Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy 2014
There are a few things that I don’t do lightly, one of them is to go to the movie theater not just on opening weekend, but on opening night. Of course, it does help that these days opening night isn’t the midnight showing, I was able to catch a nice early 8pm showing and it wasn’t even the first one. But the reason why I ventured out to do this is because I was really excited to see this movie and my usual time to go on Saturday morning wasn’t nearly as early as I would have liked. But that’s all beside the point, I’ve been excited to see Guardians of the Galaxy from the first teaser and the fact that it’s directed by James Gunn. While he doesn’t have a perfect track record, I could really get behind what he’s trying to sell here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Specials, but Tromeo and Juliet was my first Troma film, I enjoyed the live action Scooby-Doo movie for what it was, and I’m a big fan of his Super. It’s still crazy to think how Gunn was chosen for this movie in the first place, but I’m glad he was. The humor hit in all the right places for me, the soundtrack was amazing, and the ecclectic cast somehow managed to mesh in just the right ways. I don’t think it’s the Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Universe as I’ve heard it called, but it’s another well placed entry in the universe.
I will say that aside from a few elements, it does follow a somewhat standard misfit team path. There’s Peter Jason Quill aka Star Lord played by Chris Pratt who is a human that got picked up by space pirates called Ravagers when he was a kid, Gamora played by Zoe Saldana who is the adopted daughter of the big bad Thanos and lieutenant of the 2nd bad Ronan who decides that now is the time to finally change sides when there is an entire planet at stake, Drax the Destroyer played by Dave Bautista who was the biggest surprise of the movie as a very literal thinking brute who is mostly single-minded in his goal to kill Ronan, and Rocket & Groot who really are the heart of this movie as James Gunn has said where Rocket is a genetically altered Racoon who is very good with technology and gadgets, especially weaponry and Groot is a giant living tree, basically an Ent plus who can do so much more than just walk, though his vocabulary is limited to the words “I”, “am”, and “Groot”, exclusively in that order. The team comes together essentially by chance as Star Lord stumbles upon one of the Infinity Stones while betraying his adopted Ravagers family and attracting the attention of bounty hunters (Rocket), Ronan (Gamora), and the Nova Corps which eventually leads him to Drax. The rest of it is fighting with each other, reluctantly joining together with the promise of money before realizing that they hold the key to saving the Galaxy, things look darkest before the dawn, and happily ever after.
The look of this movie is exactly what I would look for in a sci-fi movie. Even in just the past couple days, I’ve heard a lot of people comparing this movie to Star Wars, and one of the elements where I agree with this wholeheartedly is in the design. I’m not familiar with the comics, but the world of this galaxy full of alien races feels like a lived in universe that has a lot of backstory that we don’t see and that we don’t need to see. From the look of all the Ravagers to Knowhere and especially the Guardians themselves, everything looks sleek with a hint of a rough edge. And two of the most important characters to get right: Rocket and Groot, look absolutely amazing. The only aspect of this movie that I thought could have used a bit more development was Ronan himself. He’s painted as this religious zealot who is hellbent against destroying this one specific alien race called Xandar and has killed thousands without mercy, but when it comes to the heroes in this movie, he shows them mercy without reason. There’s also the setup of Thanos which is going to pay off a few years down the line, but because he is merely a seed being planted in this movie, he comes off as very weak and uninteresting.
There are a couple things that I absolutely loved in this movie, and one is the amazing soundtrack of 70’s songs with the excuse of having Star Lord’s one possession he kept with him from his time on Earth was this walkman and the Awesome Mix vol. 1 that his dying mother gave him in 1988 just before he was taken into space, and it was filled with all the songs that she loved. The other is the sense of family that the cast really sells. I’m a sucker for these types of movies where there’s a group of misfits who have no one else but end up being able to rely on each other. It can be cliched at times, but everyone is so great in their roles that it never feels that way. There’s also the moments where it is rightly undercut with the right amount of quirky humor like one of my favorite scenes where the group all decide to finally band together to accomplish this extremely risky and stupid plan and when the last hold out Rocket finally stands with them he says “Ok I’m standing! Now we’re all standing around like a bunch of jackasses!” This isn’t a perfect movie by any means, it doesn’t do anything all that originally, but what it does do it does very well and I loved nearly every minute of it. I don’t for a minute regret the fact that I saw this on opening weekend aside from the fact that my wife was pissed that I didn’t take her. But on the other hand, I will say that I’m glad I did not take my daughter with me. While there isn’t much violence, there’s no sex, there is quite a bit of crude humor, from the middle finger which isn’t censored as it is in the trailer, and probably as much swearing as they were allowed in a PG-13 movie. Not quite kid friendly, but very much me-friendly. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.