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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014); And Why I’m on the Fence with It

August 7, 2014

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...Milano..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014 Reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy has proven rather difficult for me. Though my experience watching it resulted in sagged shoulders while huffing and puffing at what I was seeing, I’m aware of how beloved and praised it is among its audience. Seemingly somewhere in the noosphere, Armond White’s critical mind connected with my own and every aspect of Guardians of the Galaxy irked me due to its cumbersome, atypical tropes that are featured in nearly every sci-fi film time and time again. I began debating if audiences truly enjoyed the mangled mess of a script on screen or were they simply trained to salivate at anything Marvel throws at us with a decent budget. I even thought that maybe I’m just not that into sci-fi fantasy or the 80s enough to have been amused with what Guardians of the Galaxy did. “Bah humbug” was my sentiment throughout the entire film, however, much conversation has allowed me to debate my disdain of the film.

After endless superhero movies that have drained my bank account, as well as countless other sci-fi films I’ve seen in the past few years, Guardians of the Galaxy came off as a pebble in a stone yard. Though judging by audience and critical reaction, many others viewed the film as if it’s a marble slab. I don’t mean to hold Guardians of the Galaxy as a hallmark for the sci-fi genre, but let’s be honest, it’s 2014. Haven’t we seen these same tropes in sci-fi fantasies for far too long to be impressed by the menial work of Guardians of the Galaxy?

James Gunn and Nicole Pearlman’s script is lazy. I respect what it attempted to do and how admittedly well it developed the principal cast in the length of time of it was given, but the entire film relies on conveniences and poorly constructed plot devices to rally the story forward. It’s a script rooted in Seth McFarland-esque pop culture references, standard 80s tropes, and stock characters. The unexamined evil villain, Zoe Saldana’s same shtick since Avatar, as well as Vin Diesel playing a Hordor, Chewbacca, and Iron Giant trifecta was overbearingly frustrating to watch.

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That leaves the lead to save the film, but sadly I just couldn’t get behind Chris Pratt as a lead. Although I’m not a “Parks and Recreation” fan, I like the guy, honestly. I understand his charm and why he was chosen for the role of Peter Quill. Even though it’s never fleshed out how his character fits in with this “rag tag” group of unforeseeable heroes. Quill can fight, is agile, bones lots of women from various planets, and is perfectly in shape, yet I’m supposed to believe he’s an unlikely hero. Why? Every single character in Guardians of the Galaxy is exactly what you’d expect in a summer blockbuster which is accepted and welcomed for most of the audience that saw Guardians of the Galaxy. For me, I wanted and expected more than triteness. It’s true, my expectations got in the way of my enjoyment for the film, but those expectations are what I have of every film I see, and that’s for it to be different from its predecessors.

I’m sure many were blown away by the 3D, yet this is another factor that went right over my head. It doesn’t possess the prowess of capturing massive emptiness the way say Gravity’s 3D did, nor does Guardians of the Galaxy manifest the subtle depth and textures created by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ 3D technology.  Guardians of the Galaxy was void of the wow factor often experienced in 3D films. Sure, the head of a celestial being turned into safe house known as Knowhere was a beautifully constructed concept, and the vibrant colors pouring throughout nebulas in the background is the placid stuff of my dreams. But, I could have enjoyed that same artistic direction in 2D because the images don’t pop with depth nor does the perception of their scale ever become affected in the magnificent ways 3D can make images look.

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Why is Guardians of the Galaxy given the green pass to ignore all of its weaknesses when other films aren’t? If every film, like I’m sure the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will, asked you to ignore the plot holes, inconsistencies, and conveniences used throughout audiences wouldn’t stand for it. We’d be up in arms about the quality of films and be pissed that we are being delivered piles of shit to shell out $13 on a dull night. Yet, Guardians of the Galaxy asked audiences to do it and everyone did without a second thought. I’m honestly curious as to why.

Despite my disdain with the film I saw, after much conversing and debate with my core group of movie buffs, I realize that maybe through a different perspective I can see where the excitement and joy in Guardian of the Galaxy emulates from. Its character establishment is pretty flawless for a first of a trilogy. I enjoyed the hints of catastrophic devastation felt by minor, background prison characters. The make-up work was absolutely stunning and Groot and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket slayed me as arguably the film’s best characters. Through the song choice felt more driven to be cool in certain sequences rather than heartfelt, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the few, if only, sci-fi films to incorporate a contemporary mixtape as its soundtrack of nostalgia to set the mood of its scenes.

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It’s easy to dislike Guardians of the Galaxy when the focus is on everything it did wrong. Once perspective is shifted and the focus is on what it does right I can imagine that it becomes easier to swallow. Initially when watching Guardians of the Galaxy I convinced myself that it was a film I’d never actively seek out to watch again, but after some reflection, and knowing it’ll be ingrained in popular culture for at least the next decade due to sequels and spinoffs it will garner, I’m willing to give it another chance to see if I’ll fully stand by my original inclination or if a perspective shift was all I needed to see it the way others do.

Had I known there were two more film in the works, then maybe I could have enjoyed the establishing of relationships more. Perhaps if I knew the boner this film would possess for the 80s (I’m aware the comic was made in the 80s, but Spiderman was in the 60s, so why should origin years matter?) I wouldn’t have rolled my eyes as hard during the post credit scene. Maybe if I knew the story was weak from the get go I wouldn’t have watched it so closely with higher expectations. Sometime in the near future whenever I rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy I’ll numb myself with more alcohol first and passively watch it to see if I get what everyone else did out of it.

TOSS UP. You’ll likely enjoy it, though I did not.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2014 11:38 AM

    ” I began debating if audiences truly enjoyed the mangled mess of a script on screen or were they simply trained to salivate at anything Marvel throws at us with a decent budget.” Exactly. Couldn’t agree with you more on this one. Without the constant humor in the film, it would have fallen completely flat for me, because (like you said) it really had no depth. I liked it for entertainment value, but in no way did I love it. Great review..you summed up my sentiments well!

    • August 9, 2014 12:12 PM

      I think my biggest bother was everyone’s reaction to it. Someone on Facebook called it “the Star Wars of our time” which just infuriated me lol. Thanks for the response though, I’m glad someone else at least understands where I’m coming from.

  2. Rowan permalink
    August 14, 2014 5:13 AM

    I’m really surprised you didn’t enjoy this movie. I went into the film excepting a comedy in a sci-fi setting, and that’s pretty much what I got. I was also surprised by how well I engaged with the characters, even if the plot was a little thin.
    In regards to the script being lazy, I don’t think it’s going to win any awards for breaking any moulds, but it works well enough for what it needs to do, which is mostly to serve up comedy, and to a lesser degree show a rag-tag group of criminals come together as something of a family/team. I will be the first to admit that the group probably needed a bit more time to “bond”, but it wasn’t so rushed that I felt it detracted from the film in a major way.
    I really didn’t get annoyed by Groot at all, and probably haven’t seen enough Zoe Saldana movies to properly examine if she’s becoming a one trick pony or not. I will admit the villian felt a bit flat, but he was always secondary to Thanos anyway, so I’m willing to be a bit forgiving in that regard.
    I honestly thought Chris Pratt played the rogueish man-child that is Star Lord/Peter Quill really well. I’ve never seen Parks so even if that was his big breakout role, it hasn’t affected my opinion of the guy’s work in Guardians. Also, he’s an unlikely hero for the same reason they are all unlikely heros (minus Gamora, who actually starts off the most heroic of the three): they all want to take the money and run.
    I look at 3D as being the icing on the cake when it comes to movies. As long as it doesn’t detract from the film, I don’t mind if it’s average. If it adds to the film in the way it was used in Gravity, it’s great, but I’m not going to hold it against a movie if it doesn’t. Whether we like it or not, 3D is here to stay. I know 3D is more expensive so we should get more bang for our buck, but where I’m from the difference in price is so minor that it doesn’t really bother me.
    Why do we give Guardians flaws a pass? The same reason we have with other movies. If its strengths outweight its weaknesses then we are most likely to forgive or overlook the problems. As a sci-fi action adventure, Guardians is ok. As a comedy it’s great, and the fact that it has more than a bit of heart in it is an added bonus, even if the execution isn’t perfect.
    To be honest, you talk about how easy it is to slag Guardians about everything it did wrong, when honestly, it didn’t do that much “wrong”. It may have a fair amount of mediocre components, but like I said earlier, the elements that were strong made it really good.
    But I may still change my mind. I’m going to rewatch it this weekend with a buddy of mine who hasn’t seen it, so maybe the problems will be more visible then.

    • August 14, 2014 8:20 AM

      Thanks so much Rowan for your comment! Great points and counterarguments throughout. Let me know how it plays out the second time around when you see it, I don’t think you’ll like it any less though. Everyone that I know who has seen It multiple times still enjoyed each viewing. I’m the one that needs to see it again. My expectations of the film could have just been routed in ignorance leading me to nitpick everything I saw and when writing this review I was passionately angry. Partly at people’s reaction, which I thought was overhyped, and partly at myself because I was being so critical. Good point on the 3D though. I definitely intend to rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy down the line when the hype wears off and I’ll comment back about my thoughts then. I’m hoping a rewatch will allow me to see its strengths in a better light. Thanks again for the comment.

      • Rowan permalink
        August 14, 2014 11:48 AM

        No problem. I do get your point about “forgiving” things though.
        TMNT hasn’t arrived in South Africa yet and considering all the reviews I should probably not waste my time.
        Having said that, I’m a TMNT fanboy and despite all the negative press and knowing it’s going to be bad I’m going to go check it out anyway!

  3. January 10, 2015 2:04 PM

    Why are you giving in? Stand your ground. That movie sucks!

    • January 12, 2015 11:01 PM

      Yeah agreed Jupiter. I’ve yet to rewatch it but still have no desire to. Looking back, I stick to my initial dislike of it.

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