Why Guardians of the Galaxy Actually Works

I meant to post this sooner, I saw the movie opening day and have seen in since then and now everyone has put their opinion on the internet, but I wanted to throw in my two cents anyway.

Just about every review I’ve read for Guardians of the Galaxy starts with the phrase “sure, it’s not perfect,” like we have to apologize for enjoying it as much as we did. Why? Because it’s a comic book movie? How does it hold less clout? And what movie is perfect?

So, no. Guardians of the Galaxy is not perfect, but I’d rather watch Guardians than Citizen Kane any day.

Guardians of the Galaxy worked in several different genres: it’s a superhero movie, an action movie, a comedy, a sci-fi movie and it has drama as well as musical interludes (not musical numbers, but spontaneous dancing, as Star Lord can’t resist a good 70’s track). Generally when a movie tries to do so many things at once, the film implodes, falls flat, but Guardians manages to be all those things, remaining fresh, while maintaining a great reverence for the menagerie of throwback references it highlights, pokes fun at, and obviously holds in the highest esteem.

Often, this causes trouble. In trying to do so many things, a film can fail at them all. More amazingly, it managed to be a super hero movie and a spoof of a super hero movie at the same time. Guardians knew when to do what and just how thick they should lay it on.

People talk about how fun the opening of the movie is, but actually the movie begins with the tear-jerking death of the protagonist, Peter Quill, as a child, watching his mother die.

I’d also like to point out that the script, being book-ended by the “Awesome Mix” tapes, is actually a well-crafted script. The movie doesn’t just make you feel good. It’s a good movie. For real: Guardians of the Galaxy is a legitimately well made film.

Then fast-forward several years to the scene everyone was actually talking about, where adult Quill dances his way through an abandoned planet to do some looting. And bam, within the first few minutes, he already has the McGuffin object. Let’s movie the story right along.

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I have a real soft spot for ensemble pieces, which this movie most definitely is. Rounding out the team are Gamora – the deadly assassin, who is sent to kill Quill, but has so much heart and pain from her past that you like her even in the beginning (the movie’s almost more about her and her sibling rivalry with baddie Nebula – Karen Gillan), Rocket – the subversive and rowdy, biologically enhanced raccoon, Groot – the gargantuan tree creature with a limited vocabulary, but the sweetest of the lot (and everyone’s favorite), and finally, Drax – the vengeful inmate whose family was murdered by the central villain, who takes everything completely literally. Ladies and gentleman, may I present your saviors.

The casting was excellent. I found out Jensen Ackles, the lead from one of my all time favorite TV shows, Supernatural, had been strongly considered for the role of Quill and I couldn’t even be mad he didn’t get it because Pratt did such a kick-ass job. Although maybe he can play his dad in a later movie? Age-wise he’s too young, but they can toss a BS science-y explainer in there. Also, David Tennant, my number one celebrity crush, had been mentioned for Rocket, but again, I couldn’t be mad.

Each character has a clear and specific voice, and Quill, being the only character from Earth, a planet he observed through the 70’s and 80’s (he gets abducted in 1988) uses references that to him are timely, but to a contemporary audience are out of date. But that’s part of what makes it so funny. I’d like to see you try to explain Footloose to an alien. It  also lends a flair of retro-futurism.

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And this seems like as good a time as any to segue into the music. While, I’m not a massive fan of all the songs, the way they used them was so spot on that I’m now filled with unbridled happiness whenever I hear a song from the movie. On top of that they used the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” (an awesome song by an all girl rock band) for the obligatory gearing up for battle/slow motion walk sequence and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” my favorite Bowie song, which is seldom used or spoken about.

One final thing that impressed me, as mentioned earlier, Gamora and Nebula don’t have the best sibling relationship and it all gears up for a big fight sequence at the end,. It’s so rare that there’s an action movie with two girls fighting each other. And it’s not just some ridiculous catfight, it’s a proper throw-down. My one tiny problem, and it’s not even the fault of the filmmakers, is that I’m so “team Amy” that a part of me wanted Nebula to win. But of course good triumphs over evil, though doesn’t destroy it completely, and Nebula will return in the future movies, I’m sure. Who knows, maybe she can be the big bad at some point or maybe she could even team up with the Guardians.

Oh! OH! I almost forgot he best part:

 

Additional points for bizarre Howard the Duck post-credits sequence. Why? Why not?

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About Risa Romano

Writer type thing. I work on stories for kids when I'm on the clock and screenplays quite a bit less for kids when I'm not. I have a blog: rambleonnerdyponderings.wordpress.com I'm also the creator and moderator of the Doctor Who vodcast/podcast A Disused Yeti: https://adisusedyeti.wordpress.com/
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