There is no denying it: Marvel Studios has churned out a hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie before DC could treat the world to a big screen “Justice League” adventure. Director James Gunn was asked to deliver a box office smash with a relatively unknown product (to those who don’t read comic books), and he gave the studio a $94 million opening weekend. Not too shabby. The question still remains: Is it any good? Short answer: Yes. The longer answer is that Marvel played with fire in terms of language and content that could scare off those looking for “family friendly” fare. More on that later.
For those unfamiliar with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the team consists of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). While the whole lot of them are technically misfits and scoundrels, the audience knows that deep down each character has a heart of gold. They’re all heroes who don’t quite know it at first because their horrific and tragic pasts shielded them from acting upon virtues like honor, integrity and self-control. Their initial thievery and selfishness brings them together, but it is their slow-burn heroism that keeps them together. Their task: The Guardians of the Galaxy must save an entire planet from an alien known as Ronan.
In order to avoid spoiling certain parts of the movie, I’ll try and explain everything that I liked and disliked about the movie by discussing the scene where the team officially forms:
Peter Quill: I need your help. I look around at us…you know what I see? Losers. I mean, like, folks who have lost stuff. And we have. Man, we have — all of us. Our homes. Our families. Normal lives. And usually life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it’s given us something. It has given us a chance.
Drax: To do what?
Peter Quill: To give a shit. For once. And not run away. I for one am not going to stand by and watch as Ronan wipes out billions of innocent lives.
Rocket Racoon: But Quill, stopping Ronan — it’s impossible. You’re asking us to die.
Peter Quill: Yes. I guess I am.
Gamora: Quill. I lived most of my life surrounded by my enemies. I will be grateful to die among my friends.
Drax: You are an honorable man, Quill. I will fight beside you. And in the end I will see my wife and daughter again.
Groot: I am Groot.
Rocket Racoon: Oh what the hell, I don’t got that long of a life span anyway. Now I’m standing. Y’all happy? We’re all standing up now…a bunch of jackasses.
Guardians of the Galaxy is funny. It has heart. It’s irreverent. It sends a message that redemption is possible and that there are things that transcend the self that are worth fighting and dying for. Overall it succeeds in all of those aspects, but one of the virtues that is lacking appears to be prudence. Writer and Director James Gunn did a commendable job, but there were times where harsh language was used that was completely unnecessary for a film marketed on many levels to kids. Was it really necessary for Peter Quill to say “You said it yourself, bitch — we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy,” at a key moment in the film? Probably not. As a 35-year-old man with no children, I can shrug it off. If I did have a little one running around, I’m inclined to believe I’d have a very different opinion.
And finally, there is the climatic show-down with Ronan. Once again, Mr. Gunn’s judgment seems off. In fact, there will probably be as many moviegoers who are as embarrassed over how it was handled as there were Iron Man 3 fans upset over how The Mandarin turned out. All I will say is “‘O-O-H Child’ by The Five Stairsteps,” and that there is a time for jokes and a time to be serious. My personal opinion — again, while I enjoyed the film — is that a very large ball was dropped during the creative process on that one.
If you get a chance, you should definitely check out Guardians of the Galaxy while it’s in theaters. Just don’t give the DC fans in your life too hard of time over the movie’s success.
Related: Marvel announces ‘I am Groot’ for Phase 3; DC scrambles for response
“Just don’t give the D.C. fans in your life too hard of time over the movie’s success.”
Wow. That wasn’t red meat for partisans at all. 😛
Since it totally was though, allow me to help you by stating all of the reasons why shouldn’t bring up the film’s success to a D.C. fan in your life:
1. Because, as you’ve mentioned, they completely disrespected and gave the finger to the Mandarin, one of his most recurring and intelligent nemesis’s, the ONE Iron Man villain you’re supposed to get right, and had him played by a Ben Kingsley who was slumming it and channeling Russel Brand and Ozzie Osbourne. As much as I like ‘crazy train,’ I and most people picture The Mandarin as more a Chinese Doctor Doom who seems to have a lot of respect for the Dynastic/Imperial China of yester-year or, to put it more succinctly, he’s supposed to be more Sun-Tzu and less a sniveling crack cocaine snorting bum from London that was picked up by Guy Pierce playing one of the least iconic of Iron Man’s rogues gallery, even if the writers did a better job with Aldrich Killian on screen than in the comics.
2. That lackluster fight between Thor and the Destroyer at the end of the Thor. Much like with the Mandarin, the destroyer is one of those classic Thor nemesis’s that you have to get right. Though they did better with it here than in Iron Man 3, what with the build up to how much of a beast it was, all of that build up is dispatched with rather quickly since Thor simply one-shots it without even getting into any prolonged battle with it, which is odd since, usually, even with his enchanted uru-mallet, Thor can’t take it out by himself and usually has to rely on taking out the person commanding it, having someone else take out the person commanding it, or, apparently like in its first appearance, burying it under enough rubble that it can’t get any leverage.
3. The complete and utter lack of screen presence by Malekith the Accursed. Again, Malekith is one of those iconic Thor villains that you need to get done right, and while he’s certainly better than the renditions of the Mandarin or Destroyer that we got since he and Thor actually do have a protracted fight scene that’s middling, it’s overshadowed by the fact that there’s nothing really all that memorable about anything he does or says like there is with Loki, who gets so much more screen time than either Malekith OR Thor, that the title of this movie is rather misleading.
4. The sheer lack of spectacle in the Thor movies. Whether it’s the fact that the fight with The Destroyer only caused mild destruction to a small New Mexico town in the ass end of nowhere that one gives a crap about and maybe a few cars, or the fact that Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer somehow managed to have a grander fight for London even though the FF in that scene weren’t even fighting, the sheer lack of spectacle in the Thor movies is really disheartening as a fan, especially one whose gone through the old Kirby and Walt Simonson stuff. Yeah, I know that comic adaptations don’t usually portray the characters being adapted as powerful as they are in said comics, and I know I probably wasn’t going to see Thor flying off into space at FTL speeds to stall Galactus for time by using his god-blast attack, but then again, when I watched the various shows of the DCAU and Young Justice, I didn’t expect to see Supes, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and etc moving at those speeds or performing planet busting feats either and I was perfectly happy with the block and city busting we saw from those characters instead. Likewise, I was also happy with the block and city busting we saw in Man of Steel as well, and when I heard they were making a Thor movie, I expected at least that much. Not a lot. Just that Thor at least managed to lift a one-hundred thousand ton boulder from one of New Mexico’s mesas and hurl it at The Destroyer. The thing is though, the makers of Thor 1 and 2 never really take advantage of the fact that they’re playing with one of Marvel earth’s most titanic of heroes, a dude who, at who is sometimes more, sometimes less, in the same weight class as the hulk and possesses an enchanted weapon that is only a smidgen less tough than adamantium or vibranium that can manipulate the weather and fire immensely powerful bolts of lightning and generic mystic energy blasts. Say what you want about Man of Steel. I’ll even give you that the fighting scenes sometimes looked a little too rubbery, but the fact remains that the fight scenes of that movie were more grand and energetic than what we got in the Thor movies, and is of the caliber we SHOULD have gotten in the Thor movies and, now that I think about it, in the reboot Hulk movie between Abomination and ol’ golly green as well. The Avengers though was more palatable in this regard, though I wish that Thor was able to take out one of those flying space whales by himself in a way just half as epic as how Hulk took out his… though I guess he did take out a few with his lighting just when they were coming out of the portal.
5. The third act of Iron Man and the second half of Iron Man 2. That sentence, I think, speaks for itself.
6. How botched of a character Ronan: The Accuser was in Guardians of the Galaxy. Thanks, but I think after seeing that, I’ll just wash my brain out with this vid of how Ronan SHOULD be like:
U mad bro?
Emmanuel, nothing you’ve said changes the fact that Marvel is, by pretty much any objective standard one can come up with, crushing it in terms of blockbuster movies. With all of the flaws in Marvel’s big screen adaptations taken into consideration, at the end of the day the Marvel Studio brand name is riding a long wave of success. I remember stupid Entertainment Weekly articles from 2004 asking if “the superhero movie genre is dead.” I guess not…
Also, these movies are only made in part for comic books fans. The average moviegoer looks at your quote about what Ronan “should” be like and laughs. Ronan was fine. James Gunn’s Ronan won’t go down in history as one of the best movie villains ever (in part because of the ‘O-O-O-H Child’ moment I referenced), but he fulfilled the role adequately for the vast majority of people shelling out cash on a Friday or Saturday night.
1. I love falsely equivocating what I said with Marvel not milking the cash cow and riding the gravy train all the way to funky town and popularityville. Though I suppose, by the same logic that lead you to this conclusion, you’d also confuse the millions the Twilight series made for the quality of the films. 😛
Thank you Chris Nolan. 😛
2. Yeah, because as we all know, spectacle is something that comic book fans and the general movie going audience DO NOT share in common. 😛 Also, in case you forgot, I wasn’t asking for anything more than block or city busting, and don’t tell me that Hollywood couldn’t afford the effects, because it’s not that hard a thing to do and I’ve seen it before, especially in blockbuster films.
3. So the average movie goer would look at an exalted alien being of a massive star spanning empire countless eons older than humanity whose sole job description is to come down to a planet, judge its inhabitants to see if they are worthy of joining his race’s alien empire and killing all of their best defenders personally if he judges them for extermination with a giant cosmic warhammer/gavel… and laugh? Wow. I mean, I have a VERY negative view of other people and on life in general, [comment deleted by moderator], but I figured that a character with such a dramatic gravitas would write itself, especially for a cosmic tale like Guardians of the Galaxy.
4. Oh, I do love the old ‘It’s a Popcorn movie, just have fun!” argument. I especially loved how things like the Nolan Trilogy, yes even the third one, renders that argument completely and utterly void in a positive sense and how Transformers 2 and 3 render it void in the negative sense.
The Twilight movies worked for their intended audience and Marvel Studios’ movies work for its intended audience. Even Marvel Studios’ weakest efforts (e.g., Thor) are still decent flicks. They’re not going to change the course of history, but they’re decent. I’m more than happy to discuss bad movies starring Marvel characters, but again…the idea that Marvel Studios is generally an embarrassment is laughable.
I’m sorry that for whatever reason Emmanuel has decided that popcorn movies that don’t live up to Christopher Nolan standards are somehow not worthy of being called quality films. I gently poked DC in my post and you went off on a long extended rant that telegraphs quite clearly that you have DC-fanboy goggles strapped on tight.
I wasn’t a fan of Iron Man 2. It was a forgettable film. Thor was “eh,” to me, but it didn’t drop the ball. I didn’t feel like I wasted money seeing it, but I’ll probably never watch it again. For me (not a huge fan of Thor) it was an adequate placeholder that held me over until The Avengers came out. That’s all it really needed to do — for me. Based on Marvel Studios’ continued growth, it seems as though there are a lot of guys like me out there.
DC is damn lucky that Zack Snyder directed Man of Steel, because without him…there would be zero chance of a Justice League movie before 2025.
I agree. I used to be one of those people who’d get worked up about how a character “should” be, but nowadays, not so much. As long as the movie is entertaining, I don’t care. Most people (non-comic fans who are unfamiliar with the source material) don’t care about Ronan “should” be. They just want to be entertained. That said, I currently have no plans of seeing next year’s Fantastic Four movie, largely because Hollywood can’t seem to do that comic justice. To me, it sounds like it won’t be any better than the previous two films.
I’m no fan of Twilight, as the vampire romance genre doesn’t appeal to me at all, but you can’t deny it’s been successful with its target audience. Marvel Studios’ movies do well with their audience, which consists of both comic fans and the average moviegoers. They’re supposed to appeal to everyone, and not just the one or two hard-to-please fans who find something objectionable about the movies. I didn’t like the Mandarin-is-Killain reveal, either, but a recent Marvel One-Shot film retconned that away and implied the real Mandarin is still out there.
Agents of SHIELD, too, dramatically improved once they started incorporating the HYDRA-controls-SHIELD plot of Captain America: the Winter Soldier. If not for that, the show might’ve been cancelled.
Emmanuel, you can’t deny that Marvel Studios has been successful. And if it wasn’t for their shared movie universe, DC wouldn’t be getting theirs off the ground, as they announced multiple movies that will follow Batman vs. Superman. That would not have happened if the MCU hadn’t been successful.
Here’s the thing: Does Emmanuel think that Marvel Studios is going to let any director come in and just savagely destroy a character’s integrity when Marvel is literally sinking hundreds-of-millions of dollars into these projects? Can you imagine how many meetings the creative stakeholders have to go to in order to establish countless details about each character? When Marvel Studios wins back the rights to Spider-Man and it taps Dan Slott to write the screenplay, then I’ll be worried. Until then, it seems as though Kevin Feige has a pretty good handle on how the cinematic Marvel universe should take shape.
To me, there are core elements of a character that can’t be taken away. However, as long as those are in place, then a writer or director should have a certain amount of leeway to change things around for the betterment of the movie. My personal opinion is that Ronan’s credibility as a character was severely hurt by the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy, but I know that there are plenty of people who will say the scene worked…given the movie’s already-bizarre tone. Regardless, I thought James Gunn did what he needed to do in terms of launching another Marvel movie franchise.
And anyone who thinks I’m just a James Gunn fanboy needs to simply read my previous blog entries:
1. ‘Prediction: Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson’s “Super” Sad Liberal Dud’
2. ‘James Gunn’s Super: Liberal Aioli Will Leave Bad Aftertaste’
Good or bad, I call it like I see it.
My wife and I are going to see GOTG next week. Have been eagerly anticipating it since viewing the trailer. It looks pretty good. I just hope I’m not going to be disappointed like I was with IM3.
I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of the movie, Magnetic Eye. I can see why certain elements of the film could be maddening for someone expecting more of an “Avengers” tone. It’s rather different than all the other Marvel movies up to this point in time. However, one thing I like about the movie is that all five of the main characters are solid. Kids will be able to argue for hours who the “best” character is. I don’t think any of them really got the short end of the stick (no Groot pun intended). Speaking of Groot…he’s pretty cool.
I really enjoyed GOTG. It was a fun ride and a visual SFX spectacle. I think it’s one of the best Marvel Studio movies along side Winter Soldier, Avengers, IM1 and Incredible Hulk. At this point in time, Winter Soldier and GOTG would have to be my favorite Marvel movies.
I’m actually glad that it didn’t have more of an Avengers tone. As much as I love that movie, I’ve always felt that Avengers had too much of a comedic tone. Plus I’ve grown quite weary of Stark’s snarky dialogue. I’m also more of a fan of the serious, mature super hero film with the right balance of action, drama, visual SFX and comedic elements.
GOTG is very well done in terms of capturing the comic book aesthetics and most importantly in portraying a faithful rendition of characters. It’s based on the 2008 comic book series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Typically those books have gone up in price. I’ve got a few books from that run. Wish I had the entire run. They are well written and worth a read. The ensemble cast were great, even Dave Bautista as Drax did an admirable job.
Very smart and clever use of 70’s hits soundtrack. That’s one way to get all the original fans from that era to the cinema. Mind you what we saw on screen is the third incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It would be great to see other Guardians and perhaps even the original Guardians making a guest appearance in future installments as happened in the 2008 comic book series.
It was great to see Michael Rooker as Yondu. He’s got that iconic “don’t mess with me” kinda face. I wonder if they’ll eventually make him a Guardian in the MCU. In the books he was a founding member of the original team.
I thought Ronan was brutal enough without being too much of a sadistic monster. A truly heinous and evil character trait, I imagine would be reserved for Thanos. The “oooh child” dance off was a bit silly. You’ve got some epic dramatic conflict going on which suddenly turns into sit-com comedy. At least it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the ridiculous Trevor from IM3.
I didn’t mind the language used in the film. It was mild and not as bad as I thought. However as a parent myself, I do understand the dilemma of parents not wanting their kids being exposed to bad language. That’s why my kids stayed with the mother in law and my wife and I treated ourselves to a night out.
Overall Marvel Studios proved that you don’t need to have well known characters to have a hit movie. They took a risk and it paid off because they had a good script , an excellent director and a formidable cast. And yes, Groot is amazingly cool. 🙂
Great review, Magnetic Eye! Thanks for circling back.
You know that now Marvel has quite a unique problem on its hands with the sequel: How the heck is it going to live up to expectations? 🙂
Haven’t seen it yet, but probably will next weekend. As always, I’ll let you know what I think. This is one of the few Marvel movies where I’m not as familiar with the characters, although I have heard of many of them.
I seem to remember seeing that or hearing about that, too. Turns out that prediction was way off.
For the most part I never got into comics that dealt with space-based characters when I was a kid. My sister collected Silver Surfer for awhile and I’d read those, but I never went out of my way to make those sorts of comics a part of my regular reading. Even leading up to the movie I avoided buying any Guardians of the Galaxy collections even though I know there’s some good stuff. I think Hube recommended something awhile back that I may pick up the next time I’m actually in a comic shop. I still haven’t taken the time to find one in my new town.
I haven’t read a lot of Guardians comics (I read maybe one or two issues of the more recent series that the movie is based on, but I don’t remember them at all), and while I know of the characters, I don’t know as much about them as I do say, the Avengers members or Spider-Man or the X-Men.
The original GotG appearances are very good. I liked the first half of the trade, GotG The Avengers of Tomorrow (I believe it’s called), but once the group finally got their own series (in Marvel Premiere, it moved away from science fiction and more into fantasy. (Keep in mind this is the ORIGINAL GotG here … nothing at all like the characters in the current film.)
I’d recommend their first-ever appearance in (IIRC) Marvel Superheroes #18, and then their appearances in Two-In-One and Defenders. The first issue of their own stretch is extremely well-written as it deals with the immediate post-Badoon occupation.
There’s also the “Korvac Saga” in Avengers that’s well worth reading. The original GotG play a pretty big role in that.
This is also one of the few groups that I don’t know much about. I am familiar with the characters but I do not know their history and story nearly as well as I do most others. I will eventually see this but it may be on BR or DVD first. I still have not had time to see the latest X-men movie.
Check out the new X-Men movie. It’s worth it. 🙂
I also already know about a certain cameo at the end of the movie, featuring a character from a 1986 movie that was so bad that its producer disowned it.
If you’re tired and just want to go home after the movie, I wouldn’t recommend staying around. It’s not worth it, in my opinion. Unless you have a fondness for that particular character.
I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite character (his creator Steve Gerber, was one of Marvel’s best writers), but as a rule, I tend to stick around for the after-credits scene whenever I see a Marvel movie these day.
James Gunn produced Lollipop Chainsaw, a videogame about a scantily-clad cheerleader who goes on a bloody rampage to save her boyfriend, making sexual quips along the way. I /think/ that explains this movie’s raunchiness.
So in a way, the Guardians are Marvel’s equivalent of the Teen Titans? This describes the cartoon version of the team pretty well.
Jeremy Jahns has a really good review for Guardians of the Galaxy up. I love his stuff. He’s sort of the perfect example of a smart guy who loves superhero movies, video games, etc. … but he’s also a well-adjusted human being. He’s not obsessed to the point where he says weird things. To me, there are a lot of “Jeremy Jahns” out there (i.e., intelligent and cool dudes with a lot of friends who enjoy dropping tons of cash each year on movies).
Here’s another very telling quote:
How anyone can deny that Marvel Studios is consistently putting out quality work is beyond me.
I could do without the gratuitous profanity and sexual innuendo (and so could the movie), but I suppose they wanted to appeal to adolescents, for whom “dirty”=”cool.” And the tweens (who, admittedly, have probably heard the same or worse in the locker room at school) are a big part of the target audience for this kind of movie.
OTOH, the Lego Starblaster Showdown sets and the Rocket Raccoon plush toys are obviously for younger kids, whose parents might want to think twice about taking them to a PG-13 movie. Marvel seems to be trying to have it both ways.
But maybe I’m just becoming a prig in my old age.
Yes, that was my thing: “the Rocket Raccoon plush toy” type of marketing coupled with “dick” jokes and Jackson Pollock sex jokes, etc. To me, it’s also where they throw in the language. If it happens during a part where kids won’t be paying too much attention, then it’s one thing. If it’s during a scene where everyone’s ears and eyes are alert because it’s a major turning point in the movie, then it’s worse. Again, I don’t have little kids, but I’m assuming plenty of them who were in the theater with me will go home saying things like “We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, bitch!”
Given that I can see people getting to my blog by searching that phrases and others like it (probably upon returning home from the theater), I’m inclined to think my fears are not completely unfounded.
Maybe I’m just getting old, too. 😉
Saw the movie today. Really enjoyed it. A little light on story (more team bonding moments would have been nice!), but in terms of action, humour, and characterization the film excelled. Totally agree with you about the harsh language – it got to the point where it was just ridiculous, and I’m not sure why Gunn would throw it in when he knew 5-18 would be a big demographic. If he wanted to go all out in that regard, he should’ve kept in Star-Lord’s F-bomb and swallowed the R rating.
It is going to be interesting to see how the Guardians get involved in Age of Ultron… I wonder how the Avengers will react to Groot.
Thanks for circling back, Starfire. I appreciate it. I think you’ve given a fairly accurate assessment.
I’m looking forward to Tony Stark’s reaction to Groot in a future film. 🙂
I’ll be seeing it tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know what I think.
Nice. I’m looking forward to your review.
I really enjoyed it. Marvel Studios is on a roll with their movies. I enjoyed the action, humor, characterization and the soundtrack, especially since I’m a big classic rock fan. I do agree that they could’ve toned down the swearing a bit (even though I’m a single guy without a girlfriend or kids, so it didn’t bother me as much as it would’ve if I had kids) and the “OOH Child” scene was funny although a bit jarring considering the final battle against Ronan was supposed to be serious, but overall I can’t complain.
Plus I didn’t think Ronan was that bad of a villain. A lot of reviewers complained that he was “underdeveloped” but I didn’t think so. He had clear motives. They had to change it around a bit so that they could tie it in with the larger Infinity Gauntlet storyline, which was why he was serving Thanos.
That’s an interesting idea to explore. It may upset people, but the Ronan of a stand-alone Guardians of the Galaxy movie universe is going to be different from a Ronan who must fit in with an expanded movie-universe that includes everything they want to do with Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, etc. I still think the “distraction” scene at the end was, as you put it, “jarring.” That is putting it nicely from my point of view. However, I think you’re on point when you bring up the bigger picture that involves the Infinity Gauntlet storyline.
Exactly right. They’re building toward the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, to establish that it’s still taking place in the same universe even though the events of the previous films aren’t directly mentioned.
The danceoff scene was a bit jarring, but like I said, I can’t complain about the overall movie. I enjoyed it. It will be fun to see the Avengers react to the Guardians, and vice versa. Already they’ve announced a Guardians sequel, to be released in 2017.
Note to “Luke,” whose comment was deleted: When you resort to expletive-laced ad hominem attacks on the moderator, you lose.
It must’ve been really bad for you to have deleted it so swiftly. What this ‘Luke” say, if you don’t mind me asking?
Even though I said that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, my opinion that the writers were a bit excessive with the language was too much for Luke, who decided to say “bitch” five times in six sentences. Apparently, I’m also a “bitch.”
A part of me wanted to leave it up just to show that, indeed, Luke is a product of a culture that seems to have incredibly low standards. A dog does not contemplate its “dogness.” Likewise, I guess I shouldn’t necessarily expect a man who is devolving into a more animalistic version of himself to be cognizant of the process as it’s taking place. My guess is that Luke will be the type of guy who calls his girlfriend or wife a “bitch” when he gets upset with her, all the while not thinking anything of it…
Yeesh. I will never understand the mindset of such people. Like you said, they’re the product of a culture that has low standards and likely don’t have control over their impulses.
It was only a matter of time before an SJW idiot emerged from the woodwork to piss and moan about the “Lack of diversity” and other nonsense in Guardians of the Galaxy:
These people need help. It’s as if their ability to enjoy something was surgically removed and replaced with a constant need to find something that “offends” them.