While Iron Man, Thor, and the heroes we know
Are saving the planet from many a foe,
Way out in the cosmos, a misfit or five
Are trying to stay on their toes and survive.
One’s seeking revenge, two are out for the loot,
One’s plotting betrayal, and the last’s in pursuit
Of a powerful stone that is death’s guarantee
If it falls in the hands of a villainous Kree.
Five mavericks not fitting the hero-type mold,
Five pasts black as sin and five hearts made of gold,
May find that a battle alongside a friend
Can give them a reason to bond and defend.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Everyone seems to love Guardians of the Galaxy. Coworkers, friends, critics, and random bloggers were singing its praises last year, and I was eager to see it in the theater. Unfortunately, I knocked a sideview mirror off my dad’s car, and the movie money went elsewhere. So when I finally got to see it on DVD, I was ready to be impressed, and though I wanted it to be the best Marvel movie yet, well, it wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s an enjoyable space ride of an origin story, yet perhaps my expectations were a bit too high. I had hoped for constant laughs, but the script seemed to be trying too hard at times (the fake laugh, for example). I can’t help but wonder if my appreciation might have been heightened by seeing it in the theater, where I could have shared in that unique experience of an entire audience laughing out loud (like how my mom has described her 8-½ screenings of Star Wars back in 1977). The story was also so crammed full of unfamiliar information with Xandarians and Ravagers and varied motivations that I couldn’t completely keep up, and my VC was totally lost at times. I know we’re supposed to just roll with it and enjoy it and let future viewings show how layered and intricate it is, but being confused can detract from a film’s enjoyment.
Okay, complaints aside, I’m glad to say that I saw it again, and my opinion has improved. I still don’t believe it’s Marvel’s best film, but it is up there. For some reason, the humor was much more appealing this time, and I was able to follow the plot more fully, and I can admit that Guardians of the Galaxy is a small miracle. Iron Man was never as popular as Batman or Superman, but at least people had heard of him. When Marvel gambled on an entire film dedicated to a rebooted superhero team from as recent as 2008, most non-comic experts went “Who?,” a joke the film itself toys with right from the start. Without widespread knowledge of these characters, the filmmakers were able to flesh them out in their own way, with lots of quick-mouthed humor along the way.
The film is full of strengths, from the nostalgic, retro-cool soundtrack of 1970s tunes to spot-on performances from the main cast: heroic rogue Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), assassin with a heart Gamora (Zoe Saldana, continuing her apparent attempt to star in every major franchise), literal-minded avenger Drax the Destroyer (wrestler Dave Bautista), experimental raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and lovable living tree Groot (Vin Diesel, who could probably have been replaced by anyone who could say three words in a deep voice). The special effects are phenomenal, particularly the final battle and the CGI creation of Rocket and Groot, who are both surprisingly endearing. As I said, there is a lot, and I mean A LOT going on, but my second viewing allowed me to recognize the impressive balance between nonstop action, spitfire wit, and sweet character moments, like Groot’s flower gift or Drax’s comforting of Rocket. (Who didn’t want to pet him after all?) I also noticed a potential recurring gag when Quill states he has 12% of a plan; remember the beginning of The Avengers, when Tony offers 12% of the credit for Stark Tower to Pepper? Hmm.
It’s true that it’s not perfect. The villains Ronan and Nebula (Lee Pace and Karen Gillan) are generic baddies, people can somehow survive exposure to space, the bigger names like Benicio del Toro as the Collector (also Glenn Close and John C. Reilly) are vastly underused, and it might have been more kid-friendly considering it’s gotten its own animated spin-off series. Yet these gripes matter little amidst the fun of escaping a weightless prison or dive-bombing an attacking spaceship. Guardians of the Galaxy throws a lot at the screen, and most of it sticks to provide a fun space adventure that’s part Star Wars, part Marvel, but mostly its own unique adventure.
Best line: (Gamora) “I’m a warrior, an assassin. I don’t dance.” (Peter) “Really? Well, on my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It’s called Footloose. And in it, a great hero named Kevin Bacon teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is.” (Gamora) “Who put the sticks up their butts? That is cruel.”
© 2015 S. G. Liput
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