Monday, August 04, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy": Chris Pratt "Makes the A-List", while Rocket (the raccoon, with Bradley Cooper's voice) steals the whole show

Guardians of the Galaxy”, directed by James Gunn, first struck me (in news reports) as “early August” popcorn stuff, from Marvel, with a story that was divorced from much relevance.  I have to say, having seen it in 3D today, that the setting on planet Xander is rather fascinating. The main capital city looks like a cross between Dubai, Shanghai, and a Disney theme park (Walt Disney Productions is the distributor, instead of Paramount), with lots of canals and lagoons.  You hope the planet doesn’t have global warming.  I felt ready to buy a condo in one of the luxury buildings and move in.  Could you get something decent for $500000?  Does the dollar work as currency there? Is Facebook available?
The city will be ransacked at the end by villain Ronan, but suddenly recover nicely for the closing shots.
Seeing this film at Regal in Ballston (before a fair weekday out-of-school audience), I couldn’t tell if the first scene, where a boy Peter Quill tends to his cancer-stricken mother in the hospital in 1988, was another preview, or the start of the feature movie.  Regal is the only major chain that doesn’t announce that it is starting the feature with its own trademark.  (Regal gives us an animated 3-D space station roller coaster ride before the previews start, and it’s impressive.)   Marvel and Disney didn’t use their trademarks to announce the movie either (until after the 10-minute prologue). 

The boy has a cassette player and deck for 80s-style music.  26 years later, Peter is a space cadet played by Chris Pratt, now 35 in real life, and looking leaner and more solid than in some previous films.  How he could have gotten to a planetary system at the other end of the Milky Way by 2014 (over 27000 light years) is a bit of a mystery, but this is the world of comics. Peter apparently left Earth with a cassette deck, and he still enjoys 70s and 80s music.   The other characters include Rocket (a raccoon who looks and behaves like a fox, with Bradley Cooper for a voice), and tree-man Groot (Vin Diesel), rather out of Tolkien, as well as villain Ronan (Lee Pace) and Gamora (Zoe Saldona).   Peter is very much hunted after discovering the “infinity orb” owned by Ronan. 

The innards of the space station are less real, seeming like the inside of a steel mill.  And some of the other planets (or maybe the countryside in Xander) is super desert, putting Utah and even Death Valley to shame.  (Much of the shooting was done in Australia.) 

At the end, Rocket shows the typical “animal” grasp of morality. “Why can’t I take something from someone else if I want it more than he does?”  That’s how a cat thinks, or a fox, or a raccoon.  Maybe the really is no currency on Xander, and everything is done by karma points, like it was one big intentional community.

The idea of "saving the universe" might having something to do with "soul families" in the "Afterlife" movbie I reviewed July 28;  for beings with "free will" to oppose entropy in the universe, tbey must not only reproduce but sometimes sacrifice for the common good. Some of the script lines refer to "guardians of the universe" instead of (just) the galaxy (Milky Way).
This film may show that Chris Pratt has made the A-list (and “Make the A-List” is the name of one of my scripts, from 2002!)  The Washington Post has a story about Pratt’s career here.
I had met Chris Pratt and Gregory Smith, who had starred in “Everwood”, back in August, 2005, at an event at the King of Prussia Mall near Philadelphia, pictures here. At the mall party, I talked about the military gay ban and Internet censorship (COPA, as being challenged then by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) with both actors and got an autographed group photo (shown on the other blog posting).  Pratt played the somewhat reckless teen character “Bright” on Everwood, and will cause a serious accident in Season 1 that builds much of the plot.  Smith plays the piano prodigy. Smith now acts in and produces “Rookie Blue” for ABC. 

Marvel has a site to “map” the world of this movie, here.  It’s pretty obvious that this movie – and its “geography” – can generate video games and even conventional board games. I believe this is the top box-office grosser in 2014, in a year with low theatrical attendance numbers and profits for major studios. 

Pictures: Chris the Fox (my yard, top of this posting). Nickname him Rocket also if you like, but he can probably learn to respond to just one name.  He is a very alert "wild animal". Also, a miniature “Dubai” from my train set – intended to model a civilization on another planet.  

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