Guardians of the Galaxy
August 2, 2014
I’ve never seen anything like this.
I mean, I have. This is the ragtag group of misfits on the run who must come together and learn to trust each other in order to defeat bad guys who want to destroy the world. That, I’ve seen. But never with a CGI raccoon person that was so good I forgot he was CGI. And with gorgeous spaceships in a beautiful four-color space opera world. And that’s genuinely a comedy. With an amazing classic 70’s soundtrack that was totally appropriate. (And to think, when the 1980 Flash Gordon came out, people laughed at the idea that you could have a 70’s pop soundtrack on a space opera. They’re not laughing now. I mean, they are, but they’re supposed to be.) The whole thing cohered.
And though I’ve never seen anything quite like this, it kept reminding me of other things.
For a few years after Star Wars was first released, a lot of people tried to hop on that train, because of course they did. Unfortunately, none of those efforts had Lucasfilm’s proprietary special effects processes, meticulous production design, charming cast, earnestness, or ability to become a genuine cultural phenomenon. The Star Wars-wannabe I always think of as being a prime example of this is Battle Beyond the Stars, produced by the legendary Roger Corman. Go on, go watch the trailer, so you can understand just what we’ve had to put up with if we wanted to watch space opera.
So yeah, I’m watching Guardians and weirdly thinking about Battle Beyond the Stars, because of course Guardians is the movie all those Star Wars knock-offs wished they could be.
The other movie this brought to mind, mentioned by one of my friends, is The Last Starfighter. Because Guardians made us feel like The Last Starfighter did when we were all teenagers or almost teenagers and really wanted to go have an adventure that meant something.
While Guardians made me think of all those other things, it still isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. Which is so cool. And you know my developing rant about how we’re all starved for earnest and optimistic stories where people come together and save things unironically? This. This this this. Right here. They just went for it, and it’s great. This movie is a throwback, in the best possible way, which makes the 70’s soundtrack even more thematically appropriate.
You know what this movie didn‘t have? An opening scroll and/or voiceover. SEE, SPACE MOVIES, YOU DON’T NEED AN OPENING SCROLL AND VOICEOVER OR LONG EXPOSITORY INFODUMPS. YOU JUST DON’T.
Easter Eggy Review:
The epilog/first pre-credits bit: This may be the happiest, most joyful scene in a movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Even now I think of it and smile. This will make me smile forever.
Post-credit Easter Egg: Marvel Studios says, “You thought you were going to get an Avengers 2 teaser here, didn’t you? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!” Followed by everyone leaving the theater muttering, “Dear God, please tell us they aren’t actually going to be making a movie of that.”
Ten movies into this cycle/saga, and Marvel Studios can still surprise us. I love it.