Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review #26: Guardians of the Galaxy

There aren't many movies I go see on opening weekend, but I suspected I'd be seeing this one from the very first trailer. I'd never heard Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" before, yet I instantly knew I loved that song, and also that it was probably recorded before I was born. As is my custom, from the time I knew I was interested I pointedly refrained from looking into it any further, content instead to experience the real thing when it came out.

And so I did. Short review: this was a really fun movie that expands the Marvel Universe admirably. You should see this movie is you're interested in keeping up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if you're a fan of Firefly, or if you enjoy movies with a mix of humor, smart writing, and action.


Abducted by aliens at a young age, Peter Quill grew up among space outlaws, and after acquiring a ball-shaped relic from some ruins on a strange planet, he decides to take it and run to sell the relic on his own. This results in an adventure in which Quill and a band of misfits try to sell the artifact while keeping it from villains who would use it to destroy a planet.


Guardians of the Galaxy is about how friends can make up for each others' shortcomings.

The way the team comes together in this movie is similar to how the team comes together in The Avengers: they start off fighting each other, then are forced to work together despite their differences. Over time, they come to terms with each other and create a powerful team.

I think a lot of people will compare the Guardians to the team from Firefly. That comparison holds some weight, which is why I mentioned it above. The team is a group of funny and interesting misfits who react to dangerous situations in not-exactly-heroic ways. However, there's plenty of other cool antihero groups in space you could compare here, and that's about where the similarities end.

The crew of Serenity all had very distinct relationships with each other. Mal was kind of Kaylee, stern with Jayne, mocking of Simon, and comfortable with Zoe. Jayne was confrontational with Mal, scared of River, strangely respectful of Book, awkward with Kaylee and Inara, and a bully toward Simon. Everyone was a bit scared of Zoe. Their connections were clear and natural, and every character was unique and interesting.

It's somewhat unfair to compare Guardians to Firefly, and I'll grant that they didn't have as much time to establish relationships, partially because they only had two hours and the team didn't even come together until about 30 minutes in or so.

That said, the only characters that seem to have a clear relationship are Quill and everyone (important, since he's the main character), Rocket and Groot, and Rocket and Drax. The rest of the crew barely interacts with each other. Furthermore, though most of the team have very clear, interesting personalities, the one woman on the team, Gamora, is decidedly lacking in that department. Other than the fact that she can fight, she seems distinctly personality-deprived. Very little about her actions in the movie reflects her life prior to the movie, which was apparently as a ruthless, efficient assassin for one of the most feared and powerful people in the galaxy.

I mean, seriously, John C. Reilly's barely-seen side character shows more emotional depth than Gamora. She seems to exist only as a blank slate, love interest character for Quill (despite his established hit-it-and-quit-it attitude toward women) who happens to be able to fight and has a barely-explored connection to the primary villain of the movie.

I go on about this only because Firefly has impressive female characters, so if we're making the comparison it's an important point to bring up.

Anyway, I don't want to sound down on Guardians. As noted above, I thought it was a really fun movie. The other main characters are great, and each one steals the spotlight in multiple scenes of the movie. The story isn't terribly strong or unique, but it serves its purpose of bringing the Guardians together, showing how they work as a team, and, of course, setting up the next Marvel movie. More importantly, it plants the seeds for an interesting series about a crew of spacefairers that I'm excited to see again sometime in the future.

Also, the music was great.

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