There’s a lot of sci-fi that brilliantly captures the zeitgeist of our concerns, fears and hopes. It’s as though, because we can’t bear to face realities head-on, the sugary pop of sci-fi makes it all that much easier to go down. So, not unexpectedly, in our jolly world bracketed by global jihad and (often state backed) terrorism on the one side and climate change and eco collapse on the other…to which, just to make it three dimensional, we can now add the spread of Ebola and the reduction in the efficacy of penicillin.
Yep, Armageddon isn’t far away. It’s just across dystopia hill. That’s why we have zombie movies. We’ve now seen (recently) the end of the world via “World War Z”, “I am Legend”, the two recent “Planet of the Apes”, the “Terminators” and the up-coming return of “Mad Max”. And if the zombies don’t make it clear that the end is nigh, there’s always Godzilla, various Transformers, “War of the Worlds” and sundry really bad guys (like Electro, The Lizard, Ra’s Al Ghul etc) who have been held in check only due to a couple of hard-working super heroes.
If that ain’t bad enough, we’ve also had a massive economic crisis papered over by the on-going obscenity of astronomical management and bankers’ bonuses… which continue to drive a wedge between the have’s and the have not’s in a world patrolled by dark, centrally controlled police forces. It’s not such a stretch then for us to fully empathize with what’s going on in “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent” or “The Minority Report”.
These existential fears of our times don’t nearly end there. We’ve always suspected that there was more than a grain of truth in the rise of Skynet, artificial intelligence and robots that will pretty soon become sentient. “I Am Robot”, “A.I Artificial Intelligence”, R2-D2 and Arnold Schwarzenegger prove the point.
So we normal folk who can’t out-gun or out-run the rush of zombies trooping out of the streets or parliaments nearest to you will either become a zombie, get wiped out by someone we thought was human or end up scrabbling for food with Katniss Evergreen.
But that’s sci-fi that’s of this world. There’s also sci-fi that’s out of it. Think “Star Wars”, “Star Trek” “Avatar”, “Battlestar Galactica” and “Alien”. That’s the other future we have to look forward to: the earth has been destroyed and we now live on sundry planets with names like Tatooine or Pandora, running away from sith lords, or (once again) mega corporations bent on destroying all before them in search of precious minerals (coltan probably).
With a future this dark, we all need the tonic of an escape into a world that bares only the vaguest resemblance to ours, but that’s exciting, funny, charming, sexy, and filled with good music.
Introducing the blockbuster fun movie of the summer: Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” featuring a real carbon based life form human person, “Parks and Recreation’s” Chris Pratt as Peter Quill or the Star Lord. He’s a wise-cracking, disco dancing, Hans Solo wannabe that scavenges and steals for a living. The problems come after he steals a mysterious orb – the object of desire of Ronan (Lee Pace, not to be confused with Keanu Reeve’s “47 Ronin” or Robert De Niro’s cheaper version “Ronin”), arch villain and potential destroyer of galaxies. His flight from multiple other dangerous creatures forces him to team up with Gamora (Zoe Saldana, still in her strange colour from “Avatar”), Rocket, a raccoon with attitude and the voice of Bradley Cooper who was obviously enjoying himself, Drax the destroyer, an enormous hulk of a man in the form of ex WWF “Smack Down” wrestling championships, David Bautista (or The Rock part two) and a towering, multi-talented tree, Groot, expertly played by Vin Diesel whose acting style is usually so wooden that he fitted seamlessly into the role.
These five zap here and there, elude and destroy armies of attackers and, thanks to a smart script and James Gunn’s pitch-perfect directing “Guardians of the Galaxy” comes across as a movie that accepts its role as blissful, well-crafted escapism with great gusto.
It’s a difficult act to pull off: keeping the audience gripped and in the thrall of a crew of ridiculous creatures, whilst being a very self aware, and mockingly irreverent.
Alas, after two fun hours, we were back to the dystopian zombie reality of Israel and Palestine, Ukraine, Bank crimes and the other malignancies of a world without moral leadership