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Friday, July 25, 2014

MARVEL'S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


By D.E.Levine

This may be the start of something big.  Marvel's less famous comic Guardians of the Galaxy has been turned into a slick, humorous, action-packed cinema event and audiences love it.  Although not as famous as some of the other Marvel comic franchises, this could very well develop into a new major hit.

The film is silly and because it's so silly, people watching it love it.  Chris Pratt, cast as Peter Quill refers to himself as Star Lord.  When he was nine his mother died and Peter became a cosmos bounty hunter for the corrupt Yondu (Michael Rooker).  Treasuring his late mother's cassette player which contains funky 1970s oldies, Star Lord frequently does funky dances but he's additionally funny, dramatic, an action hero and a sex hunk.  In this film, Pratt doesn't miss a beat and his acting covers all dimensions.

Tasked with the impossible, Star Lord sets out to steal a mysterious orb back from the evil Ronan (Lee Pace) who plans to do very bad things with it.

Since he needs help to accomplish his task Peter puts together a group of misfits like himself.  Included in the group are the seductive Gamora (Zoe Saldana) with green skin instead of Avatar blue.

Groot (Van Diesel), a walking tree (computer generated) has three words throughout the film and delivers them differently every time he says them.  Groot is funny and faithful and with three words he makes quite an impact and proves invaluable to the group.

Rocket, a gun slinging raccoon is voiced by Bradley Cooper, who isn't afraid to mouth off at the rest of the guardians.  Rocket is smart and he can give as good as he takes, getting back at anyone who doesn't show him some respect.

The special effects are fantastic as the guardians seek to fulfill their mission and the dialogue is sharp and witty.

There are grown-up jokes but enough entertainment to mesmerize kids, so viewing this film can be a family event.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT


By D.E.Levine

Woody Allen's latest comedy is a romance set in the 1920s.  Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) performs feats of prestidigetation as Wei Ling-Soo.  His hobby or sideline is debunking all types of sham mystics.

In 1928 Stanley is approached by his friend Howard (Simon McBurney).  A wealthy Pittsburgh industrial family has fallen under the spell of Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) who claims to be a clairvoyant.  The family son and heir Brice (Hamish Linklater) is so smitten he's planning to marry her.  Stanley, presenting himself as Mr. Taplinger, a businessman, goes there at Howard's challenge to debunk Sophie.

Instead, Stanley falls in love with Sophie.  Emma Stone is extremely funny with marvelous comic timing.  We're never quite sure whether she's a con artist or a real clairvoyant.  Even Stanley, who is trying to prove her a sham isn't sure.

With a strong supporting cast consisting of Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins and Marsha Gay Harden,  and cinematography that concentrates on the beautiful French Riviera, the film is a delight.  Also to be expected are the wonderful costumes created by Sonia Grande.

As usual in any Woody Allen film, the soundtrack is filled with old standards and in this instance some beautiful classical music.  A brief appearance is also made by Ute Lemper, the German caberet singer.

Overall, for pure entertainment,  Magic in the Moonlight  is a sure bet.