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Monday, August 18, 2014

18 Thoughts and Reactions to Guardians of the Galaxy

"I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy."
-Gamora inadvertently summarizes the entire plot

That's it.  That's all you need to know.  That's the movie.

If you still want more, though, Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie about a cassette-obsessed human, a talking tree, a genetically modified warrior princess, a muscular blue guy that doesn't understand metaphors, and a raccoon with a rocket launcher.  They also somehow manage to save the entire galaxy.  What's not to love?

Here are eighteen spoiler-free thoughts:
  1. I had ridiculously high expectations for this movie.  I have high expectations for every Marvel movie, but for some reason, I was expecting a lot from this one.  I'm not familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy (which I will henceforth refer to as GotG) comics, so I didn't know much about it other than what I saw in the trailers, but I liked the look of it, which made my expectations high.  Besides, if Marvel is going to take the risk of releasing a movie starring a raccoon with a rocket launcher that hangs out with a talking tree, it had better pay off.  Also, I kept seeing glowing reviews like this one, and people claiming that this is Marvel's best movie yet.  How could I not have high expectations? 
  2. The beginning is disorienting.  This is one of only issues I have with this movie, and in the grand scheme of things, it hardly detracts from my enjoyment of it, but it's worth mentioning.  It goes from The Fault in Our Stars to Star Trek in 0.3 seconds. Then, suddenly, Peter Quill is running around in a gas mask, and then it swings around to people throwing sketchy-looking dust at a blue Lee Pace.  The first time I saw it (I've seen it twice now--the first time in a theater, the second at a drive-in), it took me a few minutes to get my bearings.  Who is Peter running from?  Who's the bad guy and who's the bad bad guy here?  Why is Thranduil blue?  All that being said, after it gets moving, it's easy to get on track with it.
  3. It's fun.  While Marvel movies are never without a healthy dose of comic relief, some are much darker than others.  Movies like The Winter Soldier or Iron Man 3, for example, are more intense, deal with more difficult themes (human modification, PTSD, etc.), and make a statement about politics/life/society.  GotG never quite shifts into "gritty" territory like The Winter Soldier or even other comic book movies like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.  It has some profound things to say--as should any good movie--but it doesn't have to be cynical and dark in order to do so.  While watching Catching Fire, I had this pit-like feeling in my stomach the entire time because of the emotional intensity of it all.  I left the theater after The Fault in Our Stars with a deep sense of loss.  When I walked out of GotG, I was just grinning.  Don't get me wrong--I love the emotional intensity and often-dark themes of these movies and others, but sometimes, it's refreshing to have a movie that's more fun than anything else.  
  4. I love the grungy sci-fi look.  Some sci-fi is very "modern", all clean lines and polished LED lights and seamless, quiet engines (see also: Tron: Legacy, Star Trek Into Darkness).  And then there is what I like to call "grungy sci-fi", which is all rusty paneling, secondhand spaceships, and sketchy taverns (see also: Firefly, or how I imagine books like Black Hole Sun or possibly Avalon would look on the big screen).  GotG falls into this second category.  The world of the characters is colorful and visually interesting, but it is wonderfully imperfect.  Again, this makes it feel more down-to-earth (for lack of a better term) and realistic. 
  5. It's goofy.  The main character challenges the Big Bad Villain to a dance-off.  Need I say more?  When I saw this in the theater, people frequently laughed out loud.  It's not exactly a comedy, but it's the funniest movie Marvel has made.  There is a serious plot, of course, and a galaxy to be saved and all that, but that never stops the sarcastic comments, inappropriately timed pop culture references, and general complete incompatibility of the Guardians themselves.  
  6. Which somehow makes it more realistic.  For some reason, this offbeat sense of humor makes it feel more real.  These characters are not perfect heroes.  Most of the time, they're not heroic at all.  They accept it, though, because they're real people and not larger-than-life Chosen Ones destined to save everyone.  More than anything else, they just got caught in the wrong place at the right time.  And so Peter Quill challenges Ronan the Accuser to a dance-off.  Because real people don't pull off perfect superhero poses and toss around flawless, poetic monologues.  They resort to weird diversion tactics and fumble supposedly dramatic handoffs (Peter drops the Infinity Stone, for goodness' sake) and mess up solemn, important moments.  GotG embraces this side of heroism.
  7. It's insane.  It's funny, but it's also one big roller coaster of impossible situations, spaceship crashes, explosions, explosions, small animals lifting guns as big as they are, and more explosions.  I recently read Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I spent the whole time marveling at the sheer madness of the situations Locke Lamora found himself in, all the while wondering when he'd finally outsmart even himself.  GotG is like that.  You know the characters will make it out, but that doesn't change the fact that there has to be a somehow.  
  8. This is smart placement for Marvel.  Since everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected and intertwined with everything else, one movie can't just pretend a plot point from another never happened.  After certain events in The Winter Soldier and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (involving S.H.I.E.L.D.--I want to be spoiler-free, but some of you know what I'm talking about TONY YOU FAILED.  NICE TRY NOT REALLY.), the MCU has some readjusting to do.  You can't change a major, established structure like that without repercussions.  After tWS, though, GotG gives fans time to mull that over while still having a new movie to enjoy.  GotG isn't affected by it, which lends time to build suspense.  And recover.    
  9. Marvel is just flaunting their power over DC.  DC is still muttering about why a solo Wonder Woman movie wouldn't sell (spoiler alert: it would), and they're insisting that all their movies be dark, gritty, and realistic.  If DC is the brooding, standoffish kid to whom everyone gives a wide berth, Marvel is the kid sitting on the floor, oblivious to everyone, playing with plastic dinosaurs like nothing else in the world matters*.  And we love them for it.
  10. Chris Pratt.  I don't know where Marvel gets their actors.  I'm convinced that they have a secret facility somewhere where they produce actors that are perfect for their roles.  I don't know much about Chris Pratt, but from what I've seen of him outside this movie, he seems like just as much of a goofball as Peter.  I love it when actors are so similar to their characters.  
  11. That is one incredibly non-subtle Avengers reference.  Peter has 12% of a plan?  Hmm, where have I heard that one before?
  12. WE ARE GROOT.  I didn't know I could get so emotionally attached to a tree, happened.  Somehow, with only the phrase "I am Groot" (and one "We are Groot"), Vin Diesel and Marvel's animators managed to create a lovable character with an obvious personality.  He's loyal, sweet, and even has a little bit of an attitude.  And so, of course, Marvel had to go and destroy my feels at the end.  Why, Marvel?  Why?  Anyway, he has an interesting relationship with Rocket, and the two can be hilarious together.  They protect each other and are buddies in a way that the other Guardians aren't--not yet, at least.  (This Buzzfeed article speaks to my soul.) 
  13. I like Gamora's hair.  And Gamora in general, of course.  I'm usually not a fan of obviously-dyed hair, but I love Gamora's black-to-purple look.  And she has some sort of interesting braid during the prison scenes, though I could never quite catch exactly what it looks like.  (I have long hair, and I like to find new ways to wear it, so I pay attention to these things.)  Besides the hair, though, Gamora is still fabulous.  She can beat up some bad guys, but she's also prepared to die for the sake of others.  She has an interesting backstory that I assume will be explored further in future sequels, especially her relationship with her sister Nebula.  
  14. This comic about how GotG should have ended is the funniest thing I've seen on the internet in a long time.  I won't post the whole thing here, because that would get rather unwieldy, but it's fantastic.  And you have no idea how much money I would pay to see Lee Pace, in costume, yell, "Curse you, Kevin Bacon!"
  15. This scene is perfect and nobody can convince me otherwise.  (Click here for video.)
  16. Apparently, it's news that females actually like comic book/sci-fi movies.  We're in 2014, people; why is this still newsworthy?  I keep seeing articles about how this movie's record-breaking female audience proves that yes, girls like superheroes.  SPOILER ALERT: This is not news to anybody.  I'm pretty sure people figured out that males and females can enjoy the same stories about the time that we figured out that the wheel is efficient.
  17. That being said, it's cool that this was the first Marvel movie written by a woman.  Well, kind of.  Nicole Perlman is the first woman to have a writing credit on a Marvel movie, which isn't quite the same thing.  Still, it's a step forward.  Maybe someday we'll get to the point where nobody will think about science fiction as a "male genre", but for now, I'll take this.  Speaking of woman writers, though...Marvel, if you need a writer in ten years or so, well, let's just say I know a girl.  *makes not-so-subtle gestures toward self*  Also, apparently Marvel has an internship program where students can work on developing future storylines.  WHERE DO I SIGN?  
This movie makes me so immensely happy, and I don't remember the last time I walked out of the theater with that feeling.  It's meaningful, but it's also full of laughs and has a lot of heart.  If you haven't seen it yet, what are you still doing here?  For everyone else: I leave you with this dancing baby Groot.

Did you see it?  What did you think?  Are you still having feels about Groot?  Because I definitely am.

*Oh, look.  Plastic dinosaurs.
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  1. I'm glad that you're doing another movie review; I thought this was the funniest movie I'd seen in a long time as well, and it really just made me want to travel across the galaxies. Anyway, I just came on here to say I love your movie reviews (I wish you would do more of them) and that there is an awesome little game coming out in a year or so that is like living this movie. I don't know if you're a gamer at all, but here it is in case you want to check it out: (unfortunately it's a timed PS4 exclusive, but it will be released to the PC.)

    1. Thanks for your comment--it made me smile! I'm glad you enjoy the movie reviews. I had never actually planned on making them a reoccurring thing (the first time, I just needed a place to rant about Loki in Thor 2), but I had so much fun with it, and people seemed to like it, so I kept it up! (I assume you've probably seen everything, but if not, here's the entire backlist: I'd like to see The Giver before my fall semester stars, and if that happens, there will be another review coming.

      I'm not a gamer but I watched that trailer, and if that was a movie, I would totally go see it, mostly because it has dinosaurs and spaceships at the same time. My "gaming" is pretty much limited to MarioKart, but I have a healthy respect for games like the one you mentioned that actually tell a story or do some interesting worldbuilding.

  2. I love your movie reviews. They always make me smile and laugh.

    I also agree with Emily S. This is one of the funniest movies I have seen. The only disappointing thing is hearing kids ask their parents, "Who's Kevin Bacon?" I absolutely adore Groot and I almost cried when he said, "We are Groot." And yes, Tony did miss a HUGE secret. On that note, do you watch Agents of Shield?

    On another random note, did you know there are careers as video game writers? It's the field I'm considering. Many of the game companies have a shortage of writers, especially female writers. They are currently trying to open up the playing field, so to speak, to women, and writing is one of the growing jobs in this industry. You should check it out! Anyway, enough of this randomness. Keep up the good work!

  3. Oh, and one more thing. I love your song of the week this week. It's a wonderful song.

    1. Thanks--comments like that brighten my day!

      I didn't hear anyone ask who Kevin Bacon is, thankfully, but I left the theater wondering how many parents will have to explain pre-CD technology to their kids. I don't watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I have a decent idea of what happened at the end of the season, from people's reactions on Tumblr and watching a few of my friends freaking out.

      Good luck with becoming a video game writer (or whatever you choose to do). Novels are currently my true love, but I would definitely be open to writing for another medium if the opportunity presented itself. Anything to create stories! And while it's not good that they have a shortage of writers, I still think it's awesome, because it makes it just that much easier for people like us to have a way in.

      I'm glad you like the song of the week! (For awhile here I've been wondering if anybody is paying attention, since I don't think I've really mentioned it before.) It's one of my favorite Imagine Dragons songs, and it's absolutely epic live.


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