Friday, August 15, 2014

Movie Round-Up 8/15/14: Guardians of the Galaxy & More

Guardians of the Galaxy:  When this was first announced like most people I thought, WTF?  Especially when people mentioned this involved a talking raccoon and a living tree.  So I wasn't all that excited to see this.  But in some ways it was better than The Avengers.  Since they all pretty much had their own movies with their own girlfriends, there wasn't much in the way of romantic tension in that.  But with Guardians there's some between Star-Lord and Gamora.  Really when Star-Lord sacrifices himself to save Gamora or when Groot sacrifices himself to save everyone it was actually more more moving than anything in The Avengers.  I guess as Andrew Leon said it's because they actually become a real team, not just a bunch of people crammed together.  Since Chris Pratt had only been a comedic second banana to this point I wasn't sure how he'd do in a leading role, but he was good.  I was surprised too that Dave Bautista wasn't completely terrible.  Rocket Raccoon was kind of annoying, but it is awesome to see a raccoon with a big frickin' gun.  Overall it was a good time and I'd be more excited for the eventual sequel. (4/5)

A Birder's Guide to Everything:   I know you haven't heard of this, so don't bother saying it.  This is a charming indie coming-of-age movie about four teenagers who go on a quest to find a supposedly extinct Labrador duck.  David used to go "birding" with his mom, who died of something.  When he sees a duck that's supposedly been extinct for 150 years, he and his friends (and a girl with a camera) "borrow" a relative's car and head into upstate New York to search for the duck.  A nip slip and a bag of drugs found in the borrowed car keep this from being a total PG Disney-type movie.  And portions of the end might make you sad.  There's probably no one in this you've heard of except for Ben Kingsley as a veteran "birder." (4/5)

I Know Who Killed Me:  This was the movie where like Miley Cyrus's twerking, Lindsay Lohan was going to show the world she wasn't a Disney princess anymore.  It's probably not as bad as people said it was, but it wasn't very good either.  A goody-goody high school kid is abducted and has her hand and leg cut off before escaping from a serial kidnapper.  Except the girl they find claims to be someone else.  This girl worked as a "stripper" who like Jennifer Aniston in "We're the Millers" somehow manages to not actually strip.  Eventually they find the kidnapper and the link between the two girls...isn't really explained.  Maybe because it was late and I was kind of drifting off, though I doubt it. (1.5/5)

Chronicles of Riddick:  I had tried to watch this a couple of times but never finished it.  Which was just as well I suppose.  When the evil Necronomicons (or whatever) try to take over the universe the only one who can stop them is Riddick...because he can see in the dark, or something.  Half the movie is taken up with Riddick and some girl of his trying to escape from the planet Crematorium, which is pretty much what it sounds like.  There wasn't much point to all that in the long run.  And I'm not sure why one of the bad guys (Batman's dad in "Batman Begins") gives Riddick his ship and then walks out into the burning sun to die.  Nor do I know how Judi Dench got roped into this.  The special effects were also anything but special most of the time, with a lot of bad CGI.  Anyway the way it ended was supposed to be the start of a trilogy, but it flopped so it took like seven years to make a half-assed sequel. (2/5)

When A Stranger Calls:  You know that old urban legend about a babysitter getting prank calls and then the cops say the calls are coming from inside the house?  Yeah that's literally what this movie is.  Except it's not an ordinary house; it's a weird post-modern Frank Gehry lake house.  The girl is kind of a shitty babysitter as she doesn't even check on the kids until the movie's like 60% over.  You'd have to think the bad guy was using a cell phone; the part I never understand about that urban legend is how could the phone ring if you're calling from inside the house?  Unless you have two lines.  Anyway, I was disappointed Clark Gregg was only the girl's father.  Agent Coulson terrorizing babysitters would have been awesome.  In fact that should be Season 2 of "Agents of SHIELD."  The end sequence of the movie borrows heavily from "Carrie."  Overall it was OK but not great. (2/5)

Kung Fu Hustle:  I had heard OF this movie a while back but never gotten around to watching it.  It takes a while for the plot of the movie to really become evident.  Basically there's this evil Axe Gang in Canton, China in the 40s.  They want to take over the village of Pig Sty, but a couple of kung fu masters get in their way.  Maybe if I'd watched a lot of kung fu movies I'd have gotten more out of it.  There was a lot of cartoonishly exaggerated kung fu fighting that's pretty amusing.  And once you finally figure out who the main characters are (about halfway through) it becomes more watchable. (3/5)

The Raid:  Redemption:  Did you think Die Hard just didn't have nearly enough violence, blood, and machete fights?  Then this movie is for you!  Police in some Asian country raid a tenement where a drug kingpin is holed up.  Much violence ensues.  It's in subtitles but that hardly matters since most of the dialogue is grunting and screaming.  What this movie sorely lacks is Bruce Willis's charisma.  As it is, I didn't really care if the cops lived or died, even the one with the pregnant wife, a fact they only reference at the beginning and then forget.  Anyway, there are some awesome machete fights, so that's something. (2/5)

Shy of Normal:  The framing device for this low-budget movie is that a writer is having a problem coming up with a story.  When someone tells her to go out and observe people for ideas, she does so and comes up with three ideas that were I guess plays.  One involves two couples having babies, one a redneck couple and the other Vegan liberals.  Another story is about an uptight woman possibly becoming the roommate of two middle-aged women who are still in college.  The last is about the manager of a fast food restaurant trying to commit suicide but the dang phone won't stop ringing!  The first was better than the last two. (2.5/5)


  1. Your ratings are spot on for the ones I've seen. I liked Guardians more than you did but I was familiar with the characters. "I know who killed me" s the stupidest twist ending ever.

  2. Guardians was really good. I need to see it a third time.

  3. "Shy Of Normal" sounds kind of dumb.

  4. I saw something about the bird movie at some point and it seemed interesting. I didn't know Kingsley was in it. I'll have to check it out at some point.
    I'd actually really like to see Guardians at the theater again, though I probably won't get a chance.



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