Thursday, August 14, 2014

No, I did NOT like Guardians of the Galaxy, thanks for asking.

I applaud my friend Julian Darius for speaking some uncomfortable truths about "Guardians of The Galaxy" and the larger phenomena of which it is a part.

I saw it with a large group of friends, and while most of them enjoyed the film very much, I, like Julian, came away with a very empty feeling (although I can't detail the reasons why as thoroughly or eloquently as he).  

You'd think this would be because I'm the president of the He-Man Marvel-Haters Club.  It's not.  No, I'm not a fan of Marvel, but they do have their role and it's not a small one.  And (unlike many actual Marvel fans!) I actually enjoy most of Marvel's movies.  I want them to succeed and I want to enjoy them.

But I didn't enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy hardly at all.

Nor am I amused by raccoons who think that tricking people in taking the prosthetic limbs of others is funny.

It was, perhaps, the single MOST predictable film I have ever seen, and tritely so.  Every plot turn, every action, every line, every 'joke'. Oh, there was an occasion event that made me laugh; "Nothing goes over my head" did amuse me, even though, like everything else, it was terribly obvious.  I think the only thing that surprised me in the least was the post-credits cameo.  And that... wasn't exactly a pleasant surprise.  

I'm not a natural enemy of predictability, either.  After all, I'm a horror movie fan, where the genre depends at least a certain degree of predictability. I'm a classicist; we don't ready ANYTHING where we don't already know the end of the story and most of the major plot points along the way. But GotG ain't no Greek play.

I don't think I have as high a set of expectations for comic book movies as Julian does -- I don't NEED comic book movies to be Greek plays -- but I don't need them to combine all the worst flaws of various genres (the treacly family-of-friends film, the cutesy rom-com, the explodey action flick, the universe-saving scifi movie, the plucky underdogs triumph plot, the rogues with hearts of gold travelog, etc.) and then polish them with millions of dollars and (admittedly) charming actors.

Perhaps I don't know WHAT I need in comic books movies.  But I know GotG had almost none of it.  


r duncan said...

I feel the same. Hope the Aquaman movie will be better.

Anonymous said...

I read Julian's review, and it's well-thought-out and well-written. But he says one thing that makes me bristle:

"Then there’s the idea of an alien abductee whose last contact with Earth was in the 1980s (even though his mom’s music is from the previous decade)."

Dude, every single thing about the 80s is ass. EVERYTHING. And the music even moreso than everything else. If StarLord's mom clove to music from the previous decade, it just shows she had good taste.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I thought the linked column almost bordered on parody. It's a textbook example of self-aggrandizing elitism masquerading as an intellectual critique.

GOTG is what it is - a summer blockbuster released in August. Of course it adheres to formulas; that's what mass appeal movie do especially these days when a movie needs to do well overseas to turn a profit. And while I think most movie studios are run by idiots, I'm not pretentious enough to tell someone else how they should spend HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of THEIR dollars.

As for liking or not liking GOTG, I don't know that there is a need to read too much into matters of taste. We like some things. We don't like others. Sometimes we're in the mood to swallow formulas and other times we're not. Enjoyment is a product of preference not quality. I've seen very well made movies that I hated and pretty bad movies that I had grand time watching. It's lovely when the two intersect but anyone who thinks they always intersect needs to get over themselves.

We're on a comic book movie wave; maybe it will last and maybe it will fade our of fashion (like Westerns); either way, like every genre movie, you'll get some crap, lots of mediocre, some good, a few great and every so often something special. And you'll like, love, hate or be indifferent to movies in nearly every category. When you think about it - is that really any different than the comic books themselves?

And comic book fans will be like fans of every single other genre - they'll be those who love the genre so much they'll consume everything indiscriminately (10 seasons of Smallville? Really?); and they'll be those that turn their nose up at everything successful simply because other people are enjoying it. But I'd like to think most people will act like rational consumers - see what we think we'll like and find out at the end of the movie or TV show that sometimes we were right and sometimes we were wrong.

Scipio said...

I thought the linked column almost bordered on parody. It's a textbook example of self-aggrandizing elitism masquerading as an intellectual critique."

Heh; it WAS a bit much, wasn't it?

However it was the ONLY thing I've where a comic book person actually criticizes the film and I was tired of being the only person who didm't seem to have enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

First Anonymous here again. Watched "Guardians of the Galaxy", and Scipio, I can share your disappointment on a couple fronts. Here's my beefs, some not entirely legitimate:

1) Andy Dwyer in "Parks and Recreation" is the gold standard for Chris Pratt utilization. I was hoping to see more of Andy Dwyer's guileless dopey charm, but I understand if it didn't fit the movie.

2) A lot of the movie seemed to happen simply because it was time for the next thing to happen. I didn't always have a sense that the characters were making their choices because of internal motivation, so much as external pressure that came out of nowhere and gave them very little choice.

3) The whole "prisoners overcome their differences and form a semi-cohesive team, in space" has been done much better elsewhere. Watch the pilot episode of "Farscape" and you'll see what I mean: we not only have the obligatory scenes of the escape from oppressive jailers, but good character-revealing moments to demonstrate that the escapees have intelligence, goals, and even ethical codes that they adhere to even if it makes their own lives harder.

4) I would have expected a better character arc for Peter Quill. Yeah, he stopped being selfish, but that didn't happen very organically. The movie established early that Peter was traumatized by his mother's death and so never grew up, but events didn't force him to confront that and overcome it. Again, we've seen it done "right", for example the pilot episode of DS9 (where Ben Sisko had retreated from life after his wife's death in the line of duty, and events finally forced him to start coming to terms with it). For Peter Quill, perhaps the change should have been to hold on less to the reminders of his childhood, and to become more the man his mother could be proud of.

Re: Ronan the Accuser ... I always thought his role on Kree was to be a prosecutor. In German at least, the prosecuting attorney is known as "the accuser", so as alien as "the Accuser" sounds to us English-speaking folks, it may have felt more natural to Lee and Kirby. Also, I liked that Ronan said the closest thing classic Drax had to a catchphrase: "Thanos, I am coming for you!" ("That's what she said!" I'm sure Michael Scott said in a movie theater somewhere.)

Anonymous said...

He gave the movie 3/5 fingers, which for him is a pretty good review. But he does call the movie out on assorted points, which is about as negative a review as this movie tends to get.

Anonymous said...

I must confess that I also a DC fan. I agree that recent Marvel movies have been fabulous (and aploud that) but find this present concept to be so thunderingly trite and binane that I cannot drag myself into a cinema to view it.

No. I will wait until it is out on DVD. I will then, most likely, wait another year until the DVD is remaindered. THAT is when I will, most likely spend $5.00 to purchase the DVD and view this movie. Because (come on, now:) this one WILL be remaindered and sold for cheap if you wait long enough for it.

With that said, I will pass along information that pertaining to a move that I loved back in the day but that (and, yes, I am truly sad about this) proved to be extremely bad (spectacularly awful, even) on reviewing.

I am now writing about Star Wars, Episode 4: A New Hope.

Visit your look store. You might find "Star Wars (by Ian Doescher"): "Verily, A New Hope."

The play, written by the Bard, opon which the first movie was evidently based.

FAR more interesting than some sort of potential blockbuster conerning Marvel characters whom I did not previously know about and whom I am sensing to be either unsavory or lacking of interest.