Saturday, August 2, 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (Spoiler free!)

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Guardians of the Galaxy is both unlike anything Marvel/Disney has ever done before, and also exactly like everything Marvel/Disney has ever done before, making it feel both unfamiliar and familiar at the same time. And it works! By being less grounded than its predecessors, but still retaining that jokey, brightly colored Marvel aesthetic and feel, GotG manages to have a funky, out-there vibe that plays well when set in the Marvel cinematic universe. It also doesn't hurt that the characters are relatively unknown to the general public (As a comic book nerd, even I knew very little about them before the movie was announced), and it actually works in the movie's favor. Here we see Marvel's vast potential at unloading even more of its obscure characters and making it gel. Could a Moon Knight movie be that far off into the future now that we've introduced Peter Quill and his merry band of intergalactic misfits? Well, a boy can dream, can't he?

That said, for all the movie's strengths (genuine humor, excellent pacing, and gnarly special effects), the movie stumbles a bit. One of the main misfires is that the movie actually has two main villains. Sort of. The problem with this is that the main antagonist is kind of overshadowed by the other villain, who isn't really in the movie all that much, but since it's his first speaking role in a Marvel movie, you kind of have more of an interest in him. This takes potency away from the main antagonist, which is a shame because he's pretty cool and scary. They should have just stuck with him. But given that all Marvel/Disney movies are meant to be a bridge between the last one and the next, I understand why they made the decision. Without this other villain, a lot of fans would probably wonder how this movie connects to The Avengers, which all Marvel/Disney movies seem to have to do these days. It's a small problem, but a problem, nonetheless.

Another small issue is that not all of the humor hits. Most of it does, and Rocket, Groot, and Star Lord are all major highlights. But Drax the Destroyer is kind of corny after awhile, and Gamora, while cool, doesn't really have a lot of great lines. She does move the story along, though, so she's definitely essential to the plot. In fact, all of the characters feel essential. Even Drax. Warner Bros. and DC should take note. When it comes to ensemble pieces, Marvel/Disney really knows how to make every character feel necessary to the story. They did it with The Avengers, and now, they've done it again with GotG. If Warner Bros./DC could do the same with their future Justice League movie, then it might actually work. I didn't think it could, given that there are so many characters they still haven't built up yet (Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, etc). But Marvel/Disney did it with these relatively unknown characters, so DC should have a less difficult time as most people already know characters like Green Lantern and Aquaman. But I digress.

Overall, GotG is a enjoyable romp that feels fresh and yet familiar at the same time. Marvel/Disney has done it again, and if this film is successful, then the possibilities for them are endless. Good for them. They've earned it.

Three and a half stars out of four

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