Monday, August 11, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Thoughts

Honestly, everyone's probably already seen it...at least once...at this point.

After all, at the ten day mark, the latest offering from the MCU had made $313.2 million including $40.1 million overseas - surprisingly, the top foreign market for the film was Russia...perhaps because of the small guest appearance by Cosmo.

So, why is this news?

It's news because this is a movie that stars, no joke, a talking raccoon who loves guns and his partner, a tree (voiced beautifully by Vin Diesel).

Well, technically, the star is the Han Solo-esque Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt, but honestly? The raccoon and the tree were what people first started talking about. Well, that and a bit about green Zoe Saldana - who apparently loved the role.

DC tried superhero space opera with the mediocre Green Lantern. Marvel, apparently, took one look and countered with...a raccoon and a tree.

Bluntly, the concept of this movie spoke more of some kind of bizarre Star Wars parody than anything else...then the trailers started coming out. The sequel was greenlighted based off of the buzz. Then pre-sales hit Fandango and the movie became the highest August pre-seller in the ticket retailer's history. As Rocket Raccoon says when thrown a gun bigger than him. "Oh....yeah."

So, what the heck is it about this movie?

The first thing is that it crosses three different audiences.

It's a comic book movie, building on the dominance of the MCU of not just the superhero genre but sci-fi as general, and attracted superfans of the comic who added to the buzz.

It's also classic space opera, with all of the tropes that we remember from Flash Gordon and Star Wars. The daughter of the evil emperor is there in the form of Gamora, adopted daughter and personal weapon of the mad titan Thanos. Who, of course, betrays him. The Han Solo-esque rogue is visible in both Star Lord/Peter Quill and Rocket. In fact, one of the thoughts I had during the movie was "Damn, if Episode 1 had been this good."

And, I haven't laughed so much at a movie in years. So, it also pulled in at least part of the comedy audience. And made them watch sci-fi.

This movie had everything. It had huge set piece space battles. It had dogfights. It had assorted aliens - and while there isn't much space to create fascinating aliens in the space of a feature film, there were at least nods to these people not just being funny looking humans. It had a bad guy with absolutely no redeeming qualities who met appropriate comeuppance. And the entire core cast were ne'er-do-wells who found the heroism within themselves at the right moment.

But most of all this movie gave the same sense of everyone just having fun that...well...you don't see very often. The first of the new Star Trek movies got the edge of it, but the second was too professional and serious. Green Lantern? The people behind it didn't get space opera at all. They didn't get the difference between space opera and science fiction, tried to do the former and ended up with a bastard combination of the two that made the movie only average.

We haven't had a movie that captured the original Star Wars since, really, Return of the Jedi. Not at the big budget level. Until now. And with Disney working on the next Star Wars movie - what about it, guys? Can we get at least a little bit of the spirit of this movie into it? It was a breath of fresh air into all of the serious "science fiction" being made lately.

Thank you Marvel and Disney.

(Okay. I will add. The movie was not perfect...specifically, the prologue. The prologue demonstrated exactly why we tell novice writers not to do prologues. I was wondering where my movie was...should have been a flashback, guys).