Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
In Theaters: 08.01
Well, Marvel has done it again and brought another successful franchise to the silver screen, but hats must be tipped for this accomplishment, since even hardcore geeks scratched their heads at the announcement for this title. James Gunn directed the Guardians of the Galaxy, comprising a professional thief/ladies man who goes by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, and he likes it when you call him Star-Lord), the galaxy’s most deadly assassin, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a revenge-seeking madman named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a walking tree called Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and a smartass gun lover who goes by the name Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). While the team starts off as anything but friends, their paths form a bond that force them to work together in order to stop the maniacal Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) from destroying the galaxy with a mystical orb. Gunn offers a sci-fi adventure that embodies the same fun-for-all-ages characteristics as Star Wars and Star Trek. The balance of comedy, tragedy, action and character development is perfectly calculated. While comic book enthusiasts lose their minds with the plethora of background characters roaming the screen, average moviegoers are not left behind and have a solid understanding of the five leads and their histories before the credits roll. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … In Marvel We Trust. –Jimmy Martin
Into the Storm
Director: Steven Quale
Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 08.08
In Steven Quale’s disaster porn tale—which is unnecessarily shot in found-footage style half the time—a small town is devastated by a series of powerful tornados. The audience tags along with multiple storylines that include an abusive documentary filmmaker (Matt Walsh) hoping to get inside a cyclone with his modified storm-chaser vehicle, an assistant principal (Richard Armitage) and his kids, as well as two rednecks (Jon Reep and Kyle Davis) who are hoping to become viral sensations on the Internet by ripping off Jackass. This movie was made 17 years ago and it was called Twister, and the special effects in Jan de Bont’s film look far superior to this chintzy CGI display. As weird as this sounds, we live in a time where we’ve had sharks added to tornadoes, so a regular tornado on screen just seems boring by current standards. Toss in some alligators or some snakes—spice it up a little bit! Quale neglects to offer anything of significant importance when introducing and establishing his characters, so when one after another was whisked away in 300-mph winds, I just applauded when their incessant yammering was finally done. I am completely shocked that this movie was given a wide release rather than premiering on the Syfy channel on a random Saturday night, because that’s exactly what it deserves. –Jimmy Martin
Ivory Tower
Director: Andrew Rossi
CNN Films
Street: 06.13
Is the price of higher education really worth it? Andrew Rossi asks this question and many others in this overwhelming look at the direction of colleges and universities in the United States. Rather than focusing on one area, Rossi jumps from subject to subject to address every angle of the debate—from the fact that approximately 68 percent of American students do not graduate in four years, which increases their vast student debt, to multiple schools that offer free tuition to its students. Rossi never really takes sides in the matter. He leaves it up to the viewer. However, Rossi does present the information with an entertaining method: introducing the audience to one solution, then immediately countering the recently given facts with other data that opens up another can of worms. For me, I loved college. I feel I received a well-rounded education at an affordable price. On the other hand, witnessing individuals who walk out of their graduation ceremonies, all cap and gown, being more than $140,000 in debt is absurd. The numbers are staggering on the amount tuition has risen for students and, with unemployment rates soaring, is it worth it? Both sides can argue for eternity, but one thing is for sure: something has to change, and fast. –Jimmy Martin
The Skeleton Twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Roadside Attractions
In Theaters: 09.26
The tone is set in Craig Johnson’s dramedy immediately as we’re introduced to twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader). As Milo lies in a blood-soaked bathtub with two slit wrists, Maggie, on the other side of the country, is considering taking a handful of pills, but a call informing her of her brother’s situation makes her think otherwise. However, all is not fine when the pair is reunited and Milo moves in with his estranged sister and her overtly courteous husband, Lance (Luke Wilson). Johnson takes on an array of taboo topics including suicide, infidelity, molestation and successfully walks the fine line between dark realities and comic relief. The chemistry between Wiig and Hader is surreal as the two bounce off uproarious improvisational moments between fellow writer Mark Heyman and Johnson’s touching dialogue. Obviously, the leads’ previous Saturday Night Live relationship has something to do with their connection, but it’s not everything. These two have a bond that shines brightly on screen. Also, if you wish to see the greatest lip-synch performance of Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” purchase your ticket today. Those five minutes alone are worth the price of admission. Kudos to Johnson for delivering a heartfelt tale of sibling bonding that I can’t wait to see again as soon as possible. –Jimmy Martin
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
In Theaters: 08.08
To make it clear, Michael Bay did not direct this latest edition in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. He only produced it. With that said, the egomaniac still got his feces-covered mitts all over this wad of crap. First off, when I go see a TMNT movie, I don’t need or want a 30-minute introduction to April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her aspirations to be a serious journalist. Don’t care. Also, if Jonathan Liebesman had spent as much time developing his action sequences and crafting the film’s much-needed humor rather than perfecting the art of having Michelangelo and Vernon (Will Arnett) try to get down April’s pants, he may have had something presentable. Again, don’t care. The story is bland and the twists make absolutely no sense at all. Did April’s father die in a fire, or did William Fichtner shoot him? There are witnesses to both accounts. The one aspect of the film I preferred is the one everyone else hates. I like the new design of the turtles. They finally look like they could kick a foot soldier’s ass. Has Bay ruined my or anyone’s childhood love for these characters? Certainly not, but his involvement with this production and all future installments decreases my interest drastically and immediately. What a waste. –Jimmy Martin