Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Silver Screen Selections: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy
Studio: Marvel Studios
Director: James Gunn
Released: August 1, 2014
Genre: Superhero / Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi


After stealing a mysterious orb, American pilot/outlaw hero Peter Quill is hunted down and thrown into an inter-galactic prison. In order to secure his freedom, Quill reluctantly joins forces with alien bandits Drax, Gamora, Rocket and Groot to form an alliance of misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, and with the all-powerful villain Ronan hunting the orb, the fate of the universe is in their hands.

[from Google.]

Dear movie-makers,

Take a good, hard look at Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie is proof that films can still take risks and succeed beyond all expectations if their quality is up to snuff. Guardians of the Galaxy isn't a new property, but it is a relative unknown in Marvel's expansive library. It also stars a sentient tree and a talking raccoon. Not exactly mainstream material. Marvel took a huge leap of faith when it greenlit this project, banking on the goodwill it has earned with a fantastic line-up of heroes and the fun, funny, and irreverent movies they star in. It's paying off with upwards of $1 billion in ticket sales as of this post, written only a week and a half after the movie's debut.

As the second Marvel-produced superhero team-up movie (X-Men and Fantastic Four don't count, as both were produced by Fox), Guardians of the Galaxy is certain to draw comparisons to The Avengers. Of the two, it is, I think, the better movie. More focused and more thoughtful, with a cohesive and affectionate, if dysfunctional, cadre of heroes, Guardians of the Galaxy does the team-up movie justice by setting up its characters' relationships with real moments of camaraderie and friendship. The Avengers seemed merely an alliance of convenience in comparison. The only thing The Avengers has over Guardians of the Galaxy is Tom Hiddleston, who would, had the world any justice, play at least one character in every movie. Not just Marvel movies, either. Every movie.

Tom Hiddleston's face shall henceforth feature in all Lit Writ posts.

All of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy have their moments. There isn't a weak link in the roster, and I'm certain that each will cultivate a thriving fanbase. That they managed to give a tree and a genetically modified raccoon so much pathos is astounding. Vin Diesel should be commended for finding so many ways to say "I am Groot."

There is precedent, however.

Despite the occasional bout of predictability, every joke strikes home. Guardians is practically a thesis on the value of timing in comedy. The cast delivers each line with wit and charm, and a snappy, clever script gives each the opportunity to shine.

For those seeking a space opera with the chops to take on Star Wars, look no further. Guardians is just as cheesy as Lucasfilm's sprawling epic, but it more readily embraces its cheesiness, joyously subverting even its most serious moments with reminders that this particular brand of sci-fi, with its inexplicable space magic (the infinity stones) and oddly human aliens (see Gamora, Drax, Nebula, the Nova Corp . . .), is supposed to be fun.

Pictured: Aliens.

See Guardians of the Galaxy while it's still in theatres if you can. If not, it's well worth the eventual rent.

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