Why Guardians of the Galaxy Means Star Wars is Going to be Awesome

(Don’t worry, no spoilers)

I hate The Prequels. It’s a deep seated loathing, burning hot at my core like my heart was pumping white phosphorus. It’s not that they were a disappointment (they are), or that they tarnish the original movies (to an extent, they do), it’s that they are, simply, indefensibly, crappy movies. Poorly written, directed, acted, shot, they’re an affront not just the legacy of Star Wars, but movie making as a whole.

I was excited when Lucas sold SW to Disney, and despite some questionable news since, Guardians of the Galaxy is a perfect example why I’m not worried, and in fact, enthusiastic, about the upcoming films.

No, really, this makes sense, I swear.

Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel comic, the movie based on it was released today. It follows a motley crew of weirdos as they blow stuff up, save the universe, that kind of thing.

It’s fantastic. Truly excellent filmmaking. Well written, well directed, brilliantly acted, it’s a wonderfully fun summer movie that doesn’t treat its audience like they’re stupid. Like many Marvel movies, the depth of available content means believable characters in an otherwise unbelievable universe. There a the perfect balance of tone, all wrapped in a slick and gorgeous presentation. If you don’t like this movie, I’m not sure why you go to the movies in the summer.

Here’s the trailer, the movie is even better.

How does this tie into Star Wars? Disney. There were fears espoused on the Interwebs that Disney would, for lack of a more accurate word, Disneyfy SW. I don’t get this. Since Disney has been in charge of Marvel, look at the movies they’ve put out:

The Avengers
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy

Thor is probably the weak link there (also the only one I haven’t seen), but the others range from good (Iron Man 3), to very good (Cap), to flat out brilliant (Avengers, and GotG). It’s clear they know how to find people that can craft a good movie. No other studio has had such a consistent record with Marvel properties.

There were a few disconcerting developments. Disney announced that despite Episode VII taking places 30 years after Jedi, the Expanded Universe was not going to be considered canon. Ouch. That’s a lot of material, books, comics, games, all cast aside. I can see why they did it, though. In the first place, there’s little internal consistency with the EU. One book killed Chewy, ffs.

Second, and this is the bigger issue, following the EU would actually be way too constraining. Odd, yes, given the amount of content, but for the next three movies to work (not to mention all the interstitial character films), they need a clean slate. So as much as I’d love to see some of the books as movies, this was clearly the right call.

The next is JJ Abrams. As much as I (and many other people) enjoyed the new Star Trek films, I don’t think any fan would tell you they’re actually Star Trek. They’re action movies with familiarly-named characters. However, and this is the part most fanboys miss, this was the only way we were going to see new Star Trek. Braga and Berman ran the franchise into the ground, and there’s no way a reboot that’s truly sci-fi would have ever gotten off the ground. Abrams showed he could make a compelling movie (despite an incomprehensibly awful script by screenwriting hacks Orci and Kurtzman), that was slick, marketable, and widely enjoyable. Is he the right director for the job? Probably, and since he’s writing the script, along with Lawrence Kasdan, I’m optimistic.

May the force be with the mouse

When it comes down to it, Disney invested, literally, billions of dollars in SW. And from the track record so far, there’s clearly a lot of smart people there watching over all this. More importantly, sadly, is that there's way too much money to be lost if it’s not done right. Even more so with SW than with Marvel.

The suits at Disney seem to have an impressive (laudable, really) ability to hire creative people, and give them the tools to let them do their thing. So I can’t wait to see Star Wars VII, which is not something I would have said so enthusiastically if Lucas was making them.


And if all of this doesn’t convince you, don’t forget about that other little company Disney bought

P.S. If you're unsure why The Prequels are so terrible, check out the video below. If you're offended by, well, anything, don't watch. It's brilliantly insightful commentary wrapped in some wonderfully bizarre humor.

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COMMENTS
prm1177's picture

I think you're wrong on this one. "Guardians" is the product of Marvel Studios. While owned by the Mouse, Marvel owes it success to Keven Feige the executive producer. Disney contributes money and occasionally interference. The success or failure of the next Star Wars series will be up to Kathy Kennedy (head of Lucasfilm) and JJ Abrams. Disney's interest is only in monetizing this new asset and in overexposing the series.

Warrior24_7's picture

It's a new age and Star Wars itself needs to come of age. It needs to be overhauled. It's CG vs a Muppet and CG wins. Star Wars appeals to fanboys mainly. I'm no fanboy and I've seen all of the movies. Some of the stuff is boring and just...dumb! Jar Jar Binks anybody? EXACTLY!!

SRW1000's picture

Sorry to see you recommend the Red Letter Media critic of The Phantom Menace. While the video is quite popular among the hipsters and haters, it's not very well thought out, and much of it is inaccurate.

Setting aside the "amusing" misogynistic sketch pieces and "edgy" rape and torture jokes, the critique itself is rather weak, repetitive, and shallow.

A fan took it upon himself to write a 108 page rebuttal to the RLM review. A good summary of his piece can be found here:

http://www.slashfilm.com/star-wars-fan-writes-108page-rebuttal-red-lette...

As far as how Guardians predicts the success of the next Star Wars film? Same movie company, but completely different production. Let's not forget they just made The Lone Ranger last year.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture
If you don't find RLM's videos funny, that's fine. Humor is certainly subjective. But their critique of the Prequels is spot on. From a filmmaking point of view, all three are rubbish, the first one most of all. The 108-page rebuttal, which is no longer available online anywhere I can find, is merely the rantings of a fanboy. I read most of it when it first came out, but had to give up. Its length may be impressive, but he doesn't seem to understand the fundamentals of moviemaking or writing. It's not that RLM is trashing Star Wars, he's trashing TPM as a movie. Raynor's love of SW biases him into believing they're good movies, which they are most certainly not. ANH is revered because It is functionally a fantastic movie, one that just happens to have big special effects that no one had ever seen before. It's a classic hero's journey, and clearly shows Lucas's 1970's worship of Joseph Campbell. If TPM, as released, had come out in 1977, it would never have been as influential or as revered. It would have been tossed in the same bin as the likes of Flash Gordon. I am a huge Star Wars fan, and expected to love TPM, but less than a half an hour in, I knew something was wrong. I felt cheated when I left the theater. Not because it didn't live up to the hype, but because it didn't live up to the very basics of what constituted a reasonably good movie. I didn't need ANH, but something akin to Jedi would have been fine. If you like the Prequels, that's fine. I like a lot of bad movies myself. But I'd never try to defend them as "good," merely enjoyably bad.
SRW1000's picture

It wasn't just a matter of not finding them funny, but rather inaccurate, wrong, and oftentimes just plain stupid.

The review is still available on line here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/49516899/Red-Letter-Media-s-Episode-I-Review-A...

I don't think it's fair to dismiss it as a simple fanboy rant. Early on, Raynor admits to liking The Phantom Menace, but also considers it one of the lesser Star Wars films.

His main point of the essay is to show how poorly thought out and occasionally dishonest the RLM piece is. To that regard, he succeeds in many areas, with his rebuttal matching many of my impressions after initially watching the videos. Unfortunately, most of the RLM fans would never take the time to read 108 page counterpoint to the video, so those contrary viewpoints will remain unknown. Ah, the unintended consequences of a short attention span and video-dominated culture.

As far as what impact TPM would have had in 1977, it's obviously unknowable. The entertainment world has changed much during that time. In 1977, there was a dearth of this kind of escapist fantasy. By the time of TPM, such movies were common. But even 22 years later, TPM was the top box office movie for the year, and it ended up being the second largest grossing Star Wars movie. That would seem to indicate that it still would have had some significant cultural impact, even back in the 70's.

I have no problem stating that I liked The Phantom Menace. To me, it swept me right back into the Star Wars world, showing me new worlds, characters, and adventures that I had waited some 16 years to see: Young Anakin, Obi-Wan, the wondrous glory of the Old Republic, and it's impending downfall by the controlling Emperor. And it entertained me along the way (and no, not in a bad way). To me, that makes it a success.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture
It's good to see my initial impressions of that "critique" were spot on. Nothing more than a string of ad hominem and nitpicking that completely misses the point. Unable to refute any of RLMs points on value, he resorts to attacking the man. Classy.

The issue than fans like yourself are missing is that RLM's problems (like mine) are problems with the movie as a movie. Being Star Wars shouldn't be an excuse, but in the minds of many it is.

I am not arguing whether or not the movie is entertaining, I'm saying that as a movie, compared to other movies, it is poorly written, directed, acted, and shot. If it weren't a "Star Wars" movie, it would be laughed at like Planet Earth. Being "Star Wars" should not be an excuse for shoddy filmmaking, which it was.

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