“You said it yourself: We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy!”

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Saturday – 02 August 2014
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Thursday night.

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating this movie for about a year. At the same time, I have also hoped that it would not only be a good movie, but also a good fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the same way that I did for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen Suckage and Man of Steel this is going to be a two-part review:

  1. The first part will be more of a synopsis and spoiler-free.
  2. The second part will be more in-depth and might contain a spoiler or two.

Consider yourselves duly warned.

Part One: Synopsis
I enjoyed this movie. It’s a great space action movie with a fair bit of humor thrown in. To quote my friend, Brad:

My thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy: The cast is amazing, Dave Bautista was one of my favorites, but I’d have to say Chris Pratt has a screen presence not seen since the Will Smith action films of the 90s. This movie is the Han Solo movie you would have dreamed of in younger, more optimistic days.

That is about as pure – and succinct – a description as I can think of for the film.

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Part Two: In-Depth Observations

And now, for the more detailed look at the film.

I had a great time watching this movie. The only other feature of James Gunn’s that I had seen was Slither, which I rather enjoyed. Mr. Gunn did a fantastic job of bringing a team of somewhat obscure characters from the Marvel Comic Universe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As to the (major) performers:

  • Chris Pratt: I liked his portrayal of Peter Quill, a mid-30’s guy from Earth… who, to quote James T. Kirk is : “…from [Earth]. I only work in outer space.” Quill is a man who’s charted his own course as something of a rogue and is quite happy doing his thing – and occasionally “the right thing” – and going about his business. Something that I didn’t expect was seeing how well he would emote the rare glimpses of Quill’s sense of loss and how he expressed it.
  • Zoe Saldana: While I think that I’ve seen Gamora in a comic or three over the years, I can’t say that she really stuck in my head. If I was going to pick a reference with which I’m familiar, I’d have to go with the HeroClix figure that came out in the “Secret Invasion” set. She was pretty badass. I’d heard tales of Gamora in the comics as well. Again, badass.Watching Ms. Saldana’s performance, I didn’t feel the sense of “The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe,” aside from others’ reactions to her. This was through no fault in acting. If anything, I would say that it was a slight lack of bodies that needed killing. She did come off as resourceful and a very adept fighter, though. I did enjoy learning her motivations for her actions in the movie, as well as her turn from “villain” to (anti-)hero.
  • Dave Bautista: I know that Mr. Bautista is a wrestler. That is pretty much the sum of my knowledge of the man… until seeing this movie. That said, I really enjoyed his Drax. His character wore his motivations on his sleeve. Wait. Shirtless. Um… on his… shoulders? Waistband? Boot heel? However you choose to put it, it was there. Drax was a man with a singular purpose: To exact revenge against the man who wronged him. Even to the point of somewhat reckless abandon. And, as far as his line delivery? Golden. And he was just fun to watch.
  • Vin Diesel: I made a joke on Four-Color Coverage a few weeks back about people giving Vin Diesel flak about a/another wooden role. I’d say they’re barking up the wrong tree. (Yes, I thought about just how bad that was as I typed it and decided “I don’t care.”) You’d be amazed at just how much feeling a person can wring out of just three words, with a little inflection.
  • Bradley Cooper: As if “gun-toting talking raccoon” wasn’t enough, Bradley Cooper did a good job of bringing the smart-assed and occasionally trigger-happy Rocket to life. A lot of people expected him to steal the show, and while I won’t say that he necessarily stole it, he was definitely in on the heist.

On the antagonist side of the equation…

  • Karen Gillan – In the comics, Nebula is rumored to be the grand-daughter 0f Thanos; in this incarnation, she’s his “daughter”. And she has some daddy issues… as well as a couple of sibling rivalry issues. Ms. Gillan did a fine job of portraying Ronan’s lieutenant with a sense of dread ability and purpose.And at no time would you associate her with Amy Pond. Ever.
  • Djimon Hounsou – Unfortunately, Korath didn’t get a lot of screen time, but his determination in his dogged pursuit of Peter Quill made it apparent that his title, “The Pursuer,” was well-earned. And, let’s face it, Djimon Hounsou has yet to disappoint in a role.
  • Lee Pace – Ronan the Accuser. Man with a big ax to grind hammer to smash against the Nova Empire. His primary motivation was also one of revenge, and his role as Thanos’ right hand afforded him the opportunity to exact said revenge.If I had a complaint, it would be that the build-up of Ronan didn’t quite live up to what we got. In my opinion, he was (slightly) underutilized, in much the same way that Darth Maul was in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. He had a great presence, and in his fight scenes, presented a formidable foe, but in the end… seemed to fall a little too quickly/easily.
  • Josh Brolin – Thanos. This is another role that I’ve seen in which Mr. Brolin was not “there,” having been supplanted by the character he was portraying. (For me, the most recent notable role was his turn as the young Agent K in Men In Black 3.) And his Thanos was well-represented. I hope that Marvel is driving his character in the direction of acquiring the Infinity Gauntlet and that we get to see “The Mad Titan” in action.

And a couple of the cameos…

  • Glenn Close – She was fun to watch as Nova Prime. You bore the mantle of leadership well. (Of course, I could have just succintly put it: “Glenn Close. ‘Nuff said.”)
  • John C. Reilly – I’ve long been on the fence about Mr. Reilly, only recently seeing him in roles in which I’ve really appreciated his everyman. This is one of those roles. We got to see a facet of his character in trailers over the past year, but in the full feature, we got to know a little more about his character, Corpsman Dey.
  • Michael Rooker – This was not the Yondu I expected to see, but it was nevertheless a very fun Yondu to watch. And, to be fair: There was more than “a little” Merle Dixon in there, which also added to this characterization’s appeal.
  • Benicio Del Toro – We got to see a little behind-the-curtain of The Collector’s day-to-day life  – he’s fairly demanding and not always a nice person. But, he loves… reveres… his collection. And his reaction to a possible new addition to it – sheer glee/giddiness – was excellently portrayed. By the way, be sure to stay after the credits to see one of the more “unusual” pieces in said collection.
  • Nathan Fillion – If you can pick out his cameo, good on you. It’s pretty funny and one that I would not have guessed, had I not been tipped off to “who” he was, beforehand.

One of the best things about this movie: No single character was the tentpole. James Gunn did a fine job of balancing an ensemble cast. Everyone on the team had a good amount of screen time and everyone had something to contribute. In talking with a few people, we agreed that Marvel now has two people in their stable – Gunn and Joss Whedon – who can direct ensemble pieces and make them work.

Clocking in at a full two hours – actually, two hours and one minute – the movie never felt like it dragged. The slower, dramatic scenes were well-paced and the action scenes, at least to me, didn’t seem like they were overly long. I saw it in IMAX 3D and was glad that I did. The 3D wasn’t used just to throw things at the audience, although there were enough splodey bits to be flung at viewers. It was utilized to enhance the environment and give it depth of field, much like in Avatar. And it came off beautifully.

In summation, I will say that the movie was a great ride and would have made an excellent Fourth of July weekend release. Go see it. And if you have the opportunity to see it in IMAX 3D, do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to do so.

Namaste.