Editor’s Note: For a spoiler filled panel discussion of this flick, make sure to check out episode 112 of the podcast. But since I know some of you want to know whether you’ll like this movie without having it spoiled, Ender was kind enough to give us a written review as well.
The trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t completely sell me. I was intrigued, but on the fence about the film. The alluring thing the movie had going for it was the sense of humor. I knew Marvel could pull of extensive action scenes and humor had always been a strong point of their films, but this was different. This was a space opera with a massive sense of humor, and I wasn’t convinced that Marvel would be able to sustain it throughout the course of the film.
Then I went to Disneyland, where they were previewing the first couple of minutes. I decided I’d use that as a gauge to find out whether I should even buy a ticket. After an introduction to Peter Quill as a young boy, we smash cut to him on an alien world as a grown man. He puts on headphones, the movie plays Come and Get Your Love, and he starts to strut, which I found amusing. Then Star Lord punted a rat across the screen, not once but twice, and used a third as a microphone. I sat up and paid attention.
Flash forward to two weeks later, and now I was sitting in a movie theater, chewing my nails because I was so excited. I hadn’t been this excited to see a movie since The Dark Knight came out in 2008. The lights went out, the curtain lifted, and for the next two hours I had the best time in a movie theater that I’ve had in a long time. The movie isn’t just good; it is stellar. (I see what you did there. -Ed) I won’t spoil anything for you but this movie is massively fun to watch.
Extremely funny and action packed, the film has great heart, and is about what matters most to just about anyone; family. Guardians isn’t about the family we are stuck with, but the brothers and sisters we choose. Those people we meet once and instantly understand who they are. The people we can’t survive without for the rest of our lives.
If the Avengers were the jocks who seduce the cheerleaders, then the Guardians are the punk rock kids in the back of class who steal the cheerleaders panties and light them on fire in the quad to watch them burn. They aren’t the soldiers, or the heroes, they are the ones who steal the money from your pocket. They could care less about killing people, but they aren’t sadistic.
However, the villains in this film are quite sadistic. They want to wipe out all life in the galaxy, because it isn’t “pure.” They are those fanatics who are so crazy they make Whacko look normal. Unfortunately, the villains are also the weak part of the film There is no Loki level antagonist here. Instead, you have Ronan the Accuser, whose reputation speaks louder than what he actually does on screen. Ronan seemed like he could be an interesting character, but there was no part where I felt like he could compete with some of the better villains in the Marvel Universe, a minor gripe but still a gripe.
None of that matters though, because we have the Guardians to look at. And boy are they something to behold. The way they banter truly feels like a group of friends giving each other shit. As a warning, Guardians does not care about the censors. They never go beyond PG-13, but they use swearing liberally because they fucking feel like it, so feel warned if you bring your young ones with you.
The Guardians themselves are an interesting group of characters. They feel like real people with real problems who have lived in the world without privileges and have not come out unscathed. Each of them has a background that gets explored without any kind of flashback. It gets hinted at in their performance and what they say. Because the filmmakers chose to do it this way, the characters jump off the screen, we’re learning about them as we watch them be badass and hilarious.
The most surprising thing about these characters is how much you grow to care about CG creations. The days of Jar Jar Binks are long gone – Rocket and Groot are the heart and soul of this film, and the performances created for them by the legion of artists who brought them to life are incredible to behold.
There is another warning that the average moviegoer should be aware of, and that is that this is a pure sci-fi film. The filmmakers don’t set up the universe they are showing you, they just chuck you in the deep end and hope you learn to swim. So for those who aren’t accustomed to movies that feel like the Star Wars cantina scene, this film might be a bit of a culture shock, at first. That’s okay with me, because that’s what the best filmmakers do; they show you the world, not just tell you about it. This feels like a world that is lived in, without being Star Wars.
In fact this is the first Marvel film that doesn’t feel like it is trying to tie into the bigger Marvel Universe. The entire film has this attitude about it, where you’re either in or you’re out. So as long as you accept what is happening on screen, and just let the movie take you somewhere, you will absolutely love where the journey goes.
I’m not sure if this film is the next Star Wars, but it is the closest Marvel has come to competing with a film of that caliber in terms of the entertainment. This is Marvel’s best film, without a doubt. Considering I was one of the people on the fence, I am pleasantly surprised to say that I will be seeing this film again… in fact… if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get my love, as the song says.
Ender lives in Southern California, where he’s training to keep the skies safe. He loves Batman, Batman, Batman, and some other stuff, too.
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