Monday, January 12, 2015

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Copyright: Walt Disney Studios
Guardians of the Galaxy movie is a merciless beast. It mainly targets the generation that fondly remembers the 80’s, but does this in a sort of haze. In this memory mist, things like cool cartoons and funky music are present, while things like chemical attacks of Iran-Iraq war are inconspicuously missing.

This comes from the fact that this nostalgia is being sold to people who were kids in that weird decade, or just leaving their true childhood. Those born in the early 70’s have nothing to do in this historical fantasy, mainly because they most likely didn’t play with spike-hair trolls or weren’t that amazed when they got their first Walkman in 1986.

In many other aspects, the film is coldly calculated to please its demographics. It plays on its own absurdity and lack of fame when it comes to popular culture (not many have heard about characters like Rocket before 2014) and its distance from much bigger franchise series made by Marvel. On the other hand, it dumps names, places and characters seemingly without any sense of tact, even to those viewers who are not familiar with the wider universe (who are the majority). But, with much cunning and no apparent strain, it is feeding every part of the demographics, like a great Pixar film, giving chunks to kids, teenagers and adults alike.

Guardians of the Galaxy is simply an unhateable film. Its director James Gunn is a much bigger scholar of Hollywood than anyone could imagine just a few years ago when he made art like Super, a movie that is both small and risky. He is so sly in this manner that he even opens the film with a kid losing his mother to cancer, following by an out-of-space dance routine to a catchy pop tune. This is seemingly strange, but under the surface, Gunn is obviously one of those people who can listen to corporate metrics about the audience and then cram some unexpected things in there to improve the test viewer scores.

On the other side of the lens, Guardians of the Galaxy cast was also predefined. Only one among them who was designed to stand out was Chris Pratt as Peter Quill or Star Lord. Everyone else is CGI constructed or wearing so much make up that they character could be interpreted by any actor in the world. This was a chance for Pratt and Gunn to take a huge chunk out of that blockbuster pie and they did it with a samurai sword.

Still, unlike the similar but god-afoul Interstellar, this corporate child is fun to watch. It doesn’t preach and it doesn’t bore, which is very nice to see. While it is definitely a merciless corporate product of market share expansion into new comic book asset waters, it’s still very enjoyable.