As Jon(h) already let you guys know, the 5&A Dime posse saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Thursday. We made it out to the midnight premier, which due to earlier showings, isn't really a premier anymore. After reading reviews, talking about trailers and feeling the hype from SDCC; most of the crew was pretty excited to see the film. By the time the end credits rolled and we watched the teaser at the end (Spoiler Alert?), we were all stoked to have made it through what could possibly be one of Marvel's best movies.
We watched the movie in 3D at AMC Mission Valley and the boneheads working the front door had us wait in the wrong line for 30 minutes. Luckily, the half hour delay didn't affect our seating. We got some sweet seats and prepped for our galactic experience.
Unlike most comic book movies that have been released in the last 5 to 8 years, I didn't know anything about GotG before going in. I had no experience or engagement with these characters, their stories or their universe. I believe this benefitted my experience. Without any knowledge of the characters or their backgrounds/stories, I could focus purely on the world the movie was giving me. It stripped away all the grievances and issues I may have had with character alteration or whatever. It let me enjoy the movie from a truly unbiased point of view and I'll cut to the thick of it : Guardians of the Galaxy is dope.
The story is simple : the good guys have something that the bad guys want, the bad guys try to get it, the bad guys succeed and then want to wreak havoc on the universe, the good guys don't want to allow them to do that. That's the story in a super basic nutshell. I believe the strength of the story lies in its simplicity. It leaves room for the characters, their interactions and their actions to drive the story. In my opinion, this is where the movie's strength lies. The characters show up in full effect.
The characters are the backbone, brains and heart of the movie. It's an ensemble flick that brings a ragtag group of outcasts together to do something they're not used to doing : good. You get an alien/cyborg assassin, Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. There's a muscle-bound psychopath, Drax, played by Dave Bautista. A fan favorite, there's scientifically enhanced Rocket Raccoon, voiced masterfully by Bradley Cooper. Then there's a scene stealing alien tree, Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. Last, but not least, you have the one human, Starlord, played by Chris Pratt in the role that's sure to get him more roles. All of the characters have some kind of sketchy past, but come together to try and save the universe. It's simple, and again, it works because the characters interact with one another and are fleshed out so well. Starlord is obviously the main character, but the rest of the crew gets enough screen time, dialogue and action for the audience to feel connected to them too. As a matter of fact; the two most emotional scenes come from the smart ass, scientifically enhanced/tortured raccoon and the alien tree that only says 5 words throughout the whole movie. It's just a testament to the depth given to these characters and how they bolster the movie.
Although not the biggest facet of the movie, there's enough humor that you could almost call this a Comedy. Four of the five main characters are, at times, uproariously funny! Starlord delivers some witty punchlines, snarky comments and braggadocio that would make Han Solo proud. Drax is low key a scene stealer with some of his mega dry, over literal punchlines. I thought Bautista was just going to be a meathead with dumbed-down banter and tough guy lines, but he became one of my favorite characters to watch! He has some of the funniest lines in the whole film. Starlord and Drax are hilarious, but in terms of humor, the movie almost belongs entirely to Rocket Racoon and Groot. Rocket is a foul mouthed, crude, sometimes cruel smart ass - and it's awesome! Groot is the strong silent type who can only speak 3 words : "I am Groot." He uses that saying to display just about any emotion he's feeling at any given time. The writers used this gag to hilarious results numerous times throughout the flick. The humor is all over the place, sometimes evoking a giggle or two and sometimes inciting laugh riots. With that said, I was pleased to realize that even though there's a lot of humor, it didn't take away from the seriousness. The laughs don't remove you from the action, drama, etc. It just makes you laugh and love these characters even more.
Another highlight from the film is the soundtrack. The score and orchestration works well, but is pretty typical in the grand scheme of Sci-Fi/Action movies. The soundtrack steals the show, musically. It's full of 70s and 80s tunes that are pulled from Starlord's (and Jay's) childhood of cassettes and records. Starlord is a kid from the 80s kidnapped by some space dudes who turn him into the outlaw he is as an adult, so the music he loves is all from his Earth based memories. Sometimes they're used to kick off the action, at others, they're used to highlight a joke or run alongside one - but no matter the usage they always fit perfectly into what you're watching.
The only flaw I found during the flick was with the bad guy, Ronan. We get a pretty menacing intro for him where he's being decked out in armor as the audience is told he's a religious radical, a psychopath and demented alien ruler; but in his scenes I didn't really feel he fit the description. He's definitely a bad guy, no doubt about it - but he doesn't come off as vicious as they make him seem to be. His most ruthless scene is during his intro, but throughout the rest of the film he kind of comes off as "just another bad guy". He serves his purpose, and he does have some pretty evil plans, but I think the Marvel people were using him as a buildup to Thanos. We'll have to wait and see.
All in all, GotG was a super cool movie. It does all the little things well and delivers a truly entertaining experience. There's action, humor (by the starship load), and even some emotional drama (if you're the type who cries over alien trees). Minus a minor miscue with a bad guy who doesn't quite fit the bill, the movie was great. Marvel took some barely known characters and put them into a movie that I enjoyed more than almost any Marvel film to date. Seriously. I can't wait to see what doors the success of this film is going to open.
Let us know how y'all felt in the comments and we'll see you guys at the movies this weekend for TMNT!
- Zach & the 5D Posse