Guardians Of The Galaxy

GOTG_Payoff_1-Sht_v4b_LgThe Sloth is a huge fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.  Just the opening sentance gets us snorting unhygenically with laughter. So when we saw ‘Galaxy’ in the title of Marvel’s latest comic sci-fi, our interest was more than piqued, it was positively dribbling.

Peter Quill, aka Skylord (Chris Pratt) is on a mission. A self-professed outlaw, he’s searching the galaxy for a small silver orb that he’s nicking to order. Breaking into a vault on planet Morag, Quill finds himself surrounded by armed guards working for Ronan, leader of planet Kree who are after the orb themselves. After a bit of fistycuffs Quill escapes complete with orb and, most importantly, his original 80’s Walkman with ‘awesome mix tape vol 1’,  triggering an inter-galactic bounty hunt.

Bu there are others who want this orb. Lots of them. Mostly painted blue and in posession of impressive laser and rocket based weaponry. Why they want it doesn’t really matter- various reasons abound, generally to do with inter-planetery rivalry between Kree and planet Xandar, involving adopted sisters with Daddy-issues.

What does matter is en route across the galaxy lonestar Quill accumulates a motley crew of cohorts, namely despised assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana, cornering the market in primary coloured aliens); affable if slightly dense muscleman Drax (Dave Bautista), whose inability to take anything no less than completely literaly is a particular delight, and the marvellous comedy double act of wise-cracking, chippy racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his giant tree monster pal / henchman Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Bickering and scuffling their way into an unlikely bond, our anti-heroes christen themselves The Guardians Of The Galaxy.

If you’d told The Sloth a talking tree whose entire vocabulary consists of ‘I am Groot’ would be one of the most delightful comedy characters to hit the screen in quite some time, we’d have laughed you out of our, er, tree.  Yes there are the standard studio action set pieces but, far more importantly, the anarchic, ramshackle and downright silly comedy spirit that pervaded The Hitchhiker’s Guide has definite echoes in this new Galaxy and what a marvelous thing that is.

UK release 2 August. DVD release 24 November. More comic book heroics? Check X-Men Days Of Future Past.

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The Lego Movie. Build It And They Will Come

legoWe LOVE a cracking animation. We’ve watched Up more times than permissible for a grown adult and it never fails to make us laugh (talking dogs flying planes!!). So we approached The Lego Movie with nervous anticipation. Would it deliver that vital adult / kiddie crossover appeal?

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker. He’s earnest, dull and always follows the instructions. Which is handy because Emmet lives in a Lego universe presided over by Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a megalomaniac despot determined to replace all creativity with rigid conformity, aided by his bi-polar henchman Good Cop / Bad Cop (a marvellous Liam Neeson). Literally rigid, as Lord Business intends to smother the Lego world in glue, never to be broken apart and rebuilt again.

Working to thwart this dastardly deed are an underground resistance movement of Master Builders, free-thinking liberals who NEVER follow the instructions, throwing together random Lego parts to create motorcycles, spaceships, bridges, the crazy fools. Headed by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and assisted by action heroine Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), they include every pop culture icon you can think of, from an exasperated Superman (Channing Tatum) who fends off The Green Hornet’s (Jonah Hill) creepy idolisation to arrogant babe-magnet Batman (Will Arnett) and a grandiose Gandalf (Todd Hansen). Vitruvius predicts a Special One shall appear, to save the Lego universe. Against all odds, that Special One turns out to be Emmet.

It’s bonkers. A kaleidoscopic rush of saturated colours and intense action that whirls from one scene to the next, taking in the Wild West, futuristic cityscapes and the trippy, candy coloured Cloud Cuckoo Land (if the writers didn’t ingest performance enhancing substances before coming up with that sequence, we’re a giraffe). Crucially, it’s backed with a witty and surprisingly satirical script that continually throws out surreal gems. From New Zealand described as the land of “Knights, poverty, leeches and illiteracy” to Bad Cop absent-mindedly crooning Danny Boy, there is much to savour. And look out for the live-action nostalgia trip towards the end. If that doesn’t warm your cockles then there’s no hope.

UK release 14 February

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