Monday, August 4, 2014

On the Guardians of the Galaxy

This movie knocked my socks off. I was sick and I still walked half-an-hour to the theater to watch it. Totally worth it. Honestly, my first thought is that this might be my favorite of the Marvel films so far, and for any longtime readers of this blog, you'll know I worship at the altar of Joss Whedon, but even I'll admit that the Avengers was hampered from being what it could have been by what it had to be. There's nothing wrong with that and I'm still super excited to see Age of Ultron. 

Guardians though got to hit the ground running. It had the benefit of all of the experience Marvel Studios has garnered over the past ... what, nine films? But it got to breath freely without being directly anchored to the lesser films in the franchise. 

In a similar way, I'd rank this higher than X-Men: Days of Future Past. Part of the reason that film was so amazing was it was obvious Brian Singer felt just as ashamed of X-Men 3 and Wolverine: Origins as the rest of the fanbase. I don't know if I'd have loved Winter Soldier as much if it wasn't simply better than Captain America: The First Avenger.

Other than merely existing in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel lineup, James Gunn's film stands happily on its own, and is better for it, acknowledging that those other films are out there, but without bringing to mind the sweet odor from films such as Iron Man 3.

Most Idiotic Review

"... terribly overstuffed and many of the jokes get drowned out by the special effects... The pervasive movie references detract from the stab at freshness, and Guardians depends all too much on the whimsy of '70s anthems for an original beat." Jake Coyle (Associated Press)

I talked extensively with my lesbian friend (I'm thoroughly convinced that every straight man needs at least one lesbian in their lives. They are magical creatures. Like Unicorns) immediately after seeing Guardians and one of the points she brought up was that the movie was the perfect length, and I agree, and you should agree too, otherwise you're homophobic.

Also, personally, I can't think of a single other sci-fi space adventure that included movie references and 70s pop songs. I'm sure they exist (maybe not on the same scale) but it was a pretty new experience to me, and it helped me connect with Quill as he journeyed through the galaxy with a talking tree, a racoon, a green woman, and a very pissed off Drax. 

Lastly, while the film has some really breathtaking CGI moments, I never felt like they were drowning out anything. I remember many scenes specifically having to do with the characters speaking with each other in front of unassuming backgrounds (on ships, in the prison, etc).

Most Accurate Review
"Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you're not quite sure what's going on, the scruffy Guardians is irreverent in a way that can bring the first Star Wars to mind, in part because it has some of the most unconventional heroes this side of the Mos Eisley Cantina." Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)

I wanna say that this is James Gunn's effect on the film, but it very much embraces that B-picture soul. I agree wholeheartedly. I loved it and the irreverence of the titular characters, who get along and bicker in a way reminiscent, and still totally dissimilar from the Whendonesque banter in the Avengers. 

After I saw those abs, how could I not fall in love?
What I Say

I am always concerned with  intellectual properties that get really hyped. I loved Slither and I love James Gunn, and I recognized that it had a fantastic cast and the trailers really made it seem like it had a fantastic sense of humor. That said, I was very leery walking into the theater. Then Chris Pratt appears with his walkman and starts dancing. I cannot lie, I was won over ridiculously fast. I'm almost ashamed at how quickly I flipflopped on this movie. It really hooked me and I loved it. Absolutely loved it. So let's dive in, shall we?

Plot — So what do we have? A ragtag group of misfits: check. A galaxy-wide threat: check. A mystical weapon of mass destruction: check. 70s pop songs and movie references: check. I can't say that there is a whole lot going on in the movie directly relating to the plot, but I only mean that in the same way that there isn't a lot going on in Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or even the Hellboy films, which this did occasionally remind me of. The stories are fairly simple, and thank Cthulhu that we finally got a memorable villain. Why? Mostly his relationship with Drax (played by Dave Batista) and Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana). It actually works wonders just to have the villain's villainy depicted as off-screen backstory that is driving two of the lead characters. 

Also, you can see Karen Gillan post Doctor Who.
Always good to see talented actors getting work. 
Honestly, I much preferred  Ronan to most of Marvel's cinematic villains, if only because I really felt the threat of his radicalism and zealotry. They made it pretty clear that he was not a guy you wanted to have any power. Not just a little power. You don't want to give him a AAA Battery he's so loony. So of course, he is trying to get his hands on an infinity stone. What is an Infinity Stone? It's what would have happened if Sauron had made a complete set instead of the One Ring. Poor merchandising plan for the Dark Lord on his Dark Throne. 

The rest of the plot involves these colorful underdogs to band together to stop him. Their motivations are different, their characters are different, and the result is a colorful mess that mixes drama and comedy beautifully. 


Peter Quill or, as you might know him ... Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt) is fantastic. The actor really carries this film, and that's not to say the rest of the cast isn't pulling its weight and delivering stellar performances, but Peter Quill is so lovable and so enjoyable on screen, he should have been Indiana Jones' illegitimate son in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Seriously, he brings an emotional charm, a sincerity, and an absolute childlike innocence to this overgrown manchild. He is all the things a child of the 80s would have been if he'd been abducted by space-pirates and let loose to terrorize the galaxy with a Walkman in tow. When he behaves altruistically, you totally buy it, and when he behaves selfishly, you totally buy it, and the best part is, he usually does both in the same scene. 

Gamora, I'll admit, I was worried about. Up and to this point, I actually haven't been much a fan of Zoe Saldana, and after seeing this movie, I finally figured it out. I hate how Uhura's character has been portrayed in Abram's Star Trek films, and my opinion of her, is mostly based around her character more than her acting. Same goes for Avatar. There wasn't a lot there for me to really enjoy about that character. Here? I think she does a wonderful job, being open, vulnerable, and full of strength. Also, the movie does pretty well to skimp over the whole 'sex-symbol' aspect ... partially because Quill, you get the feeling, will and does hit on anything, but in this case, does have genuine feelings (of one form or another) for her. Her backstory could have had a bit more fleshing out, but at 122 minutes, I can understand why it was rather speedily handled. Not poorly handled, just speedily. 

I was surprised by Drax, just because I probably never would have guessed that the actor (who's name did sound familiar) was mainly known as a professional wrestler. It might be judgmental and snobbish of the theatre major to say as much, but I was totally invested in Drax's character. He was a nice change from the usual muscled brute one might expect. He was honorable, jovial, haunted, and, as is the source of much great comic-relief, completely literal. The moment where he says to Quill, "You are an imbecile" is going on my list of favorite character reactions of all time. 

I love that they hired Bradley Cooper to voice Rocket. I love that Bradley Cooper is getting to work on some really awesome movies (I loved A Place Beyond the Pines). This was the character that actually sold me on the film. In an interview, Joss Whedon (writer and director for the Avengers) said of James Gunn, "He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon ...." That was it for me, that a character as off the wall as Rocket would be embraced instead of mistreated, like Snyder did with Superman. The moment Snyder decided the red briefs had to go, I felt like he and his production company were ashamed of the heritage and source material they were drawing from, but if you wanna hear me rant about that, my Man of Steel Review is right here. Back to Rocket. Rocket is foulmouthed and a little all over the place. HE'S LIKE ME!

What can be said about one of the most endearing characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe? Seriously Groot is hard to get over. There's so much I can say and so little I can really express. The walking tree is adorable. End of story. Everything that Groot does in the film warmed the cockles of my heart. My cockles were burning. To this day, even a decade after the creation of Gollum, I'm always surprised by really well done, emotionally soulful CGI characters. I feel like they're still really rare creations. 

Spectacle — This movie is a visual extravaganza, but unlike films like Avatar, the characters are so obviously the focus, the visuals aren't distracting. They're very carefully constructed to enhance the story. The space-battles, the backdrops, the ... man, this movie was a lot of fun to watch. And I don't compliment that very often. I want to go back and see the film in IMAX now. I NEVER say that. 

If there's one more thing that I can add it is this, and I want you to pay close attention to what I'm about to tell you, "I am Groot." 

1 comment:

  1. I'm proud to be a lesbian,
    'cause at least I know that means
    If someone disagrees with me,
    They're a homophobic B.

    So I'll proudly re-view,
    Next to you,
    Unicorns all the way,
    And if someone disagrees with me--
    They just hate the gays!