Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

     Had anyone ever heard of the guardians of the galaxy before buzz about the movie began? I mean, besides to comic book nerds, these badass "heroes" have flown generally under the radar of your typical viewer, even your more advanced geek. Either way, trailers had me very excited, and that was bolstered by the fact that literally everyone—professional critic or good friend—I talked to really enjoyed it. So, I bought tickets too see it on a monday two days in advance. First time I've had the whole theater to choose from. Naturally, I took the two in the middle where you can put your feet up on the bar in front. Who wouldn't?

     James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy provides brains as well as brawn. As we have come to expect in Marvel's flicks, this movie really blended well action packed scenes with above-par comedy. A lot of this humor stemmed from lead Chris Pratt, playing the role of Peter Quill, aka "Starlord, man!"
. Pratt, who has history of being a funny man (really recommend Parks and Rec), really pulled out the big guns: replacing fat with muscle, nailing the bad-assery. I've actually been hearing a lot of comparisons between him and Harrison Ford's Han Solo around the internet lately, and honestly, I have to agree. He's cool, laid back, funny, tough, and a real ladies man. I have to emphasize the cool, because I think behind everything that defines his character, cool stands out the most. And I think it was a perfect casting job, choosing Pratt, who is just as cool in real life.
     Guardians is a bit more of an origin story than I expected, however. More than half of the movie is spent "assembling the team": Star Lord and the rest of the gang only really come together after all breaking out of the same prison, and even then, there are some inter-squad squabbles. This fact, I think, could be a problem for some viewers out there, who are used to marvel's constant spewing of action from the beginning of the film onwards. An origin story like this one is a bit more sophisticated and requires a bit more focus, but I think pays off to make a better, more compelling action movie. One where you actually do care about the characters' well being, and about the bond of the team. A big downside to an origin-type storyline, which we saw a lot of, is confusion when introducing characters, exposition, etc. I found it a bit difficult keeping track of different races and planets, and deciphering who is at war with whom. On one hand, there is the obviously evil Ronan and the Kree race, but then there are the
C'mon, Yondu
Xandar, and the Nova Core, and Yondu and his goons, and they all seem to be against Star Lord and gang. This confusion is easy to look past, though, as all we really need to do is root for the Guardians and against anyone fighting them. Eventually, it all comes down to Ronan trying to destroy Xandar, and it all becomes pretty clear who the good and bad guys are. Near the end, after Star Lord defeats Ronan, we are rewarded with a chill-inducing line from Pratt, "You already said it bitch, we're the guardians of the galaxy". I wanted to stand up right there and applaud but there were still 20 minutes left.

     There were a few really interesting aspects to Guardians that really set it apart from the rest of the Marvel films, and other superhero movies in general. One thing that stood out to me was its' use of music. Every song seemed so expertly selected, and not only was the audio aspect of it implemented well, but all of the music's importance to the storyline, namely Peter Quill's, was pretty powerful. Quill has this mixtape called Awesome Mix vol 1, given to him by his dying mother, and he listens to it while idle. And these idle times come at pretty key points, and I felt pretty moved whenever that music began playing.  At the end of the flick, Quill opens a present from his mom, revealing a second awesome mix. *queue tears*. Another thing that caught my eye was the incredibly animated cgi heroes, Groot and Rocket. This is the second movie in a row which has had tender cgi moments that has made me a bit misty eyed. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, we saw Caesar and Malcolm have a touching eye to eye connection. In Galaxy, Groot sacrifices himself to save the rest of the team. As this happens he locks eyes with a crying Rocket, whom up to that point had been a sarcastic, cold blooded machine. If that didn't pull at at least one of your heartstrings, then you have no heartstrings to pull.

     Did you think I would leave the Guardians out? Nah. While The Avengers might have more firepower than this dysfunctional group, it is the Guardians who lead with determination, heart, and real teamwork. While they worked great as a group, these guardians also stood out individually. I've already talked about the stud mcmuffin Chris Pratt, who is the glue holding these hoodlums together.
Zoe Saldana, to be perfectly honest, kind of bothered me. It seemed like she over dramatized everything, and I couldn't get over the fact that she was green. If you can remember, Saldana's roommate in Star Trek happened to be green too. Just me being nit-picky I guess. Dave Buatista, wow. This guy has some range. He is a WWE fighter who may have been the funniest character in the movie. He covered a pretty sad backstory, too. I know, he was kind of stupid to have in the movie but his ironically sophisticated humor had me reeling the whole time. Onto Groot and Rocket. These two, voiced by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, respectively, stole every scene they were in. This is the best super-duo since Batman and Robin. But they take a bit of a different approach to the super-duo mentality. With Groot as the muscle and Rocket as the wit, there's a lot more room for diversity and a more fun viewing experience. They are truly best buds, and although Groot can only say three words, they bring real depth to the team.

    Every aspect of Guardians of the Galaxy worked for me, and it kept me entertained, immersed,  even, throughout the whole film. It nailed the Marvel formula, and then some. It proved that people can go to see a movie because of the Marvel production, and leave satisfied because of the content, not the name. It deserves sequels, prequels, anything that can be thrown at it (hopefully these don't ruin the franchise), and to get you guys even more excited, they will probably be featured in an Avengers movie in the near future, considering they're all part of the same universe.

For the record, my Marvel preferences are as follows:

1. Iron Man
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. The Avengers
4. Captain America: Winter Soldier

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