So I haven’t written one of these up for quite a while, work, travel and raising a family has really taken a toll on my reading time. I think the last time I touched a comic was a Conan volume I got a few months ago. I probably haven’t seen a movie in that span also, but the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy was too enticing to pass up.
Confession time: I’ve never read GotG, I don’t recall any of the characters ever showing up for cameo spots in the various other Marvel issues and story lines I’ve read; the only prior exposure I’ve had with them was Rocket Raccoon showing up in the Marvel vs Capcom games I’ve played. Sure, I knew of them, but I’d never taken the time to explore anything about them before this movie. Additional confession time: When I’d learned they were releasing this movie, I had originally thought this was going to be a flop for Marvel, but, to my surprise (and extreme delight) everyone I knew that had comic rep that commented on this movie gave glowing reviews, so I finally came to the conclusion I had to go to this movie.
We lined up a babysitter and hit the theater. The great thing about this movie is that the musical score is an integral part of the experience, each song is pivotal to what’s going on in the movie at the time. The tape player and the Tape “Awesome Mix Vol 1” (that all the movie music comes from) is a driving force for our protagonist, he can’t be without it, and we find out why midway through the movie. I’m going to do my best to not give away specifics, but I still want to outline what about this Marvel movie makes it so different from all the others.
The main characters are all unique and have their own back stories and motivations, which ultimately (thanks to good writing) forces them together where ordinarily they would never have fit together. Their personalities clash often and they act as foils for each other’s development. All of the actors (and voice actors) really brought these characters to life, even the one character who says a grand total of 5 words the entire movie, how his facial features were animated, and how the other characters interpreted him for the audience really helped drive the story along, even though he didn’t say much.
Starlord is our main protagonist, he’s witty, bold, a little conceited and cherishes his childhood keepsakes (the tape player and mix tape) to an almost unhealthy level. His charisma and quick decision-making help him get through plenty of tough spots and helps him center the group together when things threaten to spring out of control.
Gamora is the femme fatale, she’s an assassin with a short fuse, but has a soft spot and a sense of humor that grows as she starts to trust her teammates more throughout the movie.
Drax is the big tough guy with the sole purpose of avenging his family’s death, he’s cavalier and fights most of the time like he’s got a death wish. He has an excellent vocabulary but is flawed with taking everything said to him literally (leading to many of the movie’s great comedic moments).
Groot is the even bigger and tougher guy of the group, who has an innocent side and delights in the simple things. Groot can’t communicate outside of saying a few words; even though they’re the same words every time, his inflection and meaning change, Rocket usually does the talking for him anyways.
Rocket Raccoon is a cybernetically enhanced Raccoon with a penchant for weapons and all things technological, he’s selfish, intelligent, tactically gifted and crafty. He’s the smart mouth of the group and rarely the voice of reason; it’s hard not to have a soft spot for the little cuddly guy who’s got a few screws loose.
The movie opens in the 1980s to a song playing from the tape player and as the scene pulls back we’re in a hospital, logically, when we’re in a hospital (in almost any movie) something incredibly gut wrenching is in store for the audience. And right on queue, catastrophe strikes and before our character can even react or come to terms with it, he’s taken away. Wow, sudden, shocking and sullen, right out of the gate this movie has thrown me on my heels.
Next scene, we’re a few decades later, on a deserted planet with a person scouring the wrecked civilization and once he gets into one of the ruins removes his mask then reaches down and turns on the tape player. An upbeat song comes on, and our character starts dancing through the ruins, he gets attacked by small space-rats and casually punts and kicks them out of the way as he’s rocking along to his tape deck. It’s amazing, hilarious, half the theater was just in tears a few seconds ago and now we’re swaying along, laughing at these little rats, as our protagonist is dancing the chorus kicks in and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY title text appears over him.
This is how your movie goes the entire time, it hits all the emotional ranges, usually balancing one off with its opposite shortly thereafter. There is no shortage of jokes throughout, with plenty of jokes that build on themselves as the characters call back to them.
I think the last hero of the movie, is the music itself (pop music from the 60s 70s and 80s). It was perfectly selected for the different scenes and went beyond merely helping set the mood, it is a driving factor for our main protagonist, even at the end of the movie. The music was so iconic, the lyrics of the song fit so well with the scenes, that later on I found a Youtube channel that plugged all the songs together and I’ve been listening to it in my free time. The music was as much a part and driver to this movie as Starlord was; they really captured lightning in a bottle by calling back older music to feed the story instead of trying to rely on the flash-popularity modern music seems to suffer from. Relying heavily on music to drive your story is something I haven’t seen a Marvel movie (or really any superhero movie, minus maybe Flash Gordon) do before, and something I hope the next Guardians movie manages to continue the trend on.
I loved the movie so much that when I went on my conference trip out of state, I convinced a few of my team members to go see a midnight showing; they loved the movie also. Who knows, I’ll probably end up seeing it a few more times, I’m definitely going to try and get my hand on some of the comics now to see if they are this good.
~ Cap ~