KHQ REVIEWS: Guardians of the Galaxy - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KHQ REVIEWS: Guardians of the Galaxy

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PHOTO: Marvel Studios PHOTO: Marvel Studios
SPOKANE, Wash. -

I wouldn't call myself a “comic book guy.” However, as a kid, it's hard not to grow up and at some point familiarize yourself with the story of Batman or Superman. I know Bruce Wayne watched his parents get murdered, and that was the turning point that would ultimately lead him down the Dark Knight path. The same with Superman. Everybody knows the origin story. Everybody knows that Superman can be brought down by kryptonite.

But Superman and Batman aren't even for casual fans. They're for everybody. You don't need to be a comic book guy to like them or know them.

Then there are those superheroes who are on the bubble. I didn't know much about Iron Man before Robert Downey Jr. taught me. That's going to rub people the wrong way, but it's the truth. Who actually reads comic books? A lot of people do. A lot. I'm just not one of them. When it comes to comic books, I'm one of the guys who says, “No thanks. I'll wait for the movie.” And with as many comic book movies that Hollywood has crammed down our throats over the past two decades, I would've thought they were about to run out. False.

That's why Guardians of the Galaxy was so weird for me. Going into it, I knew absolutely nothing about the characters. I knew Chris Pratt as the funny, awkward guy from Parks and Recreation. I knew Dave Bautista as Batista from WWE. I knew Zoe Saldana from… well… I'm not sure, but I knew her from somewhere. But I knew nothing of their characters. But when it's Saturday night and your girlfriend agrees to go see either Guardians of the Galaxy or the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie with the most hype behind it is going to win every time, and in this case, it wasn't the latest Michael Bay abomination (though I will still go see TMNT based solely on nostalgia and a yearning for my childhood). In this case, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most hyped up movies I can recall in a long time. Apparently, that's a bad thing.

You see where this is going. So away we went to catch the movie that everyone has been talking about all summer. Since it's release, my Facebook feed has been plugged with, “Guardians of the Galaxy is the best movie ever,” and “Every single second of Guardians of the Galaxy is awesome! Not to be missed!” There were other comments that weren't appropriate for this article, but if you have Facebook, you know what I'm talking about.

Rotten Tomatoes has Guardians ranked as a 92%. IMDB.com already has it ranked as the #46 movie in their Top 250 list! Seriously. That's saying something. But what do critics know, right? Wait… ummm, ignore that last line. They know a lot. Anyway, to say the flick was built up would be an understatement. And maybe that's why it fell short for me. It was a good movie, don't get me wrong. But it just didn't live up to the hype.

The performance by everyone in this movie is remarkable. Chris Pratt makes you forget about his loveable, bumbling Parks and Recreation character and immersed himself as in a loveable, bumbling, butt-kicking character. Though it's hard to be bumbling when you beefed up as much as he did in this movie. Impressive transformation.

Anytime Zoe Saldana is on screen, you find yourself fixated on her. Avatar! That was it! That's where I know her from! Ok, so she's been smoking hot as a blue character and now she's proved she can be smoking hot as a vomit-green colored character. She can do no wrong. And her acting is great too. Yeah.

Then there's Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon. Yes, Bradley Cooper is in this movie. As the voice of a quick-witted Raccoon who is making the best of the experimental genetic hand he was dealt. And he is brilliant. The entire movie, you're trying to find that hint of Bradley Cooper in the voice and you can't. Cooper supposedly based the voice on Joe Pesci's character in Goodfellas, and it shows, but you'd never guess it was Cooper. Voice acting has always seemed like a difficult challenge to me. It's hard to be the voice of a character and not constantly remind the audience who that voice belongs to. The late Robin Williams was phenomenal at it, and Cooper pulls it off in Guardians with ease.

As good as Cooper is, his voice-over counterpart, Vin Diesel is even better as Groot. Which is saying something since Diesel was only required to utter the same three words, “I am Groot” the entire movie with the exception of the one curveball line, “We are Groot.” Doesn't sound hard does it? “Oh, I could say the same three words over and over! Give me my millions of dollars!” you might saying, but Diesel earned his paycheck here. Every time Diesel utters, “I am Groot,” it's said in such a way that even though he's saying the same thing, you know exactly what he means. The raccoon understands. He gets it. It's the Meisner technique of acting at it's finest. Yes, I just gave accolades to Vin Diesel for acting.

Then there's Dave Bautista, or Batista for you wrestling nerds (I can say that because I am one). Bautista has been known for dropping the “U” from his last name and beating the hell out of people inside a WWE wrestling ring for years as Batista. Wrestling requires a certain degree of acting. It's a soap opera after all. You have to make people believe that the only way to avenge your friend's random backstage beat down that was somehow magically captured on live TV by a camera crew who just happened to be in the right place at the right time as your friend was leaving the arena just after saying “Wow, I can't believe how much I love not being attacked by random people for no reason,” is to challenge the jabroni responsible to a tables, ladders and chair match. Logical right? Makes sense right? Somehow that doesn't normally translate to the big screen, but when he heard he got the role, Batista put that “U” back in his name and went and got some acting lessons. It's evident. He delivers comedic lines throughout the film as his character Drax the Destroyer takes everything literally. It makes for some moments.

So let's see: Pratt is awesome, Saldana is hot, Cooper and Diesel inject an incredible amount of life into essentially cartoon characters, and Ba(u)tista puts The Rock on notice that he's the next big acting juggernaut to make the transition from the wrestling ring to the acting ring. So what's wrong with this movie?

Well, Pratt's character is abducted by aliens, who look exactly like humans but are blue, when he is a kid immediately following his mother's death. Like immediately. Seriously. His mom dies in the hospital, he runs outside and a big ray of light hits him and he's taken away in a spaceship. Right in front of the hospital. That's it. Then instead of following him through his youth as an alien hostage and possibly getting some sort of back-story, we are immediately taken 26 years into the future where Pratt has apparently adjusted to his lost childhood and now works as some sort of treasure hunter/grave robber, bouncing from planet to planet, searching for artifacts while dancing to the mix tape in his walkman. The batteries apparently still work too. 26 years later and either Pratt found some AA's at an intergalactic gas station, or we are to believe that Duracells are just that fantastic. They should've bought some of that subliminal ad time. I can hear the Jeff Bridges voiceover now: “When you are kidnapped by a spaceship in the 1980's and all you brought with you was your Walkman, only one battery will be with you on that 26 year journey. Duracell.”

If I don't take issue with the battery situation, then there's the fact that he's listening to the same tunes over and over, yet still manages to enthusiastically dance to them as if it's the first time he's heard them. You know when people asked you the hypothetical scenario of “What ten songs could would you take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?” Pratt's character actually lives out that scenario, and seems to enjoy it. I can't imagine the music in his new galaxy is that bad, but then again, most of the music here on Earth these days is horrible. At least Guardians gives us a decent soundtrack to follow along with, including a gem by David Bowie. And the whole time (SPOILER ALERT) he's got another mix tape wrapped up in a present that his mother gave him right before she died! He could've been listening to at least ten other songs for the past 26 years, but for whatever reason chose not to open that present.

Anyway, Pratt finds an orb that apparently contains some sort of magical infinity rock that will destroy anything it touches. Sounds a lot like The Fifth Element doesn't it? In the wrong hands, this orb could be bad. Oh wait, that's how we're able to have a movie, because it does get into the wrong hands. Some dude named Ronan who wants to destroy the universe. I never understand that. Why do villains want to destroy the universe? They do realize that if they destroy everything, that includes them, right?

A giant bounty hunt ensues. The Guardians begin as enemies, then evolve into enemies working together towards a common goal, then eventually become friends and decide they want to change their names to “The Guardians of the Galaxy.” Bunch of crazy, loveable, misfits they are.

But that's it. It's mostly like any other superhero movie you've seen. If you like The Avengers or Iron Man, you'll like this movie. It's not bad in the slightest, but if you've seen The Avengers, you've seen Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, that's not a bad thing, but the originality factor that Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy had is non-existent.

The acting is superb. The effects are mind-blowing. The plot is predictable. Your Facebook friends love it. In fact everyone loves it. I liked it. It didn't live up to the unattainable hype, but I have no regrets about parting with the $10.50 ($21.00 because I paid for my girlfriend, because I'm a gentleman) it cost me to see it. In the end, we're treated to the guarantee that “The Guardians will be back!” I'll see it. Most definitely. Though I might stay off of Facebook prior to catching it. Heck, I might even go pick up a comic book to prepare.

My number one disappointment in this movie was my own fault. Apparently if you stick around through the credits, Howard the Duck makes an appearance. Seriously! HOWARD THE DUCK! Remember him? He starred in one of the most awesome, yet horrible movies ever made in the 1980's. I of course love it, because there's that nostalgia factor.

Speaking of nostalgia, next stop: A trip to Michael Bay's New York City for some radiation-poisoned adolescent reptiles beating people up through the ancient art of kung-fu.

 

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