Ep. 111 – Annihilation, Game Night

February 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Annihilation” and “Game Night.” The guys are also baffled by James Gunn’s revelation that Baby Groot isn’t Groot reincarnated, but actually Groot’s son.

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Ep. 99 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

May 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and talk about lesser-known San Antonio Spurs players of the last three decades.

[00:00 – 25:51] Intro/Remembering random Spurs from the last 25 years, from Jaren Jackson to Cherokee Parks.

[25:51- 44:48] Review – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

[44:48-49:01] Wrap up/tease

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

May 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell
Directed by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”)

The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film was a gamble in 2014, and it paid off big for Marvel—even if they were stealthily hedging their bets by releasing it late in the summer and without a firm connection to their already-established Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with loveable dirtbag characters, sharp humor and enough classic rock needle drops to make Cameron Crowe jealous, writer/director James Gunn’s sci-fi comedy about a bunch of a-holes was a refreshing change of pace from the Earth-bound heroes Marvel built its franchise on.

Following the financial success of the first film, Marvel allowed Gunn to run with the series, and in the time-honored sequel tradition of “bigger and more” he turned out “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” which still delivers most of the stuff you loved about the first go-round, only this time with a lot more of it and somewhat less satisfaction.

After a prologue in 1980 Missouri featuring yet another old actor digitally de-aged (in this case, Kurt Russell) to fill in some of our heroes’ backstory, we jump ahead 34 years as the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Baustia as Drax, the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and the heavily-processed voice of Vin Diesel as adorable Baby Groot) are doing some work for hire (their price? Karen Gillen’s Nebula) protecting intergalactic batteries from a space monster for some gold-skinned alien beings called the Sovereign.

After they’ve succeeded, Rocket decides to swipe a few of the priceless batteries for himself, leading to the Sovereign forces giving chase and downing the Guardians’ ship on a remote planet. They’re saved from slaughter by a man riding an egg-shaped ship, named Ego (Russell), who reveals he’s Quill’s long-lost father and wants to show him where he came from. While Gamora and Drax join Quill, Rocket and Groot stay behind to repair the ship and keep watch over Nebula, only to be ambushed by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his band of Ravagers out to collect a bounty on Rocket for thieving from the Sovereign.

After a mutiny derails Yondu’s original plan, he teams up with Rocket, Baby Groot, and Nebula to save Peter (and the galaxy) from the secret plan Ego has in place for his son.

With a kitchen sink approach to characters, plot turns and yacht rock songs, “GOTG Vol. 2” often feels in danger of collapsing under the bloat, but ends up kept afloat mostly by the enjoyment of hanging out with these characters again and the sheer amount of laughs the screenplay doles out. The comedy MVP trophy for this outing is more than earned by Bautista’s hyper-literal Drax, who punctuates nearly every near-death experience with a hearty, infectious laugh. Like a delicious hamburger with so many toppings they spill out all over your shirt when you take a bite, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is often highly enjoyable, but next time around you’d like it all to hold together a little better.

Guardians of the Galaxy

August 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
Directed by: James Gunn (“Super”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Super”) and Nicole Perlman (debut)

Never bet against Marvel Studios. Ever since Robert Downey Jr. suited up for “Iron Man” in 2008, the hits based on comic books have just kept coming. Even the most jaded cynic can honestly only call the studio’s worst output, namely “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man 2,” merely disappointing, never outright bad. Hollywood hasn’t seen a streak like this since the golden age of Pixar (read: pre-“Cars”), and since they’re playing with the house’s money after smashes like “The Avengers,” apparently someone at Marvel and Disney decided now was the time to see just how far into the outer reaches of the comic book universe they could delve for a mainstream movie. The studio is going all in – because why the hell not? – on a quirky sci-fi comedy in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the gamble pays off handsomely, for the most part.

After being abducted by aliens as a boy moments after his mother died of cancer, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) travels the galaxy, jamming out on a vintage Walkman while scrounging for treasures to steal to sell to the highest bidder. When he comes across an orb valued by Ronan (Lee Pace), an assassin named Gomora (Zoe Saldana) is sent to relieve Quill (AKA Star-Lord) of his prize. When the two clash on the planet Nova Prime, some opportunistic bounty hunters named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), who happen to be a raccoon and a tree, respectively, spot Quill and notice he has a bounty on his head offered by Quill’s partner/abductor Yondu (Michael Rooker). The duo complicates the interaction enough to land them all in prison where they meet up with Drax (Dave Bautista), a hyper-literal brute who has a grudge against both Ronan and Gomora. This is getting too complicated, so just know they need to overcome their differences in order to save the galaxy from some ultimate evil.

While Marvel may have a license to print money at this point, “Guardians” is by far their riskiest venture. This is a sci-fi movie first and foremost, filled with fantastical aliens, planets made from the guts of some space-faring creature, and guys with unironic epithets after their names like “the accuser” and “the destroyer.” Director James Gunn pulls everything together well, anchored by a winning, winking performance from Pratt, although the CGI Rocket and Groot nearly steal the show with their mix of humor and pathos. The real shame though is the boring, straight-faced villain and the warmed-over hunt for some cosmic MacGuffin. It’s as if the dark elf plot from “Thor: The Dark World” was just copied and pasted into the screenplay with only the names changed. Also somewhat disappointing is the obvious laying of groundwork for future installments. The intergalactic villain Thanos (voice of Josh Brolin), first glimpsed in “The Avengers” after the credits, gets some early screen time, only to disappear for the rest of the movie (and, one assumes, we’ll only see him in a series of cameos until “The Avengers 3” or something). Same for John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey and Glenn Close as Nova Prime; big actors stuffed into tiny parts with truncated arcs, waiting for their turn in subsequent sequels. If superhero fatigue has set in and you can’t take anymore S.H.I.E.L.D. but still need your fix for good versus evil, “Guardians of the Galaxy” should be right up your alley.

(Again, since this is a Marvel movie, stay until the credits have ended for another scene, this time showing just how far down the rabbit hole of the Marvel universe – and bad ‘80s nostalgia – the company is willing to go.)

Super

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler
Directed by: James Gunn (“Slither”)
Written by: James Gunn (“Slither”)

At the tail end of a lively two-and-a-half-minute crayon animation that kicks off the dark comedy “Super” – the opening-credits montage features bad guys breathing fire and feasting on bunnies and a dance sequence rivaling anything out of Bollywood – we watch as the entire cast of entertaining cartoon characters stands with fists held high. They’re hyperventilating as if they have just run the Boston Marathon. If only their human counterparts in the live-action movie that follows gave as much effort we might’ve actually had an odd superhero adventure to appreciate.

Directed by James Gunn – who returns to the big screen for the first time since his 2006 debut film “Slither,” a B-movie horror about parasitic alien worms – “Super” tackles some of the same themes examined in the last couple of years by movies like 2009’s scarcely-seen “Defendor,” starring two-time Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson (“The Messenger”), and last year’s overrated fanboy fantasy “Kick-Ass,” starring Aaron Johnson (“Nowhere Boy”). In both movies, an everyday citizen decides to become a crime fighter.

Taking the lead in “Super” is comedian Rainn Wilson (“The Rocker”) who plays Frank D’Arbo, a miserable fry cook with nothing to live for after his recovering addict wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) relapses and leaves him for Jacques, a douchebag drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) with a posse. In one of the funnier and more revealing scenes of the film, Jacques shows up at Frank’s house looking for Sarah, invites himself in for breakfast, and declares Frank’s “egg-cooking gift” impressive. It’s a scene that not only shows Jacques’ lack of respect for his heartbroken nemesis, but also proves just how spineless Frank is for not even questioning why a strange guy he’s never met is at his front door asking for his wife.

After Frank has a bizarre spiritual experience, which includes God literally reaching in through his ceiling and clearing his mind of all its muck by running a corndog across his brain, he decides to man up and change his life by becoming a costumed superhero vigilante to be known as the Crimson Bolt. Venturing into the city ready to serve up justice with a pipe wrench, Frank is guided by signs from God as well as by a bubbly comic-book store employee named Libby (Ellen Page), who becomes his cute kid sidekick Boltie.

Besides Frank’s feelings of dejection, there’s not much motivation behind his choice to run around breaking peoples’ jaws with a plumbing tool. At least in “Defendor,” you got a sense of Harrelson’s lack of mental stability, which drove him as an avenger. With Frank and Libby, there’s not much more than character buffoonery and Gunn’s low-budget, ultra-violent gimmickry to seal the deal.

It’s difficult to tell if Gunn really is trying to play for laughs, because so much of the one-liner humor is inconsistent. There’s also no telling what Gunn was trying to get out of a female-on-male rape scene that plays out as awkwardly as a brother-sister make-out session. Whatever his intentions, Gunn has a long way to go before he realizes satire is not the same as shock value.