Guardians of the Galaxy
As if it wasn’t bad enough that we’ve already had to endure one kiddie-fied, childhood-memory-raping Star Wars trilogy reboot, J.J. “I promise you Lost won’t end with some weak-ass purgatory cop out.” Abrams (LIAR!) is busy birthing another one, the hype for which already threatens to drown out all other information on the Interwebs. Because Hollywood can never, ever go back to the same well too many times, Marvel has filed the serial numbers off that once-venerable franchise, gussied it up with more CGI than a George Lucas wet dream and vomited forth Guardians of the Galaxy.
But where the original Star Wars trilogy had strong, clearly motivated, memorable heroes and villains, Guardians of the Galaxy offers up a band of trifling malcontents characterized chiefly by either body paint or throw away catchphrases trying to keep a MacGuffin out of the hands of one of the most generic and least threatening bad guys since trees – yes, fucking trees - in Shyamalan’s The Happening. And at least a Ponderosa Pine wouldn’t fall for a lamely transparent distraction at the penultimate moment before its grand scheme to destroy a planet is about to come to fruition. If only Guardians‘ black hat had half a brain and a fully operational Death Star rather than just bad makeup and a glowing space rock.
Speaking of which, if you’re aiming to maximize your cross-property synergies with the goal of maximum cultural saturation and revenue stream positive audience capture, why wouldn’t the Fuckwit Crystal, or whatever its called, be the same (or, fine nerds, a part of or cousin to the) Tesseract from the Avengers franchise?
What’s that, Marvel? You say that the Tesseract and, for that matter, the Aether from Thor: The Dark World are, in fact, Fuckwit Crystals just like the one in Guardians? So, really, the end game for the entire Marvel cinematic universe and the dozen or so movies looming between now and then is the Infinity Gauntlet, which is powered by the Fuckwit Crystals. Way to bury the lead, geniuses.
During the 1980s, a child, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), refuses to hold his mother’s hand as she’s literally dying – there’s nothing like building sympathy for your protagonist right from the start, eh? – then promptly gets abducted by aliens. 26 years of presumable anal probing later, he’s committed the unpardonable sin of giving himself a nickname and compounded his folly by choosing one as nonsensically idiotic and unnecessarily hyphenated as Star-Lord. He’s not particularly bright, able or honest, but he’s your de facto hero. Sigh.
After obtaining the world-destroying MacGuffin, Quill eventually joins up with a C-Team of ill-conceived, poorly characterized and even less well-motivated nimrods. There’s Gamora (Zoe Saldana in green-face rather than her Avatar blue-face and not to be confused with another similarly-named, green-skinned warrior, Godzilla’s own Gamera), an allegedly deadly assassin who gets the shit beat out of her more frequently than Rihanna during the Chris Brown years.
Drax (Dave Bautista), a steroid-pumped, semi-indestructible-except-when-he’s-not ex-con, seeks revenge for the death of his family (now there’s a brand spankin’ new motivation no one has ever thought to use before). Director James Gunn must have believed that having musclebound former professional wrestler Bautista utter SAT vocabulary words like “irksome” was the height of hilarity. Guess what? It ain’t.
An odd couple with more blatant (and cross-species) homosexual overtones than Oscar and Felix or, for that matter, Bert and Ernie, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) exist as fully CG creations. Hailing apparently from that part of the galaxy’s Newark, Rocket is a New Joisey-accented raccoon with anger management issues, and Groot is a sentient, ambulatory tree gifted more-than-a-bit-too-conveniently with whatever special super power the plot calls for at any given moment. You can just see Cooper lounging around in his pajamas lazily recording his dialogue between lines of coke, and Groot only says, “I am Groot.” so why Gunn felt he needed to pay Diesel’s quote when virtually any of the legion of unemployed actors out there with a deep voice would have happily done it for scale is a mystery for the ages.
Oh, and Michael Rooker plays Quill’s alien abductor/adoptive father with the same raspy Southern drawl he’s used in every role since Mallrats. This guy’s got less range than a check out counter water pistol.
Space ships zip and zing. Ray guns go “zap.” Logic and the laws of physics get pummeled worse than Cleveland Williams at the hands of Muhammad Ali, and in the end a ragtag band of misfits learns the value of friendship and becomes a family of sorts. And, of course, none of it inspires even a single fuck to be given. Hurray for Hollywood.
August 3, 2014