This week Marvel debuted the newest entrant to its blockbusting money machine of a film library, and in a turn of events that surprised no one, it has been received with high praise and record shattering success.
So how does the movie hold up? No spoilers ahead.
No one is going to deny that the movie is fun, and if someone does, they’re wrong. The movie’s comedic elements are brought together masterfully by all of the excellent writing and delivery we’ve come to expect from modern Marvel, and the team behind the movie kept it fresh by not overdoing any of their ideas. Several of the movie’s bits could have easily been run into the ground with reuse throughout its 122 minute run time, but the team impressed with their ability to come up with something great, ditch it, and then come with something entirely new (and still great).
Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun movie, and that alone guarantees that viewers are going to have a great time. This is fortunate, because there really isn’t much else that the movie has to offer.
Every story has its plot holes, and I’m not interested in picking at them. Considered as a whole though, the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy just doesn’t bring anything to the table that we haven’t already seen a million times in every bad sci-fi movie ever. Sure, Guardians has better acting and a giant CGI budget, but at its core the movie is still unwavering in its adherence to the standard movie formula of the reluctant-hero.
Worse yet is how the movie proudly rubs in your face its lack of ambition to deviate from the formula. Throughout the movie there are moments when one of the Guardians is faced with almost certain death, and as they begin to fade from existence, you can rest assured that they’ll always be back before you have a chance to feel bad about it. By the time Guardians rolled around its third or fourth fake death of a main character, I just couldn’t bring myself to care anymore. While the film’s comedic elements managed to stay fresh, the same could hardly be said for its plot.
At multiple points throughout the movie, I began to wonder if the plot was intentionally designed to be bad as a spoof, but if it was, the team behind the movie was uncharacteristically subtle in its implementation.
Guardians presents all the wry irony of Spaceballs without the self-awareness to make it funny.
There’s little room for criticism when it comes to Guardian of the Galaxy‘s characters. That’s not to say they’re good, no, in fact it’s quite the opposite. There’s so little to them that there’s nothing specific to criticize.
The entire development of the movie’s main characters could be written on a single line of paper; making matters worse is how much of it would be shared between them. The movie was jokingly endorsed to me as “Star Wars if all of the characters were Han Solo”, and to be honest, that’s a pretty accurate statement. It’s as if the writers took four Han Solos, slapped two sentences of back-story on each to differentiate them, and decided to make Groot Chewbacca. Does that make for a fun movie? Hell yeah. Does that make for an interesting narrative? Absolutely not.
The movie’s heroes were hardly developed, but the villains – they were so badly neglected, the actors portraying them should have simply been billed as extras in the closing credits. Their motivation, their history, or why you should even be concerned about them to begin with is never really explained outside of the fact that they’re ugly and live aboard a poorly-lit ship. Maybe I’m being hyperbolic, but not by a whole lot.If I were writing this review with spoilers, this section would be exactly the same because there’s nothing here to spoil.
(For a serious look at the shortcomings of the movie’s villains, check out this article – note that it does include spoilers)
The blame for Guardians‘ shortcomings could very well lie with the format itself. A new IP being introduced in a movie with multiple all-new heroes in a new setting? Time constraints undoubtedly presented some unfortunate realities here.
While comparisons to The Avengers are inevitable, they aren’t exactly fair. With the amount of work spent setting up The Avengers in Iron Man 1 & 2, Captain America, and Thor, the thought that these new characters could stand up to ones already so established in their own films is completely ridiculous; Guardians‘ potential to excel was always far lower. The team behind the movie could have done more to bring the characters to life, sure, but not enough to catch them up to the standard set by the Avengers, so let’s leave that comparison behind.
In essence, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a terrible movie carried exceptionally well by good acting, great dialogue, and some good cinematography. Its paper-doll characters, cookie-cutter plot, and overused CGI are lifted high above their station, and in the end, I would still recommend that you go see it. Really, it’s a blast to just sit back and enjoy the laughs. Just don’t expect anything too thought provoking or intense.