2020 Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft - BONUS ROUNDS

bajaden

Hall of Famer
V = Valley of the Saints: This is a foreign language film with subtitles. It's also a beautiful film set in Dar Lake Srinagar in the Kashmir. It takes us into a world seldom seen. It's a love story between two friends, and a mysterious new woman, set against the border conflict between India and Pakistan.

War and poverty force Gulzar, a young tourist boatman (shikarawala) at Dal Lake,[1] to run away from Kashmir with his best friend. But a military crackdown derails their escape, and they become trapped in Gulzar's lake village. Waiting for conditions to change, they discover a mysterious woman, Asifa, a scientist braving the curfew to research pollution levels in the lake. As Gulzar falls for her, rivalry and jealousy threaten his boyhood friendship and their plans of escape. Gulzar must choose between a new life and a new love. The first film set in the endangered lake communities of Kashmir, Valley of Saints blends fiction and documentary to bring audiences inside this unique world.



 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
KainLear has not technically timed out, but indications are pretty strong that they have given up on the draft. Rather than just stall this thing out for a day every time they come up, I'm going to step in and pick directly after Baja unless we hear otherwise from KainLear.

To fill my "relaxed V" column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



Star Trek IV: The (V)oyage Home (1986)

Directed by Leonard Nimoy

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

Trailer

I've taken a Star Wars film, I've taken a Star Trek parody, I may as well actually take a legit Star Trek film as well. And if I'm gonna do that, it's definitely going to be Star Trek IV. I understand that critical consensus has a different film as the best in the franchise, but for my money, I enjoy this one a lot more. And it has the big rewatchability factor that I care about in this draft. The plot is somewhat unusual for Star Trek in that very little of it happens in space. As the crew of the now-destroyed Enterprise make their way back to Earth in a Klingon Bird of Prey, a giant black septic tank has parked itself over the homeworld, playing whale sounds and wreaking massive, planet-threatening havoc. In an attempt to save the Earth, Kirk and Co. decide to use the gravitational pull of the sun to effect a time travel maneuver so they can go into the past and kidnap a now-extinct humpback whale so it can tell the giant septic tank to back off.

It's a silly plot. And, to be sure, by setting the film almost exclusively in 1986 San Francisco, and giving the crew a cloaked (and therefore invisible) Bird of Prey as their ship, the effects budget in this film was not an issue. But what this film has is just non-stop great banter in the screenplay. At this point in the series, the characters have been pretty firmly established, leaving a ton of room for interplay and making this the most fun of any Trek film.

As a small bonus, my family went and saw this film in the theater, and it was my 5-year-old sister's very first theater film, and she was very sternly admonished that she must stay quiet or she'd never be invited to a movie again. She did so very, very good, but at a tense moment when a whaling ship is homing in on our submerged protagonistic humpback Gracie, my enraptured little sis in a silent, crowded theater screams, "DON'T COME UP!!! DON'T COME UP!!!" making the whole theater just burst out in laughter. A little thing, but one of the best family memories around and one that I get to dig on her with on a semi-annual basis, so this film has a bit of nostalgia for me.

Oh, him? He's harmless. Back in the sixties, he was part of the free speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS.
 
V = Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)



I love the aliens in this film. The visuals are spectacular, and the Alpha space station would be such a wonderful playground!

Peter Sobczynski: Roger Ebert.com said:
Every summer movie season needs at least one out-of-left-field entry that is so cheerfully bonkers it stands as a living rebuke to an industry that churns out noisy and soulless garbage like REDACTED.” This year, that film is “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” a deliriously entertaining film that finds writer/director Luc Besson swinging for the fences in his efforts to make a weirdo sci-fi epic for the ages and coming up with a virtual home run derby. It's a film filled with humor, charm, excitement and so many memorable images that many viewers will find themselves struggling to keep from blinking so as not to miss any of the eye-popping delights crammed into each overstuffed frame.

The film is inspired by Valerian and Laureline, a French comic book series created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres that is said, especially among European comic book buffs, to have influenced the look of any number of films over the years, including “Star Wars.” The comics also helped to instill an interest in the genre in a ten-year-old Besson, who would eventually go on to employ Mezieres to help design the look of his own elaborate sci-fi epic, “The Fifth Element.” Besson may be one of the leading players on the international moviemaking scene, but while watching “Valerian,” he has reverted, in the best possible way, to the mindset of a kid helplessly enthralled by the wild plotting, bizarre alien worlds and breathless derring-do on display—albeit a kid who has been able to marshal together armies of cutting-edge visual technicians and a near-$200 million budget (the largest in French film history) to bring it all to life exactly as it played in his head.

Set in the 28th century, the film centers on Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), a pair of special operatives fighting crime throughout the universe. As the story begins, the two are sent off to Big Market, a virtual-reality bazaar whose hordes of vendors can only be seen and approached after donning special equipment, to confiscate an ultra-rare and powerful Mül Converter, an adorable creature capable of reproducing anything that it eats. The cocky Valerian soon finds himself being pursued by any number of creatures while the far more cool and collected Laureline is charged with saving his bacon, presumably not for the first time.

The twist this time is that, due to a technological malfunction, Valerian is also trapped between two different levels of reality with most of his body in the real world while his arm is stuck in the virtual universe. This may not make a lot of sense in the explanation but the end result on the screen is a hilarious and exciting thing of crackpot beauty that is just one high point of a film filled with them.

After securing the Mül Converter, Valerian and Laureline report to Alpha, a massive floating city that began centuries earlier as the International Space Station and has expanded over the years to serve as a home away from home for aliens from throughout the universe to live together in harmony. Now Alpha’s very existence is being threatened from within, and Valerian and Laureline are charged with getting to the bottom of things before it is too late. The two uncover evidence of a massive government conspiracy to cover up a ghastly mistake. As they try to unravel the scheme before all is lost, the two are separated and have a series of adventures involving a wild collection of creatures, the most memorable of which is a shape-shifting “glampod” played by pop princess Rihanna, who turns up to help Valerian rescue Laureline.

Besson has long been one of the most stylish filmmakers, but he outdoes himself here. There is not a scene in the film that does not contain a visual worth savoring, whether it is an unusual creature, an extravagant costume or just a throwaway oddity lurking in a corner. (This is one of the rare recent films in which the 3-D option is clearly the way to go.) At the same time, though, Besson is using his visual skills as a way of telling the story instead of merely serving up bits of gourmet eye candy. Take the extended early sequence set on a bucolic distant planet whose sleek and iridescent inhabitants go about their business before being interrupted by a cataclysmic event. The scene is an initial grabber because of the absolutely gorgeous design of the planet and its inhabitants. But as it goes on, we quickly get a sense of who they are in relation to each other and how their world functions without a single word of dialogue to explain any of it.

Some will complain that the screenplay is little more than a series of action sequences linked together by a story that doesn’t make any sense and absurdly clunky dialogue. While some of the criticisms are valid—there are times when the dialogue sounds as if it underwent one pass too many through translation software programmed by George Lucas—Besson’s narrative is more ambitious than usual this time around and, for all the silliness on display, ultimately touches on real-world concerns such as political corruption and the international refugee crisis in ways that lend real emotional weight to the proceedings. At the same time, “Valerian” is unusually optimistic in its depiction of the future from the charming prologue showing the evolution of Alpha to the sight of its inhabitants living together in peace. At a time when virtually every futuristic film envisions some form of dystopian nightmare, the sunnier take shown here is refreshing.

The only weak element to “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” ironically enough, is Valerian himself. Throughout his career, Besson has never shown much interest in telling stories based around conventionally masculine heroes. Most of his films have centered on tough and resourceful female characters, and when guys have been front-and-center, Besson has subverted their macho natures in some way (such as dressing Bruce Willis in Jean-Paul Gaultier in “The Fifth Element”). Here, Valerian should be brave, bold and resourceful, but as inhabited by DeHaan, he comes across more like a callow kid struggling to emulate the effortless cool of Han Solo. Besson is clearly more interested in the character of Laureline, and viewers will be, too, thanks to Delevingne's performance. She is funny, convincing in the fight scenes, charismatic as hell, and capable of taking an absurdly melodramatic speech like her climactic oratory on the importance of love and making it work. Thanks to films like “REDACTED” and the recent “Star Wars” entries, we are in a new age of exemplary female heroes at the multiplex, and Laureline is fully deserving of a place among them.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is an utter delight and one of the most gorgeous fantasies to hit the screen in recent memory—the kind of film that can take moviegoers logy from the usual array of craptaculars and render them giddy with its pure fun. The question, of course, is whether viewers will be willing to give its weirdo charms a chance. But if you want to come away from a film feeling dazzled instead of simply dazed, this is an absolute must. Besides, it is almost certainly going to become a cult favorite in a few years, so why not get in on the ground floor while you can?
https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-2017


https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2239822/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
 
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I admit to being a little overly hyped for my next pick when it first started making the promotional rounds. Tarantino directing DiCaprio, Pitt, and Robbie in a late 60s Hollywood period piece? I was ready to set-up a tent outside the box office.

The end result didn’t quite reach my lofty expectations: Robbie ends up playing little more than a charming nostalgia prop, the story meanders quite a lot, and I had no idea the central plot point was the Manson family murders, which permeates the whole thing with a sinisterly creepy vibe I was not expecting.

Still, Pitt and DiCaprio play well off each other, and it ends up being half chill celebration of classic Hollywood, half cathartic wish fulfillment.

I could certainly see myself warming up to it more after a few more viewings.

O is for ...



Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

If this had been a TV draft, I wouldn’t have had any trouble making my “Q” pick. I’d have written in pen Quantum Leap as quickly as possible, and moved on to round two. I bring that up seemingly at random now because I get a very Quantum Leap vibe from ... Time in Hollywood.

Tarantino presents 60s Hollywood as this nostalgic time of fun and innocence, which was irreversibly shattered by the Manson family murder of Sharon Tate (and friends). So Tarantino “Quantum Leaps” Pitt’s character Cliff Booth onto the scene in the months leading up to the murder setting the scene for a wish fulfillment “righting of wrongs.”

Robbie plays Tate as a bright-eyed beauty who sheepishly asks if she “maybe, just maybe” could get into a theater free because, actually you see, she’s IN the movie (girlish grin and a titter). DiCaprio is a product of old Hollywood living through its changes and already longing for the way things used to be. And Pitt is a disgruntled, world-weary Superman who is the very embodiment of empowering when facing down the creeping evil of the Manson cult aka the violent end of innocence.

I wondered out loud after the movie if the Manson cult murders of Tate and others was an especially traumatic memory for a then 7-year-old Tarantino living in LA at the time, and mirrored his own nostalgic innocence snatched from him at an early age. Tate is positively angelic in her portrayal here, which serves the purpose of convincing the audience anything bad happening to her would be tragic, but is rather against-type for Robbie and especially Tarantino.

Then there is the badassery of Pitt’s Booth. Tarantino’s made a cottage industry of badasses for all seasons, but Booth is impossibly chill while staring down the embodiment of psychopathy.

Cliff Booth : And you were on a horsey! Yeah .. you are?
Tex : I'm the Devil. And I'm here to do the Devil's business.
Cliff Booth : ... Nah, it was dumber than that.

Even Beatrix Kiddo showed a little concern when cutting down the Crazy 88s. Booth let’s one of the most infamously menacing lines in true crime history roll off him like water off a duck’s back. (Granted, there are some psychedelic reasons for that, but the point stands. He was the same way while roaming the Spahn Ranch perfectly sober)

Overall, I think this is an interesting and entertaining film, with a lot of content still to mine from closer viewings.

Oh and remember, anybody accidentally kills anybody in a fight, they go to jail. It’s called manslaughter.
 

Attachments

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Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
@Padrino timed out so I’m keeping this moving.

Carroll Shelby: [narration] There's a point at 7,000 RPM... where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. Just disappears. And all that's left is a body moving through space and time. 7,000 RPM. That's where you meet it. You feel it coming. It creeps up on you, close in your ear. Asks you a question. The only question that matters. Who are you?

"V" is for:

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

1595862646285.png

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1950186/

Heck, I forgot about this one, too. That's what happens when you base your letter options / selections off your video library when you start a contest; you sometimes forget about other great movies you've seen but don't own a copy of. So I remedied that this weekend with a quick order to Best Buy for Ford v Ferrari in 4k and a curbside pickup. :)

The pertinent details from wikipedia:

Ford v Ferrari is a 2019 American sports drama film directed by James Mangold and written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. The film stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale, with Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, and Ray McKinnon in supporting roles.

The plot follows a determined team of American and British engineers and designers, led by automotive designer Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.
To get this out of the way, and I think I mentioned it before - I typically don't like (and don't watch) movies based on true events. The writers and directors often take too much liberty with the source material and change events to fit a narrative (for my taste). I'm not talking about a minor change to make a story fit in a 2-2.5 hour movie, I'm talking about major changes to a storyline or a non-fictional person's behavior, etc., that fundamentally changes that movie or your impression of a character in some way. Even Titanic, with a very detailed James Cameron at the helm (so to speak), famously made editorial choices about the first officer in particular that got some real-world blowback (I'm a big fan of Cameron; this is just a well-known example). You can make great movies while still sticking to the "truth" of the issue.

That being said, I loved Tombstone. And Ford v Ferrari is great as well. From what I have read, both movies stick pretty close to history while fitting the story into a movie's running time. Personally, there are some minor quibbles about this otherwise fantastic movie (mostly just some of the racing stuff [done for dramatic effect] and one Ford employee in particular they played as pretty slimy in the film), but from my understanding the basics of the story are all there and are correct. The acting (particularly Damon as Shelby and Bale as Miles) is superb and they play excellently off each other.

It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of the year, and at the 92nd Academy Awards received four nominations, including Best Picture, and won Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing. Bale also received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
Mick LaSalle of San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a 4 out of 4 stars, saying that it "is what it promises to be, a blast from the past" and writing: "Ford v Ferrari could have just been a sports story, dramatizing an interesting chapter in racing, and it would have been fine. But in showing Ford and his minions' constant interference in the dedicated work of Miles and Shelby, this James Mangold film becomes a tale of souls battling the soulless."
Carroll Shelby: We're lighter, we're faster, and if that don't work, we're nastier.

Ken Miles: You're gonna build a car to beat Ferrari with... a Ford.
Carroll Shelby: Correct.
Ken Miles: And how long did they tell you that they need it? Two, three hundred years?
Carroll Shelby: Ninety days.
[Ken laughs hysterically]

Henry Ford II: See that little building down there? In World War II, three out of five U.S. bombers rolled off that line. You think Roosevelt beat Hitler? Think again. This isn't the first time Ford Motor's gone to war in Europe. We know how to do more than push paper. And there is one man running this company. You report to him. You understand me?
Carroll Shelby: Yes, sir.
Henry Ford II: Go ahead, Carroll. Go to war.
Carroll Shelby: Thank you, sir.

Leo Beebe: I'm responsible for the launch of the Mustang.
Ken Miles: Ah! At least now we know who's responsible. Don't get me wrong, Lenny.
Leo Beebe: Leo.
Ken Miles: It looks fantastic. But inside, it's a lump of lard, dressed up to fool the public. My advice is, lose the inline-six and that idiotic three-speed, shorten the wheelbase, somehow lose half a ton, and lower the price. But even then, I'd still choose a Chevy Chevelle. And that's a f***ing terrible car.


Lee Iacocca: James Bond does not drive a Ford, sir.
Henry Ford II: That's because he's a degenerate.
 
@Padrino timed out so I’m keeping this moving.

Carroll Shelby: [narration] There's a point at 7,000 RPM... where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. Just disappears. And all that's left is a body moving through space and time. 7,000 RPM. That's where you meet it. You feel it coming. It creeps up on you, close in your ear. Asks you a question. The only question that matters. Who are you?

"V" is for:

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

View attachment 10045

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1950186/

Heck, I forgot about this one, too. That's what happens when you base your letter options / selections off your video library when you start a contest; you sometimes forget about other great movies you've seen but don't own a copy of. So I remedied that this weekend with a quick order to Best Buy for Ford v Ferrari in 4k and a curbside pickup. :)

The pertinent details from wikipedia:



To get this out of the way, and I think I mentioned it before - I typically don't like (and don't watch) movies based on true events. The writers and directors often take too much liberty with the source material and change events to fit a narrative (for my taste). I'm not talking about a minor change to make a story fit in a 2-2.5 hour movie, I'm talking about major changes to a storyline or a non-fictional person's behavior, etc., that fundamentally changes that movie or your impression of a character in some way. Even Titanic, with a very detailed James Cameron at the helm (so to speak), famously made editorial choices about the first officer in particular that got some real-world blowback (I'm a big fan of Cameron; this is just a well-known example). You can make great movies while still sticking to the "truth" of the issue.

That being said, I loved Tombstone. And Ford v Ferrari is great as well. From what I have read, both movies stick pretty close to history while fitting the story into a movie's running time. Personally, there are some minor quibbles about this otherwise fantastic movie (mostly just some of the racing stuff [done for dramatic effect] and one Ford employee in particular they played as pretty slimy in the film), but from my understanding the basics of the story are all there and are correct. The acting (particularly Damon as Shelby and Bale as Miles) is superb and they play excellently off each other.





Carroll Shelby: We're lighter, we're faster, and if that don't work, we're nastier.

Ken Miles: You're gonna build a car to beat Ferrari with... a Ford.
Carroll Shelby: Correct.
Ken Miles: And how long did they tell you that they need it? Two, three hundred years?
Carroll Shelby: Ninety days.
[Ken laughs hysterically]

Henry Ford II: See that little building down there? In World War II, three out of five U.S. bombers rolled off that line. You think Roosevelt beat Hitler? Think again. This isn't the first time Ford Motor's gone to war in Europe. We know how to do more than push paper. And there is one man running this company. You report to him. You understand me?
Carroll Shelby: Yes, sir.
Henry Ford II: Go ahead, Carroll. Go to war.
Carroll Shelby: Thank you, sir.

Leo Beebe: I'm responsible for the launch of the Mustang.
Ken Miles: Ah! At least now we know who's responsible. Don't get me wrong, Lenny.
Leo Beebe: Leo.
Ken Miles: It looks fantastic. But inside, it's a lump of lard, dressed up to fool the public. My advice is, lose the inline-six and that idiotic three-speed, shorten the wheelbase, somehow lose half a ton, and lower the price. But even then, I'd still choose a Chevy Chevelle. And that's a f***ing terrible car.


Lee Iacocca: James Bond does not drive a Ford, sir.
Henry Ford II: That's because he's a degenerate.
I liked this one. Example of a film that’s fine on its own merits, but is really best experienced in a theater.

I miss theaters.

Also, clever use of “V”
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
Okay, so this pick was totally a last-minute audible. And, by "last minute," I mean, I had all the movies I planned to pick laid out before I even agreed to take over for @VF21, and I've had the write-up for this pick done for a smooth week, and I decided this morning, while I was in the middle of my morning ablutions, to pick something else. I was thinking about comic books, as I am wont to do, and I found myself heading down a comic book nerd spiral, and the next thing I know, I've got a new pick. I've been working on this write up, ever since.


"V" is for:


































https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3896198/

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Director: James Gunn
Writer(s): James Gunn, Dan Dabnett and Andy Lanning
Score: Tyler Bates
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana: Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Adventure
Runtime: 2 hours 16 minutes



IMDb Summary: The Guardians struggle to keep together as a team while dealing with their personal family issues, notably Star-Lord's encounter with his father the ambitious celestial being Ego.

Having seemingly become some sort of hybrid of superheroes and mercenaries, the movie begins with the Guardians defeating a space monster, on behalf of a race of genetically engineered aliens, who call themselves the Sovereign. The Sovereign treat the Guardians dismissively, which Rocket takes offense to, and he responds by stealing from them. Upon learning of the theft, the Sovereign declare war against the Guardians, and attack them in outer space, only for the Guardians to be rescued by an immensely powerful alien, who later identifies himself as Ego (Russell), a Celestial, and Peter Quill's (Pratt) biological father.

Meanwhile, Quill's former Ravager crew, led by Yondu Udonta (Rooker) is commissioned by the Sovereign to find the Guardians and deliver them to the Sovereign for judgment. They catch up to the Guardians, less Quill, Gamora (Saldana) and Drax (Bautista), but the crew mutinies when they discover that Yondu doesn't have any intention of actually completing the job that they were paid to do. Quill begins to develop a relationship with the father he'd never known, until a horrifying secret about Ego is revealed.





Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun movie which explores different aspects of family dynamics, particularly the dichotomy of "family you're born into" versus "family you choose." Starting with the relationship between Quill and his biological father, versus his relationship with his "adopted" father, Yondu. The relationship between "foster sisters" Gamora and Nebula, the parental relationship between Rocket, who is ostensibly an orphan himself, and Groot*, even the somewhat dysfunctional family dynamics of the Guardians themselves, as a group. Rocket and Yondu have a particularly poignant bonding over their similarities.

*(sidenote: I want to mention this, since I already drafted Infinity War, I remember an interview that James Gunn did around the time IW came out, in which he not only said that Vin Diesel's script had the words that Groot was meant to be communicating for every occurrence of "I am Groot," but that the final occurrence as he was getting dusted and reaching out for Rocket was him crying, "Dad!")


Theatrical trailer. I remember, at the time, that people were concerned that the trailer spoiled too much of the movie, only to find out that three-quarters of the events in the trailer happen in the first five minutes of the movie.

 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
Alright, so, just so you know, I had to cut my "Comic Book Nerd Out" from the previous entry, because it pushed the post over the 20,000 character limit.

Strap in, kiddos.



So the Guardians of the Galaxy in the movie are part of a revised team, that do not particularly reflect the group's origins. The original Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 in 1969, and were created Stan Lee and Arnold Drake. In 1988, Earth astronaut Vance Astro (legally changed from Astrovik when he turned 21) volunteered for Project: Starjump, Earth's first attempted manned interstellar mission. Because, even in the comic book universe that existed in 1969, they didn't think that Earth would have faster-than-light travel by 1988, the trip to Earth's nearest interstellar neighbor, a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, was expected to take roughly 1000 years. So, in order to survive the journey, Astro underwent special physical treatments, including having his blood transfused with some kind of preservative fluid, having his entire body encased in a special "copper alloy" bodysuit, and being placed in suspended animation for most of the trip, only being occasionally revived, for periods lasting up to a year, to perform maintenance on his spaceship, Odysseus I. In the Marvel Comics Universe, it is theorized that all Earth humans have the biological potential for vast psionic abilities, and during his extended period of suspended animation, Astro's telekinetic potential emerged.

Astro arrived on Centauri IV in 3007 AD, only to discover that Earth had developed FTL travel during his journey, and beat him to the Centauri system by about two hundred years. They couldn't intercept Odysseus I, because of reasons, but Astro arrived on Centauri IV to a hero's welcome. Disillusioned by the fact that he had sacrificed his life on Earth, and abandoned everyone he loved, now dead for hundreds of years, for seemingly no purpose, he resolved himself to complete the geophysical surveying mission that he had originally been assigned, even though it had long since become superfluous. While conducting the survey, he first encountered Yondu Udonta, a member of the indigenous race of Centauri IV. When the alien Badoon attacked Centauri IV, destroying the Earth colony and methodically slaughtering the natives, Astro and Yondu attempted to escape on Odysseus I, but were overtaken, captured, and transported to Earth, which the Badoon had already conquered. Upon escaping, they encountered and teamed up with two others, who were fighting the Badoon, Charlie-27, the last of Earth's Jovian colony, and Martinex, the last of the Plutonian colony, forming the Guardians of the Galaxy.

After their initial adventure, the Guardians wouldn't be seen again until 1974, when time travel led to them teaming up with Captain America and the Thing to defeat the Badoon on 31st century Earth in Marvel Two-In-One #4-5. Time travel would again lead to them fighting along main Marvel Comics Universe heroes a year later, this time in the present (1975), in Giant Size Defenders #5 and Defenders #26-29. It was during this storyline that the super-powered Arcturian Starhawk (whom would later be revealed to be the gestalt being comprised of Stakar and Aleta Ogord) and Mercurian Nikki debuted, and joined the Guardians, becoming the final two members of the "classic" team. In later comic stories, Stakar and Aleta were able to be separated, and continued to serve as Guardians, as individual entities. Stakar Ogord, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27 and Martinex were given a shout-out in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as the "original" Ravagers, portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, Ving Rhames and Michael Rosenbaum, respectively.

The Guardians that appear in the movie didn't come together as a team until 2008, and mostly had origins in the comics that are fairly divergent from their movie origins. Star-Lord was created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan in 1976, but was not originally intended to be a superhero character, as he debuted in the sci-fi anthology series Marvel Preview #4 (back when Marvel was still doing non-superhero comics, as well as the spandex fare). Englehart, the character's primary creator, ended up leaving Marvel before any of his ideas for Star-Lord could actually be realized, and when Chris Claremont took over Marvel Preview, he began including Star-Lord in adventures that were reminiscent of the juvenile novels by legendary sci-fi author Robert Heinlein. So reminiscent, in fact, that Heinlein threatened legal action over Marvel Preview #11. After Claremont left Marvel Preview to take over writing X-Men, the Star-Lord character was left mostly unused until 2004, when he re-emerged during the comic crossover storyline "Annihilation." Like in the movies, in the comics, Star-Lord is half-human, but unlike in the movies, his father is not a celestial, but rather the emperor of the planet Spartax, named J'Son. In the comics, Prince J'Son's spaceship crashes on Earth, and he is taken in by Meredith Quill. The two form a relationship while J'Son makes repairs to his ship, but then J'Son eventually leaves Earth to fight in the war waging on his home planet, not knowing that Meredith had become pregnant with his son.

Gamora was created in 1975, by Jim Starlin. As in the movies, she is the last of her race, the Zen-Whoberis but, unlike in the comics, they were not killed by Thanos, but rather by the Grand Inquisitors of the Universal Church of Truth, a zealous religious order led by the Magus, who is the Adam Warlock of an alternate future reality (Warlock is, in fact, the being whose creation was hinted at in the post-credit scene at the end of GOTG2). Thanos, who was a rival of the Magus, rescued the infant Gamora from the slaughter, and traveled back in time with her, to raise her as an assassin, intending to use her to one day kill the Magus. After the Magus was defeated, Gamora learned of her origins, and of Thanos' true plans, and attempted to assassinate him, but Thanos slew her, instead. Warlock, at that point having control of the Soul Stone (referred to at the time as one of the six Soul Gems), absorbed her soul into it, where it remained until the events of the comic miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet (first mentioned in my comic book nerd-out for Avengers: Infinity War). Following the "Infinity Gauntlet" storyline, Gamora remains active in stories mostly related to the Infinity Stones, until the comic crossover storyline "Annihilation," after the events of which, she ends up joining the new Guardians of the Galaxy.

Nebula was created by Roger Stern and John Buscema in 1985. She first appeared in Avengers #257, during the period of time between the end of the first Thanos War, and the events of the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, as a space pirate and mercenary, who claimed to be Thanos' granddaughter. She was a frequent foe of the Avengers and the Silver Surfer, until Thanos' resurrection. Thanos, offended by Nebula's claims of being his granddaughter, torched her body, and left her on the brink of death. Nebula played a factor in Thanos' defeat during the "Infinity Gauntlet" storyline, but was mostly unheard of after that, until "Annihilation" where, unlike the others mentioned here, she did not join the team. Nebula's only real connection to Gamora in the comics is a mostly one-sided rivalry, as Nebula resents Gamora's reputation as the "Deadliest Woman in the Universe." They've mostly got an ultra-violent version of the Scrooge McDuck/Flintheart Glumgold dynamic going on in the comics, where Nebula hates Gamora with every fiber of her being, and Gamora occasionally deigns to acknowledge Nebula's existence.

Rocket was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen in 1976. Like Star-Lord, he was also not originally intended to be part of the superhero universe, as he debuted in Marvel Preview #7. Whereas, in the movies, Rocket's original designation was 89P13, and only anecdotally resembles an Earth raccoon, in the comics, Rocket, while similarly genetically enhanced, was actually meant to be an Earth raccoon: in his comic origins, Rocket was created on the planet Halfworld, an Earth colony for the mentally ill, where Earth-native animals were genetically and cybernetically engineered to grant them human-level intellect and bipedal body construction, in order to serve as caretakers for the inmates. His name in the comics is actually Rocket Raccoon, and he is initially given the nickname "Rocky," as an homage to the Beatles song, "Rocky Raccoon." In the comics, not only is Rocket not a bandit, but he is, in fact, Halfworld's chief law officer. The character only had ten total comic book appearances in the first thirty years of its history (including a four-issue self-titled miniseries in 1985) and, like pretty much all the rest of the modern Guardians, joined the team in the wake of the "Annihilation" storyline.


(I have this issue, by the way)

Groot, the longest-tenured Marvel Comics character of the modern Guardians team, was created in 1960 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber. Like the rest of the team, Groot's comic origins have nothing to do with the Guardians of the Galaxy. In fact, Groot originally appeared in Tales to Astonish #13, as a would-be invader of Earth. Groot is a Flora colossus from Planet X, a race of tree-like beings whose language is almost impossible to understand, due to the physical stiffness and inflexibility of their larynxes, causing everything to say to sound like they are repeating the phrase "I am Groot." After his initial appearance, Groot returns in a 70's Hulk storyline, alongside five other monsters from Marvel's anthology horror comics from the 50's and 60's, and then is almost entirely unused, until the "Annihilation" storyline. Later comic books retroactively establish the Groot that joins the Guardians as a separate member of the same species from the one who debuted in 1960, though this retcon has been muddled and possibly invalidated by comics that came after. The biome on Planet X where the Flora colossi live is maintained by sentient (though probably not sapient) beings that also resemble Earth raccoons, which is given as the reason why Groot and Rocket form such a fast bond. In Groot's current comic origins, he was exiled from Planet X, after killing a fellow sapling in order to defend the maintenance mammal that the sapling was brutalizing.

Drax was created by Jim Starlin in 1973, and was not originally an alien. Drax was originally Arthur Douglas, an Earth human who was killed by Thanos, while the latter was on a scouting mission on Earth. Thanos, thinking that he had been spotted, crashed the car being driven by Douglas, to ensure that there would be no witnesses to his arrival. Douglas' wife also died in the crash but, unlike in the movies, his daughter was not killed, but rather rescued by Mentor, Thanos' father. Needing a champion to combat the threat of Thanos, Mentor collected Douglas' soul, and transferred it into a genetically engineered being body, re-christening him "Drax the Destroyer." Drax's memory is erased, and his intellect reduced to that of a human toddler, knowing no purpose but to kill Thanos. Douglas' memories are restored by the Cosmic Cube, while fighting Thanos, and he eventually reunites with his daughter Heather, now known as the superhuman (and former Avenger) Moondragon. But Heather has a face-heel turn, using her powers to take over a planet that she and Drax initially traveled to to help stop their civil war. In the course of trying to stop her, Moondragon kills Drax, using her powers to separate his life force from his body. Drax is eventually resurrected to combat Thanos in the Silver Surfer story arc that immediately preceded the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries. Following the events of the "Infinity Gauntlet," Drax, like Gamora, remained active primarily in stories pertaining to the Infinity Stones, until the events of "Annihilation."

Mantis was created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck in 1973 and, like Drax, was also not originally an alien in the comics. Mantis, whose real first name has never been revealed in the comics, is half-Vietnamese, half-German, whose father, Gustav Brandt, was the costumed villain Libra. Before becoming a villain, Brandt, as a soldier of fortune in Vietnam, fell in love with and married Lua, Mantis' mother. They had a child and lived together as a family, until Lua's brother Khrull, a boss in Vietnam's criminal underworld who hated Europeans, and now even hated his sister for marrying one, sent henchmen to kill them. They succeeded in killing Lua and blinding Brandt, who fled into the Vietnamese jungle with his daughter, until stumbling across the temple of the Priests of Pama, a pacifist sect established on Earth centuries earlier by Kree exiles. They restored Brandt to health and taught him to "see" despite his blindness, but separated him from his daughter, and would not allow him to remain in their temple, because of his past as a soldier. Brandt would eventually change his identity, and join the criminal cartel Zodiac, as the costumed villain Libra. Mantis would go on to be trained by the Priests of Pama to have "complete control" over her body, and to be a master of their "pacifist" martial arts, as well as developing her empathic powers, as they believed her to be one of the two women who could become the Celestial Madonna, the woman who would give birth to the Celestial Messiah, a "genetically perfect" being of great power, who would bring peace to the universe. The other woman believed to be a candidate for becoming the Celestial Madonna was the aforementioned Moondragon, who was similarly trained to have "complete control" of her body, as well as having developed mental powers, but on Titan, under the tutelage of the Eternals, rather than on Earth. Mantis was ultimately chosen over Moondragon, for having a closer tie to her humanity. Mantis served as a member of the Avengers, until the end of the Celestial Madonna storyline, which was resolved after a battle with Kang the Conqueror, and she left Earth as a being of pure energy with the alien that was meant to become the father of the Celestial Messiah. Mantis makes sporadic appearances in the comics, over the next thirty years or so, until the events of "Annihilation."

Ego the Living Planet was created in 1966, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He was not originally a Celestial, but rather one of the Elders of the Universe. Ego debuted in Thor #132, when the alien Rigellians enlisted Thor's aid to combat Ego, whom they feared would consume their homeworld. Ego vowed to renounce his plans of conquest, after what he believed to be a humiliating defeat at Thor's hands, and was subsequently aided by Thor when Galactus attempted to consume him. In Thor #201, Ego is driven insane, and gives in to its primordial urges after a Rigellian takes a sample from his planetoid body, in hopes of using it to fertilize sterile worlds for the Rigellians to colonize. Ego is again defeated by Thor, and continues to be a sporadic fixture in Marvel Comics cosmic adventures for years after that. Though he is not Star-Lord's father in the comics, Ego does have a daughter, Illa, the Living Moon, who debuts in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #17.
 
With my twenty-third pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of the letter R to select:

Ran (1985):



Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cinematography: Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saitô, Shôji Ueda
Writer(s): Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide, William Shakespeare (based on the play King Lear, by)
Score: Tôru Takemitsu
Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû
Genre: Action, drama
Runtime: 2 hours, 42 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089881/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Roger Ebert said:
One of the early reviews of Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" said that he could not possibly have directed it at an earlier age. My first impulse was to question that act of critical omnipotence. Who is to say Kurosawa couldn't have made this film at 50 or 60, instead of at 75, as he has?

But then I thought longer about "Ran," which is based on Shakespeare's "King Lear" and on a similar medieval samurai legend. And I thought about Laurence Oliver's "Lear" on TV last year, and about the "Lear" I saw starring Douglas Campbell a few weeks ago here in Chicago, and I realized that age probably is a prerequisite to fully understand this character. Dustin Hoffman might be able to play Willy Loman by aging himself with makeup, but he will have to wait another 20 years to play Lear.

The character contains great paradoxes, but they are not the paradoxes of youth; they spring from long habit. Lear has the arrogance of great power, long held. He has wide knowledge of the world. Yet he is curiously innocent when it comes to his own children; he thinks they can do no wrong, can be trusted to carry out his plans. At the end, when his dreams have been broken, the character has the touching quality of a childlike innocence that can see breath on lips that are forever sealed, and can dream of an existence beyond the cruelties of man. Playing Lear is not a technical exercise. I wonder if a man can do it who has not had great disappointments and long dark nights of the soul.

Kurosawa has lived through those bad times. Here is one of the greatest directors of all time, out of fashion in his own country, suffering from depression, nearly blind. He prepared this film for 10 years, drawing hundreds of sketches showing every shot, hardly expecting that the money ever would be found to allow him to make the film. But a deal was finally put together by Serge Silberman, the old French producer who backed the later films of Luis Bunuel (who also could have given us a distinctive Lear). Silberman risked his own money; this is the most expensive Japanese film ever made, and, yes, perhaps Kurosawa could not have made it until he was 75.

The story is familiar. An old lord decides to retire from daily control of his kingdom, yet still keep all the trappings of his power. He will divide his kingdom in three parts among his children. In "Ran" they are sons, not daughters. First, he requires a ritual statement of love. The youngest son cannot abide the hypocrisy, and stays silent. And so on. The Japanese legend Kurosawa draws upon contains a famous illustration in which the old lord takes three arrows and demonstrates that when they are bundled, they cannot be broken, but taken one at a time, they are weak. He wishes his sons to remain allies, so they will be strong, but of course they begin to fight, and civil war breaks out as the old lord begins his forlorn journey from one castle to another, gradually being stripped of his soldiers, his pride, his sanity. Nobody can film an epic battle scene like Kurosawa. He already has demonstrated that abundantly in "The Seven Samurai," in "Yojimbo," in [REDACTED]. In "Ran," the great bloody battles are counterpointed with scenes of a chamber quality, as deep hatreds and lusts are seen to grow behind the castle walls.

"King Lear" is a play that centers obsessively around words expressing negatives. "Nothing? Nothing will come to nothing!" "Never, never, never." "No, no, no, no, no." They express in deep anguish the king's realization that what has been taken apart never will be put together again, that his beloved child is dead and will breathe no more, that his pride and folly have put an end to his happiness. Kurosawa's film expresses that despair perhaps more deeply than a Western film might; the samurai costumes, the makeup inspired by Noh drama, give the story a freshness that removes it from all our earlier associations.

"Ran" is a great, glorious achievement. Kurosawa often must have associated himself with the old lord as he tried to put this film together, but in the end he has triumphed, and the image I have of him, at 75, is of three arrows bundled together.
https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ran-1985
 
If you must blink, do it now.
K = Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) - PG



Artfully done, and poigniantly presented, Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated film to return to throughout life's journey.

IMDB said:
Those talented folks at LAIKA have done it again. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is not just one of the best animated films of the year, it's one of the best films of the year, period. Not since Pixar's "Up," have death and loss been handled so firmly and delicately. "Kubo" is fun, moving, hopeful, and profound. A terrific story of bravery and acceptance.

Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler and directed by LAIKA's own president, Travis Knight, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is set in a fantastical Japan where a one-eyed kid who masters the art of origami and storytelling, Kubo, (voiced by Art Parkinson of "Game Of Thrones") would go out to work to earn money during the day by entertaining audiences in the middle of a market but he comes home right before sundown to tend to his sick mother, it has to be before sundown because at night, his mother's sisters, two evil twins (voice day Oscar nominee Rooney Mara) would try to get Kubo's other eye. The past catches up to them, an old vendetta resurfaces, Kubo must run and join forces with Monkey (voiced by Oscar winner Charlize Theron) and a beetle (voiced by Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey) on a quest to retrieve the helmet, the sword unbreakable and the armor that would prepare Kubo to fight the vengeful Moon King (voiced by Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes). This quest would unlock Kubo's family mystery and lead him to fulfill his destiny.

I've always appreciated animation, but with stop-motion, it's extra level of appreciation, knowing the extra hard work they put into even just to get a few seconds of shots. It's a level of dedication and discipline that never ceases to blow my mind, that's why I'm a huge fan of LAIKA. Especially with this latest film of theirs, the scale is much bigger, there's a sequence involving a large skeleton giant, your brain starts to wonder as you see that scene just how many hours, how many weeks, how many months did it take for them to make that happen.

This film has action, it has love drama, it has family drama, it has a great sense of humor and it's also about community coming together to help one another. It has its own way of featuring and respecting Japanese art and tradition, but even if you're not too familiar with that particular culture, KUBO resonates much deeper than just the aesthetics. It's a film that's perfect for the whole family. And on top of that, it delicately teaches our young ones about how to grieve in a healthy manner. There's also a twist to the story which I won't spoil for you here. This film is just so beautiful and pristine. Charlize Theron has that commanding voice you would follow to the ends of the earth. And Matthew McConaughey voices Beetle as playful and as proud as Tim Allen did Buzz Lightyear. So it's a combination of outstanding stop motion animation, excellent voice talents, a well-told story and strong characters that make KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS one of my favorite this year.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4302938/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
 
Last edited:

bajaden

Hall of Famer
W = White Men Can't Jump: The title is a cliche with an element of truth, but it becomes a useful tool for Woody Harrelson in this movie. The movie was somewhat controversial when it came out since it dealt with race as well as basketball. The movie was directed by Ron Shelton and starred Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and wonderful, but very annoying Rosie Perez as Woody's girl friend. I've probably watched this movie at least 20 times over the years and I still enjoy it. I'm not sure how the politically correct perceive this movie in today's world, but there is a stark contrast between those living in the created world of the movie and those sitting in judgement on the outside looking in.

Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) is a former college basketball player who makes his living by hustling streetballers who assume he cannot play well because he is white. Billy never degrades his race when joining in on pickup games; he simply allows his opponents, most of whom are black, to believe they have a natural advantage over him due to his race and clothing style. Such a player is Sidney Deane (Snipes), a talented but cocky player who is beaten twice by Billy, once in a half court team game and later in a one-on-one shootout for money.

Billy and his Puerto Rican live-in girlfriend, Gloria Clemente (Perez), are on the run from mobsters because of a gambling debt. A voracious reader, making note of obscure facts, Gloria's goal in life is to be a contestant on the television show Jeopardy! and make a fortune. Sidney wants to buy a house for his family outside the rough Baldwin Village neighborhood. He proposes a business partnership with Billy and they hustle other players by deliberately setting them up to pick Billy as Sidney's teammate. At first their system is very successful, but when they unexpectedly lose a game, it turns out that Sidney had double-crossed Billy by deliberately playing badly to avenge his earlier loss to him, making Billy lose $1,700 to a group of Sidney's friends.

 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
With KainLear timed out until further appearance...

To fill my "relaxed J" column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



William Shakespeare's Romeo + (J)uliet (1996)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo

Trailer

There were a couple of Shakespeare non-period film adaptations in the late '90s that got me real excited for the future of that particular genre, both with screenplays adapted into the format of a modern film, with great acting, sumptuous costumes, splashy scenery, and in the case of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, a fairly cleverly-done transformation into modern times. Unfortunately...that was kind of it, and if there have been any of note since, I've missed them. I don't think there's much point in going over the plot of Romeo and Juliet as it should be no mystery to anybody here, but it is worth pointing out that the music is pretty fantastic and does an amazing job of creating the feel of the movie - the soundtrack was even selected in this summer's album draft by Löwenherz, who used up the "J" slot before the rules got relaxed in the bonus round, or I might never have had a chance to draft the film.

Romeo slew Tybalt! Romeo must not live!
 
Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three
W = Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)



Roger Ebert - 1971 said:
Kids are not stupid. They are among the sharpest, cleverest, most eagle-eyed creatures on God's Earth, and very little escapes their notice. You may not have observed that your neighbor is still using his snow tires in mid-July, but every four-year-old on the block has, and kids pay the same attention to detail when they go to the movies. They don't miss a thing, and they have an instinctive contempt for shoddy and shabby work. I make this observation because nine out of ten children's movies are stupid, witless, and display contempt for their audiences, and that's why kids hate them. Is that all parents want from kids' movies? That they not have anything bad in them? Shouldn't they have something good in them -- some life, imagination, fantasy, inventiveness, something to tickle the imagination? If a movie isn't going to do your kids any good, why let them watch it? Just to kill a Saturday afternoon? That shows a subtle kind of contempt for a child's mind, I think.

All of this is preface to a simple statement: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is probably the best film of its sort since "The Wizard of Oz." It is everything that family movies usually claim to be, but aren't: Delightful, funny, scary, exciting, and, most of all, a genuine work of imagination. “Willy Wonka” is such a surely and wonderfully spun fantasy that it works on all kinds of minds, and it is fascinating because, like all classic fantasy, it is fascinated with itself.

It's based on the well-known Roald Dahl children's book, and it was financed by the Quaker Oats Company as an experiment in providing high-quality family entertainment. It succeeds. It doesn't cut corners and go for cheap shortcuts like Disney. It provides a first-rate cast (Gene Wilder as the compulsively distrustful chocolate manufacturer, Jack Albertson as the game old grandfather), a first-rate production, and -- I keep coming back to this -- genuine imagination.

The story, like all good fantasies, is about a picaresque journey. Willy Wonka is the world's greatest chocolate manufacturer, and he distributes five golden passes good for a trip through his factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Each pass goes to a kid, who may bring an adult along, and our hero Charlie (a poor but honest newsboy who supports four grandparents and his mother) wins the last one.

The other four kids are hateful in one way or another, and come to dreadful ends. One falls into the chocolate lake and is whisked into the bowels of the factory. He shouldn't have been a pig. Another is vain enough to try Wonka's new teleportation invention, and winds up six inches tall -- but the taffy-pulling machine will soon have him back to size, right? If these fates seem a little gruesome to you, reflect that all great children's tales are a little gruesome, from the Brothers Grimm to Alice in Wonderland to Snow White, and certainly not excluding Mother Goose. Kids are not sugar and spice, not very often, and they appreciate the poetic justice when a bad kid gets what's coming to him.
https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-1971

Link #1 - Pure Imagination
Link #2 - Tunnel of Terror
Link #3 - A Grand Entrance

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067992/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
Okay, so this pick was totally a last-minute audible. And, by "last minute," I mean, I had all the movies I planned to pick laid out before I even agreed to take over for @VF21, and I've had the write-up for this pick done for a smooth week, and I decided this morning, while I was in the middle of my morning ablutions, to pick something else. I was thinking about comic books, as I am wont to do, and I found myself heading down a comic book nerd spiral, and the next thing I know, I've got a new pick. I've been working on this write up, ever since.


"V" is for:


































https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3896198/

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Director: James Gunn
Writer(s): James Gunn, Dan Dabnett and Andy Lanning
Score: Tyler Bates
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana: Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Adventure
Runtime: 2 hours 16 minutes



IMDb Summary: The Guardians struggle to keep together as a team while dealing with their personal family issues, notably Star-Lord's encounter with his father the ambitious celestial being Ego.

Having seemingly become some sort of hybrid of superheroes and mercenaries, the movie begins with the Guardians defeating a space monster, on behalf of a race of genetically engineered aliens, who call themselves the Sovereign. The Sovereign treat the Guardians dismissively, which Rocket takes offense to, and he responds by stealing from them. Upon learning of the theft, the Sovereign declare war against the Guardians, and attack them in outer space, only for the Guardians to be rescued by an immensely powerful alien, who later identifies himself as Ego (Russell), a Celestial, and Peter Quill's (Pratt) biological father.

Meanwhile, Quill's former Ravager crew, led by Yondu Udonta (Rooker) is commissioned by the Sovereign to find the Guardians and deliver them to the Sovereign for judgment. They catch up to the Guardians, less Quill, Gamora (Saldana) and Drax (Bautista), but the crew mutinies when they discover that Yondu doesn't have any intention of actually completing the job that they were paid to do. Quill begins to develop a relationship with the father he'd never known, until a horrifying secret about Ego is revealed.





Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fun movie which explores different aspects of family dynamics, particularly the dichotomy of "family you're born into" versus "family you choose." Starting with the relationship between Quill and his biological father, versus his relationship with his "adopted" father, Yondu. The relationship between "foster sisters" Gamora and Nebula, the parental relationship between Rocket, who is ostensibly an orphan himself, and Groot*, even the somewhat dysfunctional family dynamics of the Guardians themselves, as a group. Rocket and Yondu have a particularly poignant bonding over their similarities.

*(sidenote: I want to mention this, since I already drafted Infinity War, I remember an interview that James Gunn did around the time IW came out, in which he not only said that Vin Diesel's script had the words that Groot was meant to be communicating for every occurrence of "I am Groot," but that the final occurrence as he was getting dusted and reaching out for Rocket was him crying, "Dad!")


Theatrical trailer. I remember, at the time, that people were concerned that the trailer spoiled too much of the movie, only to find out that three-quarters of the events in the trailer happen in the first five minutes of the movie.

I am very, very, very happy with the picks you've made thus far, but this one tops the list. NICE!!! And your write-up is literary gold. :)
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
I am very, very, very happy with the picks you've made thus far, but this one tops the list. NICE!!! And your write-up is literary gold. :)
One thing I forgot to mention: I was several re-watches in, before I realized that Taserface is played by the same actor who portrays Toby on This is Us.

At any rate, there's only one other MCU movie that I can select, with the letters you left me to play with, and I'm disinclined to take it. You know what's coming next...
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
One thing I forgot to mention: I was several re-watches in, before I realized that Taserface is played by the same actor who portrays Toby on This is Us.

At any rate, there's only one other MCU movie that I can select, with the letters you left me to play with, and I'm disinclined to take it. You know what's coming next...
o_O
 
Even with the more lax Alphabet rules in the bonus rounds, I decided to stick with the "first letter" challenge theme ... pretty much the moment Cap stole my oh-so-clever Q alternate option out from under me. Q was my Everest, so after digging deep to scale that mountain, what's a few more mole hills the rest of the way out?

You might think X would be equally challenging, but not actually. On the home front, X is used a good deal to denote dumb-fun X-treme action guilty-pleasures or Matrix-inspired haxer conspiracy flicks. Whereas internationally, there are some rather complex and interesting X titled movies from Brazil, Argentina, Greece, Senegal, India, and China.

I very nearly went the international route here, taking an especially long look at the delegates from Brazil and India. But, who am I kidding? Stuck in quarantine, I want some superhero sci-fi, mutant dystopia, time-travel X-treme-ness.

X is for ...



X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

What a wild, strange ride the 20th Century Fox X-Men franchise was, or I suppose technically still "is" because there's evidently one more film set for release. But for all intents and purposes, this franchise is done just shy of 20 years after it began.

There were certainly a lot of decent ups and ultra-downs for the franchise, but I think this one represents a true high watermark, taking the three wildly varied individual series within the franchise to that point, melding them together in a mostly cohesive unit, and using the backdrop of among the greats comic book stories of all time.

Clearly this all hadn't been planned from the beginning, so it took Herculean-level creativity to bring all those elements together. For the most part, I'd say it worked.

I would have liked to explore the dystopian future more, instead of it being a framing device. I'm not as bothered by the major liberties it takes with the source material because I'm not a huge comic book guy and am not that deeply invested, and the choices made sense because of where the film franchise started. This is a really satisfying "tying of loose ends" for a franchise that had so many dangling treads.

Although I wouldn't consider this a must-have for me, given the options, I think this is the most fun "X" titled movie available.
 
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Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

What a wild, strange ride the Sony X-Men franchise was, or I suppose technically still "is" because there's evidently one more film set for release. But for all intents and purposes, this franchise is done just shy of 20 years after it began.
:: stage whispers ::

Fox.

and using the backdrop of among the greats comic book stories of all time.
Being the comic book nerd that I am, I'd say that this using the tern "backdrop" quite loosely. YMMV.
 
:: stage whispers ::

Fox.


Egah, dumb mistake. Must have had Spider-Man on the brain. Maybe in time they'll all be owned by Disney anyway.

Being the comic book nerd that I am, I'd say that this using the tern "backdrop" quite loosely. YMMV.


Agreed, but given how much the original film deviated from the source material, by the time they got to Future Past, that's the closest Fox was going to get without scraping the film franchise itself and starting from scratch.
 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
M: It'd be a pretty cold bastard who didn't want revenge for the death of someone he loved.

"Q" is for:

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum_of_Solace_-_UK_cinema_poster.jpg

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0830515/

Once Galaxy Quest was taken, the list of movies with a "Q" in the title that I have seen and liked is pretty dang short. However, I figured if I could grab an action-packed and gritty James Bond movie with a wasteland of a letter I'm coming out ahead of the game. Not the best Bond flick by any means, but definitely not the worst. :) In truth, I like Daniel Craig as Bond - he does a good job in this film. And Judi Dench is always fabulous.

From wikipedia:

Directed by Marc Forster and written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, it is a direct sequel to (redacted), and the second film to star Daniel Craig as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film also stars Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, and Judi Dench. In the film, Bond seeks revenge for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd, and is assisted by Camille Montes, who is plotting revenge for the murder of her own family. The trail eventually leads them to wealthy businessman Dominic Greene, a member of the Quantum organization, which intends to stage a coup d'état in Bolivia to seize control of their water supply.
James Bond: [at a dirty, small motel] What are we doing?
Strawberry Fields: We're teachers on sabbatical. This fits our cover.
James Bond: No it doesn't. I'd rather stay at a morgue. Come on.
[they go to a nicer hotel]
James Bond: [to the hotel receptionist] Hello. We're teachers on sabbatical and we've just won the lottery.

M: When someone says "We've got people everywhere", you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!

M: Bond, if you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated.
James Bond: Yes, Ma'am. I'll do my best.
M: I've heard that before.


M: I assume you have no regrets.
James Bond: I don't! What about you?
M: Of course not. It would be unprofessional.
 
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With my twenty-fourth pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of the letter Y to select:

You Were Never Really Here (2018):



Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cinematography: Thomas Townend
Writer(s): Lynne Ramsay, Jonathan Ames (based on the novel by)
Score: Jonny Greenwood
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5742374/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Brian Tallerico said:
Lynne Ramsay’s brutal thriller, “You Were Never Really Here,” based on the book by Jonathan Ames, made waves last year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it played in competition, and won awards for Ramsay’s screenplay and star Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance. It bypassed the fall festivals on its way to an April release but somewhat unexpectedly popped up in the Spotlight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, a section of the event that’s devoted to films that played elsewhere and also included TIFF hits [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and others this year. When it was announced, the Ramsay instantly became a red-hot ticket with press, ticket buyers, and celebrities crowding the Marc Theatre on Sunday night for its North American premiere. What they saw was something they won’t soon forget—a terrifying vision of a man pushed past the edge of sanity. Echoes of [REDACTED] and “Drive” weave their way through this unforgettable film, but it’s also very distinctly a Ramsay production, featuring stunning sound design, striking imagery, and brilliant use of music—in this case, another great score by the one-and-only Jonny Greenwood.

Phoenix stars as Joe, a professional assassin who may be a bit suicidal himself. Ramsay’s script wastes no time narratively, and yet allows for us to see glimpses of Joe’s mental and emotional instability, and even how they were formed by a traumatic childhood. He leans off a train platform, pulling back at just the right moment. He even puts a plastic bag over his head, ripping it at the last second—and Ramsay peppers her film with harrowing flashback images as to where Joe’s dark side may have come from, including a child in a closet with the same kind of dry cleaning bag and a father with a hammer. Oh, that hammer.

You see, a ball pein hammer is Joe’s weapon of choice, which itself is an indication of his pathology. A gunshot is often clean and done from a distance, allowing at least a bit of removal. There’s nothing removed about killing someone with a hammer. And one of Ramsay’s many fascinating touches is the way she imagines a madman’s preparation for homicide. We see Phoenix basically transform himself, diving deep into a near-numbing trance in a sauna before he emerges, ready to do his job.

As with a lot of movies about hitmen, his latest job is the one that changes everything. A State Senator has come to Joe’s boss with the news that his daughter has been kidnapped and put into a sex trafficking ring for minors that basically trades young girls to rich, powerful men looking to satisfy their perversions. The Senator wants his daughter back. And, of course, our hammer-wielding anti-hero gets the job done, but everything goes wrong after he does. You see, the Senator has revealed an underground world that powerful people didn’t want to come to light. And the Senator’s daughter was a “favorite” of a particularly powerful person. Violent retribution rains down on Joe, and this formerly suicidal man finds the will to survive in what is essentially a crusade for righteous vengeance but not in any way that you’d expect.

There are many things to praise about Ramsay’s vision here, but one thing that particularly stands out is her lack of desire to narratively hold anyone’s hand. “You Were Never Really Here” very rarely stops to catch you up on what’s happening, or spell anything out to you thematically. You have to be willing to suspend traditional narrative expectations to appreciate what is almost a dreamlike journey to the dark side. It is a film of such striking, unforgettable imagery, and yet Phoenix’s performance grounds it in such a way that it never becomes a hollow exercise in style. Bulked up in muscle and weight, Phoenix almost appears as if he’s in physical pain throughout much of the film, capturing a man for whom the world has become too bright, too loud, too awful, without overplaying those beats. It’s a film of external beauty in Ramsay’s visual language and sound design but it’s anchored by the internal work of her leading man. It’s that balance, the teamwork between Ramsay and Phoenix, that makes “You Were Never Really Here” so unforgettable, and what will make it a cult hit when it’s released in a few months. In many ways, it already feels like it is. For a lot of you, it’s your new favorite movie in a long time—you just don’t know it yet.
https://www.rogerebert.com/festivals/sundance-2018-you-were-never-really-here
 
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M: It'd be a pretty cold bastard who didn't want revenge for the death of someone he loved.

"Q" is for:

Quantum of Solace (2008)

View attachment 10051

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0830515/

Once Galaxy Quest was taken, the list of movies with a "Q" in the title that I have seen and liked is pretty dang short. However, I figured if I could grab an action-packed and gritty James Bond movie with a wasteland of a letter I'm coming out ahead of the game. Not the best Bond flick by any means, but definitely not the worst. :) In truth, I like Daniel Craig as Bond - he does a good job in this film. And Judi Dench is always fabulous.

From wikipedia:



James Bond: [at a dirty, small motel] What are we doing?
Strawberry Fields: We're teachers on sabbatical. This fits our cover.
James Bond: No it doesn't. I'd rather stay at a morgue. Come on.
[they go to a nicer hotel]
James Bond: [to the hotel receptionist] Hello. We're teachers on sabbatical and we've just won the lottery.

M: When someone says "We've got people everywhere", you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!

M: Bond, if you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated.
James Bond: Yes, Ma'am. I'll do my best.
M: I've heard that before.


M: I assume you have no regrets.
James Bond: I don't! What about you?
M: Of course not. It would be unprofessional.
I love all of the Daniel Craig James Bonds. Nice pick!
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
Alright, now that all of the MCU movies I want, (except for the two I didn't have the letters to pick... Thanks @VF21!) are out of the way...


If you were around for the last time, you know what this is. Mister Slim participating in a movie draft can only mean one thing: Kung Fu Theater!




And, as an added bonus, I will be picking a number of movies whose titles in their original language will help me to navigate the draft rules. With that in mind, "Q" is for:



















He Qi dao (Hapkido aka Lady Kung Fu) (1972)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068676/

Director: Huang Feng
Writer: Yan Ho
Score: Tsao Hua Lai
Cast: Angela Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung, Han-jae Ji
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes


Summary: Three students face violent resistance, when they decide to open a martial arts school.


A Kung Fu classic, this was a selection of mine in a previous draft, and I had to have it, again. This is billed as an Angela Mao movie, even though, if you somehow only watched the first forty-five minutes, you'd probably think it was a Sammo Hung movie. Set in 1934, the movie begins in Japanese-occupied Korea, where students Yu Ying (Mao), Kao Chang (Wong) and Fan Wei (Hung) have been studying Hapkido under the tutelage of their Sifu, Shih Kung-chan (Ji), himself a Chinese exile (the actor himself is actually Korean). Deciding they are ready to return to China to open a Hapkido school of their own, they try to keep a low profile, until Fan Wei gets into a fight with students of a rival school, when they start bullying customers at a restaurant. Without spoiling the movie, it's fair to say that things get kicked off from there.

This movie was more or less a star turn for Angela Mao, who continued to feature in movies until she retired from acting in 1992. Her best known role to American audiences was as Su Lin in the previously drafted Enter the Dragon. He qui dao was re-released for North American audiences as Lady Kung Fu in 1973, and even briefly held the top spot at the American box office, overtaking Enter the Dragon to do so. As mentioned, He qui dao co-starred Sammo Hung, one of the three "Big Brothers" of Hong Kong Cinema; the movie also featured blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos by the other two Big Brothers, Biao Yuen and Jackie Chan. He qui dao has drawn comparisons to another Bruce Lee vehicle [REDACTED] (which I took in a previous draft, but hasn't yet been mentioned in this one), due to the Japanese oppression being a backdrop of the movie, and both movies were indeed released by the same studio (Golden Harvest), within six months of each other.

If you have the opportunity to watch the subtitled version, rather than the dubbed version, I recommend it. A couple of nitpicks, regarding the dubbed version:
  • Hapkido is referred to throughout the dubbed version as an outdated Chinese martial art. In fact, it is a relatively recent Korean martial art, which is why they were in Korea at the start of the movie, in the first place.
  • They must have gotten the translation really wrong, because they had to go back in and over-dub the word "Hapkido" on the voice track, dozens of times. There's one scene in particular where two of the actors say the word "Hapkido," like, six times in less than a minute, and the over-dub is super-noticeable and off-putting.


North American trailer: