Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
Is it weird to say that I was excited to finally watch an MCU movie that doesn't take place on Earth? Like, I love my Earth heroes, but sometimes I just wanna get away. Anywho, we have finally made it to Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that I have loved since I first saw it in theaters. This review mostly contains positives, because, well... I love the movie, but hopefully, the positives will help explain why I love the movie so much, even after watching it for the nth time.
It's funny to think back to the time before this film was released when many people were watching the trailers and being like... "Who?" I grew up reading comic books (Marvel and DC alike) and yet had never come across the likes of a talking tree or raccoon, or any of the Guardians for that matter. I do think that Marvel took a risk releasing this film, but in the end, it worked out, all thanks to James Gunn and his use of character development. The characters––the total misfits that they are––are what make this movie so great. The fact that they are misfits makes the idea of them saving the day so much more enjoyable. These aren't insanely smart billionaires, gods (well, Peter is kinda close), or super-soldiers. They are misfits (who just happen to be pretty powerful, if you think about it). What makes each character so great is that, like the Avengers on Earth, they are given their own personalities. They have their own beliefs. They are all very different people, yet they are able to come together on the screen to form a powerful and hilarious team. Each character is handled so well given all of their different personalities, and this would not have been accomplished if it was not for the great acting and writing that went into this film.
Okay, I know I said I was going to talk positives, but I guess the topic of villains comes with a few sprinkles of negatives... mostly in the main baddy himself: Ronan. Lee Pace's performance isn't poor––it's just that the character of Ronan had a very... weak motivation. Okay, he wants to betray Thanos and do his own thing. I kind of get it, because he takes possession of a dang Infinity Stone. But is he just bloodthirsty? Is he just pissed off? I wish the film would have expanded on his motivations just a bit more. Also, I am glad that future movies expanded on Nebula a lot more, because in this movie she is kind of just there to be there.
Thanos is the true background villain, but I am glad they kept him as just that: background. Marvel was smart to hide his true potential until Infinity War, but I am glad we get to see a little bit more than just him smiling at us.
The real main villains, in my opinion, are the colliding personalities and beliefs of the Guardians. They are what keep them from forming a team right from the start, and they are what they must overcome in order to be the team that the galaxy (mostly Xandar) deserves. If you can't tell, I really like the Guardians.
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Okay, back to the positives.
The soundtrack, which includes the classic tunes and the orchestral score, is one of my favorites that the MCU has to offer. The fact that Gunn wrote the script with each song in mind really shows how much the songs mattered to the film (and they do matter, which is why they are so great). The classic tunes also add to the light-heartedness of the Guardians films. These aren't meant to be super intense movies like Winter Soldier or Infinity War (even though they do have their intense moments). They are meant to be character pieces, which is how I look at this movie. Yes, they tell stories that relate heavily to the MCU as a whole. However, they are mainly character studies of each member of the team. The soundtrack, for example, develops the character of Peter, mostly in his relationship with his mom. The development of character is where the film finds its true heart.
The soundtrack also allows for the perfect bridge between intensity and levity. Many films fail at traversing between comedy and tension––Guardians is not one of those films. It is probably the movie that I have laughed the most at so far in my Infinity Saga rewatch. That has to do a lot with the dialogue and the mighty transitions that use songs off of Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
In a film that could have easily just felt like set-up––and hey, a lot of it is set-up––James Gunn managed to create a lighthearted character piece that takes a look at how different people can come together to form something special. Yes, Avengers did it, too, and I loved it there. However, there is something special about this one, and it may have to do with the fact that these characters were very unknown when Vol. 1 first released. Either way, Guardians of the Galaxy holds up today as one of the funniest MCU films and as a film that managed to bring unknown characters into the hearts of many an MCU fan. Yeah, the villain was pretty meh, but the powerful characters James Gunn transposed from the comics greatly makes up for it.
I am going to give Guardians of the Galaxy a 9.5/10.
What is your favorite song off of Awesome Mix Vol. 1? Write in the comments what it is!
P.S. mine is "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth