In short: Yup.
Seeing as this film came right after the this year’s astounding (and straight up badass) Phase 2 movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, many people stated that Guardians of the Galaxy was going to have to be really awesome to earn its rightful place in the MCU franchise.
Well, I am here to the confirm that the film has most definitely earned its place.
But before I dive into explaining the zany film that was Guardians of the Galaxy, here’s brief summary:
The adventure begins with the smooth and fast-talking ravager/thief Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) making off with another important object—which is later revealed to be an infinity stone. Either way, this object gets Quill into a lot of trouble with Yondu (Michael Rooker), a fellow space thief, which in turn spurs Quill to go on the run.
This leads him to come across bounty hunters Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), as they are trying to capitalize on the vast bounty on Quill’s head. Meanwhile, all three are confronted by legendary (and infamous) assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is attempting to get “The Orb” back for her “father” Thanos (Josh Brolin). The ensuing fight causes all four characters to be captured by the Nova Corps (Marvel’s space police force that has drawn comparisons to DC’s Green Lantern Corps).
Fast forward and the four are thrown into jail where we as the audience are officially introduced to Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a man with a serious chip on his shoulder (of course, having the whole of your family murdered will do that to you). Wanting out of jail and wanting to complete their respective goals, all of which include either murder, betrayal, or the promise of a serious payday, these five psychopaths band together to mount a rather explosive escape. However, when the five learn that their potential payday could lead to the destruction of the entire universe, these lunatics are forced to realize they might be the only ones capable of saving the day.
At any rate, this film was great and was definitely an acceptable first outing for the Guardians. That being said, here are my reservations—good, bad, and “eh” about the movie:
Characters (Growth, Development, and Screen Time)
- Peter Quill
Peter Quill (and the rest of the team) are definitely some new and awesome additions to Marvel’s gallery of “lovable” assholes.
Moving on, Quill will definitely garner some comparisons to a more modern, more snarky Han Solo. What you see is what you get when it comes to Peter Quill (and most of the team to be honest). He’s snarky, he’s goofy, he’s got sticky fingers, and he has a penchant for getting himself in trouble. Though we don’t get too much of his back-story in this film, you get the general gist that there’s more to this guy and that basically, he definitely qualifies as the “Jerkass with a Heart of Gold” (Thanks, TV Tropes).
Unlike Quill, Gamora isn’t exactly an open book, although being a feared and revered assassin on account of the Mad Titan will lead one to that type of life.
Anyways, Gamora serves as an interesting foil to Peter Quill, as she ends up functioning as the no-nonsense straight wo(man) to Quill’s incredibly slick goof. She’s a badass with a past and it shows. However, what really interests me about Gamora is her conviction. Whatever she does—good or bad—she is usually fully committed to it…including her quest to get away from her “father” also known as Thanos.
- Rocket Raccoon
I love this guy.
Not only is he the mascot (he would probably kill me for calling him that) for all that is whacked-out and crazy as it concerns The Guardians of the Galaxy, but he, quite frankly, steals every scene that he shows up in—with the exception of scenes that involved Groot. What greatly impresses me about this character is that he is foul, he is funny, but he is also very real and frank. Rocket’s not one for bullsh*t. For example, Rocket delivers a couple of appropriately timed (and sometimes very serious) speeches over the course of the movie that reflect some truth about how the world works. He’s definitely my favorite (along with Groot).
I have one question.
What is it with Vin Diesel’s ability to use characters that barely speak to completely obliterate all of your feels?
Anyways, while Groot does not speak that much in the film as I previously mentioned, he also manages to steal the show. Granted, though Rocket spends a respectable amount of time translating Groot in the film, the varied ways in which Groot says “I am Groot” are expressive enough to clue you in to what this guy is about. It’s weird (but delightful). He’s very multi-faceted for a talking tree. His vocabulary is not all that big, but his facial expressions were priceless. He is kind, but also prone to fits of rage. And above all, he is self-sacrificing and I think that is so f*cking awesome.
- Drax the Destroyer
He’s Drax. He’s angry, he’s in your face, and if you are not careful, he will outright kill you, no questions asked.
On a scale of overall threat level ranging from the sweet (but deadly) Groot to the batsh*t crazy Raccoon, I am fully convinced that he breaks the scale. Though we are introduced to Drax post-tragedy, you can feel his rage radiating off the screen. He so very clearly wants to punish those that were involved in the demise of his family and you can’t help but root for the son of a b*tch…even if that mission ends up bringing on a stupid amount of problems.
On top of that, Drax takes things quite literally, which makes for some hilarious lines and etc.
Supporting Characters (Growth, Development, and Screen Time)
- The Nova Corps—including Nova Prime Irani Rael, Rhomann Dey, and Denarian Saal
I haven’t really stressed this enough, so here goes: my knowledge on The Nova Corps and the Guardians is pretty limited. However, I was expecting to see some nods to the Nova Centurions or Nova himself, but it appears as we might be seeing them in subsequent, cosmic-related films.
Moving on, I appreciate the fact that The Nova Corps tried really hard to be competent (police forces in superhero movies are usually devoid of all intelligence whatsoever. I am looking at you, Gotham police force), considering the fact that the Kree’s leaders weren’t really trying to stop an impending genocide. While I was slightly critical of their plan to stop Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) from wreaking havoc on the universe, I do look forward to seeing them again in the GOTG sequel and subsequent cosmic movies.
Yondu was quite…colorful, if not completely antagonizing.
In the film, Yondu functions as Quill’s father figure of some sort and to be frank, I could have done without him. Again, I am not too familiar with how he was portrayed in the comics, but he plays a semi-important role in the movie and in the fight against Ronan the Accuser. So, I guess I will excuse his outrageousness (especially since I am a fan of Michael Rooker).
…Also known as Space Liberace.
The Collector (Benicio del Toro) did not spend a lot of time on screen in this film, but I enjoyed what little time he had nonetheless. He is wonderfully peculiar and occasionally menacing. Audiences will only catch a couple of glimpses of The Collector’s vast “collection” (there’s a nod to Thor: The Dark World here), but even with those small glimpses, you can tell that he is not completely there in the head (which is okay, considering the protagonists of this film).
- Quill and Yondu
As I mentioned earlier, these two share a sort of father and son relationship that isn’t explored in great detail in the movie. At any rate, Yondu isn’t exactly the best father figure, so it is quite satisfying (and hilarious) when Quill goes off on him about the matter later in the film. Overall, though, I could have done without Yondu.
- Rocket and Groot
I love these two. You don’t get one without the other and their relationship is envious at best. Not only do they completely understand each other, but they would also do basically anything for the other. What could you possibly ask for in a friendship?
- Gamora and Quill
I was very skeptical about this relationship coming into this film because I figured they would automatically be paired off into some weird ass couple because, you know, why the hell not? (Because, you know, it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without some weird or random sexual tension, right? Never mind Gamora is the only chick on this team. Does she really have to be paired off to someone immediately?)
The film got me worried a couple of times, but ultimately, nothing too serious culminated from this (which should be credited to Gamora and her “I-am-not-about-this-life” ways), and I am hoping they remain awesome friends, like Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff.
Also, bonus points to Gamora for spawning the words “pelvic sorcery”.
- Gamora and Nebula
I would definitely describe this relationship as a sibling rivalry, especially since daddy dearest, Thanos, dropped the words “my favorite daughter” at one point.
Moving on, I like the moments between them, as they are always intense and usually accompanied by some equally intense action. However, such moments were definitely too far and few between and it didn’t help that their climatic confrontation seemed as if it was cut short for some reason. I’m hoping to see this dynamic expounded in the future.
- The Guardians
What can I say? Who knew that a team of murderous and psychotic thieves could work so well? I sure didn’t, but I am glad that the film was able to convince me otherwise. The team definitely has some great chemistry, which shows in the film’s climax. Honestly, you could make a movie about these five wackos embarking on some world-ending journey to McDonald’s and I would still show up to watch (that’s how crazy they are).
If I were to give this film a theme, I’d go with this: Belonging. Seriously. It doesn't get simpler than that, which is another thing I liked about the film. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the super serious CA: TWS and how it got us to consider what we would give up in order to be safe, but make no mistake. Guardians of the Galaxy is not even pretending to be that serious. This film is a movie about a bunch of f*cked up, displaced misfits who find solace in being together. And you know what? At the end of the day, that is something that I can most certainly relate to.
Fight Choreography (and Action by extension)
Though there isn’t as much intense physical fighting as in CA: TWS, the film more than makes up for it with its super enjoyable aircraft and space fights (making good use of some bad-ass set pieces). It makes for a super cool spectacle and had me leaving the theater in high spirits.
I don’t know if Marvel is getting better at humor or if James Gunn and Nicole Perlman are awesome (I guess I’m going to credit to both?). Either way, I was highly, HIGHLY impressed with the various ways in which humor was utilized in this film. From the very filthy sex joke to a highly hilarious dance-off, this movie has a little bit of everything for everyone. And the best part about this film is that it completely owns all of its humor and cheesiness (something MCU films like Thor 2: TDW attempted to do and dropped the ball on) and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Cameos and After-Credit Scenes
I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that the one after-credit scene we get is highly hilarious, especially if you recognize who this character is. And just for good measure, Marvel inserts a credit right afterward to make sure people don’t leave in confusion. Enjoy!
Soundtrack and Score
This is a new addition for me, as I have not previously cared about the soundtrack/scores as it concerns the other MCU films (the exception is Iron Man and its use of some stellar rock music). Nevertheless, you will enjoy this film’s soundtrack (I know I did). Not only does it almost completely take a retro turn, but it uses some of the best 70’s/80’s tracks out there. It’s such a good throwback. I found myself dancing to the music on several occasions.
The Villain (And All Related Villany)
And herein lies all of the qualms.
As you know, and as I have frequently talked about, Marvel have a penchant for producing some seriously lackluster villains and unfortunately this movie succumbs to that trend. In this film, Ronan the Accuser shows up to do his villain thing and honestly, he is very much over-the-top and you don’t really find out too much about him besides the fact that he is a zealot. I suppose that such a thing might be due to the overall tone of the film. Either way, he leaves a lot to be desired (though I will give him some points for being a very good physical threat. Genocide is nothing to laugh at or dismiss). Add that to the fact that his lackeys, Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) aren’t really in the movie that much (despite doing their respective bad-ass things with what little time they get) and I’m getting a little tired of being underwhelmed in the villain department.
The Unnamed MacGuffin
Also referred to by the internet as “The Orb”.
The only thing worse than having some named MacGuffin vaguely explained to you is having some unnamed MacGuffin explained to you (or quite frankly, not explained to you). To explain, in the film, this new MacGuffin is obviously part of the Infinity Stones that Thanos is attempting to collect. And once again, the audience is told not sh*t about this new MacGuffin, as it happened with the Aether and the Tesseract. The closest we get to a legitimate explanation is the fact that it could potentially cause mass destruction to a planet (followed by some admittedly impressive visuals), but then again, that’s what was said about the other two MacGuffins; so what exactly makes this one different again?
GOTG is James Gunn’s first go at a big budget affair and it occasionally shows. Earlier, I mentioned that the film had some excellent action as it concerned large set pieces and superb aircraft fights and etc. Well, on the flip-side of that, there were some parts of the film (especially as intense action occurred) where you could clearly see the CGI. I’m hoping this gets better in subsequent GOTG sequels.
While this wasn’t a HUGE problem, it did bother me slightly as it concerned characters like Ronan the Accuser and Yondu. While Ronan’s dialogue moved between being rather wooden to being over-the-top, Yondu’s dialogue bordered on the exceedingly pointless. Case in point: Yondu makes some speech at the beginning to Quill and literally repeats the same exact speech (almost word-for-word) to Quill later in the movie. My immediate thought was: “What was the point of this?” Again, it wasn’t a huge issue in this movie, but I think it is something that future MCU movies should watch out for.
Walking, Talking Plot Points/Exposition
On that note, another thing that was side-eye worthy for me was the amount of times that someone clearly just spouted out a bunch of exposition without any subtlety whatsoever. While this could have been a conscious choice, it took me out of the movie sometimes. One example is Gamora disclosing her background. Not only did I think that was an odd decision, seeing as she’s an assassin and all, but the amount of information she disclosed was a bit on the over-sharing side. Look, if I’m an assassin/mercenary/etc, there is no way I am telling anyone who my life’s story if they don’t need to know it. It would be pointless.
Weird Choice of Words
I’m going to be that asshole.
The amount of times that I heard “boy” in this movie, due to the space hillbilly that is Yondu and even Thanos, was over 9000. Pair that with the fact that I also heard the words “slave” and “master” on more than one occasion (granted, we are in space and dealing with aliens, but this is still worth MANY a side-eye), and certain parts of this movie were really uncomfortable to sit through.
It’s 2014, Marvel. Do better. Employ some tact.
Before I close, here’s some food for thought:
- TL;DR: The movie was pretty good.
All in all, I am willing to boldly proclaim that Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the few MCU films to truly stand on its own (many have said this about Iron Man 3, but I just don’t agree). Yes, there are nods and some minor connections to the overall universe, but if I decided to just watch this film and forgo all other MCU films, I believe that I would have just as much fun as someone who had watched all of the films a million times over.
I look forward to seeing this unhinged team in action again.
You can check out my original article in all of its gif-fy glory here.
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