FlixChatter Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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I have to admit that I wasn’t remotely interested in seeing this one from the moment I first heard about it. For one thing, I was beginning to get bored of yet another Marvel superhero movie, and another reason is I have never even heard of who these characters are. Though it seems that a lot of my fellow bloggers are getting superhero fatigue, clearly the average movie goers are still gung ho about them, as GOTG has proven itself to be another big hit for Marvel. According to Box Office Mojo, by Friday estimates, it already out-earned two of Marvel’s sequels: Captain America 2 and Thor 2 and on its way to make close to $100 mil by the first weekend, wow!

The audience in the packed advanced screening on Tuesday seemed to have a good time with this movie, and I was surprised too how entertaining it was. The protagonist this time isn’t a superhero, he’s a regular boy-next-door human named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who got abducted by a space ship just minutes after his mother died at a hospital. Fas forward twenty six years later, we see Peter on planet Morag stealing an orb that turns out to be a highly-coveted artifact wanted by the master villain Ronan (Lee Pace). The scene is reminiscent of Raiders Of The Lost Ark opening sequence and you could say Peter has the kind of swagger and cheeky attitude of Indiana Jones. Needless to say, Peter then gets embroiled in a manhunt, not just from Ronan but also from a group of space pirates led by Yondu (Michael Rooker) who apparently the same folks that snatched young Peter from earth years ago.

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I think people who read the comics would appreciate this movie more, as they’d be more familiar with the cosmic universe where everything takes place. A lot of the things happening here baffles me but I went along for the ride anyway. Peter suddenly ends up in planet called Xandar and ends up getting arrested by Nova Corps, the space militia led by Glenn Close, sporting similar hairdo as in 101 Dalmatians. It’s in the Xandar prison that Peter meets his would-be teammates: a wisecrackin’, gun-toting, raccoon called Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Vin Diesel), bad-ass assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a personal vendetta against Ronan. It’s an unlikely quartet that constantly bicker and fight, but of course they have no choice but to work together.

Guardians of the Galaxy is more of a space action comedy, akin to Galaxy Quest or The Fifth Element. But the irreverent and at times cheesy humor works here and there’s such a fun spirit throughout that is contagious. The one-liners are packed with goofy 80s pop-culture references (Kevin Bacon, John Stamos) to self-satirical ones like “I’m gonna die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” Director James Gunn and writer Nicole Perlman (first female writer of a Marvel movie, yay!) are certainly aware of the its inherent silliness and the movie definitely works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perhaps this is an antithesis of sort to the standard superhero fare as none of the characters here possess any kind of super powers. But what the characters have in spades is humor, charm and even warmth, as the unlikely group slowly bond together.

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Now for the cast, I have to say that Chris Pratt [now part of the Marvel trifecta of Chris-es w/ Chris Hemsworth & Chris Evans] is a hoot and no doubt this movie will launch him to be a star. There’s a scene where a space henchman calls him Star Lord and Peter quips ‘finally!’ It’s almost art imitating life as Pratt has been in a bunch of major movies in supporting roles, in fact, three of them were nominated for Oscar 3 years in a row: Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball, and Her. But now it’s his moment to shine and he’s such a charming, affable dude you can’t help but root for him. The rest of the cast is pretty good in their roles and I have to say Cooper as the fast-talking raccoon with a chip on his shoulder is quite the scene-stealer! I wonder just what the heck Cooper was thinking taking this job after a two Oscar nominations back to back, as he could easily play Peter Quill as well, but y’know what, I think he did a smashing job as Rocket. Diesel too, surprisingly makes the most of his only one line in the movie, ‘I am Groot’ all the way to the end.

It’s always nice when a movie surprises you in a pleasant way when you have such little expectations about it. But still I’m surprised by the stellar reviews that seem to surpass even Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I think is a better movie. Yes of course GOTG is a lot of fun and I was genuinely entertained, but it’s hardly flawless. Some critics call it edgy but the plot is not exactly fresh, we’ve got a space psychopath hellbent on destroying the world and it’s up to these unlikely heroes to save everyone, nothing new there. It doesn’t help matters that the villains are pretty ho-hum and lacking real menace. Poor Lee Pace is rather wasted here as Ronan is as boring as the villain in Thor 2. Same could be said for his female sidekick Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Thanos (uncredited Josh Brolin), which to me makes more impact in The Avengers‘ post-credit scene than here. I do like Rooker as Yandu, his performance reminds me of Michael Wincott who’s no stranger to playing bad guys.

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So the good guys definitely have more fun, even John C. Reilly is a hoot as a Nova Corpsman, especially in the hilarious finale. For sure the heroes were never in any danger in being upstaged by the villains. Visually speaking it’s as good as I expect from a big-budget Marvel movie, the 3D is pretty good but at the same time I honestly can’t think of an action scene that stand out to me. What’s truly awesome is the soundtrack! As a big fan of 80s music, the retro soundtrack is pure nostalgic fun! The gist is that Peter’s mom made an Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape for him that he constantly plays on his walkman. Most Millennials probably think of it as some ancient artifact ahah, but hey I definitely remember those and making tapes of songs from the radio [oh boy am I dating myself or what?] The song played in the trailer, Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling, will be forever associated with this movie, and there are others I definitely recognize even if I can’t remember them by name.

Amidst all the clutter of all the goofy actions, there’s actually a bit of emotional touches here and there. So overall this movie proves to be a pleasant surprise and one I don’t even mind watching again. Not as spectacular as people led you to believe, but still worth a look if you’re initially skeptical. Everyone of all ages should enjoy this, just don’t expect too much in the way of plot and you’ve got yourself two hours of a rollicking good time.

3.5 reels


So what do YOU think of Guardians of the Galaxy? 

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59 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

  1. Fine review, Ruth. Looking back on this film now, as fun and entertaining as I hoped when I saw it on Friday evening, I’m a bit surprised what a distant memory it’s become. Compare that with The Winter Soldier, which doesn’t feel like that at all. I think your look at it is quite fair and you have my vote!

    • Thanks Michael! That’s just it, it’s fun but I don’t think it’ll leave a lasting impression as Winter Soldier or Dawn of Apes did for me. It’s not that I can’t enjoy a frivolous fun movie but I still wouldn’t call it a spectacular movie simply for being so.

      • I’m just the many wrestling fans who weren’t happy about his return since he came back wearing skinny jeans and taking away CM Punk’s spot and winning this year’s Royal Rumble. Fans weren’t happy about that as they basically took a huge shit on him as his wrestling performance since his return was very lackluster. If you read my wrestling blog (which I haven’t been writing for a while), you would know why a lot of people were upset over this year’s Royal Rumble.

    • Hi Fernando! Yeah, it’s crazy that some folks rate this 5/5, I mean it’s fun but not exactly a masterpiece. Rocket is surprisingly hilarious, tho some critics call him similar to Jar Jar Binks, ahah. Btw, just sent you a DM, hope you’ll take part! :D

  2. I pretty much completely agree with your review. It’s fun but it’s not the revelation people are claiming it to be.

    • Hello Abbi! Hey glad I’m not the only one thinking this. It is fun but I don’t know if I’ll remember it as well as some others from this year.

  3. What could possibly be wrong with a sentient raccoon channeling Jack Nicholson in his 1970s and 80s prime?

    It’s nice to see that an 80’s soundtrack works so well in this project.

    Nice job, Ruth!

    • Hi Kevin! Rocket was channeling Jack Nicholson? I had no idea but I can totally see that now, ahah. The 80s soundtrack is definitely a highlight, pure nostalgic fun!

  4. Great review Ruth. I also noticed Glenn Close’s 101 Dalmatians hair-do haha! Maybe I had super high expectations going into this, though I tried not to, but I don’t think it was spectacular either. I thought it was a very fun, good movie but not the best marvel movie.

    • I really do think some critics are fawning over this movie for whatever reason. Just be careful not to say that as some bloggers get VERY defensive when I say so, ahah. Glad you agree w/ me that it’s not spectacular. I wish I could say it was but I think Winter Soldier is still superior to this.

  5. I was thinking of seeing it this weekend but was too busy. I’ll go check it out next weekend at the IMAX theater, I’m little surprised too of how it received so much rave reviews. Seems like everything Marvel churn out turns to gold these days, guess Disney is quite happy with the purchase.

    • Yeah obviously the superhero fatigue hasn’t set in for most people ;) Some are calling it better than Avengers, heh I wouldn’t go that far!

  6. I didn’t think it was the greatest Marvel movie or anything, but was certainly a lot of fun throughout, and I really didn’t find anything too objectionable about it myself. The plot may be a bit thin, but that’s made up for in spades with the awesome characters and humor in spades. Nice review, Ruth. :)

    • I think it’s a goofy, frivolous fun. There’s nothing wrong w/ that, but I still prefer something a bit more meaty like The Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

    • Ahah yeah, glad that you think so. Lots of people are in your camp, once again I’m in the minority that thinks it’s good but not great.

  7. Great review! Amazingly, I still haven’t seen this one. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon though. It sounds like it’s a great popcorn flick…something fun to watch and not be taken seriously.

    • Wow, I just left you a comment on your latest review, we must be kindred spirits :D It’s not a dud thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by this but no it’s not as spectacular as some critics/bloggers made it out to be either.

  8. Hey Ruth! I’m glad to hear that you you enjoyed the soundtrack. It really was a big part of the films marketing. It’s funny how you mentioned the number of Chris actors in the Marvel films; never thought about that detail.

    I was also disappointed with the way Ronan was used because the reality is that he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, and I felt like his battles with Drax were way too one-sided.

    What really worked for this film was that it was fresh, it wasn’t a sequel, the humor was great, and the fact that the characters were fighting with a lot more heart than their abilities was fun to watch. Overall, l am starting to feel the drag of one Marvel film after another though.

    • Hey Raul! At first I wasn’t really into the soundtrack but in the movie it just works perfectly well! Well I saw a tumblr post of the three Chris-es so I just had to add that on here :D

      I honestly am now bored already talking about this movie. Y’know what it is… movies that are way overrated always bugs me and I always end up liking it less. I did enjoy this movie but it’s not a hugely memorable movie or anything, and it’s not something that leaves a lasting impression the way some other films did, i.e. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or even Marvel’s previous offering The Winter Soldier. It’s fun yes, and it has more heart than I expected but the plot is really thin and silly. It’s true the fact that it isn’t a sequel makes it more *fresh* but the plot is not groundbreaking or anything, it’s still the same ‘ol psychopathic villain hellbent on destroying billions of lives, ho-hum. I’d say that The Winter Soldier is edgier as it did something unexpected w/ Marvel making SHIELD be the villain, and the tone of the film is totally different than the first.

      Sorry for my rant, overall it’s a pleasant surprise for me. Great popcorn flick, no more, no less :D

      • I know exactly what you mean Ruth. That’s a big reason why Marvel is just not making things any better with releasing one film after another. With the exception of Winter Soldier and X-Men: DOFP, all of them feature the same old villain wanting do destroy the world. Talking about this actually makes Thanos seem boring deep despite the fact that people talk about him as being the villain of villains. I’m glad we got to see more of him Guardians than just his face, but yeah, nothing groundbreaking coming from Marvel in terms of plot. Did you hear about Sony having a female-led Spider-Man spinoff? Now we’re going to see a lot of female superhero films. Thoughts?

        • Hi Raul! Just left u a comment on your FilmInquiry post. Great review, great call on mentioning the diverse cast. Thanos/Ronan are pretty lame IMO, heh esp. after all that buildup in Avengers’ post-credit scene.

          Yeah I heard about SONY making a female-led Spidey spinoff but at this point I have such a low opinion on SONY being such a greedy studio that I don’t really care. I hope that’s true though, we NEED some female superheroes, and not just in supporting roles. Perhaps the silver lining of the Marvel vs DC fighting to outdoes each other they’d be forced to make female-centric films as they’re running out of ideas. At the same time, if that is the motivation/drive, not sure I’m all that excited about it. So we’ll see I guess.

    • Ahah well maybe you’ll enjoy this more than I did Josh! I know tons of bloggers out there gave this one a full score, or 5/5 if it were my rating but I simply don’t think it’s THAT great.

      • That’s a hard score to come by from me, too, as you know. My guess is I’ll find some faults with it, but we won’t know that for certain until I manage to see it …

  9. I actually was interested in see this — superheroes and sci-fi suits me well. Then in the first few minutes of the film they showed the awesome mix tape….. well, I’m in love!

  10. Nice review Ruth. Glad I’m not the only one wondering about all those stellar reviews. Although it had a few decent laughs I found this one slipped all to easily back into that standard Marvel formula. I was never surprised and rarely felt any actual jeopardy. Plus I felt the characters, whilst appealing, where quite thinly drawn and in need of a lot more development. Guardians had a lot of potential to break the mould but I don’t think it takes enough risks. Still, with the next instalment there will be plenty of opportunity to explore the characters and I hope they learn from the success of the smarter humour and wacky retro feel that they can make this more than skin deep next time.

    • Hi Natalie! Yeah, I don’t think it was as edgy or groundbreaking as some people made it to be. It’s funny how some ppl got defensive when I call them *fawning* over this, ahah, but heh I know lots of them were that way about Avengers too. I think you said it best, it’s really not more than skin deep this time around but we shall see how the sequel fares.

  11. That’s a fair and balanced review, Ruth, and I enjoyed reading it! I think my pre-disposal to like this kind of material will likely color my feelings about it…I have no doubt I’m going to really dig it, flaws and all. I’m flying back to the States for vacation on Saturday and will be catching this as soon as possible. Can’t wait! Thanks for the sneak peek!

    • Hello Jeff! I really like this movie and it’s a lot of fun but at the same time I’m not in love w/ it. I think some people might like this more than I did. I still think the second Captain America is my fave from Marvel so far as it’s entertaining but it also has more *meat* in the story to leave a lasting impression. Hey, have fun on your vacation Jeff! :D

  12. Had to come back to comment, I was so busy yesterday I read your review but didn’t get a chance to type anything back. Loved your review of course and I am forcing my husband to go see this hopefully tomorrow. He thinks it looks corny, but I keep telling him that I think he will like it. Have a great weekend my friend!

    • Helloooo dahling Queen Mel! Totally ok m’dear, we’re all busy tho I sure do miss you! I hope you & your hubby go see it this weekend, it’s a lot of fun, tho your hubby’s not wrong to think that it’s corny at times :) Have a fab weekend to you too, I hope to catch more of Downton Abbey but tonight my girlfriends and I are watching Toby’s play in Private Lives, can’t wait!! :P

      • I hate to say it he is usually right about movies. But if you liked it then I am sure I will too. Oh yes more DA!!! Much needed, I need you to catch up by Dec/Jan when it starts up again. That is your homework assignment!

        Oh really what is that?? Is that a live play!

            • It was divine!!! The play AND Toby of course, it’s a physical performance in that he’s moving so much and there’s some fighting w/ his co-star, etc. Toby’s shirt was almost entirely open the entire time whilst he’s moving about, oh-la-la! ;) I posted my review of the play last night on my latest post, definitely a 5/5 stars!! :D

                • I tell you dahling… it’s a fantastic play as it’s more of a comedy drama. I posted a trailer there so you could see how physical it is. Toby’s got his Capt Flint hair that he slicks back, but of course he’s much more prim & proper here in 1930s suit, yowza!!

                  Oh and I’ll give you the tidbit about Black Sails 2 on your post shortly :)

                  • Sounds great! I just watched the clip you have so immersed me in your Toby world. I was even telling my husband as we watched the last episode of Black Sails last night, that I would like to see Toby on Game of Thrones and he agreed he said he would make a good villain! He is unknowingly hopping on the Toby train as well. LOL!

  13. I’m really curious about this one, as it wasn’t high on my radar until I saw the trailer. Hopefully, I’ll get to see it later this week.

    • It wasn’t high on my list either but it was quite fun. I know some people think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or whatever but I probably won’t even put it as my top fave 10 superhero movies!

  14. Pingback: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Review | Tim's Film Reviews

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