Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy

Score Technician: Andrew Daar
The PCS kicks off its Marvel coverage with the 10th film from Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy. Why Guardians? Maybe because it's the first one to not prominently feature characters with at least some level of general recognition; even before Marvel Studios made Iron Man one of the most popular heroes in their stable, most people were at least aware he existed. Not so with Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. Marvel had a lot of heavy lifting to do with this film, as it had to introduce the five characters to audiences completely unfamiliar with them, tell a story, and leave room for references to the larger universe. Did they succeed and prove that nearly any comic book property can be translated to film under the right circumstances?  Or did Marvel end up with another Howard the Duck?  The nanobots are hooked on a feeling…
  • Blatant product placement for the corporation that [at the time] wouldn’t let Marvel use Spider-Man in the MCU. = +4pts (For give-no-fucks irony.)
  • Our first glimpse of the present day is of a solitary man alone on an abandoned planet, scored with somber music. Time to put on some jamz! = +6pts
  • It’s ok if you don’t know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are.  The residents of the MCU don’t either. = +4pts
  • If this peace treaty is going to be a big part of the plot, you’re going to have to give us more than a passing mention on the space news. = -5pts
  • Ronan’s ship should be named the S.S. Exposition. = -3pts
  • For casting a delightfully misanthropic anthropomorphic raccoon. = +5pts
  • Movie, you keep mentioning this peace treaty like it’s supposed to mean something. = -3pts
  • “Relax pal, it’s cool to have a code name.  It’s not that weird.” = +4pts
  • Fine! If the parties to the peace treaty don’t care about it, we won’t either. = -2pts
  • Expository processing scene. = +3pts (For being about something we want to hear about: our heroes.)
  • Peter Quill may be a womanizer, but he’s definitely not a racist. Er, a xenophobist. = +4pts
  • “I would lower your voice, Accuser!”  Is it really that unfathomable that someone nicknamed “the Accuser” would, you know, accuse loudly? = -2pts
  • Thanos' main power seems to be pissing off everyone around him. If he can afford to lose such powerful allies, he must be a badass. = -4pts
  • Never leave prison without your jamz! = +2pts
  • Bombs for everyone! = +4pts
  • “You got issues, Quill.” = +6pts
  • “First you’re going to tell me what this orb is and why everyone cares about it.” Well, you see, there’s this film concept called a “MacGuffin…” = -2pts
  • Unfortunately for the Broker, Yondu speaks fluent bullshit. = +4pts
  • Five years ago, who’d have thought that we’d get such a direct reference to the Celestials in our mainstream comic book films? What a world we live in. = +7pts
  • “Pelvic sorcery.” = +7pts
  • We agree with Gamora, though. No pelvic sorcery with womanizers. = +5pts
  • Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio del Toro as The Collector. These respected actors are totally owning their roles. = +10pts
  • Del Toro’s whole role in this movie is to set up The Avengers: Infinity War. = +6pts (Because we love it any way.)
  • “Why would you want to save [the galaxy]?” “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!” Say what you will for films with super-high stakes, Quill makes a convincing argument for why we should give a crap. = +5pts
  • Aw, Rocket really does care. = +4pts
  • Drax realizing that the quest for vengeance only leads to ruin.  It’s getting dusty in here.  +7pts
  • “YOU’RE! MAKING! ME! BEAT! UP! GRASS!” = +6pts
  • Thanos! Do something! Prove your terrifying power!…or, just sit on your throne. Whatever.  It looks like a comfy throne. = -4pts
  • Nebula and Gamora both make reference to their hatred for Thanos because of what he turned them into. = -10pts (For not having more scenes of them commiserating.)
  • Quill has 12% of a plan. = +12pts (+1pt for each percentage point.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy? Or Jackasses of the Circle? = +8pts
  • No one’s 100% a dick, but there are 100% asses. = +5pts
  • Doesn’t a Kree invasion of Xandar violate that peace treaty or something? = -1pt (Looks like that lack of specificity is really paying off!)
  • “No one talks to my friends like that.” = +8pts
  • Wait, if Drax is completely literal, does that mean he really thinks Gamora is a whore?  That’s…not good. = -7pts
  • Shut up about the peace treaty, Ronan, no one cares. Just get to the fireworks factory. = -4pts
  • We are Groot. = +10pts
  • Is this about vengeance or spreading your religion?  Make up your mind, Ronan! = -5pts
  • “Probably good we didn’t deliver [Quill] to his dad like we was hired to do.” Ooh, foreshadowing the sequel! = +6pts (In most other movies, this would be a negative, but we’ve come to expect this in the MCU and be rewarded by it.)
  • “Your mother was of Earth. Your father was very different.” Ok, now you’re just messing with us, Marvel. = +3pts (Because they know we love it.)
  • “Of course, Ronan was really a puppet. It’s Thanos I need to kill.” = +1pt (Okay, now you’re pushing it, Marvel.)
  • That’s some A+ trolling there, Quill.  Er, we mean, Star-Lord. = +4pts
  • Bonus scene: Howard the Duck? Marvel, you made the stinger to the movie immediately preceding The Avengers: Age of Ultron nothing but a silly cameo by Howard the Duck? One of the worst comic book movies ever made? Actually, you know what? If a new MCU-based Howard the Duck was made, Marvel’s been on such a hot streak, we’d assume it would be good until proven otherwise. JUST KEEP TAKING OUR MONEY, MARVEL! = +8pts
Total Score: +167pts

Guardians of the Galaxy is best described as “fun.”  The film nails its “jokey swagger masking genuine heart” tone with such confidence that it’s hard not to be charmed by the amount of charisma on display. Chris Pratt cements his leading man status, Vin Diesel reminds us that he can imbue intense emotion into the sparsest voiceover dialogue, Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper bring their already proven acting chops to characters that could seem silly or two-dimensional in the wrong hands, and Dave Bautista proves that not only can he act at all, he can act well enough for this movie.

Having said all that… the plot is a standard MacGuffin hunt, and the film could care less about the intergalactic politics that set the villain’s plan in motion. The film devotes multiple scenes to set-up for both Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (coming in 2017) and The Avengers: Infinity War: Parts 1 and 2 (coming in 2018 and 2019). Whether those bother you, will depend on what you’re looking for from the movie. If you’re looking for an original story with something to say, the MCU’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is much more satisfying.  But if you want to watch a fun and funny space adventure with a style all its own, Guardians of the Galaxy will provide you with a lot of entertainment. So sayeth the nanobots.

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