Friday, August 26, 2016

1005. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed by James Gunn

Hello all!  I apologize for not posting in awhile and taking so long to respond to your comments (which are always greatly appreciated).  I was on a beach vacation in one of the tackiest cities in America (guess which one and you win a prize).  I should also mention I am going camping today.  Having seen The Edge one too many times, I am fully convinced I will be eaten by a bear.  So it was nice knowing all of you.  In any case, I decided to write about Guardians of the Galaxy, as I feebly attempt to have some sort of thematic consistency in this blog (it's a summer blockbuster!).

Peter Quill, or Han Solo 2.0, steals a magical orb, unaware that its power is coveted by Ronan, an evil alien guy.  When Quill realizes that the entire universe is in danger, he rallies a motley crew of criminals to save the galaxy.  Can you tell I only half paid attention to the plot?

I think the only thing that saved this movie from complete mediocrity is Chris Pratt's likability and his...other assets.  Still, like I said, he is basically a carbon copy of Han Solo (but much handsomer) so perhaps I shouldn't give the filmmakers too much credit.  I suppose the soundtrack is also pretty great.  I am just so sick of the Marvel universe; if you have seen one superhero movie, you have pretty much seen them all.

Obviously, this film wasn't in my edition, so I am not sure why it was included.  If lack of originality doesn't bother you, you might actually have a good time with this one.

Oh, and I chose the above picture because to me, it is the most powerful screenshot of the film.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Vin Diesel said he recorded the line "I am Groot" over 1,000 times.

The sales of the song "Hooked on a Feeling" shot up 700 percent after the release of the first trailer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

1004. Les Miserables

Les Miserables
Directed by Tom Hooper

I figured it might get tiring to read rave after rave, so I thought I would tackle a film that I dislike to shake things up.  I have seen Les Mis at the West End and read the book, so I am pretty much an expert.  I actually went to the movies alone to see this film and was the only person in the theater, meaning I could sing along loudly to every song.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think I outdid Russell Crowe.

This is an incredibly long movie based on an incredibly long book, so I won't go into plot specifics.  Basically, Jean Valjean is released after serving 19 years for trying to steal a loaf of bread to save his family from starvation.  His parole status ensures that he cannot find employment, so he steals silver from a kind bishop who had offered him food and shelter.  He starts a new life under a new identity and becomes a wealthy factory owner and the mayor of Montreuil.  After one of his factory workers dies on the street, he adopts her young daughter.

Okay, that description barely skimmed the surface, but I will still stop there out of courtesy to my readers.  I am guessing that the Listmakers included this entry because all the actors performed their singing live on set.  Normally, soundtracks are recorded months before filming and the actors lip-sync.  This is typically done because it sounds way better, but Hooper really wanted to defy convention on that score.  Consequently, there are some fairly cringeworthy moments when the actors sing off key.   Samantha Barks was the only performer who never seemed to screw up, making "On My Own" the most moving number in the film.

On the other hand, you have Anne Hathaway who wanted an Oscar so badly for her performance she was practically salivating.  Hugh Jackman was a disappointment, as I thought his voice would be a bit more powerful since he is trained in theater.  Russell Crowe was shockingly bad, but I ended up thinking Amanda Seyfried's voice was really sweet, even though it apparently makes professional singers cringe.

In the end, it was just way too long and bloated.  Some of the elements that made the stage adaptation so memorable just didn't translate on screen.  Still, I would highly recommend both the book and the stage musical.

Anyone else wonder why Gavroche had a Cockney accent?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Anne Hathaway has about fifteen minutes of screen time.

Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and Ricky Gervais were all considered for the role of Thernandier.

On My Own: