Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Take “Serenity”, then dumb it down for the masses and add better special effects, and you’ve pretty much got “Guardians of the Galaxy”. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it (I loved “Serenity” after all, and an inferior “Serenity” is still liable to be better than a lot of movies), but Marvel’s put out better efforts, most notably “Iron Man” and “The Avengers”.

Still, “Guardians” was fun. The main character, a Han Solo clone name Peter Quill (self-styled as “Star-Lord”), is likable, and in an odd way the man/tree hybrid Groot steals any scenes he’s given to play in. The raccoon, Rocket, was meh. He didn’t grate on me as much as I thought he would, which is a good thing, but I also didn’t find him particularly funny. He was just there to make a sarcastic remark every now and then

The real star of the movie is Quill, who is portrayed very well by Chris Pratt. Sure he was a Han Solo clone, but then so was Mal. The likeable rogue is really an archetype. Han Solo was just the first to do it in a sci-fi setting. Pratt is a good step below Harrison Ford and probably below Nathan Fillion as well, but he has an innate likability and charm to him that allows him to pull the role off. Plus, he’s funny, no small deal for a role and movie like this.

Zoe Seldana (green for a change) was good. Nothing too memorable. Drax the Destroyer had some good lines as well.

Overall, the movie was a lot of fun but didn’t have any real depth to it. That’s all it was: Fun. And if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place.

It does offer a good contrast to movies like “Serenity” (yep, one of my favorite subjects). “Serenity” is often also often called a “fun” movie (which it is) and a funny movie (which it is). What puts “Serenity” over the top, however, is that there’s another level to it. “Serenity” is fun and “Serenity” is funny, but unlike “Guardians” it’s not only fun and funny. There’s a surprising amount of depth in “Serenity”, a sort of political fable that centers around the brilliantly acted character development of Nathan Fillion. It’s not only a fun movie but a movie that slyly offers its own commentary about society and offers its viewpoint about the world, something “Galaxy” doesn’t try to do.

Plus, forget about the dialogue. “Galaxy” will make you laugh but “Serenity” is absolutely full of memorable one-liners. No dialogue from “Guardians of the Galaxy” is going to stand out years from now, but there are going to be lines from “Serenity” “Firefly” fans will be quoting for decades, with good reason.

Lest you think this was just about “Serenity”, you can also make this distinction with a movie like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. “Raiders” is fun and “Raiders” is funny, but if you’re the type who likes to dig deeper “Raiders” has a surprisingly intelligent edge to it that pushes it over the line from “good” movie to “great” movie. I only use “Serenity” as a comparison because I think “Guardians” compares to it more directly (and, yeah, I love “Serenity”).

And now I’m in the mood to break out the popcorn and watch it again. Oh well, there are worse moods to be in.

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8 Responses to Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

  1. Ilíon says:

    “Serenity” is often also often called a “fun” movie (which it is) and a funny movie (which it is).

    Fun?!!

    Not only do any number of non-characters and background characters die, but so do some of the regular characters.

    • I get what people mean though. There’s a spirit of adventure about it and even a sort of optimism to the movie, despite the character deaths. There’s something to be said for a movie where the major victory of the film is simply speaking the truth.

      And the actions scenes are a lot of fun as well.

  2. Ilíon says:

    Among the things stolen when my house was broken into a few weeks ago were my ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’ DVDs!

  3. sunshinemary says:

    You know, I almost never watch movies, but one of my kids wanted to see Guardians of the Galaxy and I took her to see it recently. I must say, I liked it quite well. I liked the way honor, loyalty, courage, and doing what is right rather than pursuing greedy personal gain was stressed. I also really liked the way way Gamora was portrayed not as some strong-n-independent mouthy broad but as a good helper who followed Quill’s lead. She even said that to him at the end…”We’ll follow your lead, Star Lord.” Very sweet and sort of old fashioned. Females are usually portrayed as smarter and more competent than men in modern movies, but she came across as very feminine despite being a fighting machine.

    • Yeah, she wasn’t memorable, but she certainly wasn’t distasteful either. Which is good by modern standards.

      It was a good movie, definitely. I recommend it if the article didn’t make that clear.

      Bio-engineered female super-soldiers aren’t new. Going back to River Tam in “Serenity” again…

      (I actually ended up re-watching that movie outside with a sheet and a projector! It was a blast. Amazing how I know all of the lines and still react…good movies do that.)

    • BTW, with some exceptions of course*, superhero movies in general tend to be very moral, actually. The first two Spider-Man movies are really superb in the way they portray morality. Spider-Man 2 in particular even has some smart insights on male and female nature (the way Peter’s issues with Mary Jane disappear at the same point that he realizes he can do fine without her is telling).

      *Yeah, Black Widow, although I don’t even think she’s that bad. She’s generally portrayed at a slightly lesser level than the other Marvel heroes, having never starred in her own movie (she was a side-kick in one, a secondary character in another, and part of an ensemble cast in the third).

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