Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Best Possible Place to See 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

While we were in Maine, we had a chance to sneak away from the kids and see a movie.

Now, Mount Desert Island is not known for its cinematic options. You have to either go to a pizza-parlor/theater in Bar Harbor that has limited choices or drive out to Ellsworth, which is just across the bridge leading off the island.

After reading the reviews for "Guardians of the Galaxy," we figured it was worth making the trip to Ellsworth.

What we found there was a delightful throwback.

The Ellsworth movie theater is inside a half-vacant shopping mall and looks to be straight out of the late 1970s or early '80s. No stadium seating here, friends. We're talking sticky floor, stained drop-ceiling tiles, fuzzy picture and warbly sound. I'm pretty sure adding cup holders was the theater's only upgrade since the Jimmy Carter administration.

I don't recall there being any previews before the movie started, and my ticket stub looked like this.

In short, it's exactly like the theater where I saw "Star Wars" the first time.

This was perfect for "Guardians of the Galaxy," a space opera that's charming in part because it's so retro. The film is a silly, over-the-top spectacle — much like the sci-fi movies from when I was a kid ("Time Bandits," "Ice Pirates," "Buckaroo Banzai"), but with far better special effects.

The film is a little hard to follow at first (it probably didn't help that we were sitting in the back of a theater with rowdy Mainers). But after you get introduced to the ensemble cast, it has great pacing, humor, a peppy pop-music soundtrack and the best tree-based character in cinematic history (yes, much funnier than the Ents from "Lord of the Rings"). I'm not sure how the franchise will fit in with the rest of the Marvel universe — or whether the film's Howard the Duck cameo will be properly explained — but I'm eager to see the next installment.

I give "Guardians of the Galaxy" a BuboBlog Rating of 3 asterisks (out of 4) — with one caveat: I'm not sure seeing it will be quite as enjoyable without a 1970s time machine.