patentdragon: (unexpected)
[personal profile] patentdragon
Yesterday, at least two years of waiting came to an end - and blew any doubts about MARVEL Studios's ability to keep the Cinematic Universe going beyond The Avengers clean out of the water.

Like THOR, this was a movie Marvel Studios HAD to make - a risky proposition that could be the iceberg to their box-office ruling Titanic. "Go beyond or go home", you might say - so they went for it; first time, it was Asgardians and The Nine Realms, and now the challenge is to venture away from earth completely, with only an awesome soundtrack to keep us rooted in what we've come to call "reality".

That's not to say we don't see Earth at all. It's just that after we see Peter Quill's heartwrenching loss and its aftermath, it's "wild black yonder" all the way...

...and what a ride.

Fast forward to the present date, and a grown-up Quill attempting to make the score of a space-thieving lifetime - amidst howls of audience laughter, which I can only explain by saying "you have to be there". The tone for the whole movie is set there and then, as the titles roll, and our "hero" strolls through the ruins of an ancient civilisation... sometimes there are things you can't even TRY to describe, as they are wonderful and ludicrous all at the same time...

Quill - or "Starlord" as he calls himself - falls foul of armed opposition after the same prize, and so his odyssey begins, pitching him into prison alongside those either wanting what he's stolen, or wanting to claim the bounty placed on Quill's head by the somewhat piratical associates he's just screwed over, and setting him on a collision course with powers beyond mortal imagination. Powers and beings we have encountered before. His only hope is to strike up some highly unlikely alliances, and for once do the right thing - guard the galaxy...

The secret of this movie is that it is just SO. MUCH. FUN. Gone are the days of growly, brooding Batman and the like when two of your lead characters are a walking tree and a surly, wisecracking raccoon with a taste for gadgets and big guns, but that doesn't mean this is played wholly for laughs. The balance, which one might think could be rather precarious, is set with absolute perfection, making you laugh without descending into self-mockery.

The laughs are just as and when the story needs them, and not as camoflage for any failings the movie might have, because there simply aren't any. Cast a former wrestler in a major role? Could be a cause for concern, but noooo, far from it. A talking raccoon??? Nope - Rocket is a rip-roaring triumph right to the tips of his whiskers - CG he may be, but Marvel have a new star in their heavens tonight, and he's loveable. Walking tree? All I can say - and all HE says - is "I am Groot!"

Director and co-writer James Gunn has been given the toughest job imaginable, and he and his cast have not been found wanting in any respect as we learn more about unearthly artefacts that include among their number the Tesseract (Captain America - The First Avenger and Avengers) and the Aether (THOR - The Dark World), and we finally meet and heard from the owner of "that smile" from the end of AVENGERS, a pivotal MCU moment that absolutely does NOT disappoint. The only thing that does is, in IMAX at least, the 3D doesn't seem to work beyond the hilarious title sequence - but when does it these days...?

The only thing that stops this movie scoring a perfect 10 is that Marvel Studios simply have to have something BIGGER up their sleeves, something more awe-inspiring, and that, I feel, has to be the third Avengers movie, when it all comes together, and the universe trembles under Thanos's feet... just give it time. I am now in no doubt that it WILL happen - our minds will most DEFINITELY be blown.

How can you doubt Marvel when they pull the glorious and completely unexpected masterstroke at the very end of the closing credits? In IMAX format, we got just the one end-titles "surpise package" - other formats may differ - and BOY, it was... something. The sprinkles on the top of a mighty and thoroughly satisfying banana split of a movie experience. I haven't enjoyed myself at the cinema so much in ages - and that INCLUDES AVENGERS!

The Final Verdict... A cosmic work of sheer GENIUS. Has to be seen to be believed - and you WILL believe a raccoon can cry. 9.5/10
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