Guardians in need of assistance
Comic book superheroes colourful, paper thin
Saturday, Aug 02, 2014 06:00 am
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Peter Serafinowicz, Benicio del Toro, and the voices of Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Josh Brolin
Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Directed by James Gunn
Rated PG for violence and coarse language
Runtime: 121 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton and Scotiabank Theatre
When it comes to science fiction movies, everybody loves a misfit. Am I right? Luke Skywalker just didn’t like helping his uncle out with the harvest. Captain Kirk always played by his own rules. Tony Stark was a billionaire genius with a smart mouth and industriousness like nobody’s business. Indiana Jones had book smarts and street smarts even in the jungles of South America. They’re all renegades, rebels and rogues of one stripe or another.
There’s only one thing that people love more than a misfit and that’s a misfit outsider who swoops in to save the town from the marauding ne’er-do-well, or prevent the planet from certain destruction, or, say guard the galaxy from a power hungry creep who has total annihilation on the brain.
What people love even more than that is a group of five misfits outsider heroes.
And therein lies the premise for Guardians of the Galaxy, another Marvel-ous big screen adaptation of a comic book series with a strong cult-like following. There’s Groot (a CG character voiced by Vin Diesel), a walking tree that only says, “I am Groot.” He’s the partner of Rocket Raccoon (a CG character voiced by Bradley Cooper), a snarly creature if ever there was one. Drax the Destroyer (wrestler/mixed martial artist Dave Bautista) is a well-muscled alien hell-bent on revenge for the deaths of his wife and daughter and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is the green adopted daughter of Thanos (a CG character voiced by Josh Brolin) who trained her to be a living weapon and assassin.
And then we have Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), the sassy mix tape-loving Earthling who was abducted by Yondu (Michael Rooker), a blue outlaw who gets Quill to find and steal a mysterious orb at the start of this movie. The metallic sphere at the heart of the story has hidden powers beyond anyone’s imagination or control, except for Ronan (Lee Pace) and Thanos the supervillain.
Interminable casting call and plot points aside, I have a problem with any movie – not just these action-packed superhero stories – that thinks that a character can be built on witticism via dialogue or plot that requires a PhD to understand and then only is rendered as pointless. The Transformers movies are like this, and the Pirates of the Caribbean ones, and innumerable other massive budget blockbusters that hit the theatres like bludgeons whacking over-ripe tomatoes. Guardians of the Galaxy is a bloody massacre of the senses that serves naught save for some moments of interest peppered with pretty colours. Let me tell you why.
I don’t care about any of these so-called heroes (although anti-heroes might be better suited to this lot). They’re not just unlikeable in varying degrees but they also carry on normal conversations with each other in constantly amplified volumes. Yes, they can’t stop yelling back and forth, except when they have serious heart-to-heart moments and that’s when they whisper through mouths filled with otherworldly marbles. The audience’s ears are constantly listening across a spectrum from 0 to 100 decibels.
It’s an unpleasant bombardment of the aural senses, with other visual assaults including the kinds of fight sequences that offer physiological responses to viewing that can only be compared to the nausea created by an out of control gyroscope ride.
Yes, we’re meant to like these characters, paper-thin that they are. We’re also meant to fully appreciate the active scenes and the misfit hero plot, one that steals so heavily from other notable sci-fi influences that it should have been called The Last Starfighter’s Trek with Heavy Metal of the Avengers’ Lost Ark.
I didn’t and it’s a disappointment, especially considering co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman was once on Variety magazine’s list of top 10 writers to watch. This movie is a discredit to any respectable writer trying to establish herself or himself in the industry. It offers only a sad rehash of everything else we have already seen on screen too many times before. Even offering several terribly clever snippets of dialogue isn’t enough to solidify who characters really are and why we the audience should like them. None of them – none – had any personality whatsoever.
This is a travesty, both a waste of talent and of $170 million American production dollars. It’s a sensory overload of sight and sound and a waste of entertainment-seekers’ ticket purchases. Sadly, it’s also a critic-proof movie because of massive marketing. That means that it doesn’t even matter that I’ve written this review and you’ve read it because everyone and their dog will see it anyway. The sequel has already been announced too, meaning I’ll get to complain with even more verbosity in 2017.