Saturday, August 9, 2014

All This And A Mercenary Raccoon, Too!

Reel To Reel: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Going Rate: Worth full price admission
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, voice of Vin Diesel, voice of Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro
Rated: PG-13
Red Flags: Sci-fi violence and blasters, mild language

A movie which opens with the ethereal multitracked harmonies of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" will get my attention from the opening frame. That's promising because it's going to take a lot to get me over the cognitive dissonance of a snarky, genetically-engineered raccoon. Fortunately, Guardians Of The Galaxy delivers. It doesn't dazzle or challenge us so much as team up oddballs and throw them through a series of plot twists, making this film more like Mel Brooks' Spaceballs than Star Wars.

The film follows Peter Quill (Pratt), a.k.a. Star-Lord, a galactic petty thief and hustler who could've been Han Solo before he met Chewbacca in another galaxy far, far away. He thinks he's in for a quick haul of cash after stealing a rare orb while rocking out to Redbone's "Come And Get Your Love." An analog Walkman is Quill's best friend after aliens sucked him up from somewhere in Missouri back in the 1980's. We're not supposed to worry about why the aliens chose an emotionally fragile boy who just lost his mother to cancer one scene ago.

Quill gets a bounty on his head with the orb everybody else wants, including an alien race led by a megalomanic dark lord known as Ronan (Lee Pace). He's Emperor Palpatine with a wardrobe change. Ronan sends the green -- in color, not in experience -- assassin Gamora (Saldana) after him. Along the way, the aforementioned raccoon bounty hunter Rocket (Cooper) spots Quill, backed by his living-tree, limited-vocabulary sidekick Groot (Diesel). The four end up in a fight and get thrown into a galactic Alcatraz, only to find they have to work together to bust out. Along the way, they pick up help from giant blue warrior Drax (Dave Bautista), who lost his family to Ronan. But they have a bigger problem: that orb contains an infinity stone, a super weapon capable of leveling entire planets with more power than 100 atomic bombs and Chuck Norris. The orb has gotta go to a safe place, but to whom... and where?

Notice I'm not diving deep into the names of the planets or the alien races, not merely because I don't want to try to spell or pronounce them for you, but because it really doesn't matter in what universe this film exists. It doesn't matter they're going after some orb. This motley crew could be shopping at Kmart for all we care because of their chemistry and dysfunctional exchanges, like this one:
Peter Quill: I have a plan.
Rocket Raccoon: You've got a plan?
Peter Quill: I have PART of a plan!
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan?
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan do you have?
Gamora: You don't get to ask questions after the nonsense you pulled on Knowhere!
Drax the Destroyer: I just saved Quill!
Peter Quill: We've already established that you destroying the ship I'm on is not saving me!
Drax the Destroyer: When did we establish that?
Peter Quill: Like three seconds ago?
Drax the Destroyer: I wasn't listening. I was thinking of something else...
Rocket Raccoon: She's right, you don't get an opinion... What percentage?
Peter Quill: I dunno... Twelve percent?
Rocket Raccoon: 12%?
[breaks into laughter]
Peter Quill: That's a fake laugh.
Rocket Raccoon: It's real!
Peter Quill: Totally fake!
Rocket Raccoon: That is the most real, authentic, hysterical laugh of my entire life because THAT IS NOT A PLAN!

It also drops a hysterical reference to Kevin Bacon and Footloose I'll let you discover for yourself.

Guardians Of The Galaxy comes from Marvel Comics' ever-expanding galaxy of superhero material padding the profits of Walt Disney, although I read a commenter on Nikki Finke's website compare it to the original Star Wars. If you're talking about viewer satisfaction, yes. Sequels? One's already on the way.