STELLAR EFFORT?

SPOILER WARNING

2014 has already seen three Marvel movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. To this we can now add Guardians of The Galaxy. When it was announced a few years ago, it did seem a very strange choice to transfer onto the big screen. An obscure series featuring earth man Peter Quill (Starlord) and his team of aliens including talking animal Rocket Raccoon and sentient tree Groot, character recognition was pretty nonexistent. But it has been promoted as a comedy and so GoTG (as it shall be known from now on to save on characters) was never going to be quite the same beast as many of its Marvel stablemates. Basically, Quill (Chris Pratt) is kidnapped by alien buccaneers led by Yondu (Michael (The Walking Dead) Rooker) as a kid. We jump forward to Quill as a young man, calling himself Star Lord, who has become an intergalactic ne’er do well and he finds himself up against scary Kree warrior Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace (The Hobbit, Pushing Daisies), the son of huge chinned Thanos (voiced by John Brolin) when he manages to acquire a globe of incredible power. Quill is assisted by by the gorgeous Gamora (Zoe (Star Trek) Saldana), psychopath Drax (wrestler Dave Bautista), walking tree Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper).GoTG is obviously aimed at a younger audience than something like The Winter Soldier or Days of Future Past which explains the presence of Rocket Raccoon but the eighties nostalgia here (explained by a mix tape from Quill’s late mother) will strike no chords with younger viewers and the visage of Ronan may even terrify a younger audience. The film is fun, looks fantastic and Pratt is very good as Quill but the script is fairly forgettable and Rocket Raccoon, while no Jar Jar Binks, doesn’t really work for an adult audience. The inevitable 3D lends little to proceedings. It has been compared with Star Wars and perhaps that is a valid comparison. Director James Gunn has made a decent job here. It doesn’t matter what I say here because a sequel for the film has apparently been greenlit. Guardians of The Galaxy is a very enjoyable but fairly unmemorable summer blockbuster with some impressive effects. Fun while you’re watching it but you are hard-pressed to remember what you even saw a few days later. It is still better than Amazing Spider-man 2…

 

GORILLA WARFARE

SPOILER WARNING

When 2001’s Planet of The Apes, directed by Tim Burton, came out, it was a total disaster. Burton didn’t really get the subject matter and the script stunk. So when in 2011, Rise Of the Planet of the Apes was announced, expectations were pretty low. But Rupert Wyatt’s remaining of the classic Seventies movie series managed to capture its essence while bringing something new to the equation. So a sequel to Rise Of the Planet of the Apes was announced and this time, people have been expecting something pretty exceptional. Dawn of The Planet of The Apes moves the action forward from the first one, with chief Caesar (Andy Serkis) leading his troupe of apes living in the redwood forests near San Francisco. The human race has been decimated but Caesar’s group comes under threat when a small group of humans stumble into Muir Woods, injuring one of the apes. Caesar is not helped by the fact that one of his own apes is intent on deposing him and ruling for himself. Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) leads the humans but Malcolm and Ellie (Jason Clarke and Keri Rusell respectively) are the couple who  befriend Caesar. Dawn is not perfect by any means: the 3D is a little pointless and its running time could be shaved by about 20 minutes. However director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) knows how to direct action and Serkis makes a sympathetic Caeasar, building on what he achieved in the first one. Weta have done a great job with bringing the apes to life and the remnants of San Francisco are brilliantly realised, so all the production team here should be applauded. Structurally Dawn… works, moving the action on from the first film and setting things up for a third instalment. The film asks questions about humanity’s place on earth and the structure of society through the mirror of the apes. It is a smart, exciting and thought-provoking summer blockbuster which has as of this writing had a $72m opening weekend in the US alone, so it should defeat all comers when it hits the rest of the world’s cinemas. It proves that summer films don’t have to be stupid and clumsy (like Transformers) and it is easily the best mainstream Hollywood film of 2014 so far…