The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I've known Spider-Man all my life. I've known the X-Men most of my life. Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers; I can recite chapter and verse. But I have never read a "Guardians of the Galaxy" comic book in my life. I've read comics that have Gamora and Drax in them. I've heard of Rocket Raccoon and Groot; I knew next to nothing about Star Lord. So I went into this movie without any biases or pre-conceived notions. And whether it was good or not, I rooted for its success so that neither Marvel nor DC Studios would ever be able to say "this is too absurd for a movie" ever again.

I am happy to say the movie was good. That was the most fun I've had at the movies all year. My god. It was fun, it was offbeat... it was the exact opposite of a Nolan film (and I like Nolan films). I'm still gathering my thoughts, but I laughed and grinned my way through the entire movie.  It's not as thoughtful and topical as "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", but it doesn't need to be. This movie, like "The Avengers" before it, is the definition of a perfect popcorn movie.

The script is brilliant, this is a funny movie. The dialogue was witty without feeling forced and unnatural... something even the great Joss Whedon occassionally has a little bit of trouble with (and this is not a knock against Joss Whedon, I genuinely do enjoy his writing). I am tempted to say the script is the real star of the movie, because I rarely come out of movies like this thinking of the script first. But here we are.

As far as movies that are mostly shot on green screen, this one is better than most. It's bright, it's colorful, and everything is wonderfully alien. This is what Martin Campbell's "Green Lantern" should have been. Ben Davis did a wonderful job with the cinematography. The special effects were great. This is what the "Star Wars" prequels seemed to want to be, but failed at. Why? Because those movies put the SFX first when, despite everything I already said, as all the Marvel movies before it, the characters were front and center.

Do you like Nathan Fillion as Malcolm Reynolds in "Firefly"? Then you will like Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Star Lord. He brings a lot of charisma and his offbeat sense of humor to the part. A close friend of mine is a huge fangirl of Captain Mal and I said to her "if you don't fall in love with Star Lord, then I don't know who you are". In a lot of ways, this movie does feel very much like a much more comic booky version of "Firefly" and that is a good thing.

Before this movie, I did not count myself as a fan of Zoe Saldana. I'm not sure why, but she never really wowed me. Oh, what the right part can do for a thespian. I loved her as Gamora, and despite the more offbeat tone, I was able to buy into her as the deadliest woman in the galaxy. I was a little confused at her motivations early on, but thankfully my patience was rewarded, and her actions earlier in the movie made sense to me. I just wish I had gotten a little bit more.

Gamora and Star Lord definitely have a Beatrice and Benedict romance going on, and it doesn't feel forced. I've found that romantic relationships in comic book movies are seldom done well. The only ones I've ever bought into were Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone's Peter and Gwen, and Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes? Nope. Superman and Lois Lane? Nope. Tobey Maguire's Peter and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane? Hell no... and I love Peter and MJ in the comics. Don't even get me started on Thor and Jane Foster. But Star Lord and Gamora? Yes, I bought into them and I look forward to seeing what's next for these two.

Drax and Groot are very well done. But the show stealer was definitely Rocket Raccoon, and he had to be. If they screwed up, Rocket would have been the Jar Jar Binks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think most of us comic book geeks were nervous about Rocket going in, but he lived up to the hype. Rocket is probably one of the hardest characters in the Marvel Universe to translate to the silver screen, and they did it... *glares at Warner Bros* come on, guys, what's your excuse now?

The villains weren't the most engaging characters, but they got the job done. Ronan was effective and intimidating. I felt he could accomplish what he set out to accomplish. Likewise, Nebula was fun and I only wish she had some more screen time; but I have a feeling we'll be seeing her again. As for the Mad Titan himself? I will admit, I think his character design could use a little bit of work, but I liked what we saw... and he's only there for two short scenes, this isn't Thanos' time yet. We'll get there eventually, but I already fear for my favorite Avengers when the time comes to throw down with him... assuming they all survive Ultron next May.

Finally, the soundtrack for the movie was orgasmic. It was just beautiful. It was more than just background music, it was a character in and of itself. I'd say more, but you'll understand when you see it, and I don't want to spoil too much of it.

Go out, go see it, have a good time. I did, and you all know how picky I can be. I give the movie a solid A.