So, I was pretty excited about a little film called Guardians of the Galaxy. But how was it? I've paid to see it three times since it opened, that's how it is.
Of course, I'm still going to bitch about it.
In the build-up to the film, there was a fan trailer made for Star Wars that used the Guardians of the Galaxy's music and style. The best thing about Guardians is that it has the kind of fun the original Star Wars driven by a strong ensemble. All the heroes are well-caste and have great moments. The early fan favorite is probably Groot, but all my favorite moments featured Rocket Raccoon, who is ably voiced by Bradley Cooper (The Midnight Meat Train, The A-Team, Kitchen Confidential*).
Chris Pratt (What's Your Number?, Moneyball) is also great as the lead, Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord. I like Parks & Rec but usually his character, Andy Dwyer, does nothing for me; however I really like him in Delivery Man. He's had a banner year, with this and The LEGO Movie. Though I'm still a little surprised that Marvel thought a film centered on Star Lord was a good idea, considering that in the comics he totally looks like some sort of Space Nazi:
The roles in which I feel oddly disappointed are the villains, an opinion I am not alone in. The only one I didn't have a problem with was Thanos and his appearance is a cameo.
I can't really gauge Karen Gillan. Oculus was okay, but I just can't stand Doctor Who. In Guardians she seemed stiff, literally. Like there was a stick up her butt. But she was also a cyborg, so maybe that was intentional. I have a bit of a redhead bias (pro), so she skates.
I really like Lee Pace, who has been great in Halt & Catch Fire and he is the ideal Cyclops** to me. But here he seems buried under makeup and voice effects that blunt his appeal. I suspect a lot of it is intentional though; he gets to play a comic book supervillain and is enjoying his chance to eat the scenery and I can't fault him for that.
But this leads to the full on nerd section of the review. The movie portrays Ronan in the same vein as I.S.I.L. or an abortion-clinic bomber, but in the comics, Ronan is much more nuanced and sophisticated. His title, Accuser, is the equivalent of a prosecutor. The fact that he is Ronan THE Accuser makes him the something like the Attorney General of the Kree Empire***. He's kind of wasted and killed off much too quickly.
And how cool is Accuser as a title. We should totally change Attorney General to that.
Shown, from top left: Ronan the Accuser, Eric the Accuser, Michael the Accuser, Alberto the Accuser, John the Accuser, Janet the Accuser, Rowan the Accuser.
The link at Cinema Blend is also spot on about Ronan demonstrating enough menace. They mention he should have killed someone to raise the stakes earlier in the film. I could see two easy ways to do this. 1) make Yondu an unambiguous mentor to Quill and let the Nova Corps be the rock to Ronan's hard place instead of the Ravagers; then have Ronan kill Yondu on Knowhere. Or 2) actually show Ronan making havoc on the Xandarians, and fatally wound Nova Corpsman Rhomann Dey - which can be used to jumpstart Nova as a superhero on Earth in a better after credit scene (the after credit scene is lame****). Nova could be a cool addition to Netflix' Heroes for Hire series.
Which brings us to Nova Corps and the Xandarians. They strike me as incompetent as Stormtroopers. Nova Corps is potent enough to bring the Kree, a warlike race, to the negotiation table for a peace treaty. But the Dark Aster, Ronan's starship, hits atmosphere without being challenged by a dozen ships capable of going toe-to-toe with the Kree, not to mention fixed defenses. This level of capability has to exist, otherwise there would be no peace treaty, no dead fathers and grandfathers for Ronan to gripe about because the Kree would have demolished them.
On the other hand, the Nova Corps is a combined military and police force, broadly similar to French Gendarmes. They could well be about as useless. Seriously, when I lived in France the wife of a professor had her car broken into and passports were stolen. The Gendarmes were unavailable due to an activity called lunch.
The Kyln, the Xandarians prison station, is just as bad. Rocket's plan to escape is a fun moment, but it only works due to Xandarian incompetence. If I were running a prison in space and had access to artificial gravity, I see two obvious tactics for prison riots. 1) pump the gravity up to several gees or 2) shut the gravity off and send free-fall trained troops against inmates who are now at a disadvantage. If it's a lifer prison, I could even see not supplying gravity so the prisoners' muscles atrophy, then turn the gravity on in a riot at a couple of gees.
This just amuses me.
This is where you might expect me to mention Peter Quill flying around in vacuum with only a mask. "He should explode! His blood should boil!" you might say. But you would be wrong. With the mask, Quill would probably be fine for short periods like that, and may have other protections under his clothes that prevent involuntary defecation amongst other things. Plus, he's only half human. Even the scene where he takes his mask off is fine as long as he was exhaling through his nose. Exposure to hard vacuum is only immediately lethal if one tries to hold one's breath. Then it will be "explosive" and lead to hemorraging lungs and death.
Still, despite these flaws, it's a great film. I might go see it again this weekend.
*You should check out Kitchen Confidential; I held a grudge against How I met Your Mother for years because they premiered in the same time slot and How I Met Your Mother prevailed. It also stars Nicholas Brendon and John Cho, so double plus good.
**I am an enormous Cyclops fan; fuck Wolverine.
***That blue alien in Agents of SHIELD?: totally a Kree. I'm hoping it's Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers was a guinea pig for the technique used to revive Coulson so Season 2 of SHIELD can introduce her as Captain Marvel in time for Avengers 3 and maybe her own feature film.
****It is this lame: