GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
(directed by James Gunn, 2014)
****+ (out of 5)
> That’s right, bitches- I gave this 4½ stars! (Yeah, guess I’m getting easy to please in my old age.)
. I suspect that ten years from now, I will deem this a classic. Obviously we’re not talking CRIES AND WHISPERS-classic, but it is fair to say different genres can have their own “classics”, and when it comes to slam-bang science fiction/fantasy with a heart and a funny bone- you’d be hard-pressed to do better.
. Marvel Studios is getting pretty damn good at delivering kinetic, 3-D comic book cinema like this. The previews looked rather lame actually: a talking raccoon and a walking tree in outer space cavorting with a vapid, buffoonish prettyboy? I was fairly resolved to skip it. But just look at the talent that went into this fun confection: Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly and the voice of Bradley Cooper. The vision is pretty big for a fairly novice director, the story has scope, the bad guy (Lee Pace behind heavy makeup), is a truly evil motherfucker. But it is the humor that sets this apart- and the humor is largely character-driven, which is a good deal harder to pull off than simple formula situational gags or stunts. Fun characters bounce off each other in amusing ways, and by the end- even the damn raccoon is endearing.
. It’s not Ingmar Bergman, but every generation should have its own feel-good adventure touchstone, and this first installment of an obvious new franchise certainly fits the bill.
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