Friday, February 28, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy"

I heard about "Guardians of the Galaxy" a couple months ago when I read some trivia stating that Zoe Saldana (Uhura in the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies; Neytiri in "Avatar") was going to star in it. At the time, I rolled my eyes: what sort of suck-ass title is "Guardians of the Galaxy"? Who the hell can take that seriously? Even for Marvel, this seemed a stretch, a step off the cliff and a plunge onto the jagged rocks of corniness.

Then I saw the trailer.

And I'm sold. The trailer is hilarious, and "Guardians of the Galaxy," I now know, was never meant to be taken seriously as a title: the whole thing is one huge ironic pose. The movie is based on a Marvel comic that came out only recently—around 2008, I think. I imagine it's supposed to take place in the same Marvel universe as Spider-Man and The Avengers, but it looks to be more of a spiritual cousin of Spielberg/Lucas efforts like "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." In fact, that early scene in the trailer, where Quill grabs the globe, strikes me as a "Raiders" homage to Indy's golden-idol moment in the Peruvian temple.

Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, a.k.a. the arrogantly self-titled Star Lord, who seems to be a young, bumbling fusion of Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Zoe Saldana is Gamora, a deadly, green-skinned assassin who looks as if she would eat James Kirk for breakfast. Physically imposing MMA star Dave Bautista is Drax the Destroyer, who seems very angry about something. Bradley Cooper is the voice of Rocket, a genetically engineered, trigger-happy raccoon with a Napoleon complex. His huge silent partner, the tree-like humanoid Groot, is stoically played by Vin Diesel.

There are two reasons why this trailer was so seductive. First, it was edgier than other Marvel outings. Peter Quill gives the camera the finger; Gamora looks strung out on drugs and not quite sane (Saldana totally sells that look); Rocket Raccoon is shown snarling and firing an automatic weapon; Drax is all business, wanted for 22 counts of murder. Only Groot comes off looking cute and adorable. Together, this motley group gives off a definite Island of Misfit Toys vibe that automatically endears them to me (anyone else get misty when watching that part of the old Christmas special?).

Second, the trailer did two brave and unexpected things: it blasted the 1968 Mark James/BJ Thomas "Hooked on a Feeling," with its primal u-ga chaga u-ga u-ga! chant, and at the very end, it showed our heroes in a criminal lineup, just standing there and doing... well, nothing, except looking around, yawning, and sneering. For five full seconds. That's a lot of air time to waste on characters doing nothing. And I thought that was awesome. It gave us some time just to drink the characters in and to ponder their potential for mayhem.

So "Guardians of the Galaxy" has gone from object of contempt to my newest must-see movie. Judging by the 13.3 million views that the above-linked preview trailer has gotten so far, I'm not alone in thinking this movie is going to rock. The trailer sells itself. The movie comes out in the States this August.



SJHoneywell said...

I';m not trying to sound like a fanboy with this, but Guardians of the Galaxy will either be the most fun movie of the year (except maybe The LEGO Movie) or it will be terrible. I'm not sure there's any middle ground here.

Kevin Kim said...

"Fun" is what struck me about the trailer. Every once in a while, a movie will come along that just looks like a hell of a ride. 1999's "The Matrix" was like that for me—sure, it was a "Where's Waldo?" trove of religion and philo references that added up to nothing coherent, but it was FUN! It was inventive, kooky, and completely unable to take itself seriously, unlike its sequels. I sincerely hope that "Guardians of the Galaxy" is similar in spirit. And I hope there are no sequels.

You're right, though: it could turn out to be a fat, steaming turd. "Man of Steel" had a great preview trailer, but the movie didn't live up to it.