Rating: 4.5 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
Guys this movie is complicated.
Somewhere way out in SPACE a guy called The Broker hires The Ravagers to steal The Orb on behalf of The Collector, but Star-Lord goes after the The Orb first with the hopes of cutting The Ravagers out of the deal entirely. Meanwhile, Thanos sends Ronan the Accuser who sends Korath the Pursuer to get The Orb, but Star-Lord gets there first and manages to escape Korath’s pursuit, so Ronan sends Thanos’s adopted daughter Gamora after Star-Lord instead. At the same time, The Ravagers have put out a bounty on Star-Lord, which catches the eye of a couple of hustlers named Rocket and Groot. Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot all end up in fighting one another on the streets of Xandar, causing their arrest by the Nova Corps, who sends the lot of them to SPACE PRISON the Kyln to await trial.
There, they meet Drax the Destroyer, who already hates Ronan the Accuser, and who helps with their break-out. Together the five of them head to Knowhere to sell The Orb directly to The Collector, who apparently had also contracted with Gamora. Both The Ravagers and Ronan the Accuser’s forces (including Gamora’s adopted sister Nebula) converge on Knowhere shortly thereafter, and in the ensuing scuffle Ronan leaves with The Orb. Ronan will certainly use The Orb’s power to kill billions, so our five heroes (let’s call them The Guardians) convince The Ravagers to help them get The Orb back. Star-Lord calls the Nova Corps and they agree to provide back-up. With their combined forces, and the newly discovered power of love/brotherhood, The Guardians, The Ravagers, and the Nova Corps manage to defeat Ronan the Accuser and lock The Orb safely away.
And one of the real achievements of Guardians of the Galaxy is that, despite having an obscene number of named characters and weird locations and really science-fictiony sounding names, it’s never actually confusing to watch, nor ever feels bloated or overstuffed.
This is a very funny movie – probably the funniest Marvel Studios release to date – and I don’t want this to be just a list of funny lines because that could go on for a while. My favorite funny scene, and maybe my favorite scene period, is when the Guardians are sitting in a circle in the Milano trying to figure out a plan to stop Ronan. This scene has so many great lines, so many great little character touches, and is the crucial moment where our characters transition from a collection of weird loners to actual big damn heroes.
“Well now I’m standing. Happy? We’re all standing now. Bunch of jackasses, standing in a circle.”
Aesthetically Guardians is a big success. It looks so bright and colorful and fun all the time. From the pink and green and blue and yellow people in the crowd scenes on Xandar to the amazingly ridiculous mining colony in the head of a giant space god, the visual design is awesome. And the soundtrack may just be a collection of nostalgia pieces, but it’s deployed brilliantly. Particularly “Cherry Bomb” and “O-o-h Child” are used to great success.
“What are you doing?”
This movie is bold. The history of comic book adaptations is littered with trying to tone things down and make them palatable to a general audience, and Guardians of the Galaxy has no interest in toning things down for a second. Though in terms of direct adaptation the filmmakers take many liberties with the source material, in a spiritual sense this may be the most faithful live-action comic book movie of all time.
“He said that he may be an a-hole, but he’s not, and I quote, 100% a dick.”
“Do you believe him?”
“Well, I don’t know if I believe anyone is 100% a dick.”
There are pretty good action scenes, sure, but this is a comedy and a space opera first and foremost, and the action scenes we do get could be more exciting. I was stoked when it seemed like we were getting a big Gamora and Nebula showdown at the end, but we barely saw their fight, and it kept being interrupted by cutting away to other things. Nebula, played by the wonderful Karen Gillan, barely gets anything interesting to do, and I’m left thinking: she shaved her hair for this?
Gamora doesn’t have a ton to do either, and is the least memorable of the heroes. I’m not trying to yell “misogyny” or anything because I don’t think that’s the issue here, but you know it is kinda weird that Drax takes literally everything literally except when he calls Gamora a “green whore”. Drax definitely knows she is not a prostitute.
On my personal list of cool things, “super heroes” is definitely on it and “space epics” is definitely not. I never cared at all about Star Wars for example (and I think this movie is definitely better than any Star Wars movie I’ve seen, for what it’s worth). So Guardians has to work a lot harder to please me than it probably does to please some others, and it totally gets there, but the movie is more than halfway over before I feel like I actually care about what happens next.