Sunday, August 03, 2014

Losers and Winners, Dept.

Poster for Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

So your sobsister caught this one in >>>3D IMAX<<< yesterday a.m.  And, yeah, it really is as charming as the reviews may have led you to believe.

Five "losers," i.e., each has lost something important to him/her/it, but, truth be told, they're not exactly a bunch of overachievers either, band together, at first unwillingly, to recover a thing (something important in the Big Story Arc that Marvel is constructing among its Disney titles but also a MacGuffin) in order to make a spaceboatful of money.

If you're familiar with the Marvel Universe, seeing long-time villains such as Ronan the Accuser and Thanos (played, respectively, by Lee Pace and Josh Brolin; Pace particularly terrific) is a kick.  Karen "Amy Pond" GIllan as Thanos' daughter Nebula is perfect.  Dave Bautista, who, I just learned, is a pro wrestler, does a great job as Drax the Destroyer--like "real actor"-great, not "ironic novelty casting"-great.  The two animated characters--Groot, a rather tall ambulatory tree who can only say "I am Groot," and Rocket, an itchy-fingered enhanced raccoon on the grift--are voiced, respectively, by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper and, surprisingly, are the heart of the movie.  Sci-fi blockbuster queen Zoe Saldana is Thanos' other daughter, Gamora, whom daddy likes better than Nebula, which sets up a scene or two.  She's a killing machine who runs up against/into Chris Pratt's Peter Quill, a kid from the '70s abducted by aliens who grows into a wisecracking Indiana Jones treasure collector-meets-Han Solo interstellar lover boy.  There's some heteronormative boy-meets-alien/alien-kicks-boy's-ass/boy-charms-alien byplay between Quill and Gamora, but, really, there's just so much other stuff going on that it's, like, fourth or fifth in line in terms of meaningful character relationships.

That's just a start of a summary.  Throw in the most comic Marvel screenplay to date, a primo '70s AM soundtrack, a flock of other guest stars (Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly), excellent FX and design, and a very unexpected cameo after the credits (no, not Stan Lee), and you've got the best Marvel flick since the first Iron Man movie or The Avengers.

GotG has shattered the record for an August opening by $25+M and will likely benefit from a lot of multiple viewings/good word-of-mouth over the next few weeks.  That Marvel could hit one out of the park with a property unknown to all save fanboys says everything about the strength of the casting, acting and directing as well as the imperishable value of an entertaining movie rooted in character rather than eye candy.  I didn't know what to expect beyond the trailer, and I was charmed, tickled and even moved.  Looking forward to DC's explanation about why it can't do a Wonder Woman feature after GotG, not even in Marvel's second tier of heroes, can crush the summer season.