Movie Meltdown

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Guardians of the Galaxy

by Dave "The Conduit" Davis

Directed by: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper


A talking raccoon and a tree. 

That just can’t work. 

Marvel’s lost it. 

The big, goofy guy from “Parks & Rec” is going to star? 

A wrestler from WWE is going to play one of the major roles?

This is gonna crash and burn.

This is going to be Marvel’s first flop. 

I read all these things when “Guardians of the Galaxy” was first announced and went into production. It’s the first film from the comic giant’s movie arm not based on a widely recognized title (until now, Thor probably held that “honor”). The weekend box office pretty much disproved the “Marvel’s first flop” argument — it set an August record — but the question remains: Does it work as a movie?

Yes. Yes it does.

This is one of the most fun summer blockbuster tentpole mega-big-adjective films in years. Where the tendency has been to become more and more grim and destructive, “Guardians of the Galaxy” decides that, while there are explosions aplenty, there’s also room to breathe and not go completely dark and broody. There’s a throwaway line, for instance, in the big, climatic battle over a metropolitan area that “the city has been evacuated.” And, just like that, the fun level goes up, because you don’t have to think about the families getting crushed under endless CGI rubble.

The story follows the adventures of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a boy who finds himself abducted by aliens minutes after his mother passes away. A couple of decades later, Peter is making his way through the galaxy as a thief going by the name of “Star Lord.” A big job goes sideways for him, and he finds himself thrown together with a motley group of aliens: the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the muscular Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), the really very raccoon-like and angry Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the sweet, sentient, walking tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). 

While most of them want to help Quill complete his big job and get rich, Drax only wants revenge against a being named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who killed his family. Fortunately, the other’s big score is tied in with screwing Ronan over, so everyone is on the same page.

The plot can be a little convoluted, but that’s really not the point of the film. There have been comparisons made between this film and “Star Wars” (the 1977 original), and those comparisons stem from watching a film that throws a bunch of misfits together in a strange (to us) world and seeing what happens. Some of it you can predict, and some things just come out of left field. The fact that Rocket and Groot could hold down a film all by themselves is a remarkable bit of filmmaking.

There are rewards for the hard-core comic book fans (Cosmo the telepathic dog is seen a couple of times, and the fact that I was actually watching Knowhere and people talking about the “Infinity Gems” on the big screen was kind of amazing). 

There are other rewards for fans of the Marvel films. We learn more about Thanos, who was the power behind Loki’s plot in “The Avengers,” and we finally meet the Kree, who were alluded to in the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show, so this film fits nicely into the Marvel cinematic universe. 

Beyond all that, though, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a fun film that you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy. You also don’t have the urge to wonder what the body count was at the end of the movie. Superman could take a lesson about that.


Random Observations:

• There was a joke going around when the first animatics for Rocket and Groot were released online, saying that, while DC Comics was trying to figure out how a movie based on Wonder Woman could possibility find an audience, Marvel said “Hey, y’know what would be great? A film featuring a talking raccoon and a tree. Let’s do that.” Wonder Woman will be playing a supporting role in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” (“GotG 2” already has a July 28, 2017 release date, by the way).

• The artifacts in the Collector’s collection is going to be a freeze-frame treasure trove when this thing hits video.

• As with all Marvel films, stick around after the credits for a cameo that you don’t see coming but makes perfect sense when you see it.

    (For more from Dave and the great podcast he co-hosts, go to: )


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