Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy!

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Does Marvel’s riskiest movie to date pay off? Find out now!

 

GOTG_Payoff_1-Sht_v4b_LgGuardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan

Directed by: James Gunn

VERY MINOR SPOILERS

It’s official: Marvel Studios cannot be stopped. Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that oozes confidence. Simply put, there’s nothing quite like it out in theaters right now, and there hasn’t been a movie like this in a long, long time. This is Marvel throwing their weight around, effectively daring the general movie going audience to see a movie that features a talking raccoon and his best friend, a giant walking tree. This is a movie directed by James Gunn, who’s most known for smaller scale films like SlitherSuper, and Tromeo and Juliet. The lead actor is on an NBC sitcom that doesn’t get nearly the ratings it should, and the most well known star of the film isn’t even seen, but heard. Not only that, but the soundtrack, which features a ton of pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s, is far from the norm when it come to big budget superhero flicks. None of this should work.

But it does. It works so well that it’s kind of hard to believe.


Much of the plot of Guardians follows the orb that you’ve seen Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) grab in countless trailers. It’s the MacGuffin of the entire movie, the one thing that everyone and their mother wants for various reasons (Quill even goes so far as to call it “the ark of the covenant” at one point). Quill wants it for money, Rocket and Groot (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively) want it because of the bounty on Quill’s head, and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) wants it to keep it from her father, Thanos. Drax (Dave Bautista) is just tagging along because he wants to get to Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace), the psychotic big bad who wants to wipe out an entire race.

Naturally, things don’t go as planned for any of these characters, and they find themselves teamed up to prevent the destruction of the galaxy, which is a very likely possibility once the contents of the orb are revealed (folks in the know of what Marvel might have planned for their future films can probably guess what’s inside). The rest of the plot follows the “let’s stop the genocidal madman” formula, but the real fun is watching the Guardians bicker and yell at one another. These moments are so fun that if they took up the entire run time, I’d still love Guardians of the Galaxy.

Honestly, there’s not one cast member that’s misplaced. In fact, the one character that I was expecting to be the weak link, Bautista’s Drax, actually ended up being one of my favorite characters. He’s got some incredibly funny lines, and Bautista does an incredible job of making a character that could be one note into one that’s incredibly fun, and at times relatable. Same can be said for Saldana’s Gamora and especially Pratt’s Star-Lord. Honestly, if this movie doesn’t make Chris Pratt the next big time leading man, there’s no justice in this world.

Every cast member has a scene stealing moment, but the ones who walk away with the most of them are Rocket and Groot. From the moment they make their entrance you can’t take your eyes off of them. It’s equal parts “I can’t believe I’m seeing a talking raccoon” and “oh my god this is awesome”. Cooper gives one of his best performances ever as the character, and that’s not an exaggeration. He imbues Rocket with a real personality, and by the end of the film you not only understand a lot of his motivations, but you want to hang out with him too. Vin Diesel also gets a lot of emotion and range out of three words (he can only say “I am Groot” with different inflections), and when combined with Rocket, the two create a new pair of instant classic characters that will be the go to Halloween costume choice for duos for years to come.

If there’s one thing I’d have to nitpick, the first act of the movie does get a little plot heavy. The film jumps from planet to planet with a little title screen for each world. It gets a little confusing to be jumping from place to place, but it’s not a very big chunk of the movie, and it’s kind of expected since we haven’t had a previous Marvel film to set everything up for us. We also don’t get nearly enough time with Benecio Del Toro’s The Collector and Karen Gillan’s Nebula, but the moments they are on screen are pretty cool. There’s also not enough time with……ah, almost forgot about that “minor spoilers” tag I wrote. Just trust me, there’s something very, VERY awesome for Marvel fan boys fairly early in the movie.

Director James Gunn has crafted something unique and truly original with Guardians of the Galaxy. Somehow he was able to work within Marvel’s guidelines and still make a film that has his marks on it. After seeing this film, I can see why they hired him back for Guardians 2, and I can’t wait to see these scoundrels, lowlifes, and thieves again.

Verdict: A

 NOTE: I REALLY shouldn’t have to say this, but since people were leaving when the credits rolled (AT AN EARLY SCREENING, NO LESS) there’s an after credits scene. And it’s fantastic. Expect to explain it to your non-comic reading friends (unless they know a lot about 80’s pop culture).

Jonwahizzle is a jack of all trades: educator, and comic book slinger for Jetpack Comics Follow him on twitter and check out his blog, The Collective: Examples of Nerdery for more!

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22 thoughts on “Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy!

    1. That’s…that’s just great.

      Aaaaaanyway…excellent review. I was already planning to see the film but it’s exciting to hear just how amped I should be about it. I’m really looking forward to it.

  1. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t like it as much as Winter Soldier, but it was still a load of fun. It felt like it knew it was setting up the cosmic end of the Marvel cinematic universe. And that took away from the film to an extent. My wife, who has almost zero comic knowledge, was a little confused by how much they threw at you with no explanation i.e.- alien races,
    Nova Corps, etc… Still a great time, especially for the fact it didn’t have any of the prior Marvel film characters in it and it let James Gunn show that all he’s been lacking is a budget.

  2. I didn’t really know shit about the GoG team, or GoG in general; but I have been liking all/most of Marvels “big” movies. I went and saw this one with my friends at an early thursday screening, and it was fucking incredible. It was such a great movie, I would not mind going to see it again. Also that ending stinger… oh jeez..

  3. I was caught off guard almost immediately when i cried manly tears in the first 2 minutes of the movie… but if theres one thing this movie does well, its make you feel for the characters… almost every one of them. Going in, Drax had me really worried, but Bautista has some really good expressions and comic timing. I also feel like they let Pratt improvise a lot of stuff, and it worked beautifully “YOU GOT MY DICK MESSAGE!” I was never bored, the chemistry was tremendous, the soundtrack had me listening to hits all day, and there literally wasn’t a character i didn’t like. Amy Pond is still hot even when bald and blue, and we already know Uhura is hot whatever color she is. I give it 3 Noses.

  4. Really did not like the post-credit scene. Loved the movie but that scene left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    1. Until you find out there was something in the background that the other character was distracting you from… then it feels better.

  5. I could rave on forever about how great the movie was but at this point everythings been said. I ended up marathoning the entire Gotg comic series before watching the movie and while it wasn’t necessary it did help me catch a few side references. Everything was super fleshed out and I dunno just very very little wrong with the movie I think, practically everything was done fantastically. Bautista was great despite everyone worrying about him and the CG for Rocket and Groot never felt jarring.

    I wanna punch people who are just spoiling the post credit sequence. Hours later I feel like I’m still affected by it so it annoys me that people just wanna ruin it.

  6. I don’t think I could have loved this movie any more. I had pretty high hopes for it, but my dreams were exceeded in pretty much all categories. Here’s hoping it makes the money it deserves.

  7. For my money I preferred Winter Soldier and Days of Future Past this year, but GotG was a lot of fun.
    I wasn’t too interested in the plot this time around and I didn’t find the villian particularly interesting, but I really loved all the characters and the chemistry they all shared. If felt more like Firefly/Serenity than Star Wars, and thats no bad thing.
    Rocket and Groot were amazingly lovable and are easily two of the best new additions to the MCU.

  8. At times Rocket is a dead ringer for Duke Lombardi.
    Groot’s arc essentially revisits the plot of the Iron Giant.

    The film’s overall message communicates the value of kitsch pop-culture, (specifically from the 70s and 80s), which provided a foundation of story-telling for a generation of creative people, in addition to simply informing their vocabulary, (Quill imparting the story of Footloose to connect with Gamora, directly referring to the MacGuffin as the Ark). That such entertainment contained a clunky sincerity which was superseded by a savvy corporate vocabulary that homogenized our favorite forms of entertainment. Such art should be preserved and cherished, and is even worth sacrificing for, (Quill returning to the prison to retrieve his mixtape).

    All of which is a round-about way of saying I deeply appreciate all your uncredited consulting work on the film, Chris.

  9. Had a ton of fun with it. It didn’t blow my mind, and I liked Winter Soilder, Avengers and even Iron Man 3 over it, but it was still pretty fun and well done. Specially since yeah, the whole idea and stuff introduced here are risky as hell.

    My main gripe was that the villains weren’t very fleshed out or too interesting aside from their visual designs. Ronan looked and sounded bad-ass, but aside from a couple lines you really don’t get to understand why he’s so nihilistic and evil. The whole thing with Thanos and his “adopted children” is also woefully under-explained, specially since both of them betrayed him at the drop of a fucking hat. Which makes you wonder why he ever bothered to begin with. And Honsou’s character is so forgettable and disposable I don’t even remember his name anymore, and I’m not even 1 hour fresh from seeing the movie.

    The best about the movie is definitely the guardians themselves, they were all pretty likable and cool, and Drax specially was surprising to me as I expected him to be the typical bland meat-head, but was actually very quirky and endearing

  10. This movie is a wonderful way to gauge people’s sense of humor and taste in movies. I think the movie was almost flawless. I can’t understand why anyone would give this movie less than a stellar review. But after seeing some people’s reactions, I realize it just depends on what your sense of humor is. Not saying people who didn’t absolutely love this movie don’t have a sense of humor, but their taste is very different from what I find enjoyable.

    This movie hit me in all the right places. I can’t stop thinking about it.

  11. Considering the references made in this movie and all the things covered from the music, to the actors, inclusion of a wrestler, the presence of Vin Diesel acting dumb, the obvious comic content, a Nathan Fillion cameo, and that last reference made in the movie, can we aptly call this the official Lasertime movie?

    The only thing it was missing was some rap jingles.

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