Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: The Bradscribe Review

The Difficult Second Album…? 

“It’s unlike the first movie in so many ways. It’s wild, it’s daring…” – James Gunn.

“It’s high on its own supply,” stated one discouraging early review.

But hey! That’s no bad thing, ‘cos Brad is high on believing that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is another veritable smash hit for Marvel! Everybody enjoyed the original – this reviewer included, especially captivated by the wisecracking hamster/monkey/puppy, as you can see here.

Rather than copy all that was awesome and entertaining from the original, this sequel attempts to expand – on the largest scale possible! Plus, just about every riotous and rambunctious scene is ram-packed with a delirious spectrum of candy colours.

Kicking off not long after the end of the first movie, our beloved bunch have to deal with a typically gooey reject from the Men In Black franchise for Ayesha, Gold Leader of the Sovereign race. Due to the uncompromising wiles (and winks!) of the unscrupulous Rocket – stealing batteries?! BAD hamster! – they escape with Sovereign remotely-piloted drones (in a wacky swipe at vintage arcade gaming!) darting after the Milano. In a bizarre twist, the Guardians are saved by the intervention of an ancient and mysterious celestial entity, who ends up providing a substantial emotional heft to these chaotic proceedings.

“Now the expectations are very high, so there’s more pressure… I still think we’re going to surpass expectations, but it’s going to be monumentally different…” – Chris Pratt.

You just gotta dig the snazzy ingredients that constitute the Guardians formula: a groovy opening credits sequence; madcap action; quirky humour; and zingin’-an’-a-pingin’ cosmic thrills presented in a whopping great fun and frenetic package!

Well done to James Gunn for creating a script exploring – within such a mainstream blockbuster – the intriguing psychodynamics of family tensions and, in addition, it’s (g)rooted in how the Guardians find the belonging they crave – developing their own adoptive family unit.

Cool to see the Ravagers again, but even better to see Kraglin – one of the first film’s underrated supporting figures! – receive a more meaty role this time around. But praise for Michael Rooker! Another terrific outing for Yondu – who knew this red-finned dude would provide some of this sequel’s funniest and most powerfully moving moments?!

Oh yes, the Stan Lee cameo is hilariousone of his best! And for this Marvel fanboy: a great surprise to see the Watchers as well!

Inevitably, the biggest scene-stealer is the smallest “Guardian”: Baby Groot, in turns a tricksy twig and soppy sapling.

We all want one! Don’t we?!

“I have the biggest fin because I’m the coolest dude. You will see, in the process of the film, how that comes about – Michael Rooker.

Sure, Vol. 2 had no hope of matching its predecessor: an unexpected smash that set the bar so enjoyably high, but it certainly did pile on lots to relish, but…

Let’s get the niggles outta the way.

One of the weakest points of the first movie is now the primary problem of the second. The only viable reason for bringing Nebula back involved developing her character, but – ho-hum, once again – all she can do is bitch and broodher presence here is even more pointless than three years ago…

Again, Zoe Saldana spent more time getting her face painted than being allowed to expand Gamora’s character…

Really wanted to like Mantis, but she came across as too fizzy and fragile. Her interactions with Drax undoubtedly came cursed with the movie’s poorest lines.

Yes! Sylvester Stallone is more unintelligible than ever…

Naturally, there is still more bickering than actual guarding going on, but hey! That just adds to the charm of the whole caboodle.

But please! Spare me the David Hasselhoff-was-Peter’s-childhood-icon crap. And that frickin’ cameo! Jeez, really wanna unsee THAT…

What, you imagined… he was your Dad?!

You got issues, Quill…

“Only someone like me could pull something like this off…” – Kurt Russell.

To think that Pratt’s own suggestion led to the one and only Kurt Russell being cast as Ego The Living Pranet – a quite formidable opponent who, back in the day, certainly kept Thor – even Galactus! “occupied”!   

Not as badass as Snake Plissken; not as cool as R.J. Macready, Russell’s Egoha! love typing that – is nevertheless an unforgettable monster. Thankfully a more substantial antagonist than Ronan The Accuser! Uff, celestials make rotten Dads, but as our awestruck gaze sweeps across that sumptuous vista, you can’t help but think: that is a handsome planet…

Kurt Russell, the star of Stargate, and doughty white-vested hero of Big Trouble In Little China, is an undeniable icon of SF cinema, and thus certainly adds the necessary style and gravitas here.

The interaction between this father and son is engrossing, until a shocking revelation leads to Peter unleashing his Pac of tricks.

In conclusion then, this movie is an absolute blast!

From the dashing 1980 Russell beaming at Meredith (and listening to Brandy), to the gargantuan finale, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers just the right level of energy and escapism to ensure the quintessential cinema experience.

Even digged that Mary Poppins gag you never knew you needed!

And the tantalising hint from the post-creds indicating the appearance of one of my Top 5 All-Time Fave Marvel Cosmic Characters in Vol. 3 sounds like the next instalment could be even bigger!

“Oh… YEAH!”

 

BRADSCRIBE RATING: 3 Ooga-Chakas outta 5

3outof5

 

“‘Rocket do this, Rocket do that…!'” – Rocket Raccoon.  

 

No raccoons or sentient trees were harmed in the making of this Post.

 

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Fall In With Brad’s Badass Brigade!

Everybody online… looking good!

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Max-and-Furiosa-with-guns

“Get on the ready line, Marines, get some today! Move it out, goddammit! Get hot! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Aaarrrr, absolutely badasses!” – Sgt. Apone. 

Alright sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed?! When the going gets tough, the tough go badassing. By definition, a badass is someone tough, uncompromising or intimidating. 

Not like me ta be sittin’ reading a book in coffee shops trying to look remotely intellectual… well, some of the time, but whenever that dreaded bug-hunt should arise, this is the Dirty SF Dozen that this natural-born-leader would want fightin’ by his side…

Dutch

“GEDDU DA CHOPPAH!” – Major “Dutch” Schaefer.  

1. Dutch

Can’t think of a stronger or indefatigable officer than Dutch as the first to get selected.

Many times spent smeared with mud lying in the shadows glowering at my extraterrestrial enemies, it’s so reassuring to learn that this Special Forces team-leader has been there, done that, got the T-shirt, ripped it up and set it ablaze to light up the jungle night.

Dropped into a Central American nightmare – for all the wrong reasons – they have to contend with Adrien Brody the Predator (1987). The Major is tough, dependable and guaranteed always… always to stick around…

The One That Got Away: Blain

A carbon copy of Dutch, plus ‘tache, a Little Richard tape and wisecracks! But despite wielding a six-barreled M134 Minigun, four years before the Terminator got to let rip with one – and sharing my irritation of Alabama ticksBlain got zapped, alas, by the Predator too darned early. 

furiosa

“She’ll fight my battles for me…” – Roy O’Bannon. 

2. Imperator Furiosa

This one-armed bandit has literally taken the blogosphere by a storm as big as the one that engulfed the War-Rig and Immortan Joe’s feral band of pursuers. Feisty and determined, the only thing Furiosa lacks is a Y chromosome. It is absolutely fantastic for our favourite genre to be imbued with a new female action hero in the Ripley-mould. So this tough-as-nails, grease-smearing driver automatically earns her place here. Certainly a more honourable path than modelling for perfume bottles. 

And you know she’s been put next-in-line; if me an’ Dutch get completely rat-arsed in a bar in Mogadishu, then she – unreservedly – takes command. THAT’S how highly her performance in Fury Road (2015) is rated at this blog.

Equal opportunities: Brad is all for ’em. Look, most of my Followers are female. (Stop that sniggerin’, there! Knock that shit off, Hudson!) They don’t call me an Officer and a Gentleman fer nothin’ y’know…

The One(s) That Got Away: 

Up until last week, ol’ Max Rockatansky himself would’ve made this List quite easily, but circumstances change, especially when a blistering movie comes out of nowhere to completely obliterate the Action Movie Book o’ Rules.

If you thought you might find Ellen Ripley: Scourge of the Xenomorphs in this Post, then hard luck she’s on leave shooting the fifth Alien movie. See here: 

And if you were expecting Sarah Connor here, soz, but Brad doesn’t do obvious. If he did, none of those impressive promotions (cluttering my desk), nor these medals (glistening in the binary sunset across my ample pecs) would’ve come my way…

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“I like to keep this handy for close encounters” – Cpl. Dwayne Hicks

3. Corporal Dwayne Hicks

The only one of the Space Marines to make it out of the nightmare of LV426 alive – a splendid qualification in my – or any –book. In the gung-ho shenanigans of Aliens (1986), Hicks was the one with coolness and steady nerve to keep what was left of the cast going – it’ll be a pleasure to see him again when Alien 5 finally comes in…

The One That Got Away: Vasquez. 

Another strong brigade-contender sadly obliterated from existence. 

Under NO circumstances, NO badass should EVER have to be trapped with an asshole at the moment they meet their maker…

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…AND THOR!

Son of Odin! Scion of vaunted Asgard! Wielder of the Mystic Mallet: Mjolnir! Protector of- OI! POINT BREAK!! Stop arsing about in that duck pond and get on the ready line!

Fine… as you Asgardian fops are wont to bark: “Hast thou not ‘eard?! Get thee out of yon brackish water! And get thine swanky clobber on…!! Dost ye know what thou art?! Thou art a [EXPLETIVE DELETED].” 

Move it out! Move it out! Move it oww… nuts… Shoulda selected frickin’ Heimdall instead… bah….!

ham-tyler

“You’re in my way, Piglet… I like to get everyone’s attention. That way, I don’t have to repeat myself” – Ham Tyler.

4. Ham Tyler

The original V miniseries became the must-see TV event during that giddy Summer of ’84. It began splendidly, but when bad-piece-o’-work Ham Tyler gate-crashed the scene, spraying Teflon rounds at those lizard stormtroopers with his trusty mini-Ingram machine-pistol, me and me mates just went bananaz! 

This master of covert operations, communications and bad relations aka “the Fixer,” was morally despicable, yes, but thank the stars he joined us in fighting off the Visitors. 

The One That Got Away: Mike Donovan

God love us: since when did TV news cameraman Mike Donovan become a contender for my brigade?! An exceptional heroic character, certainly, a bit of an ass perhaps – some girls at the time remarked that he had a great ass – but he was far too good to be bad…

ash

“Well, hello Mr. Fancypants! I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town” – Ash.

5. Ash

Quite frankly, ‘Badass’ is Bruce Campbell’s middle name. How could he not be on this list?!

Transported to John Ford-country in circa. 1300, the Badassery of Ash – in Army of Darkness (1992) – was way too strong for an invading legion of the dead as he led a bunch of primitive screwheads to victory. Perfect material for any brigade then, not just mine – and besides, his boomstick is way bigger than mine… Groovy.

The One That Got Away: Groot

The main reason why Guardians of the Galaxy became the top grosser last year was the overabundance of badassery on display (see No.7). Love that swishing-attack-trick “he” does with his “branches.” At the time of writing, will wait to reconsider his status once he has – ahem – grown up. 

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“How you doin’, Chewbacca? Still hanging around with this loser?” – Lando Calrissian. 

6. Chewbacca

This beloved walking carpet has stood in the shadow of that smuggler for far too long. It’s about time he got the recognition he deserves. Besides, in the spirit of “Let the Wookie win” and all that, if we rejected his entry to the brigade, he’d just go bat-shit bonkers and probably rip No. 2’s arm out. 

More importantly, this crossbow-wielding pensioner from Kazhyyyk has aged surprisingly well, unlike…

The One That Got Away: 

…who looks even more like a scruffy-looking nerfherder than ever before.

Of course, by rights, Han Solo should get an automatic call-up – for ol’ times sake – as demanded especially by thousands of fans – I KNOW, OKAY? I SAW THE PETITION… but suppose we had to march into a detention area. What do you think would happen if this Corellian upstart flagrantly disobeyed MY orders in front of the brigade, eh…?   

rocket-with-gun

“Quit smiling, you’re supposed to be professional” –  Rocket Raccoon.  

7. Rocket Raccoon 

A considerable faction of the blogosphere know very well my unwavering respect and admiration for this charming, but deadly, character, as you may see here. Judge him by his size, do you?! Ain’t nothing like him, (but he’s in on condition that he does NOT put in a request for No.2’s arm).

Hey, at least he’s not asleep for the danger, awake for the money, like some grunts we could mention…

The One That Got Away: Starlord

Not convinced this Terran thief would be good for morale. Handy in a close-quarters skirmish, expert pilot of the Milano, yes, but he exhibits too much preoccupation with that accursed Walkman.

Plus: we fight as one impenetrable unit, so his measly 12% just wouldn’t cut it…  

rogue

“I saw your dogchips glowing in the dark…” – Rogue. 

8. Rogue Trooper

During the ’80s, from the hallowed pages of 2000AD, came the adventures of Rogue Trooper, the genetically-modified, blue-skinned grunt – the most feared man on Nu-Earth – created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons; the zarjaz art on Cam Kennedy’s tour-of-duty was particularly impressive. 

At the very least, Rogue shoulda had his own movie by now – esteemed comics writer Grant Morrison was working on a script as recently as 2011, but that seems to have gotten lost in the notorious development-hell…  

The One That Got Away: Strontium Dog. 

Already submitted a Post featuring this much-venerated Muto bounty-hunter. See here:

hellboy

“If I still had legs, I’d kick your ass!” – Ivan Klimatovich. 

9. Hellboy

If this war becomes a living hell, we got one helluva guide to see us through…

Mike Mignola’s unique hellspawned hero: Hellboy was raised from infancy among mortals to fight the assorted minions of darkness, which he did onscreen twice: in 2004 and 2008. Yet another of those whose involvement was deemed unconditional, ‘cos you know, whatever happens, he can promise us two things: 

1), he will always look this good; and

2). he will never give up on us. EVER. 

And just look. At the size. Of that whammer…

The One That Got Away: Abe Sapien

A good swimmer, but – by no means – a badass. 

Anyway, that penchant for bad eggs will NOT be tolerated. The last thing me and the crew need is to be pinned down in a fire-fight… and be stuck with a vomiting raccoon… 

Snake

“I guess I go in one way or the other… doesn’t mean shit to me. Alright… I’ll do it. Give me the pardon paper” – Snake Plissken. 

10. Snake Plissken

Escape from New York (1981) was a bonkers movie, but at least it was one of John Carpenter’s more distinctive efforts. Again, this uncompromising dude has got his own ultra-cool shooter; he rides his own glider; he’s got an eye-patch; his name is “Snake” – what more badassery could you ask for…?  

Luckily, the film also features one of Carpenter’s favourite actors: Lee Van Cleef, who brought his own indomitable range of badassery to countless westerns… 

The One That Got Away: R J McCready. 

Sans eye-patch, but R J McCready was endowed with a more considerable crumb-catcher – in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) – as befits a true Arctic warrior…

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“Ooh, gurns, gurns, gurns! C’mon, Sal. The Tigers are playing… tonight. I never miss a game” – Clarence J. Boddicker. 

11. Robocop (1987)

If you have to fight and survive on the mean(est) streets of dystopian and crime-ridden Detroit, you’ll receive automatic acceptance from us, fella. We would have put you higher up the chart, but those submerged memories sound disconcerting…   

Never mind, go get ’em, boy!

The One That Got Away: Robocop (2014)

Totally did NOT want to be subjected to this lame and pointless exercise.

Remake the duds, NOT the classics, please… NEXT!

Trancers-image-1

“Welcome to the 2oth century, Jack Deth!” – Santa Claus. 

12. Jack Deth

“Jack Deth is back, and he’s never been here before” ran the classic tagline for this mental Blade Runner rip-off. Deth is the 21st century L.A. cop/bounty hunter charged with travelling back to 1984 to hunt down Whistler – the maniac-criminal who can turn people into zombiefied crazies called “Trancers.”   

1984, hell yeah… back then, you see, anyone could make this kinda shit… and make it entertaining. Of course, Deth was “played” by Tim Thomerson, who undoubtedly had printed – and no doubt patented – the T-shirt exclaiming: “Badass For Hire” for his entire career…  

The One That Got Away:

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“Argh… mediocre!” – Immortan Joe. 

For once, we will have to concur with that late, bloated pus-ball…

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And that rounds off my Mother of all Lists. Badass here! Badass there! Everywhere a-oh, okey-dokey then, you know the drill. Lock an’ load… then kick some.  

Let’s rock!!

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Cheers!

The Expandables: The Age Of The Franchise

Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some mild language

attack of th sequels

“Sequels are like safety nets for studios and investors; they consistently deliver the most potent box-office punch” – Jeff Bock.

In a galaxy too close for comfort, it seems like too many people are getting overexcited about the looming threat of Star Wars Episode VII. Apart from subjecting impressionable younglings to the bamboozlement of Roman numerals, how will popular culture cope? Moreover, what good will it do for the already franchise-infested movie industry?

Yes, place the emphasis on industry – it really has got to the stage where movie-making has become a bustling business where umpteen gazillions of dollars are pumped into the objective of making bigger and better sequels – using the same characters (and actors), fights/car chases/Stan Lee cameos (tick appropriate box), effects, gimmicks and humour to avoid taking any creative risks. As evidenced by this year’s crop of X-Men, Twansfoamers (no, altering the spelling doesn’t ease the pain) and Planet of the Apps (ha!) sequels of sequels assuredly retain the financial stability of the modern movie-making madhouse.

Traditionally, cinema-goers have been perturbed by what came to be labelled: “sequelitis,” and movie critics habitually scoffed at them, decrying them as mere substitutes for creativity and originality. Look out: the new brand of sequels are the harbingers of that commodity of ingenuity; instead of railing against them, we should embrace them.

Here’s how – and why…

winter soldier

“We are not really talking about sequels any more. We are talking about films that are conceived of as longer plays than one film” – David Hancock, Screen Digest.  

Essentially, movies are now concocted within a certain franchise template, specifically designed to outperform its predecessors. Plus, a particular narrative is dispersed throughout numerous instalments, and having familiar faces and safe-bet material saves a fortune in carving out new publicity strategies. Accept it: gone are the days when sequels seemed tagged on primarily to snap up some more dosh, and lacked the surprise and originality of their predecessor. Now continuity is the key – production of the official follow-up can start even before the original has been released!

Just take Captain America as a prime example. Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good film; yet earlier this year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier accumulated a mighty $715 million dollars because it set out (rather skilfully, thankfully) to expand and vastly improve its material. Naturally enough, no prizes for guessing that Cap 3 is sure to be with us shortly…

Just as Guardians of the Galaxy can be rightly celebrated as the crowning triumph of the summer, offering a simple fun formula of material not used heretofore, but then, before you can nab an Infinity Stone, the rush of fizzy refreshing originality is swiped aside momentarily by the slightly unnerving inevitability of the sequel. You saw the message at the end: they will return. This came as no surprise to me. It was preordained, betcha.

Yet there was also the probability of the movie turning out to be the next (ahem) Howard The Duck… and that’s the point.

Nobody (generally) likes to take risks in Hollywood.

Business is business…

The original can be really cool!
The original can be really cool!

eddie joneseddie joneseddie jones

^ but make it again… and again… without changing key elements, it becomes boring and nobody will want to watch any more…

 

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made Aliens. We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together, so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the Avatar sequels” – James Cameron.  

No one ever dies in science fiction – this should not take anyone aback. Despite the departure of Grace Augustine from that $2.7 billion behemoth of 2009, fan-fave Sigourney Weaver confirms that she will feature in ALL THREE sequels(!) Her other great character: Ripley, was cloned.

Even Spock – who sacrificed himself at the end of the best Star Trek movie – was, by some absolutely ludicrous plot-device, brought back to ruin the next “grand” episode of the saga. And… hey! As a perennial favourite, it was only a matter of time before the reboot came along… swiftly  followed by the (some may say) superior sequel…

This system is not unique to the science fiction/fantasy genre but can be applied just as easily to action thrillers and feature-length animated movies too. It would be a futile gesture to call for a boycott against such trash as Transformers, for it has already been decreed that this wretched franchise will lumber on, regardless of what serious cinema-goers want to see.

Bradscribe understands the art of writing a good follow-up, and like all the best-loved franchises, this Post will have…

to be continued...

Who knows, it’ll probably be bigger and better than this one!

Cheers!

 

Star-Lord and Laser-Brain: The Phenomenon of the SF Hero

Devised: 8 & 11 August; Revised: 12 August 2014. Uh, everything’s under control. Situation normal.

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^ Hmmm, two galaxies appear to be colliding with each other here…

 

“[What we seek in space] is not knowledge, but wonder, beauty, romance, novelty – and above all, adventure”                                  – Arthur C Clarke.  

Somewhere in the far cosmos, a space rogue named Peter Quill aka Star-Lord leads the Guardians of the Galaxy – an unknown and untried band of misfits against the threat of Ronan the Accuser. With a most urgent task thrust upon him, he had to prove his worth as… a hero. After too-long-a-wait, the SF Hero is back on the Big Screen where he belongs.

One of the most popular staples in the science fiction canon, it was only a matter of time before this Blogger – who has created several such far-out heroes throughout the course of his fascinating and frustrating forays into fantastic fiction – weighed in with what the position entailed. In order to concoct the archetypal galactic hero, a code of certain characteristics needs to be adhered to:

  • They must immediately grab the viewer’s attention, either through badass dialogue or some killer moves.
  • They must be dressed in the sort of garb that you would not feel sheepish to don for some heaving comic-con.
  • And they must have ultracool spaceships.
  • And rad blasters.
  • And maybe a furry anthropomorphic accomplice to interact with, especially if the scriptwriter has lost his/her flow in some seedy bar somewhere…
  • Oh, and an Awesome Mix tape ought to be obligatory (you younglings did ask your parents what cassettes were? Sweet!) Moving on…

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^ Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord – didn’t take him long to become popular…

 

“Traditionally, SF heroes solved problems by application of intelligence and scientific knowledge. These days you can substitute lasers for scientific knowledge. Or swords” – How To Write a Generic SF Novel.    

Sure, the title: Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t ring any bells, but that space rogue looked familiar…

The name: Star-Lord brought a bright spark of recognition as – once upon a time – he may have occupied my long-gone copious comic-munching days. Peter Quill made his first appearance as Star-Lord in Marvel Previews No. 4 in 1976, but it’s more than likely that a short-lived UK weekly comic in the early 80s by the name of Future Tense is where our paths met, so to speak.      

Reasonably intelligent, this “Star-Lord” seems inclined to just drift around the galaxy, until snatching an orb of great significance changes his fate entirelyIn the comics he looked distinctive, but here in the movie he sports some groovy get-up and a not-so-dorky helmet; and his ship: the Milano has a certain flair about it.

Naturally, a film as fun and frothy as this does not dwell on complexities such as plot and characterization, so his background story is still to unfold. The twist (revealed towards the end of the movie) that Quill is only half-human presents the promising prospect of some intriguing plot developments for the inevitable sequel (provided the right material is handled properly!)

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^ Which do you prefer: the Milano, or the Milliennium Falcon?

 

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid” – Han Solo.

Chris Pratt was entertaining as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, but he trails umpteen parsecs behind the definitive space hero –ultimately, Han Solo has become THE iconic figure of SF cinema and deservedly so.

What makes his character so enduring? For one thing, he’s cool, bad… and mad enough to chase a bunch of stormtroopers through their own space station, because – as every seven year old will tell you – a hero gains instant respect if he prefers a straight fight to “all this sneaking around.” He only takes orders from one person (himself) even if he is half-witted.

And never tell him the odds…

Much of this instant appeal was obviously due to the charm and laconic swagger which then-jobbing-joiner Harrison Ford brought to the role. Plus, Han Solo had the Millennium Falcon – one of the most awesome spaceships of all time… and a Walking Carpet as First Mate.

There are certain similarities between these two overwhelmingly popular characters: Star-Lord had to contend with a Raccoon with a penchant for prosthetic legs, and Han had a Wookie with a penchant for pulling peoples arms out of their sockets (only if they lose); while Han had no plan (to rescue the Princess), at least Star-Lord pretended to have a plan (or at least part of one), and so on. And so on…

Ah! but are they worthy?

Well, on paper they sound too dodgy: one’s a thief, the other’s a smuggler. Not so honourable. So why root for them?

They are the antithesis of the more conventional space adventurers such as Flash Gordon (sporting hero) and Buck Rogers (astronaut) but, regardless of background, against all odds, they managed, nevertheless, to (help their friends) save their respective galaxy, defeat the bad guys and, perhaps, get the girl, ultimately ensuring their place in the highest echelons of SF stardom i.e. they would never, ever, get killed off…

star-lord gunhan blaster

Now, who’s scruffy-lookin’?

 

 

The Life and Crimes of Rocket Raccoon! (and 4 Other Guardians)

Posted: 5 August 2014

Excuse me, but how cool is this?
Excuse me, but how cool is this?

“I got one plan, and that plan requires a frickin’ quarnex battery, so FIGURE IT OUT!” – Rocket Raccoon.

If it wasn’t for Rocket Raccoon, the latest Marvel thrill-fest would not have been so eagerly anticipated these last few months. The waiting is over: Guardians of The Galaxy is a thoroughly enjoyable outer space adventure, based on a comic book which – remarkablyabsolutely nobody had heard of before.

This movie has had the most successful Opening Night this year, raking in a well-deserved million dollar haul; and why? The answer is blindingly obvious: it’s fun! It’s enjoyable! But, most crucially, because it’s fresh and pristine material. And not a sequel. Of a remake. It is that quintessential, experimental, let’s-give-it-a-go, got-nuthin-to-lose attitude so sorely lacking in movie-making during this age of bland formulae and turgid franchises which is creating such a giddy and reassuring buzz. Indeed, this refreshing approach has enticed wary, yet curious, crowds back into the popcorn-munching parlours again.

How much of this joyful escapism relied on the wit and charm of this feisty lil furball?

Let’s face it: much of this weekend’s Biggest Opening of the Year is due to its smallest star. This character has intrigued me ever since first laying eyes on the conceptual art of this rapscallion raccoon (earlier this year); having watched all the trailers, excited anticipation has been brewing nicely.

As my regular Followers will well know, the majority of latest releases are caught in-flight. However, this one just had to be watched on terra firma, braving the inevitable migraine to experience it in glorious 3D as well, half-expecting to only enjoy Rocket and become disenchanted as the rest of the film collapsed into noisy tosh and predictable juvenile shenanigans.

…How frickin’ lovely to be proved WRONG!!

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“Oh… yeah!!”

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^ Rocket Raccoon: from the movie, and from the comics.

“Movies like this are usually described in terms of popcorn but a better comparison would be Space Dust: it’s fun, wacky, explosive and bursting with artificial colours” – the guardian.com. 

Just who, exactly, is Rocket Raccoon?

This irreverent anthropomorphic raccoon made his comics debut in Marvel Preview No. 7 (Summer 1976), not appearing again until The Incredible Hulk No. 271 (May 1982). In 1985, he got his own 4-issue Limited Series, and later appeared in three issues of Sensational She-Hulk in 1992. Rocket teamed up with Star-Lord in his own limited series in 2007. The Guardians title would not arrive until 2008; he, and other Guardians, most recently appeared in Avengers Assemble (2012).

As Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant, he was Captain of the Rack’n’Ruin; on the planet Halfworld, Rocket (and other animals) had been genetically manipulated to work as caretakers of inmates of an insane asylum. At one point Rocket had teamed up with the Hulk (!) before befriending Peter Quill; he did serve as leader of the Guardians at one stage.

One online bio describes Rocket Raccoon as intelligent, an expert marksman and a master tactician. Most notably, the movie portrays him wielding a huge gun and, in one brilliantly entertaining scene, shutting off the oxygen supply outside the prison control tower commandeered by the Guardians. In addition, records show that he’s “wanted on over fifty charges of vehicular theft and escape from custody.”

Wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of Bradley Cooper voicing him (but then his name is Brad so feel compelled to let him off, ha!) Actually, he’s not at all bad!  

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“The Guardians are a group of oddballs, outcasts, and geeks. The movie is for anyone who ever felt cast aside, left out, or different. It’s for all of us who don’t belong. This movie belongs to you” – James Gunn.

Okay, what about the other characters?

Chris Pratt makes for a likeable space rogue – Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix tape is a splendid trait to add to his intergalactic capers; Mum certainly picked out some great numbers! Presumably he – like me – was transfixed by The Black Hole (1979) for he brandishes the same parallel-barrelled blasters wielded by that film’s droids. Admittedly, some of his lines do not work, and the proposed dance-off is just cringe-inducing.

Groot (“What the hell is that?”) is a great addition to the group, providing some of the film’s more wondrous and witty moments. (Does only 3 words make him a talking tree?)

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a green-skinned assassin, but her general annoyance (with everything) and unwillingness to comply (with her fellow Guardians) sadly did not endear herself to me. Oh, and she didn’t want to dance either, so that confirms it then. Poor Zoe, it would appear that her career has already been relegated to cinema-goers merely speculating what her next skin-colour will be…

Of the main characters, Drax The Destroyer is the only one whose name is familiar to this once-avid comic-hoarder. He featured in Thor #314 (Dec 1981): one of my most cherished morsels of Marvel history. Dave Bautista puts in a surprisingly above-average contribution, actually eliciting a few laughs here and there, but this Drax bears no resemblance at all.

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The other characters, however, are not so well-defined.

Ronan the Accuser (heck, he even sounds cool,) had the look and potential to be a classy villain, but… he has been given no memorable lines – not even a sufficient background story; so when we see him he’s just moping about, sulking as if realising that only after blast-off, he’d forgotten to pack any lighting equipment for that ridiculously ultra-dark spaceship of his. Similarly, Nebula was so underused, you’re left wondering what was the point of having her there at all.

As for Thanos – he was all over Marvel Comics back in the day; you just couldn’t get away from him! In his brief cameo, he proved to be the only bad’un capable of inducing a much-appreciated sense of menace to these proceedings.

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One last – but poignant – observation:

Towards the end of the movie, Rocket sits alone, holding a twig, and bawling uncontrollably. Honestly, there were 20 pairs of eyes (Come on! Not bad for the only multiplex on the Gulf of Thailandthree hours drive south of Bangkok) all glistening with tears in the darkness – one of the most moving moments in a cinema this year…

Or any year for that matter…  

 

Having praised Rocket enough, let’s turn our attention to everyone’s Favourite Ent-of-the-Moment: Groot.

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“I guess I never really realised how much I did always love trees” – Vin Diesel.

On second thoughts, perhaps not. Brad’s been bloggin’ all evening – think it’s time to Log Off, chill and listen to that Awesome Mix tape…

Cheers!