It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but there was once a time when I had quite a bit of expertise in the Marvel Universe. I came as close to tearing up while reading a comic book as I’ll ever do when the Scarlet Witch finally married The Vision—as eloquent an argument for marriage equality as genre fiction has ever essayed, by the way. I did, I must admit, check out well before the entity called The Guardians of the Galaxy turned up in said universe. I bring this up because there are some MU characters in the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" that I did recognize—super-evil demigod Thanos, Drax The Destroyer, and one or two others I guess—but I ultimately found that it was that particular continuity, the need to tie this movie’s adventures into something larger, that made the movie lag a bit.
In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by
indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and
Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet Zoe Saldana (here dyed green as opposed to
her "Avatar" blue), is a fun and relatively fresh space Western. Think “Firefly” pitched at 15-year-olds, with a lot of overt "Star Wars" nods. And super-“irreverent”
dialogue that is, more often than not, genuinely funny. The wisecracking by the
characters played by Pratt (a kind of junior Han Solo) and voiced by Bradley
Cooper (whose Rocket Raccoon, who is, yes, a genetically altered raccoon) is so
incessant viewers of a certain age might wonder whether this movie has been put
through the "What’s Up Tiger Lily" dialogue-replacement treatment before
Pratt’s self-styled “Starlord” and Rocket are not the strangest of initially inadvertent teammates in this intergalactic posse. Saldana’s Gamora is a stealthy warrior princess who’s been lying low in an evil family before revealing her good intentions; wrestling star Dave Bautista’s Drax is a vengeance-driven behemoth whose florid language only briefly masks his inability to take anything other than literally; and Rocky’s “muscle,” Groot, is a walking, minimally talking tree. These guys are entertainingly motley, which makes the fact that their mission, to save the universe from a mass-murdering megalomaniac who seeks an item which will grant him unimaginable mass-murdering power (yes, more mass-murdering power than he ever had before), is generic in a way that’s pretty consistent with movies of this sort.
You may have noticed, incidentally, that a lot of film
critics tend to get kind of defensive when reviewing movies based on comic
books. Like, you probably noticed that up top I tried to claim some comic
book-respecting bonafides. I’ve done this thing before when reviewing
comic-book movies. Some day, I may have to actually bring out the big guns,
like the fact that I used to be palsy with Mike Kaluta, or that I once went to
a Halloween party at Berni Wrightson’s house. I don’t do this because I’m afraid
of getting death threats from easily irritated comic book fans (which hasn’t
happened to me, and thanks). I do it because as someone who got a lot out of
comics growing up, and still has a healthy respect for the graphic form, I find
comic book movies kind of frustrating, and am bent out of shape by having my
frustration chalked up to a lack of understanding of the form.
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