By Chris Kavan - 07/31/14 at 11:42 AM CT
Let's face it - summer movie season has been kind of a bummer so far. Without a dominating family film, animation has hit the skids. Despite there being some great choices this year (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes all come to mind) - the highest-grossing film of the summer has come in the form of the brainless Transformers: Age of Extinction ($237 million and counting). But nothing has come anywhere close to matching the $409 million that Iron Man 3 brought in. But could there be hope in another Marvel franchise to save the summer? Even if that hope lies in a gun-toting raccoon, a talking tree and a green-skinned assassin? Let's hope so - because the summer needs a breakout hit - and this may be the last legitimate shot of the season.GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
I admit, when I first saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy - I thought to myself - man, Marvel must be desperate for something to put on the sceen. I had never heard to these characters and they seemed... odd - especially the gun-toting Rocket, a honest-to-goodness raccoon (genetically enhanced or some such thing). But the thing is - the idea has grown on me - and as more and more information was revealed, I found myself actually looking forward to this one - despite the face the idea behind it still seems incredibly ludicrous. You have "Starlord" Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) - a muscle-bound killer Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), the sexy green-skinned assassin (Zoe Saldana), the wise-cracking weapon-wielding Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the huge tree Groot who can only speak his own name (Vin Diesel - in what I am sure he's being payed massive amounts of money for essentially saying one line in various states of arousal). Also on board is the "villain" Ronan (Lee Pace) along with other assorted supporting cast from the likes of Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro (reprising his role as "The Collector" as seen in the end teaser Thor: The Dark World) and Karen Gillan. It seems as if our misfit crew has gotten ahold of a very powerful artifact - one that Ronan wants and will stop at nothing to retrieve it. This is going to be, hands down, the most bonkers movie of the summer (if not the year) - but, unlike Transformers - this looks like it's also going to be loads of fun. Early critical response has been surprisingly positive - and I have hope this could indeed be the major film of the summer, if not the year. Given my early trepidation, I am now fully on board just to see what lunacy Marvel has wrought.
GET ON UP
In a bit of counter programming, the only major release going up against the mighty heroes is a James Brown biopic. Chadwick Boseman is not stranger to this genre, having made an impressive debut as Jackie Robinson in 42. That film opened with $27.48 million and ultimately closed with just over $95 million. The problem with Get On Up is that musical biopics are typically a much harder sell with audiences and it's going up against the biggest movie of the year. Granted, people who aren't into weird aliens and wacky exploits will have something to see over the weekend, but I just don't see this making that many waves at the box office. It's too bad, because the supporting cast looks fantastic as well: Viola Davis, Lennie James, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson, Dan Aykroyd and Jill Scott help fill up an impressive roster. I think it's just going to be buried - and that is too bad. Tate Taylor directed The Help - and if Get On Up can capture any of that same spirit, it will be a success, it just might have to work extra hard to find its audience.
This weekend should provide a much-needed boost in the arm to the summer box office. Guardians of the Galaxy is going to light the way - but we'll have to see just how much bang for the buck they get. I'll be back Sunday with the final results.