Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guarding the Galaxy...From Themselves

Our "heroes."
I'm a little surprised I've never yet written a blog post about Guardians of the Galaxy. Well, okay, maybe not. I've been making a bit of a concerted effort to keep the blog firmly on the subject of gaming (with the occasional Seahawk-related is football season), so perhaps NOT opening my yap about the film is me showing restraint. After all, if I really wanted to, there are plenty of movie and comic and book reviews with which I could fill this empty space...but then, you can get such opinions a lot of places other than Ye Old B/X Blackrazor.

Still, I did want to write a post after I saw the film (this was back in August, during my five day jaunt back in Seattle). But I had a bunch of other stuff going on at the time (like shopping for the return journey to Paraguay) and...yeah, I never really got around to it.

ANYway, just wanted to take a short break from the D&D stuff (sorry) and since it was either this or Aquaman (maybe tomorrow) I figured I'd start with this.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the best Star Wars movie since Star Wars.

"Eat my space dust, suckers!"
That was the overwhelming impression I had coming out of the theater. There hasn't really been a movie like Star Wars, since the original...even the sequels/prequels take themselves a bit too seriously with their angsty soap opera of the Skywalker family. Sure, there have been other movies that have tried to rip off Star Wars or conjure its success with their own brand of SciFi wa-hoo. But of the bunch I've seen, Guardians of the Galaxy is the closest thing to Star Wars...the feeling of Star Wars...since Lucas first delighted folks with his homage to Flash Gordan and Saturday matinee serials. And just in case I'm being unclear, I mean this in a very complimentary fashion.

Now, I realize that the story is based on comic books and existing comic book characters, but they are comics with which I'm UNfamiliar, the sole exception being Rocket Raccoon who is/was one of my all-time favorites (certainly my fave with regard to anthropomorphic animals). Since this Rocket is very different from the upright, "space ranger" type that I grew up reading, I can only assume that the film takes some liberty with all the characters...unless, of course, I just missed a Rocket "reboot/makeover" somewhere in the last twenty years.

And that's fine...the liberties they've taken (such as with Ronan the Accuser...what a great villain that guy was in the film!) make for a great film that I can only judge on its (individual, probably non-canon) merits. This is an attitude I've taken with other films recently, and it's done a lot to ease my mental stress. And you know what? The new take on the Falcon in the most recent Captain America reboot is sooooo much better than the comic book character (sorry, Red Wing!), sometimes I just feel like applauding the filmmakers' divergence from accepted comic book continuity.

"I am the most boring thing in this film."
Having said that, Zoe Saldana's character is so utterly boring and pointless, I really wish they'd gone way-waaay off book with her. Great: she's a badass female assassin who's a bit "detached" emotionally. Haven't we seen this trope a gazillion times? I'm all for women kicking ass, but why doesn't she get the delightful quirkiness the rest of the cast does? Like the guy who interprets everything literally, or the bioengineered raccoon with an inferiority complex, or the simple-minded tree, or the putzy protagonist? I've already seen Saldana do this shtick in Colombiana...she's too good an actor to get stuck as a green-skinned killer who really wants to be good but can't because she hasn't found the right friends to let her open up and blah-blah-blah.

ANYway...(*sigh*) like most films it's not perfect, of course, but there's a lot of fun to it. And it uses my favorite-favorite SciFi trope of all time: the normal human who's had to adapt to life in space, and NOT as a "master race." This is the concept where the galaxy is full of weird sentient beings and humanity is anything but the "dominant species." The animated film Titan A.E. is great at this (I could write a couple blog posts on that movie, BTW). So was the old Continuity Comics title Armor (any of you catch that one? The Canadian brothers that get abducted by alien slavers and adapted to the needs of a pirate fleet? Great stuff).

I really dig the "stranger in the strangest land" thing, and Chris Pratt does a great job of "making do" with what he has as opposed to being some sort of gifted "Chosen One" (like that Alex kid in The Last Starfighter). The whackier the better, I say...if you got whisked away from Earth and jammed into an utterly alien society, how would you cope? Would you be able to cope? Or would you just fall apart?

[I think it's fitting this particular's usually a youngster or kid who ends up being the hero, as kids are often more adaptable to new and drastic life changes than us sedentary adults]

"Go ahead...make my day."
When I saw this film was first coming out, I thought it looked pretty interesting (again, not knowing anything about the comic book canon of the IP) and it gave me an idea for a little game called Outlaw Space. At the time, I was very interested in GM-less type games, and this was one of my stabs at a concept. But after actually watching the film, I found myself surprisingly satisfied...I no longer felt the need to create a game that told a particular kind of story. I found that I had "gotten my fix" with Guardians of the Galaxy, and I really wasn't interested in doing a pastiche of the movie. Right now, between Star Wars, Firefly, and Guardians I've got plenty of space cowboy wahoo to fill my least, for the time being.

Though I'm sure there's a sequel already in the works.


  1. I haven't seen this yet, and I think you just sold me on it...

    1. @ DM Wieg:

      I found it worth the money...which isn't something I say often about movies these days.

  2. This is the only blog post of yours that I completely agree with.

  3. There's someone else out there who read Armor from Continuity Comics by Neal Adams? Good lord, the universe shall implode! I keep hoping we'll see those comics on +Comixology but it hasn't happened yet.

    1. @ Joe:

      Armor, Megalith, the Revengers...yeah, I was a big-time fan. Armor is/was one of my all time favorite characters, and his comics was one of the few I actually worked at collecting, back in the day.

      I was very disappointed when Continuity folded.

  4. YES, I read a few issues of ARMOR back in the day! Wow, THANKS, JB, for reminding me of the name of that comic! Literally last week an image popped in my head of the guy with armor that was composed of bladed weapons. As I kid I thought that was the coolest freaking idea ever!

    1. @ Anthony:

      As an ADULT, I think it's a cool freaking idea.
      : )