Saturday, March 7, 2015

Movie #301: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper, Vin Deisel, Dave Bautista, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, and Michael Rooker. And a lot of other people getting their piece of Marvel pie.

As a little boy, Peter Quill (Pratt, played as a boy by Wyatt Olef), is present for his mother's death from cancer. He runs out into the night, and is abducted by aliens. Fast forward a couple of decades, and now Quill, calling himself Starlord, is stealing shit with a crew of Ravagers headed by blue-headed badass Yondu (Rooker). He steals a mysterious orb, just barely beating Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) to it, but winds up getting arrested when he can't fence it alongside space-assassin Gamora (Saldana), who's after the Orb for Ronan the Accuser (Pace); Rocket (Cooper) a bounty hunter after Quill; and Groot (Diesel), Rocket's tree-buddy. In prison, they befriend Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), a warrior looking for revenge on Ronan, who killed Drax' family.

Whee, so many names. I could summarize the rest of the movie, but honestly if you're reading this you've probably seen it. Long story short: Ronan is trying to destroy planet Xandar because his race (Kree) are fuckers. He tries to acquire the Orb, which is one of the Infinity Stones (we've seen at least two in the MCU before; the Tesseract and the Aether) to do it, betrays Thanos in the process, and then lands on Xandar with Thanos' other adopted daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan) as muscle. They fail, however, because the Guardians of the Galaxy (Quill, Gamora, Drax. Rocket, and Groot) stop him, blowing him to pieces with the stone. Bam! The grateful Nova Prime (Close) gives them a new ship, and off they go to superhero!

So, it's an origin story, kinda, but it's also very space opera. It's a James Gunn movie, so it's funny and light, but also surprisingly violent and dark in places. The dialog is fun, and all of the characters get to be clever, useful, and funny, which makes me happy. The interplay between the principles is great, because Rocket and Groot especially, even though Groot only has only phrase he says ("I AM GROOT."). Standout scene for me is Rocket, drunk, railing against people calling him names, and venting the loneliness and alienation he feels; there's nothing else like him, and it eats at him. You don't expect to feel pathos from a raccoon, but here we are.

Now, some issues: Gamora and Nebula don't have much to do. I mean, they have fun stuff to do, but they don't get a hell of a lot of development. It's a busy movie anyway, but I'd have liked a standout scene for them. Also, Quill calling Ronan "bitch" and Drax calling Gamora a "green whore" are splinters, especially since Drax is literal - he has no reason to think of Gamora as a whore, and yet here we are.

Also, Ronan is a boring villain. He just kind of roars and rants, and his motives are interesting (purification), but they're never really explored. I think we could have learned a little more about him, and about the Collector (Benicio del Toro) and Knowhere, and that'd have been cool.

Generally, though? I really like this movie.

My grade: A-
Rewatch Value: Medium-high

Next up: Idiocracy