Story Theater Movie of the Week for Oct. 17-19
Brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits-Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand- with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.
Making The Epic Space Adventure
Shooting for Guardians of the Galaxy (held over this weekend, Oct. 17, 18, and 19 at the Story Theater, with showings at 7 p.m. only) began in June 2013, in the UK and over a long, hot summer through autumn, a dedicated cast and crew worked ardently together, embracing and realizing director James Gunn’s vision. Production designer Charles Wood was tasked with designing and creating the weird and wonderful environments in which the action takes place. It was important for Gunn to have physical sets to shoot on, a rare treat for cast and crew who work on many productions that rely on huge green-screen stages to create their biggest sets. As one would imagine, production was massive but in spite of the extent of the work, Wood was excited by the scope of the job, saying, “There was such a range of sets, of environments to explore, and each so vastly different from one another; it was a thrilling opportunity.”
Gunn had a very clear vision for Guardians of the Galaxy (rated PG-13 for action and langauge; and with a running time of 121 min.), which was fully embraced by his creative team, and while the possibilities seemed limitless, it was important to Gunn that the spaces felt as real as possible. He says, “One of the driving forces, from the beginning, was to create a gritty world that was still very colorful. I miss some of the color palettes of the ’50s and ’60s science fiction films when things were much brighter and to intermingle those different looks from the past and create our own look was very important.”
Production designer Charles Wood concurs: “There is a color palette system within the film that changes from one environment to the other and is very purposeful. The different technologies and machinery are all planetspecific and very diverse.”
Charles Wen, head of Marvel’s visual development, also points out, “James was adamant about making sure the technology felt Space Age, but not too advanced or over-the-top. It needed to almost feel timeless as if space/time is generally just relative.”
The first otherworldly place visited in the film is the abandoned planet Morag, which Wood and his team designed in a neutral palette to fit its sandy environment. In contrast, when Peter Quill enters the sunken secret temple on Morag, Wood used vivid golds, greens and blues to accent the jewel-like interior.
The Kyln - the space prison where the Guardians meet and form - was the production’s largest build; a 360-degree set, and a feat of engineering, comprised of 100 tons of steel across three levels, extended in post-production by a further 200 feet. The set features corridor systems connected to main cells and bays built on a steel frame on wheels.
The Kyln set was repurposed several times, with each transformation often requiring a good deal of working around the clock for the departments to accomplish the complex transitions, which included a revamp of The Collectors lab, Taneleer Tivan’s museum of extraordinary things.
The watery planet of Xandar is one of the brighter environments in the film. The actual set is just a footing for a gigantic virtual set, inspired by the architecture of Santiago Calatrava, and the monumental steel, glass and white concrete arch of the Liege train station in Belgium provided its backdrop.
Wood and his team also built Knowhere, a port of call and observatory for intergalactic travelers of all species and from all times, located inside the decapitated head of a Celestial, on the edge of the universe. Knowhere is evocative of an industrial mining town with a gritty, rough and tough atmosphere. Both the Boot of Jemiah and The Collector’s lab were outstanding sets for Knowhere built by Wood and his team.