Aug 11, 2014

Guardians of The Galaxy

This is what happens for reading reviewers who see so many crap franchises and tentpoles, that they think this is good. The first half hour of the number one movie in the world is an epically boring spectacle. The screen teems with digital stuff and nothing happens. Mindnumbing exposition about the different characters doesn't matter, as they are all as disposable as plastic action figures.
I may not be the target audience, but don't think I am incapable of enjoying a good fun movie (see any Spielbergian romp with dinosaurs or E.T.s). Guardians of The Galaxy is just calculated, mostly soulless dreck. Weren't comics supposed to be non-mainstream, off the wall content for nerds and misfits? As they become a billion dollar industry, they have lost their last shred of cool.
I enjoyed myself only when there was a lull in the space chases and explosions for some half-witted talk among the heroes. The spaces for dialogue seem to come on a timer, as do the meaningless chases and explosions. Entire villages (as my friend Katya says) of visual effects people appear at the end credits. Everything is crammed into the frame and polished to within an inch of its digital life but barely anything is touching, beautiful or awesome. And whenever your eye finds something worth lingering on, a fast cut is sure to swipe it out.
The guardians of the galaxy turn out to be a hastily assembled group of misfits (what else?), each with a chip on their shoulder because some evil guy (Lee Pace) did some evil thing to them. A lot of time is spent on explaining irrelevant details, but none on substance. It would have been nice to know why this comic book version of Dick Cheney wants to be so evil and to what purpose, because destruction for the sake of it is not very convincing, but he is just mean.
Chris Pratt plays the hero. He is very engaging as he tries not die of boredom himself while emoting to a green screen. The plot is about delivering a special ball that harnesses a lot of energy to Glenn Close, who is like the President of the Good Guys (We can safely assume by the red, white and blue color scheme that they mean the US). Close is wasted, as are John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, and other competent actors who probably had a couple more scenes and lines before the mindless action sequences chased them off the frame. The only one who gets to chew the scenery with gusto is the great Michael Rooker.  Bradley Cooper tries to be funny, lending his voice to Rocket, a rather vicious raccoon. He nails it on occasion. At some point Rocket gets his hands on a big weapon and he almost drools with pleasure. I found this repulsive and depressing, but this movie did not offend me as much as other gazillion dollar spectacles have. At least it is not pretentious, hectoring crap like Avatar. Movies that guzzle enough electric energy to sustain a small African country and then preach about the environment are cinema non grata in my book. If Guardians of the Galaxy is teaching us a lesson (one that we have not already learned from all the Pixar movies), please let me know which.
Zoe Saldana, now a minty hospital green, needs to do two things asap: 1. Eat. 2. Get a sense of humor. Eating may restore her sense of humor. She's so thin, she looks like she's on the verge of organ failure. Dave Bautista plays a muscle man who uses big words but has no sense of metaphor (cute) and Vin Diesel lends his voice to an animated tree trunk that only says one line. The jokes are only mildly funny, yet they feel like a balm after all the pointless chasing and shooting. I need to know: Guys, do you really find these fights and chases exciting? I felt like I was lobotomized and injected with paralyzing serum.
One senses that whatever made this script fresh and funny was whittled down to almost the lowest common denominator in the fear that some kid in Uzbekistan or another one in El Salvador may not understand it. This is how billions are made at the global box office. There is less talk and less time to develop characters in favor of more action, even if it is sloppy and confusing. I detected a faint trace of a love story between Pratt and Saldana, but it was so tepid, that I surmise the studio doesn't want to offend anyone in China, or wherever they may frown upon such things. This is unfortunate. American movies used to entice people. They seduced people into experiencing them, even if they had some concepts foreign to an international audience, they expected people to make the leaps needed to connect. And in the best cases they provided enough humanity, humor, and uniqueness to make it happen. I am convinced that the big studios could still make gazillions worldwide with less patronizing scripts. But these franchise movies are made to serve billions of people, like fast food joints.
And they are just as unhealthy and unsatisfying.

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