Box-office update: Guardians of the Galaxy breaks more records while the “faith-based” genre underperforms

guardiansofthegalaxyThis is my first box-office update since July, and a lot has happened since then.

The big news, of course, is the phenomenal success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that was based on one of the more obscure Marvel properties, had no major stars, and revolved around some pretty wacky ideas (like a talking, machine-gun-toting raccoon), yet still managed to become the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie without Iron Man, at least in North America.

Overseas, it ranks behind all of the Marvel sequels, but ahead of all their other “original” films except for The Avengers — and that was really kind of a super-sequel, too. So you could say that, worldwide, Guardians of the Galaxy is the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that introduced a new set of characters.

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Review: Four Rooms (dir. various, 1995)

On paper, it looked like such a good idea. Back when they were still unknown, four independent directors — Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging) and Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup) — agreed to tell four different stories set in a hotel on New Year’s Eve, with a bellboy (Tim Roth) as their only link. With the one-two punch success of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms became an opportunity for the others to ride Tarantino’s coattails.

Consider the opportunity wasted. Four Rooms is an utterly lackluster production that most involved would be wise to keep out of their portfolios. It also represents the first solid nail in Tarantino’s cinematic coffin.

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Review: From Dusk Till Dawn (dir. Robert Rodriguez, 1996)

At first From Dusk Till Dawn looks like it might strike a balance between Quentin Tarantino’s savvy scriptwriting and the kinetic camerawork and adrenaline editing that are Robert Rodriguez’s forte. Indeed, the opening shoot-out, which segues smoothly from snappy dialogue to airborne hemoglobin, is a masterful fusion of talents. But after that, their styles prove to be as insoluble as oil and water. This is not one movie but two half-movies; one might call it Two Rooms.

The defining moment comes halfway through the story. Two American bank robbers and their hostages, having escaped to Mexico, enter a strip club called the Titty Twister, an opulent den of iniquity that leaves most other saloons choking in the dust. The camera lingers lasciviously on a neverending cascade of flesh, beer, flesh, Mayan architecture, flesh and six-shooting codpieces (did I mention flesh?) that vie for our attention as the criminals take their seats. One stripper takes centre stage — or table, as the case may be — and begins to flirt shamelessly with one of the slack-jawed gringos.

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