Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marvel's Space Odyssey

As always, reviews contain

Guardians of the Galaxy is almost something of a miracle. Here we have a film that's weird, bizarre, is an outright sci-fi fantasy with all these creative and cool little things in it (a talking, gun-toting raccoon and a talking tree) that's fortunately bolstered by an incredibly strong story with excellent characters, and also a vibrant script that is as hilarious as it is heartfelt. On top of that, it happened to be made for a big budget and was a mainstream blockbuster release…

Guardians to the Galaxy is, to me, Marvel Studios' best film to date and a crowning achievement of comic book movies in general.

Director James Gunn and his screenwriting partner Nicole Perlman delivered a truly fine Marvel odyssey that totally feels like its own film and does an excellent job setting up its own mythology and ideas, while also dropping hints at future Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It has its own identity that's pretty far removed from what we've seen in the nine mostly earthbound films that came before it. It completely relishes in its unique brand of weirdness, each character is instantly likable and become even more lovable by the time the films ends. It's a great "bunch of people who hate each other end up becoming friends" kind of story, mixed in with pure action-adventure and wonder. The Star Wars vibe is incredibly strong in this one, and it just has a cool retro 80s feel throughout partially thanks to Peter Quill/Star-Lord's "awesome" mix tape.

We are taken to other worlds throughout the adventure, which is carefully plotted and gets all the more intriguing as it progresses. Each Guardian is a really, really fantastic character - I wouldn't mind seeing all of them get their own one-shots or even solo films. Rocket and Groot, as expected, are show-stealers but Star-Lord, Gamora and Drax's personalities immediately pop out of the screen. Quill's dance-walk to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" to the mysterious orb that the main baddie Ronan is after in the film's first ten minutes sums it all up… You know exactly what's in store for you.

To say nothing of the screenplay… It was teased that Guardians of the Galaxy had what possibly was Marvel's best script to date, and that sounds just about right. Like I said earlier, the plotting is good, the character development is incredibly strong, and it does an excellent job at balancing its different sense of humor and some more dramatic, sincere moments. The film opens with a death of all things, but minutes later we then we see young Quill get abducted by an alien ship out of nowhere, then we see him do his aforementioned routine on the planet Morag. It's all balanced very well, as the film does have a beating heart. I mean, making the audience really care about a bunch of a-holes with criminal pasts is already a tough enough task! Gunn and Perlman succeeded greatly, and then some. Everyone's perfectly casted too, as usual with Marvel.

The look of it is jaw-dropping. The film bursts with color and lovely set design, I want to see more of the different planets and worlds we see in this film! The world-building, the little everyday things they show in the home worlds, the technology, the architecture… This is one of Marvel's most dazzling films. In an age of forced dark and gritty/rooted and grounded, this is something that we need. It doesn't shy away from darker moments either, like any good sci-fi/fantasy story. Like the other Marvel movies, it effortlessly raises the stakes really high too. Its villains aren't too bad either, Ronan is menacing and creepy, and he has pretty simple motivations: He's a Kree fanatic and wants to lay waste to the planet Xandar, which he sees as the scum of the universe. His right-hand woman Nebula (adopted daughter of Thanos) is suitably badass, and the good thing is, we'll see her in future films. Also, the brief glimpses we get at Thanos are just a taste of how menacing this titan is. I like that they don't show him as much, because I want the people at Marvel to build him up over the course of Phase 3 until we finally get to the point where the Avengers will take him on, don't just show everything at once.

The film also sports one hell of a supporting cast, from space pirate/Quill's surrogate father Yondu to some of the individuals working for Nova Corps. You also have the likes of the David Bowie-esque Collector (first introduced in Thor: The Dark World's mid-credits scene), all of these characters' personalities also leap off the screen. I'll say it again, it's perfectly casted. Everyone shines in their roles.

Guardians of the Galaxy, as I had suspected when I had seen the 17-minute sneak preview last month, is pretty much Marvel Studios' next Iron Man. What I mean by that is, it's a film that opens up the door, big time. Scratch that, it bursts the doors open to the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it also functions as an excellent film on its own and one that takes some major risks. As much as I like the Thor films, I felt that this film gave us a truly fine introduction to the worlds above the one Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, et al inhabit. Bring on the cosmic stuff, Marvel!

It's a wonderfully weird and bizarre space-bound epic that is hilarious, heartfelt and boasts such memorable characters and a robust script. It never pulls it punches, it sticks to its guns all throughout and has an incredibly fun time doing so.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part is when Quill flips the bird in his prison cell and says "Oh! I'm sorry, I had no idea how this machine worked."