Blockbuster vs. Indie Showdown: <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> vs. <i>Snowpiercer</i>

Blockbuster vs. Indie Showdown:vs.
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Yoda and Chewbacca
Photo Courtesy Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy

I really shouldn't start out a film conversation with -- best soundtrack of the year, but oh yes it is (even better than Richard Linklater's Boyhood? Yes.), and it sets the pace for the humor that ribbons throughout the entire movie. Half the time the songs are the humor, since they add to the ongoing inside joke on us silly, quaint, emotional, humans. We love our nostalgia and having aliens misunderstand it makes for even more merry making.

Yes, yes you are going to compare the film to Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but anything this over the top will be with tongue planted in cheek and will give you a comedic historical reference, that is well, fun.

All good comedies must have a heart-centered goof that gives all the characters a rallying point and while Groot, adorable strong tree person that he is, isn't too much of a surprise, Drax, played by Dave Bautista is. Drax goes around awkwardly saying things like, "You, Quill, are my friend. This dumb tree is my friend. And this green whore is now my..." and is ultimately the one touting their friendship and gluing them all together for future installments.

Visually we have fun with tech effects like a star fleet net that covers the evil bad guys' ship and Groot's magical foresty moment of firefly-like glow spots that just reek of sweetness, ooooooh and gooooo. Chris Pratt is all buff in relief from his Parks and Recreation chubby Andy, and Zoe Saldana is green instead of blue Avatar Neytiri.

In fight sequences, you won't suffer any PTSD from century long explosions and building collapses that feel like slo-mo even when they are not a la Man of Steel, since all fighting over the planetary sea is intercut together in quick time. Guardians of the Galaxy ain't deep, but you'll laugh a lot, you'll like the characters and your brain won't hurt from over thinking it. Added bonus, the dumb fun is actually feel good movie making; just enough smart details to show the filmmakers don't believe its audience to be stupid, just aching for laughs.

Go or no? Go! Just make sure it's IMAX 3D!

Small screen possibilities? Go see it in IMAX 3D! The humor will be so much more meh on a small screen and don't you want to be overwhelmed by all that intergalactic sight and sound?

I'm Alive but Ravenous
Photo Courtesy The Weinstein Company


Probably the best worst line in a film I've heard this year, comes from Snowpiercer, "Do you know what I hate most about myself? I know what people taste like. And I know that babies taste best." Chris Evans utters these words with complete and wooden seriousness. No nuance here don't worry!

This mess of a movie is thin on story but hey, we never get tired of post-apocalyptic futuristic wasteland action movies, so we know how to fill the gap when details are lacking and sentimentally, we want to give it a pass. This film is a mash-up of inspirations that range from Brazil to the Wizard of Oz, with a bit of Dante's Inferno and the nine circles of hell, plus a Daumier type illustrator always on hand. How can you dislike a movie with so many memorable cultural references?

There are some great lighting and cinematography shots where we see sunlight passing to shadow, a single-foreshadowing snowflake, and sudden brilliant cartoonish color as landscapes change, all within the confines of a long steampunk train. There's even a bit of contemplative moralizing -- are we born into a class we cannot rise out of? Add to that a mad wizard at the control panel pulling all the strings, played by an over the top Ed Harris.

So many ideas in Snowpiercer have been appropriated from other films that nothing about it feels new; still, it's going to make an ok watch on small screens. Keep your expectations low and when you're in the mood to see just how fucked up we humans can do the planet and ourselves, this will be a comforting and safe place to go.

Go or no? No.

Small screen possibilities? Yes, better!

Winner? Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy does not attempt to convince you to take it seriously and a tree saves the day. How is that for confounding technology?

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