I originally posted this to my blog (wordofsean.blogspot.com) back when the film was first released in theaters, and I'm posting this in light of the upcoming DVD/ Blu-Ray release. So, if there are some things that conflict with some of Marvel's announcements since then, then oh well. It shouldn't, it's just an amalgamation of my thoughts at time, with mild spoilers.
What some have called the new "Avengers" and this generation's "Star Wars" comes the tenth installment into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (so basically it exists along with all the other big Marvel movies), Guardians of the Galaxy. Taking place on Earth for a total of one scene, this movie has barely anything to do with the other Marvel films but at the same time proves to be one of its boldest and strongest installments to date.
If you've never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, then fear not, because definitely more than half of the moviegoers that went to see it probably hadn't heard of them. If not heard of then at least not known very much about them. I didn't. The only characters I knew about were Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, and I knew Nebula's history enough to where I wasn't thrown off by her character. Outside of that I was completely clueless, and I still had myself a very fun time.
Despite one of the biggest selling points for Guardians being the Marvel logo stamped on it, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that this feels nothing like a super-hero movie. If anything it is like Star Wars, as the plot direction is very similar and some of the characters are also similar. Granted, there are super-villains in this movie but the general feel of the movie feels like a space adventure.
There's a scene where they go to a club (which was apparently located on the severed head of a giant being...so that's a thing) and it feels very much like the Cantina from Star Wars. Various different races of aliens crawling about, and then you've got our heroes, who easily stand out just as Luke, Obi-Wan, Chewbacca, and Han did back in Mos Eisley.
Sadly, no Greedo.
There really isn't much in terms of plot that makes it seem like a super-hero movie, either, it's an adventure story. Normally a super-hero movie is something about taking down the super-villain because he's just bad. This movie is more of a quest, which is what elevates it beyond most other movies. It's a quest to find "the orb" (for those of you who haven't seen the movie I won't spoil what exactly it is) and pretty much carries itself as such.
In terms of action it isn't on par with something of Avengers or Cap 2, but it is still action-packed. I mean, there's a space battle, which was awesome. There's not much hand-to-hand combat but when it's there it's pretty cool.
The special effects of the movie are actually very stunning in this movie. Being the huge risk that this movie was, I feel like the team was like, "You know what, if we go down, we have to make them remember who we are." So basically imagine any "Transformers" movie but actually good...and actually funny. I know people hate on the Star Wars prequels, but you have to give it up to the effects for making planets like Mustafar and Coruscant look the way they did. Similarly, Guardians makes the planets and environments seem very real and interactive. I'm willing to bet most of that can be attributed to the 3-D, but still. It looks great.
The CGI on Rocket and Groot, as well as undoubtedly several other characters, is phenomenal. Their movements are both as normal and yet abnormal as one would expect. Obviously a raccoon is physically limited due to its size but it's still awesome to see Rocket be as life-like as possible, the same with Groot.
The biggest plus for this film is the comedy. The first scene has no comedy, it's actually pretty heartbreaking, but the scene after that instantly sets the movie's tone as far as comedy, and it doesn't slow down from there. Much of the comedy comes from the interactions of the team. One character will say something and then another bounces right back with a witty remark. Some of the dialogue outside of the comedy feels clunky compared to the banter, actually.
The stand-out characters were, as expected, Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon. They were the funniest and wittiest characters of the entire film and really shaped it and made it memorable. Not that the rest of the team wasn't funny, it's just that they weren't purposefully funny. Drax and Gamora would just say certain things that you couldn't help laugh at by how outlandish they were, and at the same time at how casual it was for them to say these things.
As far as casting goes I would say that outside of RDJ as Tony Stark and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, this is by far Marvel's best casting. It's the kind of cast that will definitely reform the Guardians for a very long time, kind of how Kevin Conroy changed Batman for everyone. Ask someone, "Whose the best Batman?"
Kevin freaking Conroy.
Even the villains were cast very well. Lee Pace as Ronan was threatening. Really I feel that's all Ronan had to do, was just be overbearing and threatening. Josh Brolin as Thanos was awesome, because you instantly knew off his two-scene performance that he was calling the shots, and that bugs like the Guardians were just annoying. He gave off this sort of aura of "I am going to wreck Avengers 3" that you couldn't argue with.
In terms of Easter Eggs, or little hints at upcoming films or what is to come, this movie probably has the fewest considering how disconnected it is from the rest of the MCU. One big one is the Nova Corps, which eventually houses another interstellar super-hero known as Nova, who has gained recent fame in Marvel comics in his own battle against Thanos, and would be an interesting take for the MCU.
Sadly, regarding Easter Eggs, the post-credits scene is by far one of the worst of the MCU. Considering how the last two post-credits scenes were epic (Sif handing over the Aether and the appearance of the Maximoff twins), this one was just...bad. It was short and dumb.
Spoilers for the post-credits scene that has hardly anything to do with the movie. Skip to the next bold sentence if you don't want it ruined.
So after the Collector has his base destroyed, he's just sitting there with that one astro-dog we saw, apparently a Marvel comics thing, when we hear a voice off-screen say something. We look over and see Howard the Duck sitting in a broken case.
Basically we learned that Howard the Duck is canon in the MCU and the Collector obtained him.
Alright, let's recall the last post-credits scene before a big Avengers movie. Captain America had just woken up in the present time and was warming his body back up in the gym when Nick Fury arrives and tells him that he's making a team to save the world. Then we got our first teaser of the Avengers. And it was incredible!
This time we got Howard the Duck.
I actually managed to come up with several different post-credits endings that may not have set up Age of Ultron but would have at least been cool:
-Thanos talking to a new servant about threats from the Guardians and Earth (to sort of tie-in the Avengers).
-Thanos showing up to the Collector's place and decides to take the Aether away due to his incompotence, and proclaims he will hunt down the remaining Stones.
-A disguised Thanos arrives at the scene of the battle and recovers a fallen Nebula and declares war on his adopted daughter Gamora and all of her allies.
-We see a disguised Collector hiding out in Nova Corps about to steal the Infinity Stone.
-On Earth, Sam Alexander finds a helmet similar to the Nova Corps in his father's shed and picks it up.
-Something with the Watcher, like him saying that Thanos will rampage across the solar system.
-On Earth we see a man with a communicator like the one the Nova Corps had sitting at a bar. He looks kind of ratty and worn out, and looks like he's something of a drunk. There's a TV on in the background but we can't see it. A message appears on his communicator, stating that Ronan was defeated by Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy. He laughs lightly, then says, "That's my boy." He is Star-Lord's father. He looks back up to the TV and we now see it clearly: It's a shot of the newly reformed Avenger's Tower. The headline on the TV reads: "Tony Stark creates new A.I.: Ultron" then BAM cut to a teaser for Avengers 2.
Alright spoilers are over.
Since the post-credits scene usually has nothing to do with the movie, I won't let it affect the experience for me. It's kinda like extra credit, in that if you do good, it's bonus, if not, nothing happens.
Guardians of the Galaxy was an excellent and extremely funny ride throughout most of the movie, with some dashes of real emotion throughout. It's a quotable and very memorable movie that should serve to help Marvel expand it's horizons as far as the MCU goes, but even at its core it is a movie worth seeing just for the heck of it.
I know some people feel it daunting to see a comic-book movie without knowing the history but there's no need to worry with this movie, as the characters are developed just as much as they need to be and the story is just right to the point where it's just a fun time to see a movie. Definitely recommend checking it out sometime soon!.