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Vault Movie Review: "Guardians of the Galaxy"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 8/1/2014

Theatrical Release: 8/1/2014

Synopsis

When Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was only a boy, his mother lost her fight to cancer, and after her death, Peter was taken in by a space bandit named Yondu (Michael Rooker). Yondu raised him and turned the boy into a space bandit in his own right. Peter Quill’s latest mission is to obtain a valuable artifact. The artifact is an orb of incredible power and incredible value, and as difficult as it will be to retrieve, getting his hands on it is only the easy part.

On his mission, Peter meets a dangerous assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a talking raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a sentient tree named Groot (Vin Diesel), and a fearless warrior named Drax (Dave Bautista). They form a group of misfits who do not get along, but they share a common goal, and they must work together if they hope to achieve it. Unfortunately, putting their differences aside may be easier said than done, and the powerful Kree leader Ronan (Lee Pace) and his army are gunning for the orb. If Ronan obtains it, he will be virtually unstoppable in his galactic conquests, which will mean the deaths of countless innocent lives across the galaxy.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Guardians (+8pts)

Ronan (-6pts)

The Action & The Music (+10pts)

The Climax (-4pts)

The Comedy (+8pts)

Character Depth (-3pts)

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Pro: The Guardians (+8pts)

I thought the filmmakers did a great job of introducing each of these characters, as they did so in a way that was entertaining and it felt natural. When we first met Gamora, Rocket, and Groot, it was in a chaotic action sequence. Peter had his goal, Gamora had hers, and Rocket and Groot had theirs. The four characters then came together in a entertaining clash, and it effectively setup each character. The filmmakers very easily could have started with each of these characters having already met, in which case we would have had to have been told what each of them wanted through exposition of some kind. Doing it this way let the viewer understand that these were all very different characters who wanted very different things, and it let the filmmakers showcase each of their skills.

Then there was Drax, who was introduced a little later. His introduction worked so well because it was separated from the introduction of the other characters. Having them all introduced at once would have felt really convenient, but by separating even one of them, the filmmakers let all of their introductions feel more organic. Finally there was the group dynamic. Giving each character their own goals helped make this feel like a dysfunctional group that was doomed to fail, which made their collective story more interesting. Then there was the banter between the characters, which provided plenty of comedic moments throughout the movie. This was a really fun movie, and this group of protagonists being done so effectively was a big reason why.

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Con: Ronan (-6pts)

Ronan is right up there with Malekith when listing the MCU's worst antagonits. Ronan had a temper, and he was powerful, but he wanted even more power. He wanted revenge against the Nova Corp due to an ambiguous war that was dumped onto the audience in the form of exposition. He also had a whole army at his disposal, but he was greedy and wanted more power than he already had, which made the orb irresistible to him. This all made him feel very typical. He was also one of those villains where the protagonists never really struggled to defeat him. The guardians struggled to get to him, as there was usually an army between him and them, but I never felt even the slightest bit concerned that Ronan would be too overwhelming for all of the Guardians of the Galaxy at once.

Ronan was a generic antagonist, with a generic army at his disposal, and who had a typical temper, and a typical thirst for power and conquest. There was literally nothing special about this guy, but that did not have to be the case. Diving even a little deeper into his story, and the motivations behind the war between the Kree and the Nova Corp could have made this guy compelling, as it could have humanized all of the Kree, as well as the guy leading them. Unfortunately, that was not the way the filmmakers wanted to go, and they ended up delivering a very underwhelming villain.

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Pro: The Action & The Music (+10pts)

Simply put, the action in this movie was awesome, and the music in this movie was a blast. The action was the epic, blockbuster-styled action that you would expect an MCU movie to have. The filmmakers also did a decent job injecting humor into the action when they could. This comedy never distracted from the action, but while most of the action was the popcorn munching action movie goers will be hoping for, some of it had some extra comedic flavor that helped keep things feeling fresh.

Then there was the music. I knew some of these songs going into this movie, but a lot of the songs that made up the soundtrack were new to me. Nonetheless, they all gave this movie some 1980s flavor, and the songs being present made sense, as they were from a mixed tape that the main character took from Earth when he left in the 80s. The songs were fun, and the filmmakers did a really great job fitting each one with the vibe of the movie in each respective scene. Together, the action and the music made this a really fun, entertaining blockbuster.

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Con: The Climax (-4pts)

While I enjoyed this movie, the climax definitely could have been better. I was moderately entertained, because there was plenty of action, but I was not truly invested in it. I think this was due me not really caring about the Kree versus Nova Corp war. If the filmmakers spent more time fleshing that out, then the climax of this movie could have been a lot more engaging, but it was basically just a generic army of bad guys versus a generic army of good guys, and the Guardians of the Galaxy were just arbitrarily fighting for one of them. Then there was the dance off, which seemed really dumb and out-of-place. Ronan was supposed to be this ruthless antagonist, so having the whole dance off thing seemed like a dumb decision, and having it go the way that it did did not make any sense for the character of Ronan. These things definitely did not ruin the movie, but they definitely could have been handled better.

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Pro: The Comedy (+8pts)

While all of the MCU movies thus far have had their share comedy, they have all been superhero action movies first, just with some comedic flavor. This movie, on the other hand, was as much a comedy as it was an action. The modern day storyline started with Peter Quill dancing around like a fool in an ancient ruin on his mission to obtain the orb. It was a silly way to kick things off, and the filmmakers only dialed it up from there.

There was Peter’s arrogance and all of his quips, Rocket’s sassy and pessimistic attitude, Groot’s inability to say anything other than “I am Groot”, and Drax’s pride and tendency to take everything literally. There was also Gamora, who was never really funny herself, but her reactions to the others, and how little she thought of Peter, provided some comedy as well. This movie had all that, and so much more. The comedy kept me laughing from beginning to end, all with the backdrop of an entertaining action adventure set in space. That—I think—was what made this movie the hit that it was.

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Con: Character Depth (-3pts)

As much as I liked each of these characters’ stories, I did not walk out of the movie feeling like I really knew any of them, maybe with the exception of Peter Quill. Peter lost his mother when he was young, and he found an unorthodox family in Yondu and his crew. Still, Peter felt alone most of his life, at least until he met his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not dive deep into any of the other characters.

We knew Gamora was a daughter of Thanos, and we knew she was conflicted about her involvement with the Titan, but we did not get a real sense as to who Thanos was, or what made Gamora begin to turn against him. We knew that Drax’s family was tragically killed by Thanos‘ forces, but beyond that, we learned nothing of who Drax was. Then there was Rocket who had a twisted past that was only ever hinted at, and Groot who got no backstory whatsoever. The filmmakers did a great job of introducing these characters in a way that made them each feel like their own character, but beyond Peter Quill, the filmmakers did not really dive deep into these characters or what made them who they were.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (88pts)

At the time of writing this review, it has been about seven years since the days when I was seeing all the trailers for this movie. As much as I liked everything from the MCU before this movie, I was admittedly skeptical about it, and I was definitely not alone there. It was a space, action-adventure about a group of misfits, which included Bradley Cooper as a talking racoon, Vin Diesel as sentient tree, Zoe Saldana as an alien assassin, Dave Bautista as an alien warrior, and Chris Pratt as an outlaw-bandit. It was an interesting cast playing a peculiar group of Marvel characters that most people had ever heard of. Nonetheless, I saw the movie and I had a blast watching it.

The action was the exciting MCU style action that you would expect this movie to have, and there was plenty of it. The filmmakers also dialed up the comedy, which had me laughing from start to finish. I also enjoyed the group of characters that made up the Guardians of the Galaxy, as I enjoyed watching them meeting each other, bickeromg with one another, and trying to get on the same page to defeat Ronan. Ronan was an underdeveloped villain, and that unfortunately made the climax somewhat less exciting than it should have been. I thought the filmmakers could have done a better job of fleshing out the Guardians' stories, as I left the movie knowing very little about most of them. However, what this movie did well, it did really well. This was a really fun and entertaining movie from start to finish, and I thought it was one of the best movies from the MCU so far.

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