Review Roundup - Cherry Bomb

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

It's easy to become cynical when things constantly promise to be a good time. After all, the hype machine is always a hollow money grabber in some way or another. For all the easy targets to be hit in the name of popcorn adventure stories, too often there's a John Carter, a Green Lantern or a Star Trek Into Darkness. Tedium and horrible writing take the place of real fun. The pieces that make up simple entertainment are apparently too easy to fumble. Luckily the brass at Marvel Studios more often than not have their heads screwed on, so far. With The Winter Soldier nailing the slick action vibe earlier in the year, James Gunn's oddball space fantasy gets the lighter and more colourful angles covered. Yeah... the Slither guy, who knew? There are a lot of weak notes here including a one dimensional villain with vague motivations, and a pre-packaged plot device in the guise of yet another coveted object promising to grant it's wielder ultimate power. But it's nice to be suprised once in a while.


Most of the time a story like this would consist of a string of convoluted plot points, too much silly exposition and a collection of stock characters that have no personality beyond the expected clich├ęs. But by flipping this over and using those tropes differently, things seem to have worked out nicely. The gang's all here, it shouldn't work. Complete with a dumb brute, a misunderstood badass and a jerk waiting to grow into a hero, this should be serious eye rolling material. Instead they sprinkle in a few little touches that allow these characters to feel a bit more fleshed out without getting too heavy handed - the writing is often profane but feels natural instead of vulgar and gives everyone some breathing room. Creations that are entirely done in post production have chemistry, and even casting a sports personality fits here. It's true that the big bad is one note and blowing up the universe again is a horrible element in any story, but with everyone else carrying the picture those tired space opera ideas are forgivable. I like that the supporting cast is so weird (oh it's Michael Rooker and Peter Serafinowicz too) so it's a fun experience without even getting to the eye candy action spectacle scenes. It's a bit oldschool '60s Star Trek and bit '80s sci-fi, and who doesn't like that?

The film works best when things are being planned, and subsequently falling to pieces. These characters all get to do their stuff, each showing off a variety of skills and flaws. For your money there's a prison break, a few good chases, plenty of fighting and an standard finale with an assault on the evil doers capital ship. But these are broken up by little moments that carry it through. When the heart of the story includes a talking plant I guess it's hard not to throw that good stuff in here and there. Bipedal trees haven't provided this much movie magic since The Two Towers. The enemy mooks may be faceless (literally) cannon fodder but it doesn't ever get too ridiculous or grim, and the pauses in the action allow in some nice emotion which is welcome. And yes, the original soundtrack is complimented by David Bowie and The Runaways. By flipping the bird on screen to its antagonists and off screen to dumb slow-motion hero walk sequences and notions of cheap romance, this is a satisfying journey into new and strange possibilities. Let's hope things don't become messy with the inevitable cross over movies.

4/5