🦇 Dr. DuLacula 🧛’s review published on Letterboxd:
NOTHING goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.
-Drax the Destroyer
Whether or not you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy can we just all agree to be happy, no... ecstatic that a film directed by James Gunn is breaking box office records at this very moment proving that sci-fi action films don't have to be Michael Bay crap-fests to make money? I usually don't care about box office numbers, but since I know that's the only language some studio executives understand I hope this wakes some of them up to the fact there's untapped genre directors out there that can actually make FUN summer blockbusters if given a large budget.
Now the film itself. Where to begin. As most know, I'm a Marvel fanboy and tend to ramble on when their new films come out. This one in particular could be my downfall though. The reason being I was there reading this book when this team in particular came together and it was one of those comic books that you never even consider will be made into a film. Hell you'd be excited if they made a cartoon.
Now I'm not one of those jerks saying "You think YOU love the film? Well I was there from the BEGINNING man!", I'm working towards a point here. It's hard to remember this during this weekend because of all the hype surrounding the film, but back in 2010 when rumblings of this project first surfaced this was regarded as a big risky venture with every new detail of the film making media outlets question the studio's sanity even further.
Now as much as this film looked like it shouldn't work on paper, the comic book was the same way! The original GotG team date back to 1969, but the team featured in the film are from the 2008 reincarnation. Now when it comes to Marvel comic book characters sometimes you have 3rd tier or supporting characters that aren't tied to any particular book. These characters are usually screwed around with by various writers in all sorts of ways because there is no status quo to maintain with them. They could be killed off and there would be no repercussions in other books or sales for that matter. Some readers might not even notice that they are gone.
Well in 2008 writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took some of these characters, all of which had 40 plus years of convoluted continuity to them because past writers were given free reign, and put them together in a team while re-purposing the defunct comic book title Guardians of the Galaxy. On paper this looked like a disaster. You had only obscure characters on the team, all of which had complicated back stories AND it was based in Marvel's cosmic universe, a brand that had not been popular in decades. Only the hardcore fans would follow this and it would be impossible for new readers to get into... at least that's what some thought.
Abnett and Lanning not only managed to pull off a comic book that was accessible to new readers, but they somehow managed to make the complex back stories of all the characters part of the story without it being overwhelming to new readers. Above all though, they took characters no one really cared about anymore (some cases if ever) and made one of the coolest and most original comic books Marvel was publishing at the time.
Reading the book back then felt like it was a miracle it even existed. These writers made space adventures cool again in the Marvel universe without using any major characters while walking a fine line between quirky and gritty. So needless to say I was shocked when it was first announced that this was even being considered for a feature film and I'll also be honest in saying that my first reaction was "Ok maybe, but there's no way in hell that Rocket and Groot will be in the movie." I don't think I've ever been happier to be wrong.
One thing I love about the production of the film is that it's just as unconventional as the comic book it's based off of. First you have this obscure title featuring NO popular characters in pop culture. It's written by first time screenwriter Nicole Perlman. Marvel then gave the director's chair to James Gunn, a man who has a cult following but has never directed anything that's even grossed $10 million. Who should star in this film? Well Chris Pratt, a supporting cast member from Parks and Recreation of course. What could possibly go wrong?
Well the results are damn glorious and the most fun summer blockbuster in recent memory. Not only does Chris Pratt own the role of Star-Lord, but I would dare say this is the FIRST superhero team film where EVERY single member of the team knocks it out of park.
Zoe Saldana as Gamora? Beyond cool and sexy. Rocket as voiced by Bradley Cooper? He's a furry little asshole and I loved him. Groot? Possibly the runaway hit of the film as no one will have ever seen a character like this and Vin Diesel actually pulls off some great voice acting using only what is to become immortal words: "I am Groot." Probably the biggest surprise of the film is just how funny WWE wrestler Dave Bautista ends up being as Drax the Destroyer. Admittedly his character is purposely wooden which probably helped a great deal with Bautista's limited acting experience, but god damn if he didn't end up with a good chunk of the funniest lines in the film.
While all five character's get great moments on their own, it's still Pratt at the center of things as Star-Lord that is the emotional anchor of the film. I would go as far to say that in this 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pratt pulls off the most entertaining character out of all the films second only to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). I know that sounds crazy, but for pure entertainment Thor, Captain America and Hulk have nothing on Star-Lord. He's like the Jack Burton or Ash Williams of the Marvel Universe.
Now most sci-fi action films barely have five interesting characters, much less five outstanding main ones like GotG has, but it doesn't stop there. The supporting cast is awesome too. The easiest standout is Michael Rooker as Yandu who, I was pleasantly surprised, has a much bigger part then the trailers would suggest with a few standout moments including both action and comedy. He ends up being one of the MANY highlights of the film.
With so many great characters the villains seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to screen time, but it doesn't matter that much. Lee Pace does a sufficient creepy job as Ronan while being upstaged by Karen Gillan as the visually amazing Nebula. I just found her character incredibly striking not just visually though, her movement and distorted voice just made a character you wanted more of. Even in her limited time she came off as a damaged character with something to prove.
The script by Nicole Perlman (with James Gunn) is incredibly entertaining. Not just the grand adventure and comedy, but it's peppered with unexpected moments that play against the tropes you expect in these adventure films from the romantic moments between two leads to the big scene where everyone comes together for the good fight. The tropes are usually broken with comedic moments and it's usually whenever you think a cliched scene is about to come up. Also... those tropes are mostly broken by Rocket, which I always found hilarious.
Above all else though the film is just FUN. This is what summer blockbusters used to be. A big sci fi action summer blockbuster that doesn't take itself so seriously that it sucks all the joy not only out of the film but you as a viewer *cough*Transformers*cough*. Oh yeah... and the 70/80s pop culture references and soundtrack? Yeah... I loved the shit out of that right there.
Ok, I predicted I was going to write way too much and mostly about shit that no one else cares about except me, and I dare say I did not disappoint myself.