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Movie review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' summer popcorn fun

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guardians poster via marvel

Guardians of the Galaxy

(5 of 10 stars)

(121 minutes.  Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.)

 

Marvels newest production, and evidently the hit of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy, to the great exhilaration of the testosterone-charged across the country, came roaring into movie theaters this past weekend.  And regardless of its many faults the script being the most fundamental this film wonderfully defines the genre of summer popcorn blockbuster that Hollywood seeks much too often nowadays. 

Replete with a tired story, a mess of a script, and secondary characters that required a scorecard to follow, I cannot help but admit that this two-hour sci-fi flick created the juxtaposition that, in the end, left audiences screaming for more (and trust me, it is coming).

Taken from a Marvel comic franchise from 1969, the story is based around a human galactic pirate named Peter Quill, who was deftly played by the thoroughly charming Chris Pratt, who seeks to find and sell the Holy Grail er, some sort of metal orb before Sauron er, Ronan the Destroyer can get it and use it to blow up Alderan er, who knows the name of the planet (better yet, who cares?)  Someone please sell me a damn scorecard.

Before much can happen, Quill, who wants people to call him Star Lord (yeah, who doesnt?) is assaulted by Gamora, who is betraying her father Darth Vader er, Ronan along with another pair of space outlaws (independent of Gamora) named Rocket and Groot.  More about them in a moment. Gamora is a green humanoid alien who all of you will remember as one of Captain Kirks carnal conquests, but since he is nowhere around (I dont think. Lemme check that scorecard later), we are left watching her take her aggression, via expert martial arts, out on a multitude of guys wearing the figurative red shirt.

Now back to Rocky er, Rocket and Groot. They too are trying to steal the One Ring That Binds Them All er, nondescript metal orb from Luke er, Peter Quill and very quickly all together end up in a space prison for causing civil disobedience on the planet that Ronan the Emperor is trying to destroy.  Follow me so far? 

Here is the kicker: Rocket is a raccoon. 

Yes, I will wait while you go and find your glasses and your check your meds list for side effects.

You read that correctly. One of the primary characters in the movie is a walking, talking raccoon with a nasty Napoleon complex. It gets better. His muscle, Groot, is a tree.  Well, not really a tree. He is more like a bunch of twigs intertwined to look humanoid. Hes more of a druid-like Chewbacca on steroids. To round out this magnificent interstellar quint group, at the space prison they meet Drax, a heavily tattooed Incredible Hulk-looking guy who does not understand metaphors yet possesses the impressive vocabulary of a Shakespeare. 

If you can buy into all that, chances are you will love the movie.

Gamora is played by Zoe Saldana of new Star Trek reboot fame. And talk about six degrees:  In the newest Star Trek, Saldana plays Uhura. In Guardians she plays a hot green alien who Trekkies will remember back in 1969 or so was seduced by William Shatner. Kevin Bacon has nothing on this flick.  Saldana was rather bland and non-charismatic, but that could have entirely been because of the writing. 

The voices of Rocket and Groot were played by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively. Cooper did a remarkable job giving Rocket his personality and he was obviously the most entertaining of the Guardians thank you, writers. But, really, with a talking raccoon, how could that honestly miss? And Groot well, let us just say that on a technicality, I still have not willingly seen a Vin Diesel movie, and that record still proudly stands.

Under the heading of Oh-My-Look-How-Far-They-Have-Fallen, the supporting cast is rounded out by exceedingly talented Glenn Close, Benico Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Lee Pace. Reilly is always worth the price of the ticket, but I think special effects took Closes performance from Air Force One and used it here.

All right, I must admit, the special effects and production values of this movie were stunningly good.  Written and directed by James Gunn, with a writing assist from Nicole Perlman, this was a visual feast for the fanboys of sci-fi.  More writer than director, this is Gunns first directing gig under the summer popcorn category and fans will delight to know that he is already signed on for the second installment of Guardian in 2017.

However, what really stands out for the film is the remarkable CGI. Aside from breathtaking panoramic shots of future worlds and cities, and all the ensuing battles of tie-fighters versus the x-wing fighters, the fact that a walking and talking raccoon was flat-out flawless was most amazing. And Im quite certain that the computer animators gave him mange. If it was unintended, I do not want to know. Sheer brilliance.

What gave this film its moxie, and was by far the most entertaining element for me, was the soundtrack.  The trailer for this film gives away that Captain Kirk er, Peter Quill loves 1970s pop music and pilots his spaceship while wearing a 1983 Sony Walkman.  Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede (I wore this record out), I Want You Back by the Jackson 5, and Aint No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye rocketed me back to my 8-year old self.

So, was this film a mixed bag?  Most definitely.  Was it The Godfather or Citizen Kane? Not even close (hell, it wasnt even Independence Day), but to its credit, it never pretends to be. Was it entertaining in a juvenile, fanboy sort of way?  You bet.

Guardians of the Galaxy left me unfulfilled and pining for the days when films like Star Wars, Aliens, Die Hard, and Jurassic Park twinkled on the silver screen.  Guardians is nowhere close to the caliber of these summer cheese fests, but with time, and a number of sequels, it might get close.

Most importantly, if you are craving a huge vat of popcorn and the mindless summer flick that goes along with it, this is the best that 2014 Hollywood has to offer.

I give this film 5 out of 10 stars.

 

About the Author
Who was that mysterious man you saw in the theater last night? You tried to get a look at him but he quickly disappeared in a puff of smoke, his cackle trailing in the air, leaving behind his calling card: a half-eaten box of popcorn and a lukewarm soda. He is Our Movie Reviewer named Tim!