Guardians of the Galaxy

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1988, following his mother’s death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by the Ravagers, a group of space pirates led by Yondu Udonta. Twenty-six years later on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb only to be intercepted by Korath, a subordinate to the fanatical Kree, Ronan. Although Quill escapes with the orb, Yondu discovers his theft and issues a bounty for his capture while Ronan sends the assassin Gamora after the orb.

When Quill attempts to sell the orb on the Nova Corps home world Xandar, Gamora ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, and the tree-like humanoid Groot. The Nova Corps arrives and arrests the group, imprisoning them in the Kyln. A powerful inmate, Drax, attempts to kill Gamora due to her association with Ronan, who killed his family. Quill dissuades him by saying that Gamora can bring Ronan to him. Gamora reveals that she has betrayed Ronan, unwilling to let him use the orb’s power to destroy entire planets such as Xandar. Learning that Gamora has a buyer for the orb, Rocket, Quill, Groot, and Gamora work together to escape the Kyln.

Elsewhere, Ronan meets with the titan Thanos to discuss his daughter Gamora’s betrayal and the loss of the orb. Accompanied by Drax, Quill’s group escapes the Kyln in his ship—the Milano—and flee to Knowhere, a remote criminal outpost in space built in the giant severed-head of a celestial. A drunken Drax summons Ronan, while the rest of the group meet Gamora’s contact, Taneleer Tivan. Tivan opens the orb, revealing an Infinity Stone, an item of immeasurable power that destroys all but the most powerful beings who wield it. Suddenly, Tivan’s tormented assistant grabs the Stone, triggering an explosion that engulfs his collection.

Ronan arrives and easily defeats Drax, while the others flee by ship, pursued by Ronan’s followers and Gamora’s sister Nebula. Nebula destroys Gamora’s ship, leaving her floating in space, and Ronan’s forces leave with the sphere. Quill contacts Yondu before following Gamora into space, giving her his helmet to survive; Yondu arrives and retrieves the pair. Rocket, Drax, and Groot threaten to attack Yondu’s ship to rescue them, but Quill negotiates a truce by convincing Yondu that they can recover the orb. The group agrees that facing Ronan means certain death, but that they must stop him from using the Infinity Stone to destroy the galaxy. On Ronan’s ship, the Dark Aster, Ronan embeds the Stone in his warhammer, taking its power for himself. He contacts Thanos, threatening to kill him after the destruction of Xandar; hateful of her adopted father, Nebula allies with Ronan.

On Xandar, the Dark Aster is confronted by Yondu’s fleet, the Nova Corps, and Quill’s group, which breaches the Dark Aster. Ronan uses his empowered warhammer to destroy the Nova Corps fleet. Drax kills Korath, and Gamora defeats Nebula (who escapes) and unlocks Ronan’s chambers, but the group finds themselves outmatched by his power until Rocket crashes the Milano through the Dark Aster and into Ronan. The damaged Dark Aster crash lands on Xandar, with Groot sacrificing himself to shield the group. Ronan emerges from the wreck and prepares to destroy Xandar, but Quill distracts him, allowing Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan’s warhammer. Quill grabs the freed Stone, and with Gamora, Drax, and Rocket sharing its burden, they use it to destroy Ronan.

In the aftermath, Quill tricks Yondu into taking a container supposedly containing the Stone, then gives the real Stone to the Nova Corps. As the Ravagers leave Xandar, Yondu remarks that it turned out well that they did not deliver Quill to his father. Quill’s group, now known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, have their criminal records expunged, and Quill learns that he is only half-human, his father being part of an ancient, unknown species. Quill finally opens the last present he received from his mother; a cassette tape filled with her favorite songs. The Guardians leave in the rebuilt Milano along with a sapling cut from Groot.

In a post-credits scene, Tivan sits in his destroyed archive with two of his living exhibits: a canine cosmonaut and an anthropomorphic duck.

REVIEW:

A couple of years ago when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, I along with everyone else scratched my head and said WTF?!? No one really knew anything about these characters. They aren’t the mainstream heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, Superman, etc. All that skepticism and mystery was thrown out the window when the first trailer was released during the Super Bowl. Ever since then, this has been one of the films people have been looking forward to the most, but does it live it up to the hype, or fall short of expectation, giving Marvel Studios its first real flop?

What is this about?

On the run from intergalactic warlord Ronan, hotshot space pilot Peter Quill unites a ragtag band of oddballs to form a team of unlikely heroes. Soon, the Guardians discover that they alone stand between Ronan and the galaxy’s destruction.

What did I like?

Pacing. I’m sure we’ve all seen movies like this that either start off with a band and then slow down or they start off so slow and never really get going until the climax, leaving you sitting there bored out of your mind for most of the film. Well, fret not, my friends, because this film manages to get in its moments of drama and then quickly move on to something else. The filmmakers know that the audience for this does not necessarily wan to sit through all that, so they move it along at a quick pace and don’t look back.

Music. When the first trailer featured Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, everyone wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it a song they just used for the trailer? Is it part of the soundtrack? What was the deal? Well, as it turns out the 70s hits such as that and a few other well-known ditties are the soundtrack, but the music is also incorporated into the storyline through a tragic backstory of Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt. I’ve got to give the film credit, because that was an ingenious way to incorporate such a random group of songs in a space flick. Also, the use of a Walkman and a tape deck, which kids of today surely have no idea what those are, was a nice nod to those of use who grew up listening to those things much the same way as young Quill.

Characters. With this property, more than any other up to this point in the Marvel Universe, the characters had to be developed, fleshed out, and made accessible to a public that knows little to nothing about them. I would say that this was done successfully. Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord is basically what you would expect Han Solo’s son to be. Gamora, for all my hatred of waif thin Zoe Saldana, is the assassin with a heart that I believe she is meant to be. Drax takes everything literally. As it is explained, he comes from a race of people who don’t know metaphors, which makes for some interesting comedic moments. Yes, comedic moments from Dave Bautista. Who’d have thunk that?!? Groot is the loveable tree and bodyguard for Rocket. Ah, Rocket, the show stealing raccoon! First off, you would never guess that was Bradley Cooper doing his voice. Second, he provides not only some of the best comedic lines in the film, but also, while explaining things to Quill and Gamora, explains why things are the way they are, without the film having to stop and do so.

Let there be light! Apparently, over at DC they believe every character they have has to be dark and brooding, because that is the formula that worked for The Dark Knight trilogy. The only exception appears to be this new Flash show that is coming this fall. Marvel, on the other hand, knows not only how to balance the light and the dark, but also create various genres of films. Take for instance, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That was darker than its predecessor and also a different genre, as it delved more into the spy racket. This film takes us into space and leaves every bit of darkness behind. I, for one, am ever so grateful for that. Enough with the dark comic book films! Let’s have some fun! Which is the formula this flick uses successfully. Hopefully the start of a new trend towards the light!

What didn’t I like?

Sacrifice. For one of the main characters to sacrifice themselves to save the rest of the team is nothing new. However, I am starting to see a trend in superhero films where they kill off one of said main characters as a way to give motivation to the rest of the group. Now, this wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t feel it had been done to death. I can’t remember exactly where I’ve seen this plot point before, but I know I have. The sacrifice that was made here was emotional, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not so sure it was necessary.

Nova corps. One of the major issues people had with Green Lantern is that we didn’t see enough of the other members of the Corps. Well, Marvel’s equivalent to the Green Lanterns is the Nova Corps. While these aren’t as a popular or varied as the GLs, they do each have their own personalities and I think it would have been nice, since they included them, to get some more insight into at least one or two of them. Maybe even introduce or hint at the one that would go on to be Nova on Earth (the one being used currently in the animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man)

Ronan. Going into this, I heard all the talk about how Ronan wasn’t that great of a villain and how Marvel needs to step up the villain game, blah, blah, blah. Well, my take on it is that Ronan is who Ronan is supposed to be, from what I know of him. Lee Pace does a respectable job with him, maybe not the best, but far from the worst. However, as one review I read/listened to said, “we see Thanos and geek out over knowing that a film is coming where he is the big bad, which makes Ronan one of the bosses that has to be beaten along the way.” I like that analogy, because it sum it up very nicely. If you played the Mega Man games, think of it this way, Thanos is Dr. Wily, Loki and Ronan are two of the bosses that had to be taken out before you can get to him. If not for Thanos, though, Ronan would have been more menacing, I believe. Had they just held him off until later in the film, or let him just be a hologram, a la The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, then it probably would have worked.

Well, I wasn’t able to go see Guardians of the Galaxy when it was released because I just didn’t have the time. This weekend, I just couldn’t get up the energy to drive across town and go to the theater. However, this has been the perfect birthday movie for me. Everything I want is in here, action, sci-fi, talking animals, comedy, great music, space. The only thing missing is some retro stuff, but I’ll get to that before the week is over. For me, this film has a couple of flaws that can be overlooked, but few that are enough to make this a bad film. The only thing that I might consider changing is switching Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian’s characters (before she shaved her head…such a shame to lose those luscious red locks). I will definitely be getting this when it is released to DVD/Blu-Ray. Does that mean I recommend it? Emphatically so! You need to stop what you are doing and go see this right now!

5 out of 5 stars

side note…there is a post credits scene, but I have chosen not to discuss it as I don’t believe it is meant to be anything more than an inside joke to true Marvel fans that are familiar with all of their properties. however, I will say that the previous design of that character might have looked better, in my opinion.

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6 Responses to “Guardians of the Galaxy”

  1. […] talent, that is for sure. Before that show that was just cancelled on ABC, she starred in this and Guardians of the Galaxy. Is she on the level of someone like say, Meryl Streep? No, not yet, but this is her first US film, […]

  2. […] because of his role on Parks & Recreation. I still haven’t separated him from Andy. In Guardians of the Galaxy, it wasn’t that much of a stretch because it felt at times as if Star Lord was Andy playing […]

  3. […] that was released late last summer and overshadowed by the flick that was released the same day, Guardians of the Galaxy. It still did respectable business, but should you take the time to watch […]

  4. […] cute. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot sacrificed himself to save the team. As the credits are rolling, we see that he is a sapling […]

  5. […] Marvel has been churning out great films, some better than others, since the MCU started. With that said, there is a complaint that seems to be universal among fans and critics. Villains in the Marvel universe just aren’t strong, aside from Loki. Well, Hela has come in and made a name for herself. Not only did she destroy Thor’s hammer, but she took over Asgard, brought and army back from the dead, is pretty much indestructible, and we were given some development to her character. What more could you ask for in an evil, malevolent being…I’m looking at you Ronin the  Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)! […]

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