Star-lord and Gamora’s Infinity Stone Playlist (a review of Guardians of the Galaxy)

I would like to start by saying that I went into this movie with no knowledge of the original comic series.
Though it looks amazing
Overall, this is an entertaining movie that seems to suffer from a few pacing and plot issues. Everyone left the theater smiling (though most of them were discussing this film’s out-of-left-field post-credits scene which seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with anything relating to the next movie…I hope…). I think the film’s issues had more to do with how much stuff had to be crammed into the movie to make it coherent (whereas The Avengers had several movies’ worth of character backstory to prop it up). But it was a lot of fun and, despite its issues, I would still recommend it.
Refer to my review of Hercules for a breakdown of how my rating works
Good Movie Rating: 6/10
Fun Movie Rating: 9/10
I’m glad Marvel decided to make this movie after the phenomenal Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That movie was quite possibly one of Marvel’s best Avengers movies, but it was also quite serious and didn’t rely on flippant wit as much as the series’ other entries. To keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe from falling into the postmodern gloom and hyper-realism of the DC universe’ recent films, they decided to take a chance on a film that is anything but serious and the results are pretty good if a bit cliché.
Chris Pratt is an able lead, but he is at his best in comic situations. In more serious situations, I couldn’t help but picture his Parks and Recreation alter ego, Andy Dwyer, pretending to be serious. Behind every serious comment lurked a goofy twinkle in his eye that you kept expecting to become a “Naw, you guys, I’m just kidding.” Also, Pratt is entirely too charming to convey quite the level of Han-Solo-shot-first cynicism they were going for in parts. But he’s a fun character who pulls the group together without having to be “the serious leader” type.  When he is funny, he is hysterical. One comment about black lights had me giggling uncontrollably and annoying the date-night couple that was sitting next to me. (Sorry folks…)
Peter Quill/Star-lord is, however, outdone by Rocky the Raccoon, my absolute favorite character in the whole movie. Hands down. He’s a CGI raccoon, and yet he has most of the funniest lines as well as the best serious/dramatic moment. He’s a gritty pirate who has a hard time getting people to take him seriously (because he’s furry and adorable), and yet he’s probably the smartest, most dangerous character in the whole movie. Bradley Cooper does an incredible job of bringing a character to life which is, ironically, the most realistic character in the whole movie.
He’s awesome.
That’s not to say that the other characters weren’t fun. Dave Bautista’s painfully literal strongman has some delightful moments and Vin Diesel’s arboreal Groot seems like a character lifted from a Miyazaki film. You grow to really adore Groot even though all he can say is “I am Groot.” He’s like a cuddly, sparkly plant-Hulk.
The only character that kind of bothered me was Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. I can’t tell if it was how she was written or if it was how she was acted, but I found her to be unsettlingly one-dimensional. There’s a decent personal struggle written for her, but for the rest of the movie, she was agonizingly cliché. There are a number of awful, cliché lines that I see everywhere and she uttered two of them: “Stop it! Leave him alone!” and “There’s too many of them!” She plays a strong female character, which is great, but she’s not a strong character. Perhaps her character was designed to be a bit stolid, but I just didn’t care about her character at all. She works as part of the group, but she wouldn’t be able to hold her own in her own movie, sadly (even though that’s EXACTLY what the comic book movie world needs).
On the other hand, Karen Gillan’s character, Nebula, is spectacular. She doesn’t have many scenes, but when she does, she imbues them with all sorts of implied character backstory. The character is all fury and barely subdued rage throughout, but Gillan injects a vulnerability into the character that keeps her from being just a secondary villain. I actually found myself cheering for her in a few places…even though I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to.
She’s like a blue, cybernetic Asajj Ventress, for all you Star Wars fans
In that same vein, I found Lee Pace’s villain to be a bit bland as well. He suffered the same fate as Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. Both are single-minded, dangerous villains with next to no backstory and very little in the way of character development, even though they’re played by fantastic actors. I get that the movie couldn’t develop EVERYONE’s backstory, but when the villain is little more of a placeholder, it’s difficult to get invested in them as an actual threat.
Overall, I got the feeling that the writers chose a rather simplistic story so that they could spend most of their time on the fight scenes and comedy (which are excellent). No one really cares how these characters get together, after all. It’s an origin story, so we want to see them get together and beat up bad guys. The plot gives them ample room for that without cluttering it up with needless twists and turns. It’s very earnest about what it is. The comedy works beautifully and really makes the movie what it is. It never crosses the line into parody, but it definitely maintains a playful irreverence for the genre conventions (including the dreaded villain monologue).
Visually, the movie is spectacular. The alien design is sleek, but not distracting. The sets are beautiful and colorful and their gritty aesthetic complements the sleek precision and arcane grandeur of Thor’s Asgard very well. This film really expands the galaxy and widens the stage for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now, the whole galaxy is the playing field.
At this point, I would like to applaud the filmmakers for their fabulous use of music in this. Catchy song classics are often thrown into movies to make them jaunty and fun-loving, but this movie utilizes that convention to enhance the story. The playlist of songs exists in the movie as an actual playlist on a cassette tape that has significant meaning to one character, blending the music into the movie in a much more organic way than the usual let’s-cram-the-soundtrack-with-classic-songs-to-boost-record-sales ploy. Also, it leads to Chris Pratt dancing-like-nobody’s-watching in the film’s intro, which is just delightful.
Go see it. Enjoy it. Try not to overanalyze it. Also, ignore stuff like the laws of physics and the effects of a vacuum on the human body. Also, you will want your own Groot.
Until next time!

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