Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) Is A Charming Renegade Triumph

I grew up around weirdos.

No adolescence is easy. Let's be fair. But having grown up in an area where your options were limited, a good companion was often a lucky break. Being a member of the latchkey kid generation, it was that chance meeting of that other kid from the neighborhood who embraced their oddness that would make for a startling new chapter. Whether we were children of divorce, ostracized for being into "weird" comics, movies, and loved talking about them. Game heads, Ritalin kids, pranksters, mischief makers with a yen for fire. Solace was often found in the presence of buddies who would miraculously understand where you were coming from. And at times, kids who would know a great deal more than you. Childhood was largely populated by what came to be known as the dregs of school society. Many in the upper echelons would know of us, but would sooner not be seen around them. Perhaps living with this tiny, unspoken inkling, that they wished to spend more time around us.

I grew up around weirdos.

Whether they be your classic comic book reading, movie loving nerds, to the kids who grew up ready and willing to play havoc with the cards they were dealt, they were often real, and complimentary to fellow odd souls. Dysfunctional, perhaps. But often dedicated, and understanding in ways many grownups seemed to have long forgotten.

As such, pals and I loved the Drive-in, and early VHS experience. It was a ritual of sorts, not to mention something of a soothing experience, partaking in the ritual of watching something strange. Something dangerous. Something inspiring. While many of the films cannot be claimed to be that of high artistic merit, there was something almost kin about watching said films. They felt renegade, excluded, laughable in ways that perhaps mirrored certain souls. There was something within the realm of the exploitation cheapie that felt like home.

Films can often be seen as windows into their makers. And as such, we can feel the perspective and personality thriving within even the most dysfunctional work. Especially the ones that come together successfully. This is especially true of low budget film. No matter how strange, perverse, or eyebrow-raising, few feelings beat that of a connection between viewer and a functional genre movie,

All of this needs to be stated up front, and without apology before discussing James Gunn's first foray into the big time. That we can at last live in a world where a Troma alumni can be drafted into the ranks of MARVEL's creative circle, and successfully conjure a loving tribute to the outcast in all of us with an unerring indie spirit. Well, it's nothing short of miraculous.

I could go on, and echo many sentiments shared by peers and friends. I could beam about how Guardians Of The Galaxy, is a team-up tale on par with some of the very best tales of the fantastic captured on film. That it is the anti-Avengers, and this is meant in the best complimentary sense. I could rant and rave about how beautifully the cast works together, as well as on their own. Spend time elaborating how much I love seeing Chris Pratt make for a most winning lead whom I wish had more screen time. About how much Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Batista, and Vin Diesel make for an instantly charming team comprised of broken, and lonely souls. How great it is to see Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Rooker in a film of this size. How brilliantly realized the world of the film works, and how nicely it opens of the Marvel canvas in ways never seen before. How Ronan The Accuser(Lee Pace) best represents the nerd that never sees past themselves as an answer to their pain. How the film makes the best possible case for very real nerds (and nerd friendships) in all of comic book cinema. 

About the only criticism that could actually be lobbed at the film, is simply that despite the two-hour plus running time, one couldn't be blamed for wanting more. Well-balanced and unabashed, Gunn's first foray into mega-franchise cinema is a spiritual triumph for the little ones. A validation of the often unspoken majority, even in an era where the term, nerd, seems to have lost all meaning. And this is coming from someone with very little prior knowledge of the source material. It transcends, and speaks to a spirit often ignored by genre cinema. More than this, it's a celebration of outcast families everywhere.

This is Drive-in/VHA cinema at it's biggest, wildest, wooliest, and most sincere. Time to break out the champagne dated 1988. Been a long time coming.

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