Monday, September 01, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy, the few pluses and the far too many shortcomings…
Let me start by putting out the fires: I'm not about to say that this was a "bad" movie. How could I possibly say such a thing? It wouldn't be fair. The movie is in fact quite marvellous to watch! It was quite entertaining… as a stand-alone movie, a movie that you would watch without any regard for the decades of Guardians comic-books and story arcs. If you don't know anything about what the story was, what the point of it was, what the philosophy of it was.. If you don't know anything about what Guardians of the Galaxy was supposed to be, then you're fine. Prepare for 1.5 hours of awesome entertainment!
Visually speaking, it's a pretty movie. I really love their visualization of "Nowhere". The make-up and costumes were pretty good. Special effects are great. There's a ton of nice fight scenes and explosions. ;) If you're into that sort of thing.
But then if you're like me, if you've waited forever and a half for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and then you go and see this… then you're in something of a trouble.
Guardians and I.. well.. let's just say we have history. ;) For the longest time it was this peculiar set of story arcs out of Marvel's never so popular cosmic side. When you mentioned it to people, the reactions ranged from "What's that? I've never heard of that!" to "Oh right it's something to do with Avengers right?". Guardians of the Galaxy was this more or less ignored concept that every once in a while got picked up by one of Marvel's bolder writers, changed in various ways, published for a while and forgotten again. That is until 2007, when by some miracle, the geniuses of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning [alias DnA] got their hands on it.
When DnA started writing Guardians, it had been a while since anyone had paid any attention to the whole thing. Stalking Adam Warlock as I generally do, I landed on the Annihilation/Annihilation Conquest series and the new DnA Guardians. And hot damn, it took my breath away.
The DnA era was the true age of glory for the Guardians! The best possible characters were put together, and their parallel development was fantastically well done! These were, to me, the best written comics that ever came out of Marvel. DnA's Guardians with the ties to Nova, Silver Surfer and many other interesting characters, concepts and species, managed to bring Marvel cosmic back to life. And with that came attention.
I'm not sure exactly what happened but it looked like all of a sudden someone in Marvel came to the conclusion that some money could be made out of this! Guardians was taken from DnA, and handed to Bendis. A pop-culture writer who was in no way compatible with the mentality behind Guardians' story lines. By the time the production of a movie was announced, it was pretty obvious that there was no hope of DnA having anything to do with it. Heck, they weren't even consulted.
When I was told that the movie is not going to be all that much related to the new Bendis Guardians, I thought perhaps there would be a chance that the producers would follow in the lines of what made DnA's Guardians such a treasure. Trailers looked exciting enough, and I figured perhaps all isn't lost.
Well, no such luck.
The biggest issue with the movie is also the first one that slapped me in the face as the movie started. And that, is over simplification of the characters. You see, the whole fun of Guardians was that the characters were complex, odd, and unpredictable. Oh, and not a single one of them was made for team work.
Gamora doesn't do nice and friendly. She's just far more of a b**ch than has been portrayed here, and no, she would NEVER work for anyone least of all Ronan, that's just not in her character. Peter Quill is well aware of his own origins and heck, the idea of getting back at his own father eventually is one of the biggest factors in him becoming who he is. And he doesn't come from a space-pirate background, he comes from a freaky science background. And since when is Drax a retard? This is Drax the destroyer, he was made to counteract Thanos in every possible way including intellectually. He's supposed to be cunning as hell. It makes me want to sit down and cry over what they've done to him. Rocket knows he's a Racoon. Heck his full name is ROCKET RACCOON gosh darn it! Oh and he would never in a million years get emotional over some idiot calling him a rodent. And since when is Ronan the Accuser this dishonorable psychopath? Are we talking about the same Ronan here? [Please refer to the last picture below.]
And then there was Groot. Oh, this was probably one of the few truly brilliant points of the movie. =) When I want to think positively about the movie, I generally think that this movie was just about Groot. Here was something really positive. I think Groot's character has never been so well developed, explored and realized as it has been in this movie. I looooved his looks, his movements, his eyes, how he beat people up, and most of all I loved the "We are Groot" scene. So yes, one for the plus.
But I'm afraid a single well developed character doesn't make up for the intellectual slaughter of the rest of them. These brilliant thought-provoking characters have been dumbed down to the point of annihilation! And well, characters that couldn't be dumbed down were simply left out.
The movie is full of dull auxiliary characters, while the brilliant central ones are missing. The few that are still there, are suffering serious cases of lobotomy. It felt like the producers simply couldn't handle anything that wasn't totally pop-culture compatible. The lack of these characters at what is supposed to be the formation of the group, leaves huge plot gaps. Without Mantis this group of anti-social delinquents wouldn't for a million years stick together. Without the influence of Warlock and then Richard Rider [the only Nova that ever really mattered], Gamora would simple not be interested in collaborating with anyone. And if you think she'd consent to go to her death after receiving a 2 minute pep talk from someone she's known for 2 days, think again. Without Martyr [and yes I'm going to keep calling her that 'cause that's her coolest version of her by far ] there is no Moondragon. And of course there's no trace of [any] Quasar anywhere to be seen.
Gamora, Rocket, Starlord, Warlock, Drax, Martyr
The dialogues are weak and shallow. It appears to me that the producers didn't really grasp the type of humour Guardians is supposed to have. The casting left a lot to be desired. Vin Diesel did a brilliant job with Groot. But the rest, as much as they are probably good actors, are just not what they should be for their roles. e.g.: As much as I am a fan of her previous performances, Zoe Saldana is just not right for Gamora, and Chris Pratt is totally not Peter Quill. At the risk of causing more fires, I'd say this movie should have had Joss Whedon and DnA at the helm, and a [mostly] British cast.
Now of course there are rumours going around already about more of the central characters making an appearance in the sequels. Given what I've seen so far, that actually worries me. I mean I'm sorry to say, but James Gunn directing Adam Warlock is looking rather unthinkable right now, and I wonder, who can they even cast for the role? This would require someone in the calibre of Alec Newman, Michael Sheen, or at least Sam Heughan [yes, I realise, Scottish – Welsh – Scottish.. wasn't on purpose but it's not a surprise]. And something tells me that's not the kind of actor they would be adding to this cast. *sight*….
Ronan, Warlock, Martyr, Starlord. The dream team, Annihilation Conquest. And yes that's Ronan there.
So yes. I can watch the latest Captain America movie and be very happy with it, and write a very positive review of it. Because Captain America never had much of a plot till now. You see, I am all for changing the story, when it's in the direction of adding depth, making a point, creating food for thought. Captain America got smarter, Avengers got smarter, heck X-Men got smarter… But unfortunately Guardians of the Galaxy has been intellectually undermined, and this is simply unacceptable.
On the sarcastically positive side, after watching the movie, I feel that the Bendis comics are not altogether that bad. At least he's paying some respect to the existing plot-lines, and he's not lobotomizing the characters completely…