Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy is a rowdy ruckus of a movie. It's Galaxy Gone Wild.
It's a prime example of the brave new world of cinema. It's released in three different presentations: IMAX-3D, 3D, and Digital without 3D.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a gorging of special effects. It starts with special effects and ends with special effects. And, there are special effects in the middle.
The lively characters dodge, but they're buffeted mercilessly.
It doesn't matter that it's part mishmash. The effects carry the galaxy - and the day.
After his mother dies, the grieving, young Peter Quill is beamed into a spacecraft. The film then jumps 26 years where Quill (Chris Pratt) is a "ravager," splashing about on the planet Morag.
Eventually Quill bonds with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) to save the universe from near total extermination by villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Thanos (Josh Brolin).
"Enact immolation initiative," is the evil order.
Director James Gunn keeps Guardians of the Galaxy spinning nearly out of control. With co-writer Nicole Perlman, he creates dialogue that lurches from coy to arch to amusing. But it's not quite as witty as he probably thinks it is.
Quill says that he is "from a planet of outlaws - Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, and John Stamos." If that's an inside joke, it's not clever. If it's not an inside joke, it's really not clever.
And director Gunn doesn't know the pronunciation of falcon in an allusion to The Maltese Falcon. "Foul-con" is the car and the football team, "Fall-con" is the bird from the 1947 film. But this is the new cinema.
Chris Pratt makes a good 21st-century Harrison Ford. As Peter Quill, he's a winning mixture of doubt and braggadocio.
I don't wish to go back to the days of Flash Gordon, but in 2014 cinema, violence doesn't build. In scene after scene, it's omnipresent. There's little, if any, arc. Violence is flat-lined. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, violence in films today is worth half a word.
The best element in Guardians of the Galaxy is the intoxicating collection of songs from the 1970s. It gives the film bounce, heart, and spirit.
And bouncing spirit is embodied in the annoyingly irrepressible Rocket Raccoon. He'll probably remain in the mind a long time after the special effects in Guardians of the Galaxy have been forgotten and replaced by special effects in the next blockbuster.
Long live raccoons that aren't so special.