Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening of Guardians of the Galaxy and agreed to write a review. Given that I have never seen a Marvel movie as an adult, I brought along my best friend since she’d have some clue what was going on. This review is from two perspectives – someone who knows the franchise and someone who does not.
The following review is from my friend who goes by Aunt Zoni on this blog.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie about a ragtag group of unlikely superheroes who save the galaxy from an evil bad guy. It’s also a movie about a group of reluctant friends who find common ground in their pain and loss, and save each other. The fact that both of these stories are woven together in a skillful blend of thrilling action, sly humor, amazing special effects, and a fantastic soundtrack, is likely to make this movie a huge summer hit.
The movie opens in 1988, where we find our hero, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), as a young boy whose mother is dying. As he runs away from the hospital in his grief, he’s whisked away by a spaceship, and we are off and running, with a jump to 26 years in the future. Peter has adopted the name Star-Lord, and has become a “Ravager”, making his way around the galaxy collecting artifacts, and selling them to interested buyers. He retrieves an item known as “The Orb”, which puts him in the crosshairs of the bad guy, Ronan, and his henchmen.
Star-Lord’s misadventures find him imprisoned with Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a genetically modified, walking raccoon; Rocket’s sidekick/bodyguard Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a giant tree being of limited vocabulary; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the unwillingly adopted daughter of the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin); and Drax the Destroyer (David Bautista), a man whose only goal in life is avenging the deaths of his family against Ronan. These unlikely allies band together to escape their prison, and eventually, to become heroes and save the day.
All of our heroes are dealing with loss, abandonment, emotional pain, alienation, and loneliness. As they work together to stop Ronan’s evil plans, they find companionship and support, and form a family. It’s unusual to find these themes in your typical sci-fi shoot ‘em up, but this movie is anything but typical, and the emotional aspects of the film are handled well by the cast and writer/director James Gunn.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film are the 1970s and 1980s music and pop culture references found throughout. Peter’s ties to Earth, his mother, and childhood, are maintained via a cassette mix tape, which he plays on his Walkman and the rockin’ stereo system in his spaceship, and which provides the unusual and amusing soundtrack for the film. You’ll definitely want to buy the soundtrack album by the end of the movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and fans of the Marvel films will find several references to tie the movie into the larger universe of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers movies. Whether Star-Lord and his merry band will show up in a crossover with any of the other Marvel films remains to be seen, but it seems likely, given the clues we see.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, humorous, and surprisingly emotional film, that kids will probably enjoy for its irreverent humor and complex characters. It’s probably best for older kids who can handle the intense, sometimes violent action, and mild amount of profanity. There isn’t much gore to speak of, but there is a lot of gunfire, and many characters in peril. It’s definitely a film that will have you talking about the characters and their journey after leaving the theater, and probably wishing to see it again.
That’s a pretty impressive reviews from Aunt Zoni, yes? So, are you going to go see Guardians of the Galaxy?
As a newbie to this movie franchise, I was very impressed with the movie. I had no clue going in what the movie was about. All I knew is that it took place in an alternate universe, which, honestly, means nothing to me other than maybe I shouldn’t go to this movie. While I had no prior knowledge of the characters or the story, I followed along easily, laughed at the appropriate parts, and walked away connected to the characters. For parents who need to go with their kids, you’ll likely enjoy it quite well. If you’re tagging along just to hang out with your friends or partner, keep an open mind and just go with it.
The screening was in 3D, but the movie will also be available in 2D. Action movie, alternative universe, and 3D would have made me skip this movie. But that wasn’t an option. I think the 3D effects were well-done and appropriately incorporated into the movie. There were very few random things just flying at you for the sake of 3D.
And I can’t do a review without mentioning the music. I’m connected to the 70s and 80s through music. It’s what I grew up with and, ultimately, what connected me to this movie. Without any real understanding or interest in the movie going it, hearing familiar music from the first moments was something that drew me in. I figured it couldn’t be all that bad with cool music from my childhood. And I was right! Music is such a universal language and it’s what drew me in to their alternative universe and kept me interested.
Sure, there’s the adorable Groot and the spicy-tongued, sarcastic Rocket. And those two really do a lot to steal the show. But it was the music that left me feeling connected to Star-Lord and his mixed-tape band of friends. If you’re into the movie franchise, you’ll be very pleased with how the story and characters are treated. If you’re like me and have no real connection to the movie and are thinking of ways to feign illness so you don’t have to go I suggest you go along. I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. I think I surprised Aunt Zoni by how much I really did like the movie. So, go! See Guardians of the Galaxy. If nothing else, you’ll love Groot!
Guardians of the Galaxy website and mobile site
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Running Time: 121 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute
Release Date: August 1, 2014
Written by: Nicole Perlman and James Gunn
Directed by: James Gunn
Themes: loss, family, friendship, sacrifice for the greater good, found families, good vs evil