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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, so I was one of the people deeply dubious of James Gunn directing because of his problematic history with women characters. I sort of imagined that Joss Whedon had a sit down with him beforehand and was like, "Strong women or bust, minion!" and Gunn was all "Aye aye, sir!" In short, you know how women in the Marvel!verse tend to be awesome? YES! So I'm going to focus on that for this review, because the film itself is unapologetic cheeseball space opera. I'm not complaining about that, btw--space opera is something we have needed for a LONG time. (Especially underscored by the tediously long snorefest trailer for Interstellar that proceeded this movie. Oy. If it spends more than twenty minutes in space I'll be surprised. Anyhow. Here, have my feels:

*Gamora

Okay, so I unabashedly love Zoe Saldana, and while she wasn't given a whole lot to work with here, let me tell you what sets her apart. She's set up for the villain to become a good guy trope, and you know what? She does that all on her own. SELF-RESCUING PRINCESS YOU GUYS. Starlord doesn't awaken nascent feelings of good in her, she doesn't become a good guy because of the love of a good man, she is ALREADY A GOOD GUY who finds the crushing Terran bewildering and annoying and, eventually, cute, because he IS a good guy and she hasn't seen one of those before. Also, the shirtless scene from the promos? Totally not in this film.

*Nebula

We see very little of her, and though the adverts set up her and Gamora against each other, it's not...actually a huge thing. And actually, she herself is characterized similarly to Gamora, in that she too is making her decisions based on her desire for vengeance etc. and not because of daddy issues and whatnot. The fight between them is brief and nonsexualized, and they absolutely set it up for her to come back later.

*Nova Prime

Glen Close has a very small role here, but still bigger than Benicio del Toro's. She's in charge of the Nova Corps, and briefly: She always makes the right decisions and all of the men under her command (and its overwhelmingly men under her command, esp. with the pilots) follow her orders without question and to the end. Which, on the one hand, this is a small thing, on the other--how often do we really see women in power like that in films? Or hell, on tv? Not that often.

*Rocket

Congratulations, Bradley Cooper, you took a talking raccoon and made him hilarious and surprisingly affecting. Seriously, Rocket has more emotional moments in this film than anyone else, and they are all the better for coming from the comic relief. There's also a great, small scene where Rocket breaks a bit when drunk because he can't deal with people mocking him anymore. "I never asked for this, to be experimented on and torn apart and unmade over and over and over!" he says, voice breaking, and congrats, that's how the RACCOON joins the ranks of Clint and Natasha and Bucky in terms of horrible things happening to good people who then have to deal with it after. And while the epic friendship/bromance of Rocket and Groot is funny, its also very real. Rocket's the only one who can translate the different iterations of I am Groot, and it also says a lot about this hilarious, foul-mouthed character that the one he loves and who loves him is a gentle talking tree.

*Groot

So many small, beautiful moments. Quill calls him "the giving tree" and he's not even really joking. This is a character that could have been awkward and isn't and it's so great when something comes together like that.

*Drax

He is fucking hilarious. That is all.

*Starlord/Peter Quill

Congratulations, Chris Pratt, you have made it to my Chris List with this film. Starlord is the Mal from Firefly, the man of honor in the den of thieves.

Of all things, the Guardians together *really* remind me of Firefly in a good way, because they are a found family, and they are kind of dysfunctional, but they are also just *so great* together. There's a key scene towards the end where they come together and it reminds me a bit of The Avengers, only they come together not because of a devastating loss or to save the world (although that's certainly there) but because at the end of all things, sometimes what you have to do is trust in each other. (Okay, that line is from Pacific Rim but it utterly illustrates the sequence in question.)

Some other notes:

*I love how the "Awesome Mix" soundtrack is used throughout the film in a surprisingly organic way. All of the 80s jokes are surprisingly affectionate, and it's one of those cases where nostalgia just really, really works.

*Nathan Fillion's cameo is the blue dude in the prison. He has like three lines. I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been listening for him like the little nerd-bat I am.

*I really, really hope the presence of the Kree are helping to set things up for Captain Marvel.

*The post-credits scene is the most meta and pure fucking gold thing I've seen in cinema outside of a Mel Brooks film.

In short: This movie is absolutely worth checking out, and likely has a fine future ahead in Saturday afternoon fodder. I am deeply happy.

ETA: One last thing: Sean Gunn--Kirk from Gilmore Girls has a small role in this film. Watching it drove me nuts to figure out who he was, and low and behold, he's James Gunn's brother. Also, apparently Gunn from Angel was named after the Gunn boys, whom Joss had worked with previously. How about a small world?

Comments

( 11 comments — Add your .02 )
browngirl
Aug. 1st, 2014 05:39 am (UTC)
This review fills me with hope and joy.
caitri
Aug. 1st, 2014 03:22 pm (UTC)
I think you'll enjoy it. Djimon Hounsou was underused though, alas. But they did have a decent number of POC (actual POC, aside from people in body paint) in small roles.
amine_eyes
Aug. 1st, 2014 09:05 am (UTC)
ISN'T IT COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS IN THE BEST WAYS :D

Also that last credit scene had the cinema just sitting there going "... The. Fuck. THE. FUCK" and then dying xD
caitri
Aug. 1st, 2014 03:22 pm (UTC)
I love how it sets up and then totally subverts big action movies in all the right ways!!!
elrhiarhodan
Aug. 4th, 2014 12:09 am (UTC)
Here by way of browngirl's own post. Your assessment of everything is spot on. I can't agree with you more on your assessment of Gamora - strong, doesn't need the guys to get her out of trouble, she's a heroine from the start, and she's going to do the right thing, even if it kills her.

Gotta love it.

(Just one thing, I think you meant Glenn Close, not Meryl Streep, as Nova Prime.)
caitri
Aug. 4th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
D'oh! Editing now.

(I blame watching the Into the Woods trailer. Again. ;))
coyotegoth
Aug. 4th, 2014 12:17 am (UTC)
Here via browngirl's link: couldn't agree with this more, esp. the Firefly comparison.

Edited at 2014-08-04 12:21 am (UTC)
caitri
Aug. 4th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
Hee, thanks!!! <3
sail_aweigh
Aug. 6th, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy and I loved it! I knew I would after reading this when you originally posted it, but I just had to come back and squee a little with you. :D I thought the end bonus was funny, but I found that final Drax/Groot scene one of the most hilarious and adorable of the movie. I may have to go find a gif of that.
caitri
Aug. 6th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
Right? Such a happy movie!!

I'm already writing a fic. >_> I totally ship Gamora/Quill and I was so not expecting that!
tommy50702
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased Marvel is allowing their movies to be whimsical and silly sometimes instead of DC's perpetually dour disposition.
( 11 comments — Add your .02 )

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