Welcome to the House of Crouse. This week we learn about Baby Groot and golf. Not playing golf with Baby Groot, but how Michael Rooker relates to the tiny tree-like being and why Jason Connery loves to play golf. The HoC guests give you a behind-the-scenes look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Tommy’s Honour. It’s good stuff so c’mon in, sit a spell.
Posts Tagged ‘Walking Dead’
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens with a battle scene that would not be out of place in almost any other superhero movie.
The set-up has the Guardians — Peter Quill /Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) — working for the Sovereigns, a thin-skinned race of aliens who have hired the heroes to protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster.
The action is as wild and woolly as we’ve come to expect from these big CGI extravaganzas, but the thing that sets the scene apart from all other superhero movies is the sheer, unbridled joy brought to the screen by Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree-like being too small to take part in the fight. Instead he blissfully dances throughout to Mr. Blue Sky, the lush, Beatles-esque ELO song that underscores the sequence.
The scene and the movie brim with the missing element of so many other big superhero movies — fun.
“That’s what we hoped to do,” says star Michael Rooker, “bring back the fun. It was fun as hell doing it.”
Rooker reprises his role as blue-skinned, red-finned mercenary Yondu. The former Walking Dead actor — he played Daryl’s older brother Merle Dixon — jokes that his normal look, his handsomely craggy face, is actually make-up, and the Blue Man Group style we see in the movie is the face he was born with. “It takes four or five hours to get this on,” he says, pulling at his cheek. “The real problem is getting the fin off.”
Yondu’s weapon of choice is a flying arrow made of special sound-sensitive metal he controls through whistling.
“Dude,” he says, “everyone is digging that weapon.” It’s the character’s trademark and Rooker laughs when remembering talking to director James Gunn about the role. “Man, I was glad I was able to whistle.”
“The first time I got to whistle I did the melodic whistle… I hypnotized one of the aliens and then I shot out a piercing whistle. Yondu has different whistles.”
One wild action sequence with Yondu’s deadly arrow and set to ’70s pop ditty Come a Little Bit Closer is a showstopper, an imaginatively staged set piece with a huge body count and just as many laughs.
“That whole sequence is very much like a western gun fight if you think about it,” Rooker says. “You go out, and jacket pulled back, methodical, not fast. It is a total tribute.”
In the scene he is accompanied by two computer-generated characters, Baby Groot and Rocket, a genetically engineered raccoon-based bounty hunter. Neither actually appeared on set while shooting, but Rooker says they were there in spirit.
“Because these movies use a lot of CGI they require your imagination to be fertile and open and ripe for seeding,” he says. “I’m like, ‘There is Baby Groot. He’s over there and he’s sopping wet…What have they done to him?’ I talk to them like they were any other two characters.”
Yondu may be a vicious, arrow-wielding mercenary but he’s also the film’s emotional core and James Gunn says people will be “surprised by Michael Rooker’s performance. He deserves an Academy Award nomination. No joke.”
What does Rooker think? “We’ll see about that bro. I’m up for anything.”
Synopsis: From January to December 2013, hundreds of movies opened on our screens. We saw everything from American Hustle to Zero Charisma, from the ridiculous — 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — to the sublime — 12 Years a Slave. The Reel Guys watched a lot of bad movies this year so you don’t have to and saw many great ones to recommend. But some of the good flicks slipped by without finding an audience. This week they revisit some movies you may have missed but should take a look at.
Richard: Mark, Pain and Gain seemed to me like it couldn’t lose. Starring Dwayne Johnson, who was recently named 2013’s biggest money-making star, Mark Wahlberg and directed by Michael “big bucks” Bay, it was the funny-but-true story about a trio of greedy dumb criminals who kidnap a rich guy. It plays like an episode of CSI: Miami performed by the Three Stooges and should have done boffo box office, but for some reason it didn’t. What did you like that slipped through the cracks?
Mark: I loved Pain and Gain, and if anyone told me one of the best movies of the year would be directed by schlockmeister Michael Bay, I would take it as a sign of the upcoming apocalypse. Another overlooked gem to me was Trance, Danny Boyle’s genre buster. Is it about an art heist? Mind control? Sexual obsession? Revenge? Best to ask James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson, both in fine form, and in the case of Dawson, I do mean — ahem — fine form.
RC: Also in fine form were the giant robots and sea monsters in Pacific Rim. I know they always say about Hollywood that “nobody knows anything,” that you never know what will be a hit, but I thought the combo of Guillermo Del Toro, colossal sea beasts with an appetite for destruction and humungous rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots was a winner. It’s a supersize geek freak out that transports you back in time to wherever you were when you were lucky enough to see your first Godzilla movie.
MB: Sorry, Richard, to me, actual rock-em, sock-em robots are more interesting, and are better actors. Another undiscovered gem for me was Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh’s Hitchcockian mindbender from early winter. Starting off as a condemnation of the pharmaceutical industry, it turns a lot of corners and becomes a thrilling cerebral murder mystery. And Jude Law, no longer acting with his looks, is magnificent.
RC: Warm Bodies was essentially one joke — the zombie as a metaphor for awkward teenage love — but it’s a pretty good one and well performed. Too bad more people didn’t see it. The movie doesn’t exactly make sense, particularly if you’re a zombie fan of either the Romero or Walking Dead schools, but no matter how fast and loose it plays with the established mythology of the undead it’s still a new twist on an old form.
MB: Warm Bodies reminded me of Ricky Gervais’ Ghost Town in mood and had the same limitations of premise. A foreign film I thought was brilliant was China’s A Touch Of Sin, which interwove four stories Pulp-Fiction style about the new economy in China and its victims, often ending in sad violent episodes. Brilliant Richard.
If the title “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” immediately conjures up images of hairy footed hobbits and fearsome dwarves battling a fire breathing dragon, then this movie is for you. It beautifully captures and continues the world Peter Jackson began with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and followed up with “The Hobbit” films.
If it doesn’t mean anything to you then maybe you’ll want to brush up on your J. R. R. Tolkien before shelling out for a ticket. It took a lot of backstory to get to the fifth film based on Middle Earth and its inhabitants and you don’t want to go without knowing your Shire from your Sauron or your Skin Changers.
Picking up where “An Unexpected Journey” left off, hobbit-burglar Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) join with Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his army of twelve fearsome dwarves. Their goal is to traverse Mirkwood, Esgaroth and Dale to locate and battle the fire-breathing dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch in fine serpentine voice) who hoards the wealth of the Lonely Mountain. On the way they battle giant spiders (a sequence that will certainly make arachnophobes grin), make a deal with Bard the bowman (Luke Evans), the descendant of the original Lord of Dale, and some helpful and not-so-helpful elves (including a good lookin’ and deadly She-Elf played by Evangeline Lilly).
Wait! There’s more, something to do with the White Council and the Necromancer but I’m still reeling from plot overload from actually watching the movie let alone trying to unfurl the complicated story in print.
But despite the sense of mild confusion I felt as I tried to piece the story together, I really enjoyed “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Peter Jackson has crafted a great action adventure movie that fits in perfectly with the preceding films. There’s a remarkable consistency of tone, style and spirit that runs through the “LOTR” and “Hobbit” movies. They feel like story shards chipped off the same block.
There’s a Richard Attenborough old school epicness about them. They are about good and evil without troubling nuance or antiheroes. Perhaps because Englishman Tolkien penned these action adventure stories during the Second World War when evil was clear-cut, his books are ripe with allegory but straightforward in their approach to morality and good vs. evil.
And luckily the films work because they fully embrace Tolkien’s vision. There’s no shortage of story threads, of hard to remember names but Jackson weaves it all together seamlessly—with some “Walking Dead” style battle scenes… lots of arrows in the head—and has made a big handsome movie to get lost in.
On TV the recent Walking Dead finale drew almost 13 million viewers. At the movies the zom com Warm Bodies made still hearts beat again and outdoor recreation retailer REI even bandwagon jumped with their “13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak” campaign.
This weekend Brad Pitt battles the undead in World War Z, an action thriller set against the backdrop of a worldwide zombie apocalypse. The movie has the highest ratio of zombies to humans of any film this year, but don’t ask its star why these cannibalistic cadavers are so trendy.
“As for why zombies are so popular,” said Pitt, “I really have no idea.”
Pitt may not be able to out his finger on it, but academics suggest a variety of reasons. Audiences are interested in zombies in times of crisis, when we feel disempowered, says one, while another writer proposes that they offer something more primal—that the zombies represent an example of control over death.
Whatever the reason, filmmakers have been capitalizing on these cool corpses for years. Some, like Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead are classics, others, like the stranger-than-usual Zombie Honeymoon, aren’t.
The grand-ghoul of all weird zombie movies is 1968’s Astro Zombies. Starring horror legend John Carradine and cult star Tura Satana, the story of superhuman monsters on a killing spree has inspired two sequels and a song of the same name by the Misfits.
The mockumentary American Zombie’s tagline is, “We’re Here. We’re Dead. Get Used to It!” Documenting the everyday “lives” of a community of zombies in California, it’s a fake undead propaganda film that echoes the struggles of many minorities who have had to fight for human rights.
Fido, a Canadian film starring Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss, is set in a world where humans won the zombie war and, as victors, have made the undead their domestic servants. Funny rather than scary, this one is worth a look to see the usually motor mouthed Connolly in a fun, shambling and wordless performance.
Strangest of all the non-mainstream zombie movies? Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, a movie musical about a fast food chain called American Chicken Bunker whose meals turn diners into chicken zombies. Gross, gory and gratuitous, badmovienight.com called it “one of the sickest, most depraved, movies I’ve ever seen.”