Sunday, August 10, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy
*** out of ****
Guardians of the Galaxy is another reminder that I don't know the Marvel Universe but I want to. Being surrounded by the excited reactions of an audience made up of people who actually read comic books as children, gave me an appreciation for how much satisfaction Marvel Studios and Disney are bringing to all kids -big and small.
It follows a group of interstellar outlaws who meet in prison and realize a common goal of obtaining an orb (this film's MacGuffin) and beating a common enemy, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), to getting it first.
Like a lot of big-budget adventure movies, Guardians is trying to overcome its boringly simple plot with convoluted story details. It is really the awesome cast and the irreverent tone set by the film's writer-director, James Gunn (who was responsible for the trashy-fun comic-horror, Slither) that create a fun-filled experience.
The general aesthetic pleasure of this movie is also part of its charm. It's occurring to me that there are certain colors, which hold more prominence in digital cinematography and I feel as though this movie really tries to emphasize them in all its eye-candy.
It is very appropriate that after a slew of films about the Marvel Universe -in relation to Earth, we get a whole new movie that takes a detour to the far reaches of space and its whimsically strange possibilities. Those who watched the TV series, Farscape, should be very prepared for the zany adventure that this film is.
It is also a breath of fresh air that this movie isn't nearly as dependent on star-power as the other Marvel movies. The most well-known of the cast members are either cameo appearances or supply voices for animated characters.
Rising star, Chris Pratt takes the lead as kidnapped-earthling-raised-in-space, Peter Quill; aka Star-Lord. Zoe Saldana, well known as the mo-cap subject for a blue alien in Avatar, plays the green alien, Gamora, in this film. Pro-wrestler, Dave Bautista, who turned in a memorable appearance in the troubled The Man with the Iron Fists, goes to great new heights in his acting career as Drax the Destroyer, reminding me of the eighties obsession with musclebound heroes.
Bradley Cooper provides the smart-ass voice of Rocket, the genetically enhanced raccoon bounty hunter, whose partner, Groot, is a walking tree voiced by Vin Diesel doing a callback to his work on The Iron Giant.
The movie also feels influenced by Heavy Metal, Cowboy Beebob, Firefly and classic Star Trek (for its simple humanoid aliens). Guardians isn't perfect, but it isn't aiming high (despite its enormous budget) and as a result feels looser and more carefree than its annoyingly serious counterparts. I've enjoyed other movies this summer a little more, but this is the one that is the answer to the terribly joyless feeling left by The Amazing Spider-Man 2.