point, we may have to stop calling it luck and start calling it smart business decisions. One of the people responsible for Marvel’s success is, of course, the president of the studio, Kevin Feige, and he’s fully embraced the spirit — and often downright weirdness — of the characters and their worlds. Feige gambled on an untested formula that’s paid off. Few people expected Iron Man, and with it Marvel, to succeed the way that it did, but he was one of them. Six years ago, it was clear he believed in their ambitious plan from the start. “It’s a little bit of planning, a little bit of luck and you end up with a studio that has the film rights to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Ant-Man,” he said in 2008. “And clearly, when you put them all together, you know who you get.” He meant The Avengers, as well as a whole series of successful solo superhero films around it. Guardians of the Galaxy is the one that now puts Marvel’s brand to the ultimate test. Iron Man wasn’t a very well known character to the general public, but the Hulk, Thor and Captain America were all pretty […]

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Guardians of the Galaxy Obscene Gesture

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill slowly unwinds his middle finger like a jack-in-the-box as men gaze at him from the other side of smart glass warning of his imminent “obscene gesture.” Flipping the bird has now become interstellar, the latest in a long history of imaginative fingering. The gesture has evolved beyond a simple way to say “fuck you.” It’s the obvious and subtle threat between the fingers, no longer happy to simply pop up, now it dances in many forms. Some fling it in anger, some let it tease, and some see theirs blown off. It can be bloody, robotic, disembodied, Tank Girled and adamantiumed. If Hollywood put half as much effort into storytelling as they put into creative uses of the middle finger, many of the industry’s problems would be solved. For now, we have the following 10 birds, some of which are part of the “Movie Middle Finger”video montage featured way down. Is your favorite missing?

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Guardians of the Galaxy

In a few hours, Guardians of the Galaxy will descend into theaters, and people will see it. Many people. Great hordes of people, in search of inventive sci-fi or just drawn to the scent of anything that appears Avengers-related. But Guardians is different. It’s not just a combo pack of the movie heroes you’ve already seen. It’s new and weird and complicated, involving words like “Sakaaran” and “Xandarian.” To know everything there is to know about Guardians before Friday would be a full time job, and let’s face it, you don’t have time for that. Life is calling, and life doesn’t let you to sit around and sift through piles of old comic books, trying to figure out what the hell a Xandarian is. So for convenience’s sake, here’s everything you need to know about the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy, condensed into one easily digestible format. You’re welcome.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Obscene Gesture

At the start of Guardians of the Galaxy, “A Film By James Gunn” flashes on the screen, and that’s exactly what we get. For a big Marvel movie under the Disney banner, this isn’t the kind of story we expect to see from them, so when the end credits roll, Gunn’s name seems to shine brighter than the audience-magnet brand and the internationally beloved corporate entity above them both. His style survived the blockbuster process. Of course, once you know the director behind Super and Slither made Marvel’s latest, it’s not much of a surprise. The drama is unexpectedly sincere, while the jokes are wonderfully dirty — a tonal blend he can’t get enough of — while staying strangely innocent in the face of serving a story about lovable misfits finding a higher purpose. There’s no mean-spirited marrow in the movie’s funny bone. Gunn has managed to top the comedy done by the likes of Joss Whedon, Shane Black and Jon Favreau in past Marvel movies, so when we spoke with him recently, we asked him how he’d pulled it off.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

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Walt Disney Studios

Earth, 1988, and a young boy named Peter is watching his mother die. As her final breath passes her lips he runs out of the hospital and collapses on the fog-shrouded lawn… at which point a spaceship appears, sucks him in and streaks off to who knows where. 26 years later we’re introduced to the now adult Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who prefers people call him by his much cooler moniker — Star Lord. Quill is a roguish adventurer — think a half-assed Indiana Jones or an insecure Han Solo — who makes a living acquiring things for people willing to pay for said things, but his latest attempted theft lands him in prison alongside a quartet of equally morally-suspect individuals including a fierce female warrior, an even fiercer male warrior, a verbally-challenged tree and a genetically-modified raccoon. The group soon realizes that the item holds a highly destructive power and that they may be the only ones capable of stopping it from falling into the hands of an intergalactic madman bent on doing the kinds of crazy shit madmen typically do. If Serenity and Ice Pirates spent a drunken night of debauchery together without using protection, the result would be something like Marvel’s latest (and least Marvel-like) feature, Guardians of the Galaxy. To be clear, that’s a good thing. Hell, that’s a great thing as the resulting film is a vibrantly exciting, immensely entertaining and frequently hilarious sci-fi adventure.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Groot

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