What I'm Watching: Guardians of the Galaxy - For reals
Okay, but seriously. ;D
Insert the usual blah blah blah about how I'm a huge comics nerd, and been watching Marvel and DC movies for ages, reading the comics, etc etc...
Now that we have that out of the way, what did I think of THIS Marvel movie?
It felt a little like the Marvel movies were stumbling a bit after Avengers. The next wave of flicks were busy picking up the pieces, which is fine, and it felt like they were struggling to A) figure out what to do with those pieces in a post-Avengers MCU (I am looking at you too, SHIELD), and B) struggling to get out of the shadow of the greatness of Avengers.
Iron Man 3 was the worst of the bunch, Thor 2 was enjoyable but took awhile to start to get the gears rolling, and Cap 2 was when things really started falling back into place, with only a few minor hiccups. Cap 3 also helped get the wheels back on Agents of SHIELD and help them out.
Guardians of the Galaxy though... MAN it was a breath of fresh air. It's not tied down by the new status quo, what with being set way WAY off of Earth and with no regard for its continuity. Mostly. Okay, there's the Infinity Gems...Stones and Thanos (THANOS!) but there's no real major plot connection, since we're off on our own objectives here.
It's almost like starting off in our own separate universe and doing our own thing, with no regard for anything else. The awesome part there is that this DOES tie in, and will dovetail back into the plots of the wider MCU in a BIG way later on down the road. But it was so good to not have to deal with all the baggage of the invasion for a change, and just have an adventure.
And WHAT an adventure. In a lot of ways, this blew a lot of the other movies out of the water. It was gigantic in scope, we traveled all across the galaxy, there was space battles aplenty, humour, fun, a LOT of heart and seriousness too...and the balancing act actually worked for a change. That can be hard to pull off.
It did take me quite awhile to warm up to things, as Peter Quill's antics were just kinda silly and goofy at times, and took me out of the moment too often. It seemed more like I was watching Chris Pratt and not the character. But once we started getting the band together, things settled down, and the character found a good balance with everyone else to play off of.
It feels like everyone got their moment, even the villains, and even the best Marvel movies struggle with that at times. I'm very possibly forgetting some things, but all the main characters had a moment to shine, and there's quite a lot of cast members to try and pull that stunt off with. A lesson learned from Avengers, where you could argue it was everyone's story in one way or another. Even if it was TOTALLY Black Widow's story.
My initial feeling was that the use of classic rock tunes and such wasn't going to work, or be overdone, but they also managed to pull that off mostly well. The moment that really made it work was Quill's struggle to get his tape back when he was imprisoned. When you realise how precious those tapes are to him, the only solid things he has from his mother, literally his memories of her in his hands, that's when the music usage really clicks. It may be one of the best soundtracks of any movie in a long, long time.
One of the things that bugged me though was Yondu. And that's strictly because I am an old-school Guardians of the Galaxy fan. That guy was not MY Yondu. But damn if Michael Rooker didn't make me enjoy his role, once again. If it had been a unique character, or one more closely connected to the sort of character they wanted, I'd be less grumpy. As such, I don't hold this against the movie, it just made me pout and sulk. Although I *did* get a huge nerdgasm seeing him use (an adaptation of) Yondu's whistle-controlled arrows.
I was quite pleased, and surprised, at how good Bautista was as Drax. The trailers seemed like they were going for the strong silent type, and playing towards the "He's a wrestler, he can't act" thing, but I am pleased to say that they gave his character dialogue, a story, and a lot of heart. AND punching, so everyone's happy. I only wish he'd been a little closer to the comics version, but they kept the heart of his character and motivations, while not sticking to the precise details, and that's fine.
One of my biggest fears, and I made no secret of this online, was also with the trailers. They were messing with the timeline of things so much, and making it sound like they were already called "The Guardians of the Galaxy" when they were this band of thieves and brigands, and it really put my teeth on edge, because it made zero sense. Again, I am happy to say that the ACTUAL MOVIE did not go that route, and got the evolution of these characters right, so that by the time anyone calls them the Guardians of the Galaxy, they've *earned* it, and most of the movie has long since gone through everything the trailer showed. I was pretty sure the movie would go that route, but the trailer was just presenting a wrong picture at times, and it made me concerned. Having the movie knock each and every one of those concerns away also surely helps with my enjoyment of the movie.
And then there's Thanos. What can I say about Thanos? THANOSTHANOSTHANOS!!
I talked about, in my Avengers review, those moments on screen where you stop and realise, "Oh man, oh wow, I am watching a movie with Thor and Cap and Iron Man and Hulk all together and oh my gods Hulk just punched Thor and am I seeing this and AAAHHHH!!!"
Thanos was that, in this movie.
I never thought I'd see the day when Thanos would be on screen. AND BEING THANOS. I have like...zero complaints. They nailed the character, the personality, and Josh Brolin's voice WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
Sigh. Good times.
And I haven't even *touched* on the effects yet. Rocket and Groot were freakin' seamless, I think. The only moment that may have given me pause was when Groot put his hand on Drax's back. Or vice versa, I forget which way that went. Either way. They nailed a talking raccoon, and a gigantic tree, and the spaceships, and space, and the battles... Man, what a special effects extravaganza that was, that doesn't let the effects run away and end up making the movie all style and no substance. The movie has plenty of substance, and the effects are largely a means to tell the story.
Oh, and um, one minor plot quibble. Why would Peter wait TWENTY SIX YEARS to open his mom's final gift? You get the impression he'd read the letter before (And it's where he got the name Star-Lord from, hence his *INSISTENCE* on using it, no matter how dopey everyone else felt it was)...but he never opened the gift? It seems like one of those forced touching final moments crafted soley by the hand of the movie makers, and with no regard for human logic.
There's surely some other plot holes (Like I could bitch about the vaccuum of space a bit, but they hand-waved that...okayishly), as are wont to happen in big blockbuster films, scifi films, AND space films, and this movie is all three. But the movie is so filled with fun, and joy, and action and manages to be big and bombastic while still having heart *coughcoughMichaelBaycough* that I can forgive it the few moments where the plot got away from it. If you give me a good ride, you can drop the ball on a few logical inconsistencies, I always say.
I seriously think Guardians may well be my favourite Marvel movie since Avengers, and that's saying a lot.
Now, I always felt like Guardians was a bit of a test case scenario. This always felt like a movie where Marvel was saying, "Okay, let's throw the absolute craziest ideas at the screen, go completely off the book of the current MCU, shoot off into space, and see how this works!" with the idea of, if the audience can embrace this level of insanity and coolness and bizarre comicbook nonsense...then they can handle damned near anything. Well, Marvel? Guardians is pretty much a success with a huge opening weekend. We will watch anything you give us and accept whatever it is, in all it's comic glory. So give us a Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther movies, already. Guardians has shown you we are down for anything, and you gotta do something about the diversity.
The movie may not be perfect, and may have it's share of flaws, but by damn if it isn't some of the most fun I've had in a theatre in awhile.
I want this movie to become the 21st Century's Star Wars, for this generation.