Baddie – Ronan, hopeful destroyer of worlds.
Lesson – Friendship, however reluctant, is magic.
What can I say about Guardians of the Galaxy? A lot. I can say a lot. Buckle up.
Guardians was directed by James Gunn, who also directed one of the favorites here at Rooster Illusion, Slither. He has a unique sense of humor as a director, but I still kinda think Marvel took a huge gamble on him. It paid off, with Guardians racking up overwhelmingly positive reviews within the first 24 hours of reviews, and cinched Gunn to direct the impending sequel, which is also a good thing. I like consistency.
The Plot: The year is 1988, and during a heartbreaking opening scene we meet Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a young boy who’s father is out of the picture and who’s mother is literally in the process of dying from cancer. He runs outside in genuine heartbreak and is promptly abducted with nothing but the gift from his mother and whatever is in his backpack.
26 years later, Peter has grown into a full fledged junker/ravager/outlaw, and is completing a job. He does so with great mirth and snark and quickly establishes himself to be a sarcastic, efficient professional, in that he’s good at his job, not that he’s all business. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green-skinned step-daughter of Thanos, is sent off to retrieve the orb Peter steals. Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) try to capitalize on the bounty on Peter and they meet in such a way that everyone gets arrested, where they meet Drax (Dave Bautista) who reluctantly joins the team so that he may revenge his family. Ronan (Lee Pace), is bent on destroying a planet, and Thanos’ daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan) is bent on helping him. Many hijinks ensue.
So! Let’s start with what I loved about this movie, shall we?
I think Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit of a boon to my generation, the MIllenials, the Generation ‘Y’, the Technology Natives, the 90’s kids. Now, the original comic was written in 1969, and the reboot in 2008, but the point is that the movie is filled with music I heard growing up because of my parents, full of toys I knew because I’m only a little younger than Peter Quill, and full of 80’s references that appeals to everyone. This is almost always effective within the story to add to the endearing qualities of Peter, with the occasional yank out of suspension of disbelief (right around the second Kevin Bacon reference).
For me personally, this is also an all-star cast. Vin Diesel, well, we know how I love Vin Diesel. He recorded “I am Groot” for every language re-dub. What a champ. Chris Pratt is the absolute cutest, from goofy Andy Dwyer on “Parks and Recreation” to wishful-ladie’s man in Guardians. Zoe Saldana brought fresh life to one of the best scifi female characters as Uhura and absolutely kills it as Gamora, and I guess Bradley Cooper was funny in The Hangover, and he was funny as Rocket. Considering it was a CGI raccoon talking to a CGI tree, he and Diesel had amazing chemistry. I’ve spoken of this before, but Lee Pace is my Hollywood Husband, and I’m slightly biased, but he was really a great villain. He’s a bit underrated, but he has really decent acting chops, from making me cry in The Fall to making me swoon in “Pushing Daisies”. I was villain skeptical, but it worked really well. Same for Ms. Karen Gillan as Nebula, she played chilling-android effortlessly.
Design wise, I have a lot of respect for this movie. The costumes were incredibly detailed. I personally do not envy any ambitious cosplayers out there. Best of all, to my mind, they all hearkened back to the comic’s iterations, but elevated them from the 2D sphere. Gamora’s is the most clear, where her costuming reflected small details from her over-sexed comic appearance but in a practical, stylish way. The pleating on the military uniforms is impeccable. The makeups were equally amazing, especially when they have to hold up to IMAX 3D size resolution. Drax’s makeup alone must have taken hours and hours of painstaking sculpting, and I have nothing but respect for the artists. Additionally, everything looked cohesive enough that it wasn’t confusing even though there was something new to look at almost all the time.
This movie was very funny, like, laugh out loud funny. There is some really incredibly genuinely funny jokes in this movie, and this doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the situation. To me it’s a bit more relatable to have characters utilize humor to combat some tough emotional stuff, and that really stuck with me as an audience member. It is definitely an ensemble movie, and everyone has good chemistry, but I’m not convinced that they feel like a team for most of the movie, which may be the point after all.
Unfortunately, Guardians was not, for me, a perfect film. I have two primary complaints. One is the pacing – at times the movie went very, very, very fast, in a rush to get everyone’s exposition out of the way, or progress the plot. Other times, the film moved very slowly to improve the gravitas or ‘sad factor’ of the situation, which was tedious. This leads into the Second complaint, which is that it occasionally gets overly sentimental, sappy, cheesy, call it whatever you’d like – it detracted because the sentiment came in the way of sudden mood changes and overt symbolism/foreshadowing. It very rarely felt genuine.
A third, very very minor complaint, is the subtleness of Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s dad issues. It’s alluded that his father is ‘away’ and will ‘pick him up’ at some point, and at the end of the movie [SPOILER] we find out that the smuggler that picked him up was supposed to deliver him to his father at some point, and that Star-Lord is half-alien of some variety [END SPOILER] but the whole situation is handled very delicately over an engine roar, blink and you’d miss it.
Final verdict? Go and see Guardians of the Galaxy if you’d like to see a funny, gorgeous, well-styled, well-acted, action summer blockbuster. I would see it again in a hearbeat – don’t fault me for reviewing it as honestly as possible. I also saw it in IMAX 3D which definitely added to the immersive experience – directors are finally realizing that 3D doesn’t have to mean ‘throw things at your audience LOOK IT’S IN 3D’. Good on you, James Gunn!