Release Date: 8/1/2014
Dir. James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt (Peter Quill aka Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Djimon Hounsou (Korath the Pursuer),Michael Rooker (Yondu), John C. Reilly (Corpsman Rhomann Dey), Glen Close (Nova Prime), Benicio Del Toro (Taneleer Tivan aka The Collector)
Anyone who reads this blog would know that saying I am excited about Guardians of the Galaxy is putting it lightly. I’ve been ecstatic and thrilled for months bordering on years since its announcement. For one it is part of a connected universe that I adore based in the realm of my favorite comics. It’s a James Gunn film which is a major draw for me. Then you add in the cast who I’ve collectively loved for more years than I’ve been alive. Guardians of the Galaxy was destined to be my film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier rolled out and my expectations of Marvel films solidified. That also meant Guardians of the Galaxy had a lot to live up to, almost more pressure than any movie should face. The sad truth is that walking out of the theatre and all throughout I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was experiencing a movie that felt good. I’m talking like deep in my bones, Guardians of the Galaxy brought out all the light, happiness, and tension in a beautiful balance. So, knowing that I was excited for the film you can take my word with a grain of salt, but I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to see a movie that will give you the feels, or that wants to see a space opera, or just wants a good afternoon of fun. Embrace the nostalgia and enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy.
Beware of the Spoilers. They are plentiful like the 80s references in this movie.
In 1988 Peter Quill’s mother died. In his upset state he ran out of the hospital where he was abducted by Yondu. 26 years later, Peter Quill, who know prefers the name Star-Lord is a thief going after an orb that both Yondu and Korath the Pursuer are going after. They aren’t the only ones after the orb that Star-Lord now has and he finds himself in jail after causing a ruckus in the middle of Xandar. There he learns that the orb is wanted by Ronan who is working for Thanos and Gamora will do anything to prevent that fate. Gamora manages to convince Star-Lord, Rocket, and Groot that if they help her she will split the money she is supposed to get for giving the orb to the collector. After breaking themselves out of jail, they head to Knowhere to meet with the collector.
With the collector they learn the true power of the orb. In the hands of Thanos or Ronan, the people of Xandar will face certain doom. Their resolve to stop Ronan reinforced, the ragtag team decide to bring the orb somewhere safe out of their enemies reach. Before they can get the all powerful orb to safety it is taken by Ronan’s people. Forced now to protect the planet of Xandar, the team, with the help of Yondu’s crew launch an offensive against Ronan to prevent him from landin and destorying the planet. Even with the aid of the Nova Corps, it is not enough to stop Ronan from reaching the ground. However, just before Ronan can use the power of the orb, Peter grabs hold of it willing to away his life to stop Ronan. However, Star-Lord survives with the help of Gamora, Drax, and Rocket and Ronan is destroyed with Xandar still in tact.
/End Plot Summary
Let’s start with one of the most noticeable traits of the movie, the soundtrack. Rather than being bombarded with newer music that may not stand the test of time or being entirely score, we got treated to a healthy dosage of 70s and 80s classics. These songs that ranged from “Cherry Bomb” to “I Want You Back” added life to the film in just the right moments. They added life and changed the tone of a scene within moments. Most impressively, Gunn found ways to incorporate the songs into the interactions of the characters, taking the tracks in and out of the ambient track. Considering not as many movies of late choose to incorporate movies in such a way it was nice for the little details.
Tonally the movie was spot on. Never once did a situation feel out of the realm of the movie or its characters. This is largely because of the way each situation was handled. A moment that was tense would often be momentarily alleviate with a joke or short string of jokes before getting back to business. It felt right as each of the characters were so vastly different that it was easy for the characters to play off each other. Each shift in the tone and back was well crafted by Gunn as he infused his style while working with the characters.
One of the biggest joys of the movie was how much the actors seemed to revel in the roles that they were in. It looked like everyone was having fun and you could feel that through the screen. Chris Pratt was the living embodiment of Star-Lord as he cracked jokes and was a haphazard thief. Then there was Drax who was highly intelligent, but the subtleties of personal interactions seemed to go right over his head. Dave Bautista made Drax come to life, going against my fear that he’d be the flattest of all the characters. Instead, he was just as entertaining as the rest. Bradley Cooper was nearly unrecognizable as Rocket and you forgot that he was a furry thing at times. He delivered a large amount of laughs with his gruff nature that perfectly contrasted the very sweet Groot. In fact, it was hard not to walk out of the theatre absolutely loving Groot and his genial nature.
Time and time again, Marvel has struggled to bring forth a truly solid villain. They came close with the nebulous threat of Hydra in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Guardians of the Galaxy is unfortunately no better in the villain department. Yes, Ronan is bad. He is kind of a dick. We know what he wants to do is bad and for an even worse person. However, we never really get to see just how bad Ronan is. Instead we have to take his word based off a single fight with Drax, accusations, and him killing a single man. It doesn’t feel tangible enough. It makes the quest our team is on seem overly exaggerated. The truth is, what they are trying to stop is incredibly important, but it doesn’t quite feel as important as it should be. Ronan is afterall trying to wipe out the entire planet of Xandar because he feels slighted by the fact that his people, the Kree, signed a peace treaty with the Xandarians. Thankfully, the fact that he is working for Thanos makes the situation feel a bit more important (though that importance could easily be lost on non-comic fans).
Which will temporarily bring me to the Kree (and no I won’t even bring up the fact that Korath was not portrayed as a Kree along with Ronan). Ronan the Accuser is one bitter Kree and that is what this entire movie is about. Yes, Thanos wants to orb, but the only reason Ronan gets involved is because he wishes to destroy all Xandarians. And why, because they signed a peace treaty with each other and he just wasn’t having it. Our first look at the Kree though also indicates rather clearly that the being stored in the facility discovered in Agents of SHIELD was undoubtedly an injured Kree. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a Kree injured in the war that has Ronan’s panties in a bunch. The officially involvement of Kree does now officially open doors for other places in the Marvel universe to begin incorporating them. The real question is how long will it be until we encounter the skrulls.
Another thing that didn’t quite deliver as much as I hoped was Nebula. Karen Gillan also seemed very into the role and her look was positively stunning. Everything from the little touches reminding you that she is an android to the big glossy black eyes. Nebula looked great, sounded great (the slight robotic tinge that was given to Gillan’s voice was spot on), conveyed her frustrations, yet was lacking. This is in no fault of Gillan or Gunn, but of time. It would have been more powerful to see Nebula really get into it rather than a brief fight. Despite the two referring to each other as sister, and there seemingly being tension stemming from their relationship to Thanos, the audience doesn’t get much time to deal with this. While the best that they could do time wise without slowing down the movie was done, I would hope that we get to see more of Nebula and Gamora in the future. There is such rich history between the two and the fact that they have such tension brewing between them is perfect for future conflict. Which is something that I have to commend Gillan and Saldana for. Each managed to make their every scene together tactile.
One of the most amazing things in this movie is just how James Gunn this movie feels. This may be a Marvel property and they may have had to work within the very detailed and specific Marvel framework, but Gunn proved that you can remain within that framework and still create a movie that feels uniquely your own. From the humor to the pacing, to balance, this felt like a James Gunn movie without any doubt. The banter and interactions between the characters are absolutely top notch. Very quickly you feel attached to the characters and become invested in their fates. You don’t even want to see good old Yondu hurt, even when you know he is probably 95% dick. The movie is bound to be one that will be a quote along glory in years to come.
Guardians of the Galaxy has heart. It will make you walk out of the theatre with all sorts of feels as you see the team finally come together as not just begrudging participants in a mutually beneficial deal, but as friends. Guardians of the Galaxy delivers where it counts and that is delivering a solid movie that will make you feel good walking out. Not only that, but it’s a great bit of escapism as it explores the universe. This is a space opera at it’s most fun. It isn’t super deep, and there are more references to the 80s than some may wish to remember, but it is a lot of fun. Would I recommend this movie to people? Of course, but only to people who have a heart. I’ll now be patiently waiting for Gunn’s return with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 due out in 2017.
Extra Spoilers Ahead!
Aside from the cute little add on of Groot dancing to the Jackson 5, we got our proper Marvel tag. In the tag we saw Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, awakening after the explosion of his place. He is promptly licked in the face by Cosmo (who didn’t talk). After shooing the dog away, he hears a voice. A moment later we see that it’s none other than Howard the Duck all dusty, likely from being at the explosion as a part of the collection. The inclusion of Howard the Duck is very left field, but also very enjoyable. Could this mean more Howard in the future, who knows?
Check out the gallery here. What did you think of the movie?