Now that Comic-Con is over and after a long vacation, I can return to blogging on some topics that have been pushed to the back burner. My passion with blogging first started years ago when I started a humble movie review website called BabbleOn5. While I now know solely doing movie reviews isn’t my thing, I do miss it from time to time. So once I saw Guardians of the Galaxy on opening weekend, I knew I had to put some thoughts down on paper for my fellow Comic-Con fans.
Even as an avid comic book fan, I shared the common concern we all felt upon hearing the news that Marvel had green lit GotG. After a quick visit to Wiki, we all looked up from our monitors and collectively said.. what tha what?! Better yet, I bet even the writers and illustrators at Marvel Comics were scratching their heads when Marvel Studios called breaking the good news to them. After the meteoric success of Avengers, it felt like Marvel could do no wrong, so if a gun toting raccoon was going to fly, it would have to happen now while the proverbial iron was hot. While comic book and Comic-Con fans were all rooting for the Marvel dark horse, the truth is, we were also holding our anxious breath and wondering if the successful freight train would come to a screeching halt.
I didn’t think it was possible but the Marvel freight train just kicked it up to the next gear. Wow, I was thoroughly impressed with Guardians. It was refreshing, fun, and entertaining from start to finish. The beloved spandex superhero costume is exchanged for hip spacesuits and a whole new dynamic side of the Marvel universe is revealed. The best part is that besides being a great comic book movie, it was also an amazing science fiction one too. In fact, it might be the best sci-fi adventure since the original Star Wars trilogy. Time and sequels will be the ultimate judge of that but I think Guardians has that special something that has set it apart from others. I won’t waste time with a plot summery since I am sure most of you have already seen it so I will jump straight into what I loved and what I didn’t.
What I Loved
Gone are the alpha types that have composed the fraternity of super males for the past 8 movies- which was a refreshing change. Like Peter Quill (Pratt) says “We are a bunch of losers… we’ve all lost stuff”. This group of misfits toys all band together because of their common sense of loss. Identity is a big theme in this movie- as in, who am I and what am I fighting for? Sure, it’s not terribly original but it’s a solid premise that not only the audience can relate to but a plausible motivation to bring this unlikely group together. This group are not billionaires, gods, or super soldiers. Just good hearts disguised as thieves and thugs. The chief anti-hero, Chris Pratt, really is the key to the success of this movie. He is both immature and a scruffy scoundrel and is like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rolled up into one. Even though they put him through the Marvel physical transformation machine (to include the mandatory 6 pack) you can tell he is just an every day guy just trying to get paid and not get killed in the process. The relationships swing from business partners to ‘frienemies’ to family and this is what makes us love him and the rest of the Guardians. Sure there are epic battle scenes and spectacles to behold, but really it is the sense of family that makes us leave the theater with a smile on our face. Like many of us know from experience, our closest and most meaningful friendships have often come from the most unlikely circumstances. In this sense, it accomplished even better what Joss tried in Avengers. In that case, those heroes don’t really need each other- but the Guardians do. When the Guardians fly off into the sunset you can tell, their adventures will be many and will be fun. I also loved the color/design of this movie. Every scene is rich and vibrant and it fully embraces it’s roots as a comic book movie. It relishes in the color and is not allergic to it which the competition seems to be over at DC/WB.
What I Didn’t Love
Marvel, we have to talk. As much as I love your films, two reoccurring issues are really starting to grate on my nerves. First, your villains are terrible. Ronan (Lee Pace) hasn’t been the worst offender in your pantheon of stories but there is really nothing to him. Just another dark and brooding low talker with a penchant to destroying a race of beings. No shades of gray, just pure evil. Boooooring. Loki is the only exception of the rule and as a result, has become one of the most popular and beloved characters out of all of the Marvel movies. The Winter Soldier took a huge leap in the right direction but Guardians took us back where we started. Come on Marvel, I know you can do better. Second, the plot is literally the same as the Avengers, beat-for-beat. Introduce the all powerful ‘Mcguffin’ that falls into the wrong hands and threatens to blow up a city. You have done it and everyone has already copied you a million times already. So it’s time to come up with a new way to threaten humanity or at least tell it in a different way. We know these are the typical comic book story lines but it’s getting predictable. If JJ can blow up Vulcan, you can shock us with some originality as well. That’s it with my gripes. My list is short but reoccurring which is not good.
On a side note, Guardians also passes the Bechdel Test– not with flying colors but it performs better than it’s other Marvel counterparts. This is an important test and I would encourage you to become a fan of it. Overall, I loved this movie. I already saw it a second time and still thoroughly had a great time. It’s a solid contender for best Marvel film and is right up there with The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As prolific as science fiction movies have become, there is no current modern day contender for King. It may be too early to crown this as the King of the galaxy just yet- but it certainly is a Guardian.
What are your thoughts on GotG’s strengths or weaknesses? How does it fare compared to the rest? Let me know by leaving a comment.
PS: For this review, I was tempted to just write “I AM GROOT” over and over again :)