GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

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Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as Groot
Studio: Disney/Marvel

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is Marvel saying that their brand is safe in any cinematic genre. Venturing deep into the realms of cosmic space, the cinema-going mainstream is going to meet the cult figures of the Marvel Universe. Chris Pratt gets a star-making turn as Peter Quill aka Star Lord. Star Lord is a pirate Ravager that plays as Kurt Russell doing his best Han Solo. The movie hangs on his character arc, as the guy has pretty much become the Peter Pan of Outer Space. Star Lord has never come to term with his mother’s death or the secrets of his heritage. At the moment when he was being forced to become a man, he was kidnapped by redneck pirate aliens and taken to the ends of the Universe.

Chris Pratt keeps the central characters on point, as it could be very easy to get overwhelmed by what amounts to an introduction to a new aspect of Marvel. If anything, this is a first step into the polar opposite of what we’ve come to expect for Marvel. If anything, it’s like the Bizarro “Iron Man”. A new world has just begun to emerge here and I welcome everything from Thanos to the Kree to the Nova Corps and all that dwell within. Still, there’s the part of me that wants to freak out because I just saw a Celestial use an Infinity Gem onscreen! I grew up as part of the generation that had to watch “Pryde of the X-Men”, “Generation X” and David Hasselhoff trying to play Nick Fury. That Celestial was only onscreen for ten seconds, but I’ve spent half a lifetime waiting for something like that.

Marvel has seemingly done the impossible and crafted a tale about a pirate, his talking raccoon friend and a sentient tree. Gamora and Drax have been done before in various Sci-Fi iterations, but it took the hand of former Troma pioneer James Gunn to give them personality. Gamora goes from death wish with boobs to a fully formed woman that helps Star Lord out with the aspects of Deep Space villainy that he doesn’t understand. She’s also a fragile victim of her adopted father who is forever living down the tragedies committed in the name of Thanos. There’s a scene where Star Lord and Gamora bond over a walkman playing Elvin Bishop. Sorry, Boogie Nights. That song now belongs to the Guardians.

I’ve waited until the week of release to being talking about the movie, as I don’t want to spoil the hell out of it. A few readers did get kind of pissy about the few details I let slip on the Podcast. Honestly, who cares anymore? No one experiences anything as a 100% media shutout. You’re going to feel the full impact of this movie when you plant your ass in that theater seat on Friday or whatever Weekend day you slip into the auditorium. I know that audiences get pissed when movies keep getting talked up and they go out of their way to find faults. Some viewers might get annoyed by the music being blared, even though it plays an important part in Star Lord’s character arc. There are comic nerds that will get pissed that they don’t get to see the Nova Corps doing what Novas do in the comics.

What I ask is that you set aside your aesthetic complaints, your comic complaints or your problem with listening to Redbone over the opening credits. This film is equal parts emotion and equal parts superheroes. “Guardians of the Galaxy” succeeds by showing fulfilled fantasies for the kids in the crowd. The 10 year olds with their head in the clouds today become the rogues of tomorrow. What matters is that they find themselves as men or women and realize they they need friends to make it through this thing we call life. I adore Rocket and his hidden fragile state. I adore the literal nature of Drax. I adore Gamora’s willingness to beat past the handicap that is Thanos. I adore Star Lord finally getting the respect that he deserves. More importantly, I adore that Marvel offers us heroes like Groot. Groot is a giant wooden middle finger to everything that “Man of Steel” represented. I applaud Marvel for that and I adore the fact that I’m going to see this movie again and again.

GO TEAM GUNN!

RELEASE DATE: 08/01/2014

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