Gushing over the Guardians

Warning: what follows is me gushing about how much I love a certain movie I saw recently. It’s not an actual review. Also I used stream-of-conciousness writing (just writing whatever came to mind without going back and editing), so the writing is pretty terrible. So if you’re looking for high-quality writing and an actual movie review, you might want to go elsewhere. 🙂

Image from http://www.hdwallpapers.in/2014_guardians_of_the_galaxy-wallpapers.html
Image from http://www.hdwallpapers.in/2014_guardians_of_the_galaxy-wallpapers.html

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy (GoTG) for the first time at the beginning of August. I’d never even heard of it; and only found out about it when a friend mentioned it on Facebook. I looked it up, saw that it got good reviews on IMDB (8.6 out of 10) and decided to see it.

And I was BLOWN AWAY. Wow. I haven’t felt this excited about a movie since Inception came out back in 2010 (and before that, the Lord of the Rings trilogy). There’s something about GoTG that I can’t get over. Something about that movie makes me want to see it again, and again, and again. I’ve seen it in the theater 4 times now:

  • First time in my neighborhood theater, Sunday matinee to a pretty packed house
  • Second and third times in downtown Berkeley on two consecutive Friday nights, both to packed theaters.
  • Fourth time with my mother and brother in my neighborhood theater, Saturday afternoon matinee. (My mom and brother both loved it!)

It hasn’t got old. I could see it 4 more times and it STILL won’t be old.

With the majority of movies, seeing it in the theater once is more than enough for me.

What makes GoTG so great, then? Well I’m writing this post kind of late at night, so I’m too tired to do an in-depth analysis. I’m mostly writing this because I’ve spent the past few hours reading reviews of GoTG and wishing I could go see it again in the theater tomorrow. But here’s a bullet list of the things that make GoTG stand out to me, personally.

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN GUARDIANS OF THE GUARDIANS AND DON’T WANT IT SPOILED!

  • Character-driven. The writer/director, James Gunn, gives us just enough backstory on each of the main Guardians characters to make us care about them. He does this without overdoing it. I connected with the main characters in a way that I usually haven’t while watching previous superhero/comic-based movies. We see real character development. The Guardians start off disliking each other, and end up friends. It doesn’t feel rushed or forced.
  • Memorable moments. The movies I watch again and again have little moments that stick in my head long after I leave the theater. Some of my favorite scenes included Peter Quill dancing at the very beginning to “Come and Get your Love”, the entire prison escape sequence, Rocket’s emotional drunken outburst, every scene involving Groot (especially baby Groot), Quill distracting Ronan with a dance-off in the final climax, Yondu’s arrow scene.
  • Groot. I just LOVE him. Of all the Guardians, he’s the most “whole” and is not driven by a desire for money or revenge. So, he directs all of his focus on helping his friends in the best way that he can, even giving his life for them in the end.
  • The “retro” element. This film is a beautiful fusion of retro space opera, 70s and 80s music/pop references, and modern technology. An interesting mix, but it works SO WELL and provides a lot of heart.
  • It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun, cheesy, witty, snarky, serious, emotional, a bit satirical — this movie knows how to be all of these things at once. Delivers only what we need to know to enjoy the story, and doesn’t get bogged down in exposition.
  • The space setting. My biggest problem with superhero movies is how entire cities end up being destroyed…only to be rebuilt right away at the end with no repercussions or discussion of how the catastrophic damage affected the city’s residents. It’s easier for me to suspend disbelief when the setting is either a fantasy realm or outer space. In the case of Guardians, I loved the space setting. It was refreshingly different, and the visuals were gorgeous.
  • It’s a vacation for my soul. It’s one of those rare movies that make me feel extremely comfortable.  This review here explains this way more coherently than I can.

Of course no movie is 100% perfect. There were a few things about Guardians that I didn’t like:

  • The “bad guys” (Ronan and company) felt generic and not as developed as the main characters. I would have liked to have gotten to know them on a deeper level, much like we do with the Guardians.
  • Lack of racial diversity. It bothers me that we don’t have a major super hero/comic film where the lead character is not white and male. The one black character with a speaking part in Guardians, Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou), is flat and ends up killed (electrocuted) in a drawn out way. No surprise there. He didn’t die first, but I knew he wouldn’t see end of the movie. In the Wikipedia article on the movie, Hounsou is quoted from an interview explaining why he took the part: “I have a four-year old son who loves superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Batman. He’s got all the costumes. One day he looks at me and says ‘Dad, I want to be light-skinned so I could be Spider-Man. Spider-Man has light skin.’ That was sort of a shock. This is why I am excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe, so I could hopefully provide that diversity in the role of the superhero.”
    Unfortunately, America (perhaps the WORLD) has a long way to go before a superhero who is of color or a woman draws the same general audience interest as a superhero who is white and male.

Despite the drawbacks, Guardians is my favorite movie of the summer. It’s my favorite movie of the moment, and it’s going on my list of favorite movies of all time. I don’t buy many DVDs these days but I will certainly per-order this one when that time comes. I’m also buying the soundtrack!! Now I’m off to plan when I can see it again one last time in the theater…maybe I can see it two or three more times?!! Four more, to make it even?!!

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