The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

I've known Spider-Man all my life. I've known the X-Men most of my life. Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers; I can recite chapter and verse. But I have never read a "Guardians of the Galaxy" comic book in my life. I've read comics that have Gamora and Drax in them. I've heard of Rocket Raccoon and Groot; I knew next to nothing about Star Lord. So I went into this movie without any biases or pre-conceived notions. And whether it was good or not, I rooted for its success so that neither Marvel nor DC Studios would ever be able to say "this is too absurd for a movie" ever again.

I am happy to say the movie was good. That was the most fun I've had at the movies all year. My god. It was fun, it was offbeat... it was the exact opposite of a Nolan film (and I like Nolan films). I'm still gathering my thoughts, but I laughed and grinned my way through the entire movie.  It's not as thoughtful and topical as "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", but it doesn't need to be. This movie, like "The Avengers" before it, is the definition of a perfect popcorn movie.

The script is brilliant, this is a funny movie. The dialogue was witty without feeling forced and unnatural... something even the great Joss Whedon occassionally has a little bit of trouble with (and this is not a knock against Joss Whedon, I genuinely do enjoy his writing). I am tempted to say the script is the real star of the movie, because I rarely come out of movies like this thinking of the script first. But here we are.

As far as movies that are mostly shot on green screen, this one is better than most. It's bright, it's colorful, and everything is wonderfully alien. This is what Martin Campbell's "Green Lantern" should have been. Ben Davis did a wonderful job with the cinematography. The special effects were great. This is what the "Star Wars" prequels seemed to want to be, but failed at. Why? Because those movies put the SFX first when, despite everything I already said, as all the Marvel movies before it, the characters were front and center.

Do you like Nathan Fillion as Malcolm Reynolds in "Firefly"? Then you will like Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Star Lord. He brings a lot of charisma and his offbeat sense of humor to the part. A close friend of mine is a huge fangirl of Captain Mal and I said to her "if you don't fall in love with Star Lord, then I don't know who you are". In a lot of ways, this movie does feel very much like a much more comic booky version of "Firefly" and that is a good thing.

Before this movie, I did not count myself as a fan of Zoe Saldana. I'm not sure why, but she never really wowed me. Oh, what the right part can do for a thespian. I loved her as Gamora, and despite the more offbeat tone, I was able to buy into her as the deadliest woman in the galaxy. I was a little confused at her motivations early on, but thankfully my patience was rewarded, and her actions earlier in the movie made sense to me. I just wish I had gotten a little bit more.

Gamora and Star Lord definitely have a Beatrice and Benedict romance going on, and it doesn't feel forced. I've found that romantic relationships in comic book movies are seldom done well. The only ones I've ever bought into were Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone's Peter and Gwen, and Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes? Nope. Superman and Lois Lane? Nope. Tobey Maguire's Peter and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane? Hell no... and I love Peter and MJ in the comics. Don't even get me started on Thor and Jane Foster. But Star Lord and Gamora? Yes, I bought into them and I look forward to seeing what's next for these two.

Drax and Groot are very well done. But the show stealer was definitely Rocket Raccoon, and he had to be. If they screwed up, Rocket would have been the Jar Jar Binks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think most of us comic book geeks were nervous about Rocket going in, but he lived up to the hype. Rocket is probably one of the hardest characters in the Marvel Universe to translate to the silver screen, and they did it... *glares at Warner Bros* come on, guys, what's your excuse now?

The villains weren't the most engaging characters, but they got the job done. Ronan was effective and intimidating. I felt he could accomplish what he set out to accomplish. Likewise, Nebula was fun and I only wish she had some more screen time; but I have a feeling we'll be seeing her again. As for the Mad Titan himself? I will admit, I think his character design could use a little bit of work, but I liked what we saw... and he's only there for two short scenes, this isn't Thanos' time yet. We'll get there eventually, but I already fear for my favorite Avengers when the time comes to throw down with him... assuming they all survive Ultron next May.

Finally, the soundtrack for the movie was orgasmic. It was just beautiful. It was more than just background music, it was a character in and of itself. I'd say more, but you'll understand when you see it, and I don't want to spoil too much of it.

Go out, go see it, have a good time. I did, and you all know how picky I can be. I give the movie a solid A.


  1. Good to know. I'll be looking forward to seeing it this Saturday. Out of curiosity, do you still plan to review X-men: Days of Future Past?

    1. At this point it would have to be after I've had a chance to view it again.

    2. I hope it didn't come across as a forgettable film to you. I thought it was great! Well anyway, keeping an eye out for your review whenever it comes.

      Glad you enjoyed Guardians - it was a lot of fun. Rocket's smartass portrayal kind of reminded me of the likes of the Thing - if Marvel were to do a Fantastic Four film, I'm sure that the Thing would have Rocket's personality.

  2. Damned ! I want to see it, I don't know what to expect, I never heard of GotG before but everything makes me want to watch it. They don't seem to overthink and take it too seriously.
    Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for two more weeks T__T

  3. Saw it first thing this morning with a friend -- both of us were new to the material too, and I was amazed at how accessible it was even when it as so absolutely the oddball of the Marvel bunch, lol. Definitely points for the script and direction d:

    Plus, this film has got to be one of the more entertaining demonstrations of 'soundtrack' and 'score' ;)

  4. How did you take the post-credits scene? At least in terms of an answer that doesn't spoil it for anyone reading this? (FYI I know it is anyway and I know who voiced him.)

  5. Okay, now that I've seen the film. I can talk about this. It's one of those films where I loved all the characters; the heroes and the villains. It's like American Hustle in a way given how much I either found them either fascinating or entertaining. They're very flawed people but nevertheless, yeah.

    With Guardians of the Galaxy, every character stood out and loved them for who they are. Star Lord was fun and sympathetic. Gamora was awesome from the getgo when she demonstrated how efficient she is but also has motivations that are understandable. Drax was a hoot, as is Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Actually, him I felt pretty saddened by near the end of it. That's damn good writing.

    I'm in agreement about the villains, they were effective. Ronan was fun as is Nebula, no doubt she'll be back for the sequel.

    James Gunn has a talent for casting the right actors to a point where you really can't see anyone else in this specific role. And I'll admit, since I saw Super recently, it did feel jarring from the dark subversion he made with that last film but I love that this film was a genuine love letter to the Marvel Universe around the cosmos and space operas in general.

    He really just gave it all he got. Hell, his love for the macabre every once in a while which had me smiling really.

  6. Saw it Sunday morning with my parents. It was a really fun movie.

    I think it had the most dialogue about dialogue of any movie I've seen.

    What are your thoughts on Tony Stark and Pepper Potts?

  7. "Rocket is probably one of the hardest characters in the Marvel Universe to translate to the silver screen, and they did it... *glares at Warner Bros* come on, guys, what's your excuse now?"
    Not that Warner Bros hasn't done anything stupid to deserve a shot taken at them, but could explain what this one is for?
    I loved this movie. It was a load of fun like it promised, but in addition to the fun, I also loved getting into the characters backstories. Hearing about that helped them coming together as a team when they had a reason, despite their various quirks.

  8. So all in all, this feels like it's been a great year for movies. We've had X-Men Days of Future Past, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I have heard that How to Train Your Dragon 2 was good, but I didn't get around to seeing it. All that's left on my too see list is The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

  9. Did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, but it did everything just right. It's what a popcorn movie should be - going beyond what would be expected of it's premise while at the same time giving no apologies for how silly and off-the-wall it all is.