Year Released: 2014
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Van Diesel, Bradley Cooper
(PG-13, 121 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction and Fantasy
“So here we are: a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac. But we're not going to stand by as evil wipes out the galaxy.” Peter Quill/Star Lord
It’s a campy derivative of Star Wars with a touch of Indiana Jones thrown in for good measure. Bold unconventional hero with father issues; check. Female lead at odds with him; check. Fury nonhuman companion good with a gun; check. A plot that resonates long after you leave the theater; I’m afraid not.
Which is not to say that you won’t enjoy this humorous and action-filled caper. You will. And it’s certainly a plus that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, either. It is, in fact, the perfect summer popcorn movie.
I guess Different Drummer’s main gripe is the critical response – a 91% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating. If we want to game the ratings, though, as those pundits do with election results, then I think we must say that 91% of critics gave the film a thumbs up, not that they would grade it as a 91 on a 100 point scale. And that is probably because for a Marvel comic book/movie, it does what it is supposed to do.
But even on that limited scale, does this film wow us the same way the initial Iron Man did, that 2008 new kid on the block, a brilliantly cast Robert Downey Jr., missing Superman’s extra terrestrial powers, milk-drinking Spiderman's nerdy innocence, and Batman’s earnest angst? He’s was more like America’s version of 007, insouciant, bold, and brash.
Did Guardians of the Galaxy’s so-called Star Lord (Chris Pratt) unleash your inner Viking the way that Norse god overflowing with macho charm and bulging pectorals, Thor did?
Did the characters go beyond cardboard comics, with some depth and introspection, as was the case with the most recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
If I may be so bold as to use this somewhat loaded term, Guardians of the Galaxy is the JV team. Maybe, like the Captain America franchise, it will get better as it goes along. But, frankly, I don’t think so.
First of all, it is not tied to our earth and the events on it as Marvel’s successful Avengers films are. Instead, it takes place in a future Galaxy only vaguely defined. Unlike Thor’s extra terrestrial outings, which are based on Norse Mythology, this Galaxy seems cobbled together, filled with one-dimensional villains like Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who bears a cool hooded menace sure to be a large part of the Halloween parade. But he lacks the texture and almost Shakespearean eloquence of Loki that Tom Hiddleston embued in his God of Mischief in Thor.
The same can be said for Thanos (Josh Brolin), the helmeted lantern-jawed colossus “gleaming in purple and gold,” like Lord Byron’s fabled King Sennarcherib. Throaty proclamations and a fearsome exterior, but sorely undeveloped.
Yes, the sound track is great, mostly coming to us from Peter Quill’s (aka Star Lord's) walkman filled with tunes of the late 70s and early 80s, the final link to the mother he lost to cancer at the film’s opening. And as commentator Rick Olivares has noted of the songs,
Their use in the film is never contrived. And they flow well with the various scenes where they are introduced, such as Rupert Holmes’ huge hit from 1979, “Escape,’” played as the Guardians are ushered into a high security prison.
And the humor keeps us laughing right to the end, where taciturn tree man Groot (Van Deisel), now reduced to a potted sapling, grooves out to The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”
The real question is, of course, will viewers say the same to our misfit guardians. Looking at the box office results, I’d say yes.
Given Star Lord’s devotion to 70s pop tunes bequeathed him from his mother and the Different Drummer’s comparison of Guardians of the Galaxy to comfort food, I have come up with the perfect dish. And ours is a slightly healthier version of that 70s comfort classic, the Seven Layer Dip.
Rebecca Crump, who brings us the lighter version, also cites its versatility.
Use it as a meatless filling for tacos or burritos.
Pile it onto tortilla chips and shredded lettuce for a quick taco salad.
Spread it onto a prebaked crust to make a meatless Mexican pizza.
Serve it as a side with fajitas or enchiladas.
Layer it over a warm plate of nachos. (Love that whole hot/cold thing.)
Spoon it alongside a cheese omelet to jazz up your breakfast.
Enjoy every slightly less decadent morsel.
Light Seven Layer Dip
From Rebecca Crump (EzraPoundCake.com)
Inspired by “Cook’s Country”
2 16-OUNCE CANS BLACK BEANS
(OR 1 CAN BLACK BEANS AND 1 CAN PINTOS), DRAINED
1 TEASPOON CHILI POWDER
PINCH OF SALT
1 CUP LIGHT SOUR CREAM (OR GREEK YOGURT)
2 CUPS FRESHLY GRATED CHEESE (PREFERABLY PEPPER JACK OR CHEDDAR)
Layer 3: Guacamole
2 AVOCADOS, HALVED, SEEDED AND PEELED
JUICE OF 1/2 LIME
1 CLOVE GARLIC, MINCED
PINCH OF KOSHER SALT
1/4 CUP DICED RED ONION
1 TOMATO, CORED, SEEDED AND DICED
Layer 4: Simple Salsa
3 LARGE TOMATOES, CORED, SEEDED AND DICED
2 JALAPEÑOS, SEEDED AND MINCED
1 TO 2 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH CILANTRO
6 SCALLIONS, THINLY SLICED
UP TO 1/4 CUP GRATED CHEESE (PEPPER JACK OR CHEDDAR)
CHOPPED FRESH CILANTRO
- Layer One: Combine the beans, chili poder and salt in a small bowl. Mash lightly with a fork, if you like. Transfer the bean to an 8-inch square dish or glass bowl of a similar size.
- Layer Two: In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cheese. Spread the mixture evenly over the bean layer. 3.
- Layer Three: Mash avocados, lime juice, garlic and salt. Stir in the red onion and tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spread the guacamole over the sour cream mixture.
- Layer Four: In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeños and fresh cilantro. Layer the salsa over the guacamole.
- Layer Five: Sprinkle scallions over the salsa.
- Layer Six: Top the scallions with the cheese of your choice.
- Layer Seven: Add as much cilantro confetti as you like.
- Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips and carrot and celery sticks.