Film: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Title: Guardians of the Galaxy
By: Marvel Studios
Seen on: August 1

After Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and the Avengers, this is Marvel Studios’ first foray into a universe that isn’t centered around the Avengers. Which has pros and cons. It’s a bold move, a bit of a gamble, and it’s refreshing. Granted, I don’t know how popular the GotG comics are or were, but I don’t think they hold the same meaning as the Avengers did. It is also a bit of a mind-reset for MCU fans, because it is harder to get invested in the characters and the storyline and the universe. The Avengers Assemble movie didn’t come out until 5 separate films had come out, each focusing on one avenger at a time. Marvel then threw them together for the massively popular team film. By the time Avengers Assemble came out, audiences were familiar with the characters (well, most anyway, I am still waiting for my Black Widow/Hawkeye movie) and were invested enough to forgive the somewhat superficial treatment of character development.

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Not so with Guardians of the Galaxy. Which is a shame, because most of the characters in this film have very interesting back stories. Nebula and Gamora for example: how did Thanos adopt Gamora exactly, why not let her die with her parents? Why did Thanos pawn his daughters out to Ronan for so long? And why are both women so deeply upset with their (adoptive) father? Surely there’s more than the glimpses of that story we get in this film. Groot and Rocket too: how did they end up together, how did they find each other, why does Rocket understand Groot, how did they become what they are now, are there more of Groot somewhere in the universe? And where the hell does the Collector fit into all the universes?! I need more! And not just from an interested audience member point of view (or MCU fan), but also as a general movie watcher. I needed more depth to the characters to really connect with them.

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That being said, the story and the light heartedness of the tone grab you and sweep you up immediately. Despite the sad opening, it turns funny and sassy real quick. And most of that is due to Chris Pratt’s deadpan and charming portrayal of Peter Quill. We get the most back-story on Peter, understandably, so subsequently he is the character that the audience connects with most. It’s his point of view the film takes and that makes it a fast-paced, light, and entertaining film. Not to say there aren’t any more serious and touching moments, because there are, but they are all taken with an edge of ridiculousness and embarrassment. The emotions and feelings between the characters are not the center of the movie, the story is. And that story is, despite there being a real enemy and threat, a fun and wild ride that never bores.

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The synopsis of the film is that Peter Quill (Starlord, man!) steals a mysterious globe. Things almost go sideways, but he manages to get it to his buyer who promptly shoves him out the door when he finds out Ronan The Accuser (who looks amazing and sounds even better with Lee Pace’s voice!) is after it too. Right then and there Peter gets attacked by Gamora, who is after the globe too. Not to bring it to Ronan, but to prevent him from using it. She gets hindered in her escape by a raccoon with an automatic gun, Rocket, and his tree humanoid buddy Groot. Somehow they all end up arrested and have to team up (with inmate Drax on board too) to escape and get the globe to a new buyer. This new buyer is The Collector (look at his collection closely, there are a lot of really cool Easter eggs from other Marvel movies and comics to be found!). He reveals what’s inside the globe, an Infinity Stone. If Ronan gets his hands on it, he can destroy the planet Xandar without the help of his leader Thanos, so when it eventually falls into the hands of Ronan, the team sets out to get it back and destroy Ronan in the same blow. All against the soundtrack of your favourite 70s and 80s hits (I am not kidding)!

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Now let’s talk actors and characters. Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill, and he does so brilliantly. He’s witty without becoming shallow, he’s vulnerable without becoming sappy, and he’s charming without becoming a playboy. Chris Pratt balances the different facets of this character really well, he never becomes too much of anything. He’s a fab leading man and reluctant hero. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, and she does an okay job. I’ve only seen Zoe Saldana in the Avatar and Star Trek films so forgive me if I’m very wrong about this, but to me it’s the same role just in a different universe. Don’t get me wrong, she does a good enough job, but I would have liked to have seen something more layered, something added. Dave Bautista plays Drax, and while he does a great job for a first-timer, they dumbed him down a bit too much for my liking. Was he like that in the comics? Bradley Cooper voices Rocket, and while effective, I didn’t like the fit. Somehow the voice didn’t fit the character. I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t get used to it. The character is great though, and I especially liked his development towards the end of the movie (have you ever seen a raccoon cry over a tree before?). Finally, Vin Diesel voices Groot, and while he doesn’t say much more than “I am Groot”, he somehow manages to convey what he means with each one. The last one might bring a tear to your eye (it did mine!).

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Additionally, there’s Ronan (Lee Pace), Yondu (Michael Rooker), Korath (Djimon Hounsou), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Thanos (Josh Brolin), The Collector (Benicio del Toro), and Nova Prime (Glenn Close). All secondary characters with fantastic actors portraying them. Ronan, Nebula, and The Collector are the most memorable and impressive. Ronan looks every inch the villain, and Lee Pace does an amazing job playing and voicing him. Especially his voice is incredibly amazing. Nebula could use some more depth, but she’s ambiguous, razor-sharp, fast, and tough, though a bit hysterical at times. The Collector continues to fascinate with his strange behaviour, his even stranger collection and his ambiguous and mysterious ways. When he showed up in the tag to Thor The Dark World everyone was speculating what this would mean and now that he’s in this, essentially a different universe, what does this mean? What does he mean?

More importantly, does this mean the Guardians and the Avengers will ever meet and/or team up?

All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy is an entertaining film. It has its flaws, mainly the vast amount of characters and the limited ability to really connect with any of them, but it is fun, never gets boring, and has a lot of humour and music to keep you entertained. Featuring silly dancing (I still think Ronan should have joined the dance-off), bad music (Hooked On A Feeling, anyone?), a sprinkle of touching and/or emotional moments, and enough little untouched remarks and Easter eggs to keep everyone guessing (who the hell is Peter’s dad?!). Although not as good as Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Avengers Assemble, Marvel has done a fantastic job with this film and I am looking forward to the sequel in 2015.

Rating: 7/10

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