Tag: Guardians of the Galaxy (page 2 of 2)

Rise of the Guardians (Of The Galaxy)

Courtesy Moarvel Studios

I know there are folks out there who try to live spoiler-free. I can’t say I blame them. Walking into a new film with fresh eyes and clean expectations is a good thing. For them, I’ll be putting most of this post behind spoiler tags. In my position, I admit to a level of concern when it comes to the Guardians of the Galaxy film opening on August 1. Both Dan Abnett and Brian Michael Bendis have done great things with the comics, and I’m fine with an adaptation deviating from the source material if done well. On the whole, I’m cautiously optimistic and very enthusiastic about the film’s release.

For the most part, the sneak peek event I was fortunate enough to attend on Monday reinforced most of my expectations. Folks, if you have had faith in Marvel Studios so far, in terms of quality films that bring comic book heroes to vibrant life, as well as portraying them as characters with depth, that faith will continue to be justified. I’ll go into detail below, but I can honestly say I am not just excited about, but also confident in, Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you’re cool with spoilers, read on.


Right from the off, I’ve had good feelings about this film. The reason why was apparent in the opening of the footage shown on Monday: an extended version of the line-up seen in the first trailer. The big difference was that Thanos was almost immediately name-dropped when Rhomann Dey was going over Gamora’s rap sheet. While there is bound to be a bunch of exposition in this film, as the Guardians are relatively unknown in relation to the Avengers, what we’ve heard is handled pretty well, and a good portion of it is coming from Rocket.

Speaking of Rocket, it seems that when we open our story, the pint-sized gun-toting mammal is the de facto leader of this group of misfits, laying out plans and keeping spirits up. He’s described as a ‘tactical genius’ but we actually see it in action, which is good. Equally good is Bradley Cooper’s voice work for Rocket. The attitude is palpable, and the CGI is impressive. There’s a shot in the extended trailer where Rocket is calling out Ronan (more on him later) and his ears are back and his tail agitated. I love such attention to detail. Finally, there’s a quiet moment when we see Rocket’s cybernetic implants, and the scene in shot and scored in such a way that we get a vibe from Rocket not unlike Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution: he never asked for this. He’s very angry, and we start to see why.

Rocket is, of course, not alone. It’s easy to make fun of Vin Diesel and how he got handed the voice work for a ‘simple’ character – Groot, after all, has a three-word vocabulary. Thankfully, though, as in the comics, Groot’s language is actually very nuanced. Every time he says ‘I am Groot’, he is saying something different. This is clear in Diesel’s inflections and the facial expressions on the CGI-crafted walking tree. Again, this is impressive work. Be he flinging people around or letting Star-Lord climb him to reach a higher level within the Kyln (the prison to which they’re sent in the beginning), Groot moves with weight and has a definite presence.

Speaking of Star-Lord, I really like the fact that he seems out of his league surrounded by the others at first. These misfits with whom he’s been thrown are definitely the sort to bring out the best in him. I feel like he’s not only our point-of-view character, he’s also going to have a definite arc. He’s coming from a place of relative isolation and aimless wandering, clinging to what he can. The lines delivered when a Kyln guard takes his Walkman feel like they come from a very raw, personal place. He feels like a character audiences are going to get behind without much trouble.

Of the whole scene we saw, I have to say what impressed me most was the direction they’re going with Drax. Somewhat of a taciturn presence in the comics, the film has changed him from an uplifted human with a singular purpose – killing Thanos – to a member of an alien species that do not understand metaphors and are quite happy to get into a fight. Rather than simply brooding and smoldering, Bautista is given loquacious lines that describe to whom he’s speaking, allowing him to act as a straight man to the proceedings. I’m very excited to see more of this version of Drax in action.

I left Gamora for last among the principles because, to be honest, she’s the character I’m the most concerned about. As much as it seems they’ve nailed her attitude and approach to challenges – don’t ask how she got the remote off of that guard’s arm – I fear that they also cast her in the role of rolling her eyes at the conversations and antics of the others the way a mother would. However, that’s mostly from the trailer – in the footage I saw, her line is “I am going to die surrounded by idiots.” Better, but still worrisome. I could potentially be concerned over nothing, but Gamora needs to be an interesting and compelling character on her own, not just part of the mix so we have the token girl acting as a spoilsport around the idiot boys. It’s been seen quite a few times before, and I think she deserves better than that.

We also finally get a good look at our on-the-ground villain, Ronan.

Courtesy Marvel Studios

He looks a little terrifying. Ronan the Accuser is kind of a cosmic Judge Dredd. Considering that all five of our heroes operate outside of most galactic laws, and more than likely in direct defiance of Kree laws, Ronan has good motivation for hunting them, outside of being a lackey of Thanos. The Novas know that Gamora and Nebula were ‘loaned out’ to Ronan by Thanos, but we don’t know why. I suspect that the orb we see Star-Lord trying to pinch when he gets caught by Korath the Pursuer (another Kree, in case you didn’t know) was resting in a Kree vault, meaning Ronan definitely has an axe (or, in his case, hammer) to grind.

As much as I might have ‘spoiled’ some things for myself, there’s so much I don’t know. I can suspect, but I am not certain. My thinking is that upon escaping the Kyln, our heroes will flee to Knowhere (the big floating head seen in the trailers), and that might be where the Collector is hanging his hat. From there the plot would likely develop with Peter wanting to save the galaxy and needing to convince the others to help him do it. But I only suspect that’s the case. I don’t know what role Nebula is going to play – is she a spy for Thanos in Ronan’s camp? Will Ronan need to be put down as a war criminal, or will he realize that his pursuit of his vision of justice will mean the loss of innocent lives? I have questions, and a few concerns, but considering how good things look, the direction this seems to be taken, and the peerless quality of what I’ve seen and heard so far, only one question really matters.

Is it August yet?

Let’s Watch the Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer!

Courtesy Marvel Studios

Normally this is my Writer Report slot, but one of the movies I’ve been the most excited about in a long time finally got a full-length trailer last night, and as much as I’m sure other, bigger sites are doing write-ups of it, I want to get my own two cents out there because people should see this when it comes out. So, in case you missed it on Jimmy Kimmel last night, or if you just want to watch it again, here’s the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Breaking it down:

In General: This is really encouraging. Guardians is Marvel’s gutsiest move to date. None of these characters or worlds are anywhere near as well-known as The Avengers are these days, and the House of Ideas have a bit of an uphill battle getting butts in the seats. This trailer is a masterful move. It introduces the characters (we’ll get to them), gives us a bit of the alien worlds and cultures we’ll be dealing with, and hooks us with familiar music, promises of action, and tastes of the film’s comedy. Speaking of which…

Tone: Some folks may be upset that Marvel tends to lean towards the comedic side of things, from Tony Stark’s constant wise-cracking to some of Loki’s less genocidal antics. However, anybody who’s read Guardians in the last few years, be it written by Dan Abnett or Brian Michael Bendis, will tell you that the tone set by the trailer matches the tone of the books exactly. Despite the grave threats they face protecting Earth and other worlds from on a daily basis, the Guardians never take their work or themselves too seriously, especially…

Star-Lord: As the human character of the group, Peter Quill’s the audience surrogate and access point for the weird and wonderful cosmic world we’re going to be seeing. Again, the tone of the character feels pretty spot-on. The characters who don’t know him (Korath, the Nova Corps, etc) have a really hard time taking him seriously, which is kind of perfect. It already feels like a refreshing change from the dire, dour tone of other super-powered being films (looking at you, Man of Steel). This guy isn’t seen as a savior or a Chosen One, he’s seen as a nuisance, moreso than any of the other Guardians. The comic nerd part of my brain is uncertain some of the interesting minutiae will be seen in the film, as his race is listed as Terran meaning they don’t notice or want to discuss his half-breed nature, and I’m not sure we see his trademark Element Gun… and then he yawns while standing in line-up and I forget what I was worried about because I’m grinning again.

Drax the Destroyer: Bautista is perfect for this. Between The Man with the Iron Fists and Riddick, I can tell you that the guy is really good at commanding the screen just with his imposing physical presence. Drax is a lot like that: He doesn’t necessarily need to say anything to make you back away slowly covering your genitals. The shots we have of him in the line-up and under Nova Corps scrutiny look like someone who just wants to rip something, anything, apart, but he’s behaving himself because he’s saving that rage for someone who’s really asking for it. The detail in his red accents, seen in motion, are actually a really nice touch to the character.

Gamora: I have no doubt whatsoever that Zoe Saldana can pull off playing the deadliest woman in the universe. Pretty much everything I’ve seen her in has displayed her confidence and ability to disappear into her character. Gamora is the kind of person who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, and I don’t think we’re going to have any trouble seeing her as an equal to Drax when it comes to physically throwing down. We don’t get as much of her action as we do a tasteful shot of her back, but Gamora’s always been equal parts ass-kicking, genius and sex appeal. Her little smile during her intro seals the deal.

Rocket Raccoon: I’m actually glad Rocket didn’t say a word. I hope Marvel conserves as much of this guy’s attitude and dialog as possible so audiences really fall in love with him on opening day. The mere concept alone should be enough to sell people: He’s a four-foot humanoid raccoon that likes big guns and bigger explosions. The fact that he’s constantly cracking wise is and should be just a bonus.

Groot: Again, less is more when it comes to Groot. His somewhat curious expression and the reactions of the Novas were pretty much perfect. This presentation can and should make people interested in what he can do. Audiences aren’t used to seeing something as strange as a walking tree-person, at least outside of Lord of the Rings, and his inclusion on the team should really round things out.

Nebula: Most people know Karen Gillen as Amy Pond from Doctor Who. It may come as a shock to them to see her playing Nebula, a very nasty character from Marvel’s cosmic side. I won’t speculate on the role she’ll play in this film, save to say she might also be after that orb Peter’s seen trying to grab in the beginning of the trailer. Oh, and remember the big purple dude grinning at the end of The Avengers? That’s Thanos. Nebula’s his daughter. And he’s the guy Drax is mad at. Just putting that out there.

The Kree: We only see Ronan the Accuser for a brief moment, manhandling Drax, and from the start of the trailer we see the great Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer. I’m excited to see the scope of the Marvel Universe open up to include new races and groups, and the Kree look suitably intense, the more human-like but no less threatening counterpart to the Skrulls/Chitauri.

The Nova Corps: On top of a main antagonist and a new alien presence, we have what amounts to a space police force. Rather than overcomplicating things, they’re a great touch. The Guardians tend to be seen more as troublemakers than saviors, and it makes sense that a neutral party would come into play to keep things from going too crazy. As an aside, the practical costumes of the Nova Corps look a great deal better than anything the similar group on the DC side, the Green Lantern Corps, wore in their movie. Plus John C. Reilly, who is always excellent in supporting roles, is Rhomann Dey, one of the most famous Novas ever.

The Song: This is the cherry on top of everything. It’s catchy. It’s the sort of Earth tune Peter would carry in his Walkman – yes, that’s a Sony Walkman from the 80s. It’s funny. And if you’re anything like me, it does, in fact, get you hooked on a feeling.

Overall: Guardians of the Galaxy has always been Marvel’s answer to Farscape or Firefly. It’s a story about a far-flung group of misfits working together to go after nastiness pro-actively. The diverse characters, the outlandish locations, and the sheer oddity of deep space are a heady cocktail in and of themselves, and if this trailer is anything to go by, a hefty dash of sincere humor and splashes of frenetic, visceral action have been added. I, for one, can’t wait for August. I try not to get too optimistic about films before they come out, but for what it’s worth, I think this is going to be a fantastic time at the movies.

Powers Cosmic

Courtesy Marvel Comics

I grew up on the old Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica TV series, at least until Star Trek: the Next Generation started. There’s a lot of good science fiction out there to be read, and while I definitely enjoy and appreciate harder sci-fi, from Niven & Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye to Moon, the more sweeping and somewhat fantastical epics always find that soft spot in my heart, the place where I’m still twelve years old and believe that I can accomplish anything. Which probably explains some of my more erratic behavior.

Take Marvel Comics’ Annihilation, for example. A series of story arcs collected into graphic novels and consumed by Yours Truly, Annihilation is a war in space involving just about every character from the Marvel Universe outside of Earth (which was undergoing the Civil War at the time). Old characters got modern revamps, hated enemies forged alliances of convenience, Thanos was a canny and manipulative bastard and “normal” folks got some of the best lines. There’s plenty of action and great alien locations, making a Halo campaign look like a day at a firing range in comparison. There’s a sequel (Annihilation:Conquest) and a follow-up series, Guardians of the Galaxy, that had my attention for that short while I was able to afford monthly comic books. I’ll always have Annihilation, though.

Recently my wife and I finished watching the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. It was her first time watching it, and the first time I’d watched that many episodes back to back. In retrospect, RDM modernizing the “Wagon Train to the Stars” storyline and deepening the mythologies at play was a very smart decision, as it deepened the characters and made the story more gripping. Even the much-maligned series finale plays much better by the light of what goes before it, without weeks of fanboy speculation/rage clouding the issue. However, in watching it again I noticed there were some interesting similarities between it and Annihilation that makes them and their ilk so damn appealing to me.

I’m a sucker for good characterization, and these stories tend to provide a heaping amount of characters. BSG in particular involved quite a few ascended extras. Marvel went back to the barrel and pulled out a lot of semi-forgotten cosmic characters, from Drax the Destroyer to Quasar, and brought them front and center in a variety of ways. Drax goes from a hulking green-skinned joke of a character to something resembling Riddick. It was like seeing Starbuck change from the ladykilling Dirk Benedict to the foul-mouthed insubordinate best-frakking-pilot-we’ve-got Katee Sackhoff. In both cases, the campy old version makes me smile and chuckle, while the updated version makes me smile because the character’s gone from camp to badass in the space of 5 minutes.

Doctor Who probably qualifies under this sort of science fictiony pleasure as well, but that’d be a post in and of itself.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Rocket Raccoon & Cosmo, Courtesy newsarama

I ended up being pretty pressed for time at work today, so instead of tackling two of my current favorite titles from Marvel, I’ll focus on just the one. Guardians of the Galaxy starts up in the wake of the Annihilation event, which introduced older characters from outside of Earth in the Marvel universe (the regular one, not any of the odd parallel ones) and made them awesome. I’m not exaggerating – the very first mini-series took Drax the Destroyer and changed him from an energy-shooting Hulk-wannabe resembling a lime green brick to a shirtless badass armed with a couple of knives and more attitude than Wolverine on a bad hair day. He doesn’t even wear a shirt when exposed to deep space. That’s pretty badass.

He’s a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team of super-powered beings from all over the Milky Way brought together by a guy who has no powers whatsoever, Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) in order to keep an eye on the goings-on in the greater universe and to keep things from going too pear-shaped. They’re kind of like interplanetary troubleshooters. Their roster is a fascinating mix of individuals, ranging from the most deadly woman in the universe (and one of the hottest) to a gun-toting wise-cracking anthropomorphic raccoon who tends to ride in the branches of a living tree whose got strength that rivals the aforementioned Drax. I’m not even making this up. Rocket Raccoon is awesome and if you disagree with that sentiment I’m going to have to ask you to step outside.

What makes the Guardians on the whole appealing to me is the way the stories, action and dialog remind me of the very best space operas of the past. Picking up the latest issue has a feeling that brings to mind the anticipation of a new episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation or reading The Cat Who Walks Through Walls for the first time. Since the Guardians are mostly adults, there’s none of the “Dawson’s Creek” feel that could occasionally creep into the Legion of Super-Heroes and the title delights in deep space swashbuckling and high adventure without descending into the camp of the 1980s Buck Rogers series, though there’s more than a little humor to be found. I mean, come on, a raccoon riding a walking tree! And did I mention the telepathic dog who used to be a Russian cosmonaut?

If you’re a fan of science fiction at all, or you like fast-paced action mixed with humor and diverse character interaction, I heartily recommend this title. And if you find yourself in desperate need of reading material dealing with sweeping cosmic events and visuals that will blow your mind – Drax’s final confrontation with Thanos for example – go to Amazon and pick up the Annihilation trade paperbacks. I hear Annihilation: Conquest is just as good but I don’t have the scratch to spare to pick those up.

If nothing else, you’ll come to understand how “I AM GROOT” can express quite a wide range of emotions.

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