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Because I’ve been behind the times lately, I finally got around to catching a showing of Marvel Studio’s latest offering Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a film that has been brewing for quite a while it seems with a completely insufferable online fanbase. The movie, itself, has been getting some pretty high marks and has pretty much stole the month of August in terms of box office revenue. I’m sure it helps with little-to-no competition. But what did I, Nick, think of this outer space adventure?
It was entertaining. I don’t think it merits the head-over-heels response it has been getting, but it works as an enjoyable and fun movie. I think that James Gunn did a solid job creating this new world within the strict confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has probably created the most visually interesting movie to come out of this mega-franchise yet. This is likely due to the fact that he also wrote the screenplay and the entire film has next-to-nothing to do with the other Marvel films, allowing it to go in its own way.
That said, there is nothing very original in this movie. Oh, it’s fun and there are some nice twist and turns in the story, but at the end of the day, it is a standard chase-after-the-McGuffin affair. It runs a little long with an incredibly simple, simple storyline with a villain who does stuff for, y’know, reasons (seriously, why does Ronan want to destroy those people?). I don’t want to make it sound like I am crapping on the movie for this, but I am trying to illustrate why I am not completely ga-ga over the film the way the rest of the internet seems to be.
The thing that really works Guardians are the characters, led by an incredibly charming Chris Pratt. The thing that these Marvel films do well is add tons and tons of humor into them – most of which works. I can see why people keep flocking to them. It is light, disposable entertainment. Guardians is no exception. The humor from the characters work and it is genuinely funny. Well…with the exception of Karen Gillian who is incredibly flat and dull.
All that being said, I kind of want to switch gears and talk about the “risk” that this movie supposedly took. There has been lots of talk that Guardians was a risk for Marvel Studios, but was it really? I mean, lets really boil this down. What about this movie is in anyway risky? People point to the talking raccoon and anthropometric tree which is completely ridiculous reasoning considering that audiences have lived through the Star Wars prequels which featured a completely CGI main character in Jar-Jar Binks. Say what you will about the character, but people accepted him pretty well. Since that time, several directors put CGI characters into movies without pause.
Let’s look at another August movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While this movie was in production, did anyone comment how it was a risk because they have walking, talking turtles? No, of course not. For that matter, the original 1990 film didn’t face that concern either. Using a talking raccoon as evidence of a risk is a pretty weak argument.
The other case for a risk is that no one has ever heard of these characters before. I suppose that is a legitimate enough concern. On the other hand, at one point, no one ever heard of Darth Vader, Indiana Jones, or the planet of Pandora before either.
I know. Maybe that isn’t fair. Filmmakers never know what’s going to stick with audiences when it comes to “new” ideas. But, unlike those other examples, Guardians had one thing incredibly in its favor: Marvel Studios. Marvel has been producing their own films since 2008’s Iron Man and has had a recognizable presence in Hollywood since 2002’s Spider-Man (and to a lesser extent since 1998’s Blade). After Marvel’s The Avengers, the Marvel name has been a license to print money. Even the dismal Thor: The Dark World earned $206 million at the box office is a much, much more crowded time of year.
Couple all of this with several bankable stars, and Guardians was destined to become a hit. Maybe not to the extent that it ended up being (no competition allows for that), but it was going to successful. The idea that it was some sort of “risk” is absolutely ridiculous.
I know this makes me sound like such a Negative Nick. I do like this movie. I would recommend this film for someone who is looking for something light to enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But as high art, it isn’t. And as a risk for Marvel Studios, it is even less.