Review by Henry Tran

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


Guardians of the Galaxy is another visually spectacular, action-packed summer blockbuster from the folks at Marvel Studios, who seem more and more like an unstoppable juggernaut with every release. We've come to expect that from them now. What sets this apart from the individual films is the sense of fun. 





Unlike The Avengers though, this hasn't been built up piece-by-piece for years. The titular Guardians of the Galaxy aren't an all-star team of superheroes, but more a rag-tag bunch of criminals who band together for a better purpose. Yes, that sounds like a re-purposing of the plot from The Avengers, and yet, I think the film doesn't care about that particular comparison. It's occupying the same universe (with Thanos as the connective tissue) so it wants to play around with the conventions within that framework. That brought a smile to my face by the end.



The freedom from those expectations produces a natural flow to the film that hasn't been seen since The Avengers. The story introduces all of the necessary characters one by one while also setting up the most basic direction. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was abducted from Earth as a child and makes a living as an outlaw who steals precious objects for Yondu (Michael Rooker). Taking one particular orb puts him on the radar of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who has two aliens named Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) working for him. Gamora, a trained killer and assassin, turns on Ronan when she discovers that he wants to use the orb to help her adopted father Thanos (Josh Brolin) destroy the universe and kill millions of people.


    


Yondu secretly sends two bounty hunters, Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) to collect Quill and get the orb as well. Rocket is a cybernetically-enhanced talking raccoon and Groot is his giant, indestructible tree of a bodyguard/friend/partner who only says, "I am Groot." When Quill, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot get captured by the Nova Corps on planet Xandar, they're all sent to an intergalactic prison that puts them next to Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who has his own personal history with Ronan the Accuser.


Okay, that's a lot to digest in terms of a plot summary, but again, it's just a great feeling not to really have to deal with how this film has to line up with the ones that have come before it. The presence of Thanos suggests that this world and the Avengers world will eventually collide, but that's quickly dismissed. The plot is also a little too reliant on everyone chasing the MacGuffin (at several points, I was confused as to who had the orb, where the orb was, where the orb was going to go, and who wanted the orb to go to another particular person; someone needs to create a line chart to keep track), and the MacGuffin is a rather big piece of the Marvel comics universe as well as the cinematic one.


    


It has a lot of fun with its irreverent tone, though. That's established from the very beginning, as Quill dances through a barren planet to the sounds of an old 1970's-era pop song. Quill is the only human in the entire cast so he's the anchor with which the audience sticks throughout. The pop song soundtrack is used in key moments and not overdone, as most directors would do so because they can't help themselves.


Director James Gunn blends moments of pathos, romance, heart, and warmth into all of the action fireworks that will put people in the seats. Like Joss Whedon, he knows the intricacies of pacing: When to dial up the action and when to scale back and bring out the more intimate moments. Quill is a dashing, goofy rogue; Gamora finds a bit of humanity seeping into her alien skin as her loyalty to Ronan is tested and influenced by being around Quill; Rocket and Groot may become fan favorites as they are involved in the film's most memorable moments and sequences.



    


Rocket has several laugh-out-loud lines that will bring the house down. Groot may only have three words to say in the entire film but a multitude of facial expressions and his indestructible quality along with his buddy relationship with Rocket are like nothing else in the Marvel universe. Drax The Destroyer could have been the brainless "muscle" of the bunch but he also has some howlers for punchlines that would rival Rocket for comic quality in addition to the brute physicality his presence brings.


Everyone in the film embraces their inherent, unabashed weirdness, which makes the film work completely. Yes, Ronan is not much of a presence as a villain; Thanos is much more fearsome, although he seems to be saving him for Avengers 3 (which Gunn has acknowledged this film has large bearing on), and I wanted to know what his ultimate goals were. Also, the Guardians are all basically indestructible so that robs urgency from the end of the film, but these are really minor quibbles.


    



Much of the focus is on the main team and that does leave very little for the bit players to play with. Actors like Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Benecio del Toro, Karen Gillan, and Peter Serafinowicz prove that those parts are necessary to the whole, though. It left me wanting to know more about the whole world they're inhabiting.


It's a shame that won't come until 2017 when the second Guardians of the Galaxy film comes out. But I truly love this film. It's been a long time since I felt this way about a Marvel film. Guardians of the Galaxy should be celebrated as a bright spot in the midst of a dark movie landscape.



Our Grade:
A+
Your Grade: A+
(Based on 4 grades)
The Good:
  • Another huge winner for the MCU
  • Solid introduction of new team characters
  • Gunn's weird sensibilities work wonders
The Bad:
  • Supporting cast doesn't get a lot to do

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Review by - 8/3/2014 12:05 PM504 views

Your Responses

Bobby Blackwolf
Bobby Blackwolf
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A
With all of the depressing news going on in the real world, a fun movie like this was exactly what I needed. It embraced the camp and made it work, and it really felt like an old-school sci-fi flick, and not something that's dark and brooding like other superhero movies. I really liked that Adult Peter was already Starlord when we met him - no awkward "Earthling In Space" montage. Between this and Sharknado 2, this was a really great week for movies!
See 3 More Concurring Opinions
act_deft
act_deft
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A+
I really loved this film, it was fun and entertaining from beginning to end. Rocket and Groot almost stole the film but all the main cast was really superb and likeable, even Drax. I was really surprised by Batista's acting, dunno if it was the character or not but he really sold it. Though yeah, the supporting cast and villain was underplayed but then again, it wasn't their story, it was the Guardians'. I'm looking forward to what the 2nd movie has in store.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A+
Definitely my favorite film from the Marvel universe and one of my favorite comic book movies ever. Sure it borrows the plot from the Avengers but at least the final confrontation in this movie involves a dance-off which the super-serious Avengers could have benefited from. It's interesting to me that the writing on this film was much more witty and fun than all the other Marvel movies yet this isn't the one by Joss Whedon.
TigerClaw
TigerClaw
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A+
When I first heard about Guardians of the Galaxy, I was not familiar with the Comics, So I ended up doing research on it thanks to Google. I saw the film on Friday at its first showing, Saw it in RealD 3D, I thought this was the best Marvel movie yet, All the character's were great, The story, Rocket and Groot being my favorites of the group of course. I highly recommend everyone to see this film, Its a Modern Day Space Opera with some Classic 70s & 80s Music mixed in.

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Comments

TigerClaw
TigerClaw
8/3/2014 1:09 PM

0 0

Reply
I saw the film on Friday and I loved every minute of it, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are my favorite characters in the film, Everyone should go see it.
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