Guardians of the Galaxy

August 9, 2014 at 11:10 am | Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

With this summer romp, Marvel has thrown their hat into the sci-fi ring, bringing to this genre the same tongue-in-cheek and referential humor that has helped them make superheroes accessible to more than just adolescent males (of all ages). Science fiction can often struggle under its own weighty self-importance and where “Guardians” is at its best is when it is upending that formula. The film takes its audience through the typical high-paced, effects-ladened thrill ride with enough acumen to appease the standard sci-fi junkie but there is nothing particularly new or interesting there. The visuals are great (all the aliens, ships, cities look cool) but not impressive. There were no “wow” moments on screen (in fact, there rarely are these days). And the plot itself has nothing to recommend it; it’s ridiculously convoluted and ultimately unimportant (other than to set up a baddie for future movies in the Marvel pantheon). Yet, despite all of that, the film is anything but mediocre. It is, in fact, a hell of a lot of fun. Credit goes first to the whip-sharp script by director James Gunn and screenwriter Nicole Perlman (not only is this Perlman’s first Hollywood script but she is the first female scriptwriter that Marvel has ever employed). They manage to create line after line of clever, charming or bitingly funny dialogue. Lead actor Chris Pratt (“Parks & Recreation”) is especially effective at delivering the lines with a world-weary/naive goofiness that is a sheer pleasure to watch. In fact, he is the other key piece to the film’s success. The other actors are solid but their performances do not particularly stand out (though the fantastic Lee Pace– “Pushing Daisies,” “Halt and Catch Fire” — makes a fun and cartoonishly ominous villain). It is Pratt who seems to inherently understand the pacing of the film’s humor; he delivers every line without overselling it. The movie got unfortunately bogged down toward the end with some unnecessary sentiment that felt like it was written more for the audience than for the characters. We didn’t need that and I, for one, didn’t want it. That aside, I enjoyed this film from start to finish. This is what a blockbuster is supposed to be: Fun. And I haven’t had this much pure fun at a summer movie in a while.

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