Friday, August 1, 2014
Hooked on a Feeling...
... And that feeling is the feeling that comes over a guy (or woman) when he (or she) gets exactly what he (or she) wants. When it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy, exactly what I want was a fun, ass-kicking sci-fi romp with cool characters, big laughs, and action scenes that set your eyeballs to dancing. And, good gravy, is that exactly what I got.
Guardians is the tenth film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's the first one to untether itself from our little home world, Earth. The Guardians are guarding the actual galaxy and not just Earth. That means some compelling new worlds and frames crammed so full of cool stuff you can't possibly see it all the first time through.
The story centers on Peter Quill, who, as a child, gets abducted (but not eaten, and don't you forget that!) by aliens led by Yondo (Michael Rooker). Jump ahead 26 years and little Peter has grown into an interstellar outlaw who wants everyone to call him Star Lord (Chris Pratt). No one does. After Quill snatches a mysterious orb-shaped knick-knack, the movie makes like an intergalactic take on the Blues Brother, with everyone from Yondo, to Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of big baddie Thanos, giving chase. In short order, Quill finds himself in a Nova Corp prison with Gamora, the troublesome twosome of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a hulking, green-skinned bad ass who doesn't understand metaphors. The crew decides to team up to break out and then, ultimately, to stop Ronan the Accuser (Lee "The Piemaker" Pace) from destroying the galaxy.
DC may have the market cornered on sulking superheroes, but Marvel excel at injecting humor into their stories while keeping the tension up and the stakes high. And Guardians is the funniest Marvel movie yet. There were times during the screening I went to when dialogue was lost in the laughter from the audience. Everybody gets a chance to get chuckles. All of our heroes get a chance to strut their ass-kicking action stuff, as well. I can't decide if my favorite action moment belonged to Groot or Jondo. The movie felt briskly paced with no real slow parts. It also had plenty of heart. From the first scene to the climactic battle (where Groot actually made me cry a little bit) there are plenty of moments the play the emotions like a finely-crafted vintage Gibson Les Paul. Combine all this with awesome epic battles and one of the grooviest soundtracks I've heard in many moons, and Guardians truly has something for everyone.
Guiding this production is James Gunn (he did Slither and Super previously). And he's done a fantastic job. The worlds are imaginatively rendered, especially a planet covered in geysers and a city built inside the skull of a deceased giant space being. Gunn keeps the camera moving without going to mental with the movement. He also wrote the script, which was pretty damn great. Best of all, he lets things be weird, which you'd expected in a movie that features a motor-mouthed raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree with a limited vocabulary. If you wanna see just how weird, wake sure you sit all the way through the credits. In short, Gunn took the best parts from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Blues Brothers, and Serenity, threw it all into a blender, frapped the living crap out of it, and came up with a rousingly entertaining space opera that's better than at least four of the Star Wars movies.
Last year, Pacific Rim was easily the most fun I had at the movies. It had been years since I was soaring so high after seeing a movie. I felt the same way walking out of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I thankfully didn't have to wait so long. Maybe, this is a good sign. Maybe, summer movies are going to be fun again. I can always dream.