Say, did I mention I saw Guardians of the Galaxy the other week? I was pleasantly surprised — the movie is a ton of fun — although having that reaction isn't unexpected given how I walked in knowing nothing about the material or what approach was being taken with it. But it leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings.
First off, the comparisons people have made to classic Star Wars are not wholly misleading, but I wouldn't go so far as to say we're talking about a proper spiritual successor to that franchise; that's like asking what number comes after the color blue.
A couple of other major takeaways came to me after I had time to mull the whole thing over. The first is how the color palette and production design of the film make everything else in the same rubric look downright dingy. I've complained before about how science fiction movies these days all seem to have the same drab, grayed-out, washed-out, "dystopian", teal-and-orange color correction look to them. Heck, even Blade Runner, the seminal poster child for noir dystopianism, didn't look blah; it was awash in a riot of color, even if half of those colors were black.
The other thing was how genres, and marketing of things within them, are starting to get more fluid. Guardians could have been marketed as a sci-fi adventure, a comedy, or a comic-book movie. In a way, it got marketed as all three of those things at once without it seeming like it was indecisive about any of them. This is one of those rare times where I feel like the term "triumph of marketing" can be used without me puckering my face in disgust: it's a sign that yes, if you put your mind to it, you can take something that has a soupçon of originality and make people want it. We ought to learn how to do that for other things that don't necessarily have an easily recognizable label already applied to them.
There's a lot of other stuff I could go on about, but other people have said it better: the way someone deserves Oscars for Rocket (and maybe Groot, too); how the relationship between those two is a riot; the remarkably tight and satisfying story construction; the list goes on. For what it is — a big-budget popcorn entertainment based on a pop-culture commodity — it's remarkably good.
Now here's the thing: does that mean I want more of it? Sure, but the problem is, at this point it's hard to see how we can ask for more stuff like this without it coming at the expense of other things. At this point a second GotG movie is going to get made no matter who stamps their feet and screams. And if a studio knows it can always fall back on something that safe, they've got little impetus to do anything outside that zone.
To play devil's advocate with myself for a moment: didn't I myself think that GotG was, in fact, one of those very maverick projects? Didn't I think the whole thing was a giant gamble, an experiment that could have failed horribly? Well, yes. But what I worry is that the only lesson learned from such an experiment will be for them to make more GotG movies.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind