Other Media Review

Guardians of the Galaxy:  A Joint Review by RedHeadedGirl and CarrieS

A

Title: Guardians of the Galaxy
Written By: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning; James Gunn, Nicole Perlman (screenplay)
Publication Info: Marvel 2014
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Guardians of the Galaxy movie posterRHG

Carrie and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last night (not together, because there’s a very inconvenient continent in the way) and we have many thoughts.

In short, IT WAS AWESOME.

Marvel has done a really good job of maintaining optimism in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – it’s not dark and gritty like DC is, and you want a talking raccoon? Did you not know you wanted a talking raccoon with a machine gun?  You did want a talking raccoon with a machine gun with a walking talking tree as his best friend, and now you have a walking, talking raccoon with a machine gun and a walking, talking tree as a best friend AND YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT.

Carrie:

I want our readers to know that I’m drinking the first caffine of the day from an X-Men mug as I write this.  I feel so meta. 

Should we try to sum up the plot?  There’s these guys (I’m using ‘guys’ to mean sentient beings of any species or gender).  They are rogues.  And they steal something really important.  And then it gets stolen from them.  And then they have to get it back so that they can, wait for it…guard the galaxy.  And this involves everything blowing up a lot and them becoming loveable rogues with hearts of gold who bond to form a new family.  A family of rogues.  That’s the plot.

I didn’t think GotG was particularly deep or life-changing, nor was it trying to be.  GotG is just FUN.  Really, really fun.  It’s wild, it’s insane, it’s irreverent.  There’s a raccoon and a tree flying in spaceships – I mean, that really sums it up, you know?  What keeps the movie engaging is that the raccoon and tree have a real relationship, as do the other characters.  Some of the development is a little rushed of necessity but there’s still a sense of hard-won comradeship.  “Family of Choice” is one of my favorite tropes and that’s a big theme of this movie.

GotG fits beautifully in the Marvel Universe because of it’s tone.  The script has that sharp repartee and dry wit we’ve come to associate with Marvel ever since Joss Whedon got involved (Apparently Joss encouraged the writer/director James Gunn not to be afraid to insert his own, famously wacky sense of humor, into the script).  It has a similar refusal to take itself too seriously.  But it also takes itself very seriously when it comes to the themes we’ve seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe return to over and over again – the importance of relationships, building a team and thus building a family, and the importance of responsibility – of taking a stand even though you could walk away.

RHG: 

Basically, the universe is saved through the Power of Friendship. 

I think one of the challenges of GotG is that this is not a well-known franchise.  When the trailers included the lines:

“You might know by another name….Star Lord!”

“….WHO?”

that’s meta as hell.  And the movie did a really good job of tossing out exposition without bringing the movie to a screeching halt to explain who these people were, what the hell was going on, and why we should care.

(Also the friend I saw the movie with felt bad for the CGI renderers and the sceneshop people for getting tooth marks on everything they made when Lee Pace just let everything fly.  I feel pretty sure the direction was “Well, you’re BLUE, and there’s a lot of makeup involved, so…balls to the wall, dude.”)

Carrie:

HA!  I think that direction could pretty much have applied to most of the movie with a change in adjectives depending on the character.  “You’re green, you’re traumatized and pissed off, and you’re heavily armed.  Go”.

I also agree re: the challenges of the movie.  I didn’t find this movie to be as emotionally powerful as The Avengers because by the time The Avengers happened, I had already formed relationships with all of the characters.  I walked in already invested.  In this movie, I thought they did a great job of setting everything up and saying who everyone was.  The police line-up was a clever, fun way to shortcut some exposition – instead of subtly working in  who everyone was, they could take a moment and just have someone say, “Hey!  Here’s who everyone is!”  Because it fit so well with the plot and was so funny, it felt efficient instead of clunky.  And when I say “It wasn’t as emotionally powerful”, I don’t mean that it wasn’t powerful at all.  I cared about the characters and what happened to them.  That thing with Drax and Rocket which I won’t describe because it’s a spoiler just about killed me.

RHG:

I also loved that the movie gave you the seeds to ship Peter and Gamorra, if you want, but you didn’t have to.  The ship I did not expect was Drax and Groot, but I’m there for it.  All day. 

Carrie:

I didn’t get a romantic vibe between Drax and anyone although I loved Drax’s character arc.  But yeah, one of my favorite things about the movie is that there’s a hint of romance but it’s not a done deal.  Maybe Gamarra and Peter will be friends.  Maybe they’ll be lovers.  But it’s not like the hero’s reward for being a hero is that he gets to have a girlfriend.  That’s a very standard, irritating trope and I’m glad they ducked it.

RHG:

WORD. 

Mostly, though, I want Rocket blowing up all the things. 

I think the MCU has made good strides in improving their representation of women and minorities (more for women, true).  It’s not perfect, of course, but the movement has been in the right direction.  After everything DC (in movies and comics) has put us through in the past year, I love Marvel for this.  This is the first MCU movie to have a female screenwriter, so… good job, Marvel.  Keep doing better! 

I also think that the music was done SO WELL.  All the background songs are used in-universe, and I really need to go to a screening where it is encouraged to sing-along (Fact: I sang about 4 bars of the Pina Colada song before I remembered where I was.)  (Other fact: the guy about three seats down sang to “I Want You Back”). 

Carrie: 

Yes, I loved the use of music and I did quite a bit of boogying in my seat.  Will never think of Footloose the same way again.  However, I’ve had “Hooked on a Feeling” stuck in my head for about a month now and I RESENT THAT, MARVEL. 

RGH:

You and the rest of nerddom. 

Carrie: 

OK, let’s wrap this baby up.  Grades?  I’d give it an enthusiastic A. The villains were one dimensional, and the plot was basically a thinly veiled excuse for explosions, so not an A+.  But I’m guessing that you are giving it an A+ for sure.  And using our new puppy cannon system, how many puppy cannons would you give it, exactly?

RHG:

I’d agree with the A, except the stinger made me laugh so hard, and yell so loudly (“THAT IS A THING THAT JUST HAPPENED OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”) (seriously, y’all, stay through the credits.  I can’t believe people still leave a Marvel movie before the end credits) that I have to give it an A+.  I just.  I have to. In terms of puppy cannons, I’d say 4 puppy cannons.

Carrie: 

OK, A+ it is!  The stinger has tipped us over the edge! I’d give it three puppy cannons.


Guardians of the Galaxy is in theatres now and you can find tickets and showtime at Moviefone and Fandango (US).

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    jimthered says:

    I liked the movie a lot—but I didn’t love it.  For my spoiler-free review, it’s at http://thearmchaircritic.blogspot.com/2014/08/guardians-of-galaxy.html  And for some spoiler-ish thoughts…

    —I thought it was a little cliche that the five main characters, who start off pretty much trying to kill or capture each other (except for Rocket and Groot), quickly wind up best friends who are willing to risk their lives for each other.

    —I disliked the fact that the bad guys are willing to put their evil plans/actions on hold instead of taking obvious actions.  This happened twice: When soldiers with their weapons trained on Yondo just stare while he kills them, and when Ronan delays the endgame of his entire mission because of Star Lord’s admittedly-amusing distraction.

    —The whole “take my hand” thing seemed like a setup from the start, and having her actually shown at the end (instead of giving the audience enough credit that they’d remember it) was very heavy-handed.

    —I did like that Gamora and Quill didn’t hook up.  One romance element I dislike is the “reformed rogue” who seduces and abandons women left and right until he finds the “right woman” and suddenly discovers fidelity, marriage, and parenthood (instead of acting like he always acts).  At least Gamora knew enough of Quill’s history not to fall for his sweet words and seductive music.

    —Did anyone else realize that Nebula was played by Karen “Amy Pond” Gillan?  (I also didn’t recognize Christopher Eccleston as Malekith in THOR: THE DARK AGE.)  If they’re going to get such good actors for these movies, they probably shouldn’t have so much makeup and so little dialogue that their talents go unused.

    So it was a fun movie that was also a lot dopier than most superhero movies.  It was enjoyable, and I’d see it again, but I gave it a B instead of A.

  2. 2
    Darth Clavie says:

    I loved the movie!!
    and I’m currently on the look out for a Rocket plushie toy to add to my collection. I LOVE HIM he’s my favorite character of this universe now. He was awesome, and I loved Groot too. How they had these conversations. :)

    And I have to say that lots of people were actually sobbing in the theater I went to last night when… certain thing happened. I got teary eyed myself though I knew… nvm, too spoilery,

  3. 3
    Darlynne says:

    And somehow I only knew a little, vaguely, about this film. No previews, nothing. I didn’t realize I lived in such a backwater. But I’ll be there on Tuesday for sure. Lee Pace? A talking raccoon? Sold.

  4. 4
    jimthered says:

    I’m currently on the look out for a Rocket plushie toy to add to my collection.

    There’s a very nice plush Rocket pretty plush action figure at Toys R Us.  (It might be at Target and Walmart too, but TRU will almost definitely have it.)  There are also numerous ones on eBay, but I’d bet they’re more expensive than what you’d find in the store.

  5. 5
    Elinor Aspen says:

    I’m looking forward to this movie, but I need to wait a couple weeks for the crowds to thin out (I haven’t done an opening weekend in years). I’ve been eagerly following the news about this film on ScreenRant, and I’m glad to learn that the finished product is as enjoyable as I’d hoped. The soundtrack sounds like a comedy bit I once heard (from Al Franken, IIRC) with a fake ad for K-Tel’s album “The Overplayed Hits of the ‘70s”. My inner Sheldon Cooper is insisting on pointing out that the actual title of “The Pina Colada Song” (by Rupert Holmes, which I didn’t even need to Google) is “Escape”. You’re welcome. Now you all know that I’m a middle-aged nerd with a bit of OCD who really needs to get a life.

  6. 6
    LovelloftheWolves says:

    I thought the movie was really fun, if not very deep. The action sequences were amazing, the physical humor spot on, but the dialogue was iffy in places. Mostly because I didn’t buy Drax. I think the wrestler-turned-actor had problems delivering some very deep lines.

    On Gamora – I felt her character was ALL over the place. Just – EVERYWHERE. One minute she’s a hardened bad-*ss the very next minute she’s telling COMPLETE STRANGERS her “true” plan. She’s supposed to be this ruthless killer but spends most of the time BEING RESCUED. Not to mention her soft-feminine pleas during a specific scene. -_- I counted not one, not two, but THREE lingering *ss shots. *eyeroll*

    I felt like they *really* wanted to push the emtional conflict between Gamora and Nebula, but due to the constraints of the script, just couldn’t. Which made the interactions between the two of them very very flat. I just didn’t buy it. There’s obvious conflict between them, but neither of them have a “conflict of intrest” as both accept the frission between each other. Which I felt was sad, because there *could* have been so much more depth with just a little more film time.

    Groot and Rocket Racoon STEAL the movie though – just run away with it and make the movie funny and touching.

  7. 7
    Lostshadows says:

    I just got back from seeing this. It was a lot of fun, but I agree its not a movie ones likely to really connect with the same way as some other Marvel movies. Well, except for the tree. Damn, I really connected with Groot and actually got teary eyed at one of his lines.

    My favorite bit:
    Drax (to Groot) When did you learn to do that?
    Peter: I think the answer is going to be “I am Groot.”

    I’m also a bit wary of the after credits bit. I saw the last attempt at a movie starring him, in theaters no less, and I think we don’t really need a second one.

  8. 8
    Patricia M. says:

    I saw it this morning and I thought it was a ton of fun.  Not deep but so what?  I laughed and just enjoyed myself and the music took me back to my youth.  I got the same sense of fun as when I first saw Raider of the Lost Arc: swashbuckling, wit, absurd fun.  I highly recommend it.

  9. 9
    astrakhan says:

    Inbound SPOILER…

     

    The best part of this movie is that the villain is literally defeated by a bunch of people holding hands, believing in friendship and firing purple energy. It’s a Care Bear Stare. Yet it fits everything we’d seen before (between Star-Lord’s alien biology and the others sharing the load of the Orb they’re all able to survive using it).

    I don’t mind that it’s low on plot; Captain America 2 had enough plot for three movies and between that and Agents of SHIELD we didn’t need yet another major shift in the MCU storyline. This has just enough connections to keep people interested, plus the first appearance of Josh Brolin’s Thanos so that the after-credits scene in “The Avengers” gets some pay-off.

  10. 10
    Mary says:

    I liked it, but I found the portrayal of women to be fairly problematic. Everyone (with the exception of Glenn Close) was dressed super sexy, only 5 women had any lines of which 1 was a main character with what I thought was inconsistent characterization, 1 of which was an underused female villain (you have Karen Gillan, give her something more to do!!!), 1 was a slave whose only purpose was to die to prove how powerful macguffin was, 1 died to give the main character purpose (his mother) and 1 was Glenn Close.
    I mean when I turned off my brain and just enjoyed the jokes and the actions and the camaraderie I enjoyed it, but I continue to be a leeeetle annoyed at how little screentime and fleshing out female characters get. I mean Gamara (whose name kept reminding me of the biblical Gomorrah) was turned into a “good guy” remarkably fast, got called a whore by a male friend…and I know Karen Gillan’s character wasn’t her actual sister but there seemed to be no relationship (love, hate, jealousy) there. It wasn’t fleshed out AT ALL and their interactions therefore lacked any power. I’m not saying that the entire movie has to be GIRL POWER but it would have been nice, IMHO, to have either that relationship played up more, or to have more characters (background ones even) that are females with agency. Even Glenn Close, the woman in charge, was almost entirely surrounded by men.

  11. 11
    denise says:

    I saw an Advance Screening and wrote a review for a blogger who arranged the viewing. My kids and I enjoyed it, too!

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    “And the movie did a really good job of tossing out exposition without bringing the movie to a screeching halt to explain who these people were, what the hell was going on, and why we should care.”

    This was actually my biggest complaint – I didn’t think they did this well at. all. The pacing was so awkward! (The Pace-ing, however, was delightful)

    (Full review of what I thought here: http://roosterillusionreviews.com/2014/08/01/scifridays-takes-off-with-the-guardians-of-the-galaxy-2014/)

  13. 13
    LaineyT says:

    I saw GotG last night and I really enjoyed it.  Regarding the lack of depth some folks mentioned, I feel like the main goal of this flick was to entertain and that the creators didn’t want to get too intense with the storylines in general because this is a whole new franchise with characters that are unfamiliar to a large segment of the audience.  But now that they have wowed us and we like/love the Guardians I expect they will start taking some dramatic risks in the sequel(s)…see Captain American vs Winter Soldier as an example. 

    Also, while I agree with the comments regarding the relationship between Gamora and Nebula not being as fleshed out as I’d like, I’ll argue that they did really spend much time in the same locale so there wasn’t much of a chance to delve into their history.  Plus I think the creators had to work to maintain the pacing of the movie on track.  We didn’t get back story for Rocket and Groot either but again I expect there will be more opportunity in future films to explore all of this.

    One last comment…I was pretty impressed with Bradley Cooper’s work as well.  He was barely recognizable as the voice of Rocket. 

    PS.  Dear Moms & Dads…I feel sorry for all of you who are gonna be stuck trying to figure out how to make a Groot costume, come Hallowe’en, LOL.

  14. 14

    Loved it, not only because the entire movie experience was made of fun, but because I’m a nerdette who read what may have been the first Star-Lord story back in a Marvel Super Special title decades ago. It had Gene Colan art, Peter Quill’s backstory…I really looked forward to this adaptation, and it delivered the goods.

    Thanks for the recap and review!

    S P O I L E R

     

    Anyone else stay for the end and see another Marvel character featured, one who used to team up with Swamp Thing, but then ran off to save Cleveland?

  15. 15
    kkw says:

    It’s funny and fluffy and enjoyable. It’s not deep, but I don’t necessarily want a deep summer action movie.  It’s not perfect, but one of the best things about it is the total lack of romance. Which is maybe a weird thing to be praising here, but I could not agree more with Carrie S on that score.

    The best thing? I’m gonna go with Jackson Pollock. That killed, at least in New York. Kevin Bacon was also deeply satisfying to all, which is a sentence I never envisioned writing.

    The opening was so bad I was really tempted to walk out, and all the flaws cited in the comments are valid – although I’m not complaining about lingering ass shots or dance offs, pretty much ever.

  16. 16
    Rachel Coleman says:

    It was quite fun, in a light way.  I liked that it never ever missed an opportunity to break a serious mood.  I also really really liked Rocket’s “everybody’s got dead people” speech. 

    I found the overt sexism a bit wearing: the black-light comment was completely unnecessary, the “whore” comment came out of nowhere from someone who is supposed to be literal-minded, the “bitch” comment didn’t seem to fit character, the only women (apart from Glenn Close) were young and skinny, and there were no women pilots shown in the blockade force.

    And while I did like the how-the-world-is-saved ending, it’s not like we have a shortage of films about 30-something white manchildren who need to grow up.

    I wanted to comment specifically on this from the review:

    I didn’t find this movie to be as emotionally powerful as The Avengers because by the time The Avengers happened, I had already formed relationships with all of the characters.  I walked in already invested.

    I walked into The Avengers with no emotional investment in any of the characters, and not having seen any earlier films.  I came out completely invested, smitten, ordering the previous five films on DVD the next day, etc etc.  This one, not so much.  It was quite fun, and better than many other films I’ve sat through, and I didn’t hate it, but of the 10 MCU films so far, it’s got to be down at 9 or 10 in my personal-preference ranking.

     

  17. 17
    LaineyT says:

    I may have to go see this again (this time in IMAX 3D since the friend I went with the first time around is not a fan of the 3D viewing so I was stuck in plain ol’ AVX 2D).  But I seem to recall a pretty significant number of shots of shirtless shots of Peter Quill, Drax (obviously), Groot (even more obviously) and even Rocket ;) …so I didn’t really have a problem with the rear shots of Gamora.  Frankly, girl is fit, so it’s kinda tough to avoid framing her from any angle that wouldn’t have us pausing to admire her physical presence.  And this was true of the male Guardian as well so I didn’t see this as sexist.

    I will grant you though, that he whore comment was a bit jarring.  I think they were trying to show how far Drax had grown by the end of the film to be seeing her now as a friend but it was poorly executed with that comment.  And yeah it would have been nice to see more women on the Nova council and in military corps.

  18. 18
    Ellen W. says:

    The thing at the end with Drax and Rocket that we won’t describe! I loved that. I wasn’t too thrilled with the after-credit bit, but I’ll take as much Cosmo as I can get (the dog; he’s not the important part for most people.)

    I totally agree about the “green whore” line which was way, way, way out of place. Also? worse than poor Carina being a slave- she’s actually The Collector’s daughter aparently. Ick.

    Anyway- I loved it, I’m going to see it again next weekend and I’m trying to see if I can grow my hair out enough by Halloween to go as Nova Prime.

  19. 19
    ReneeG says:

    Saw GoG on Sunday morning, early movie so not too crowded.  Pretty interesting that most of the attendees to this event were adults.

    This was one comic I never read, so I came into the movie clean.  I enjoyed the repartee between the characters and thought the movie flowed pretty well (after the beginning). 

    I felt satisfied after seeing it – I had feels (so glad napkins are softer these days) and was locked into the outcome.  My sister (who went with me) and I exchanged favorite bits from the movie on the way home.  Rocket and Groot (and the actors who voiced them) stole the show.  So much nuance in “I am Groot” . . . .

    I had some of the same issues, including that all the individual ship fighters in the climax were male (where is Starbuck when you need her?).  A lot of women were in the room with Glenn Close during the fight, but just standing around. 

    A good movie to hold me until Winter Soldier comes out on DVD. 

    Laughed at the cameo in the after credits scene, although some people left before the credits – don’t they know there is more to come!

  20. 20
    Jackie Davis says:

    My daughter, 14, is convinced that Peter and Gamora are siblings—sounds very Star Wars-y to me.  But, she hasn’t seen the Star Wars series so that’s not where she’s getting it. 

    I loved it too. It was a super fun family movie—and when I say family, my kids are young teens.  Thank heavens I didn’t have to explain the Jackson Pollack line!

  21. 21
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