Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I was skeptical of this movie when I first heard about it. A comic book film with a talking raccoon? It sounded cheesy to me. Then I saw the first trailer, and it had STYLE. The finished product does too, and while there is certainly an element of cheese, it's high-quality delicious cheese. Most of all, this movie is FUN.

GotG is based on a Marvel comic book of the same name, and the movie was produced by Marvel, who can apparently do no wrong. The movie is a space opera in which a group of misfits and criminals fight evil. This is hardly a ground-breaking plot in science fiction or comics, but the movie is a perfect translation of the idea to the big screen. The filmmakers took a ridiculous, cartoony cast of characters and made a fun, funny, action-filled marvel of a movie.

Heading up the cast is Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, the only character from Earth. The film absolutely rides on his portrayal of an emotionally scarred orphan who idolizes an Earth he barely remembers, and he nails it. Quill is very very human, which gives the audience something to relate to in an otherwise outlandish setting.

Assisting in that is the soundtrack of 70s songs. The trailers wisely played up this aspect of the film. Rarely has a soundtrack of previously existing songs mattered so much to the plot and tone of the movie, and it works perfectly.

The rest of the principal cast are Gamora and Drax (Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista) and Rocket and Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel). Gamora is a plot driver and token female, but actually not a bad character. Drax is comic relief but also has a detailed backstory. Rocket and Groot are the standout stars, though.

Rocket is the trigger-happy talking raccoon, which should be utterly ludicrous but isn't (though as with nearly everything in this movie, there is comedy relating to him). His combination of pride, ferocity, intelligence, and compassion are the product of some fantastic writing, animating, and voice acting. Groot is the large tree-like creature whose only line is "I am Groot" but somehow he is one of the most appealing characters in the film, thanks in no small part to a surprisingly complex voice performance by Vin Diesel.

The plot itself is not really special. It has the very straightforward feel of a comic book plot, where the villains are especially villainous just because they are. The effects are fantastic, fully realized and utterly believable. Even the 3D is reasonably well done, though having seen it both ways I still recommend the 2D.

Most of all, GotG is thoroughly entertaining. It has action, it has comedy, and it has a surprising amount of actual emotion for a space opera based on a comic book. It is funnier than previous Marvel movies - where they have been action (or thriller or war) movies with humorous elements, this is very much an action-comedy. And it's good. Really good. Go see it, or go see it again.

Performance: 4.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Production: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
4. Edge of Tomorrow
5. The Fault in Our Stars
6. Lone Survivor
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
8. The Wind Rises
9. The Lego Movie
10. Lust For Love
11. The Grand Budapest Hotel
12. Pompeii
13. Hercules
14. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
15. Maleficent
16. I, Frankenstein
17. Monuments Men
18. Knights of Badassdom
19. Divergent
20. Brick Mansions
21. 300: Rise of an Empire
22. Godzilla
23. RoboCop
24. Winter's Tale
25. Transcendence
26. Noah
27. The Legend of Hercules
28. Need For Speed
29. 3 Days to Kill

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