Saturday, August 2, 2014
Movie Review: "Guardians Of The Galaxy" (2014)
Every once in a while, it can be fun to watch a dumb popcorn film. While it is not something that should be done regularly, popcorn films have their time and place and are good for just simple film-going enjoyment, where you can turn your brain off and watch the madness unfold.
Popcorn films have become a spin-off of summer blockbuster movies, which play down certain filmic elements, like story and character, and up the ante on action sequences, comedy and the sense of adventure. As a result, certain sequences become more memorable and the audience ends up having a blast.
But only while the film is playing. Once it is over, that's the end of it. Maybe reflecting on some of the cooler scenes, but don't be surprised if most people could not tell you what the plot was.
There are varying degrees of the popcorn film, but it mostly comes down to the smart ones and the stupid ones. The intelligent popcorn films, like "Pacific Rim," will take special care to develop its world and to make sure that the actions make logical sense. As logical as giant robots fighting giant monsters can get at least. Dumb popcorn films, like "Independence Day," don't particularly care if the film makes sense or if logic is thrown out the window, so long as we get to see the White House blow up.
Marvel's most recent outing, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" falls into the class of dumb popcorn film. This is the stupidest, nonsensical and craziest films I have seen all year. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
On a far-off distant planet, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has located an ancient artifact that he intends to sell on the intergalactic black market for a hefty price. But he is soon hunted down by many different factions who also want the artifact, including the Galactic Nova Force, Quill's own band of Renegades who hire bounty hunters Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the living tree, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), daughter of the dreaded Thanos.
After a fight on the Nova Force home planet, Quill, Rocket, Groot and Gamora are all sent to a deep space prison, where they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). When they find out that a crazed alien, Ronin, is after the artifact and intends to whip out everything with its power, the race is on to escape from the prison and find out exactly what this artifact can do.
Part of the reason this film is so enjoyable is because it does not take itself seriously at all. It knows from the start that the premise is silly, and it lavishes itself in its own absurdity.
Quill is a nut, obsessed with the 1980s from when he left Earth as a child, but has grown up into this playboy outlaw who isn't afraid of shacking up with random alien women. No real reason for him to be the space version of Tony Stark, he just is the guy who will challenge his foes to a dance off and then kiss the nearest alien babe.
Drax gets a thrill out of brutality and murder. At one point, when their ship is mowing down Ronin's soldiers, Drax can't help but laugh and raise his arms up in excitement. Then again, his nickname is "The Destroyer" so I guess that should be expected.
I really don't feel like I need to discuss the genetically engineered and gun-crazy racoon or his tree buddy that can only say "I am Groot." Those go without saying.
The villain, Ronin, wants to conquer the universe, because of reasons that are only briefly mentioned in the film, and basically boils down to "I hate this peace treaty!" Other than that, standard villain who lurks in the background to look menacing.
The reason I say this is a dumb popcorn film is not because of all the craziness going on. More so, it is because of the lack of logic throughout most of the film. At one point, Quill stops everything his gang was doing just so that he can go back and get his mixed tape. Or Drax literally calling up Ronin and telling them where they are so that he can finally face him.
Even bodies being exposed to the emptiness of space without any sort of protection is almost completely ignored. Characters will go through unbelievable events and come out without a scratch on them. After a while, to see Quill walk away from a massive explosion becomes more laughable than it is exciting.
The film follows the "Don't think about it, it just looks cool" train of thought.
Though I will admit that "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is a beautiful movie, with vibrant colors and each planet having its own style that makes it pop off the screen. From the geysers of the forbidden planet, to the mining colony that is based out of a giant severed head, there is no shortage of imaginary images in this film.
If nothing else, see this film for its cinematography and color palate.
Marvel has pushed the envelope with their movies lately. In the last few years, we've had the crossover that had been in the works for over four years with "The Avengers," a film that is almost entirely a comedy with "Iron Man 3," a serious take on what it means to be a super hero and the difference between good and bad with "Captain America: The Winter Solider."
While "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is certainly a different take from these films, it also is a vastly different film from these other ones. Films like "The Avengers" and "Captain America" take themselves rather seriously and try to be as intelligent as possible, while still having fun with its creative scenarios. "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is the opposite of that, as it exists solely for the creativeness and fun of comic book super heroes, and not having something to say.
And there is nothing wrong with that. A film that doesn't take itself seriously can be enjoyed just as much as any other sophisticated movie.
But here is something to keep in mind: Popcorn films are much like junk food, while smart and alluring films are high-class desserts. You can eat away mindlessly at snacks, because that is how they're created. They're addictive by nature. They make you reach for more, even if you don't want more. It can fill you up, but you don't necessarily get anything from it.
But a high-class dessert demands that you really take a moment to enjoy how complex and satisfying it can be. In the end, you'll always think more highly of the high-class desert because it gave you a feeling of true satisfaction. It was so good that you wanted more, but what you had was scrumptious, and you are glad you had it.
Overall, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" is stupid fun. It takes advantage of the various locations, has a good consistent sense of humor and has that fun Marvel-feel to it. There are parts that make me question its motives and actions, but it is a blast to watch once it gets going.
Final Grade: B-