Thursday, 11 December 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)


Ah...at last we have the mighty Guardians of the Galaxy superhero space adventure flick with a talking tree stump and a gun wielding raccoon. As we all know (so I dunno why I'm saying it) this movie came right outta left field, no one really expected it, no one really wanted it even (truth be told), no one really knew who these guys were and almost everyone was unsure as to whether it was a good move or not. Yet with a dizzying level of confidence, tenacity and the sheer size of Marvels balls (massaged tenderly by Disney) the company went ahead with this virtually unknown property which was a chuffing big gamble lets face it. Proof that almost everyone at the moment will watch anything with the Marvel logo slapped across it.

I'm not gonna pretend to know the plot intricacies with this movie as I have no knowledge of these characters or their origin backgrounds, thusly I went in blind and merely going on previous tit bits from other character movies. Basically a group of space pirates come together as a team for various reasons. Quill the human is initially tracking down this magical orb for currency but gets tied up in this dastardly plot by an alien supervillain to destroy planets with it. Gamora is working for Thanos and Ronan as an assassin yet changes her ways and betrays them both after she realises what the orb can do. Drax wants to kill Ronan for killing his family so he's on board at first to merely get to Ronan...but later joins the fight for the orb too. Rocket the raccoon is another bounty hunter who was after Quill initially and simply ended up getting tossed into space jail with the group and eventually ends up helping them escape, he then continues with their fight. Lastly Groot is a tree...errm...and he's the sidekick of Rocket...he just follows Rocket around and protects the little guy. Think of him as a wooden magical Chewbacca that just says 'I AM GROOT' which apparently is an entire vocabulary.

That is the basics for the main characters, there are many many more throughout which all slip in and out of the plot. I won't lie it was a little confusing for me to get to grips with, there are lots of odd space names for characters, ships and places flying around and lots of nods to other things within the Marvel comicbook universe (with weird names). You don't have to be a comicbook nerd to get along with the plot...but it helps, that's all I'm gonna say. Like...why did the mercs steal Quill away from Earth as a baby in the first place? I'm sure stuff like that is in the comics. Never the less anyone can still just about enjoy this movie I'm sure, I think...maybe...mkay.



The overall look of the movie was a mixed bag for me honesty. First thing I noticed was an abundance of body paint and makeup being used with little to no rubber mask/prosthetic type effects. There's nothing wrong with that of course but it did feel a tad basic, unadventurous and dare I say Star Trek-ish with all these aliens simply being actors with different coloured face paint on. I'm sure its probably because many of the background comicbook characters from the original source material were drawn like that...I presume. Otherwise I can't quite work out why so many characters merely had face paint on with alien contact lenses in, the makeup on Ronan and Korath was almost childish looking! This also had me wondering about other background characters, like in the prison for example. Many of them seemed to be regular looking blokes...so would they be humans? I kinda though everybody would aliens, also why were the prison guards all so utterly useless?? Its a prison for violent creatures and folk from all over the universe yet the guards appear to be human and are as useful as a chocolate teapot.

This was but a small quibble admittedly as the visual effects and CGI throughout the movie was pretty pleasing to the eye. Putting it simply...I haven't seen such decent space battle/dog fight sequences since the original Star Wars trilogy...I think. I believe it was the cockpit shots of various pilots and heroes that swayed me as they looked very realistic with tiny details and didn't stand out with obvious CGI. Honesty though its not like most of the other stuff you see hasn't been done before or hasn't looked as good in other Marvel movies recently. All the magical space sorcery jiggery-pokery, deep space vistas, cityscapes, masses of spaceships, planetary landscapes etc...all looked sharp and slick as you would expect. But none of this is anything special now though is it, we've seen this type of thing so many times, its merely the staple diet of these superhero flicks. Yes it all looked very good, but I expect that, I expect nothing less, anything less than very good and I would be taken aback.




















So yes everything looked shiny and polished but as I said that didn't wow me because its standard stuff these days. Basically the movie revolved around the surprisingly entertaining crew of space pirates. When I say that I naturally mean Star-Lord played by Pratt and the two CGI bounty hunters Groot and Rocket. I didn't really know anything of Pratt before this movie so to that affect I (like everybody else I'm sure) was pretty stunned at his likeable roguish persona that blurred the lines between Han Solo, Indiana Jones and maybe a hint of Marty McFly...in a bumbling manner.
I think the only aspect I didn't like was the fact he was all buffed up, is it just me or does anyone else think he would have been more amusing with a regular Joe's physique? A bit more of a space bum perhaps, the rippling muscles visage kinda played against his charming doofus of a hero if you ask me. All of sudden he isn't a regular guy trying to get along in the wild universe...he's a superstud superhero with big abs...meh...bit cliche. Plus he seemed to switch from a ham-fisted accidental hero to a raging ass-kicking machine too easily, its like Gunn couldn't quite decide what angle he wanted from this guy.

Then of course there's his love of 80's music which all ties in with the plot about his mother dying. This aspect actually got me thinking, its strange how this movie is almost like a retro fantasy for adults. I don't know but I'm pretty sure most youngsters won't have a clue about the soundtrack, hell I'm willing to bet they won't even like it. Then there's the use of a walkman and cassette tapes which again many youngsters will be totally oblivious too just as much as VHS tapes. It all adds up to a movie of three halves really, you have the fantastic other-worldly visual space elements for the kids, the comicbook element for the fanboys and a main character who is basically for the 30 year old plus age range who grew up in the 80's.






















As for the CGI duo well what can I say...bizarre and highly amusing to say the least. Rocket was the perfect anti-hero who despite his obvious limitations is an expert in weapons and battle tactics with a sharp mouth, the perfect combination. The only thing I would have loved even more would be hearing Rocket swear as he would have clearly worked better as an adult character, the Joe Pesci of the group. As for Groot well I'm amazed at how popular living trees seem to be in movies recently and yet there is only so much you can do with them looks wise really. This guy worked best with Rocket in the prison break sequence for sure, seeing the gun totting raccoon blazing away on top of his wooden pal was mightily badass I can't deny. Other than that Groot offers some nice chuckle moments and an emotional ending but I did find myself thinking this character was too powerful. He lacks brains but he's uber strong and seemingly unable to die, plus he also has magical powers...so as long as Rocket is around he's kinda unstoppable, or even without Rocket.



The other characters were good but just kinda there. Drax is the obligatory token lump of muscle that beats down many enemies, doesn't understand human customs/sayings/speech (slightly laboured humour there) and is also covered in detailed body paint that doesn't quite show up too well. Where as Gamora is the obligatory token female character to add a bit of sexy spice to the proceedings in her tight outfits (Black Widow much?)...how about that black mini skirt ensemble at the very end folks! I liked that. Again was it just me or did Glenn Close's character kinda look exactly like the Mom character from Futurama?

So...looking back what do I think overall? Its definitely a visual feast heavily relying on CGI of course which on one hand is fine on the other is way too generic these days, it would have been nice to see some practical hands-on work. The humour and action is again spot on and enjoyable but at the same time it also felt kinda old, a bit cliche, too eager to please and of course too similar to other recent superhero movies. The risk of superhero saturation is never far away and even though this movie is a fresh angle (of sorts) its still very familiar. Although not a practical move I get the impression this movie could of been even better with an adult spin. Gunn obviously has notions of that with little snippets here and there such as the black light joke and as I said Rocket would have been tremendous with profanity.

I won't say its the best Marvel flick so far as that accolade still goes to the first Iron Man movie in my opinion. I enjoyed the movie, it is a good fun space escapade with solid characters that both amuse and kickass. It could virtually be an adaptation of many 80's Saturday morning cartoon favourites which in itself is fecking top banana. This flick makes me think a movie adaptation of 'Captain N: The Game Master' could work.

8/10