|Commons – WikiMedia|
For being the designated underdog of superhero movies, “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) comes out swinging like a top dog—putting to shame some of the larger more well-known Marvel superhero flicks like “Iron Man 2” and “Thor 2”—sequels that lumbered to the ground from the weight of their own overblown egos. We all love a good underdog story, and this was excellent.
Once again the reactionary disclaimer lives in the level of entertainment one anticipates. If one strolls into the theater looking for medium to light entertainment, thou shalt be rewarded profusely. If one struts in, however, nose in air, expecting another Nolan-ian epic—then strut back out, please—because you must be really thickheaded to not know what you’ve come for in the first place.
The movie is an amalgam of many idiosyncratic parts that work. The diverse cast is solid, and their chemistry blossoms. What the flick does right is juggle its varieties like a seasoned clown, tossing emotion, humor, action, music and story up in the air in fluid spirals to create the appealing effects of feel-good summery entertainment. Ultimately, we find that we respect this clown when we clap for applause and stand for our ovations.
|Chris Pratt – Wikipedia|
Directed by James Gunn, “Guardians” begins with the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a child in the 80s who faces an early tragedy with the loss of his mother to cancer. This is then followed by his alien abduction by space rogues. Zoom 26 years ahead and we have a hunk of a Quill whose main appeal is that he is, just, downright “cool”. He’s witty, rebellious, handsome, coolheaded and capable. Soon he is joined by stars Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Dave Bautista (Drax) and Vin Diesel (Groot) who then team up to prevent Lee Pace (Ronan), the manically genocidal dark lord, from mowing down planets via an Orb—a conveniently super powerful object that can help a loon to do this (kind of reminds you about nuclear warheads getting into the wrong hands doesn’t it). These characters are weird; yet they work. The weakest of them is Ronan, who is a bit cardboard-ish for a villain, looking like some misbegotten cross between Dan Brown’s albino monk Silas, and George Lukas’ Darth Vader. Unfortunately he inherited neither their brains nor impressionable auras.
Buried in this story, like a nugget, is an allegory. It is for our present day, and it touches on: weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, genocide, diplomacy, war and more. Strewn across are also some fantastic lines that resonate deeply with the human condition. So this movie does have a sub-level of serious content, but this is then quickly caked with light handed entertainment and baked for blockbuster digestion.
Not as overly reliant on slow-motion and freeze frames, the action sequences were good. Fast and snappy, it kept with the lightening pace of the movie. Quick edits at times did rob the movie of chances to explore character development (like in the initial scene of the two sisters where we are robbed of the deeper context) but it also kept us zipping through the story without any time for yawns. With all the time for laughter, the humor was witty, self-deprecating and genuinely funny—this could be the funniest Marvel flick yet, head-to-head only with “The Avengers” (2012). Originally, I was under the impression this would be a satire on superhero movies, but it turned out to be more meta critical of itself. Sympathy kills comedy, but “Guardians” was still able to make the movie rather touching at times while allowing us a grin or two, helping build on our fondness for Quill (or Star-Lord), Groot, Rocket and the others. The fact that this movie successfully pulled off two four minute emotional scenes was commendable, unlike the zero count seen in some other Marvel movies.
|Public Gallery – Space|
I’m not much of a space sci-fi fan, so the backdrops and interstellar landscapes might have passed over my head. The trailers too didn’t pay proper homage to the essence of this movie and I think it does remind us to not judge movies based on their trailers, if at all. But when, of course, you hear sounds like “Hooked on a Feeling,” “The Piña Colada Song,” and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” all seems forgiven. The soundtrack is fantastic as it tastefully loops in some pleasantries from our bygone decades. I mean seriously, when you have the good ole music from the 70s and 80s playing in the background, you use them used for unconventionally awkward scenes by Star-Lord (you’ll see/remember what I mean) there’s not much you can do wrong, regardless of how out of place it all feels.
And with that, “Guardians” merits a solid 8.7 for doing things right, with its own crazy antics. Not your typical Marvel movie, but with the stack of stale units Marvel has given us recently, that really isn’t a bad thing. Adieu.