Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

That name up there? Yeah, you all know it by now. It was hugely popular film and I am very happy to see that because, not to go all hipster on you, I knew about the Guardians from a long while back. That's because, if you haven't figured it out yet, I am huuuuuuge nerd who reads comics and the whole shebang. I've played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I know the names of all of the X-Men/Justice Society/Avengers/Doom Patrol/Young Justice/etc...and I love the Guardians of the Galaxy comics. When the movie was announced I was ecstatic. Not only was it a Guardians film but it was the newer team that was made of various cast-offs from Marvel Comics' past that had long been neglected.Characters like the giant tree monster from space, Groot, who stomped into comics back in 1960. Now he's becoming a household name. That makes me so damned happy.

He's a lot more adorable now though.

As such, I am going to talk at length regarding the characters and their accuracy in regards to the comics and, in general, I am going to geek out incessantly about how much I enjoy seeing them come to life. Now, before I get to the film let's talk about the characters. There is Star-Lord, the team leader, who is classically a man torn between Earth and space as he is a hybrid of both us and the Spartoi. He's a bit of a throwback to the Flash Gordon archetype and has become known as a lovable rogue over the years who didn't really want to lead but found himself doing it anyway. Then we have Gamora, the adopted daughter of Thanos and the last of her race. She's bad-ass diluted down into its purest form and has always been so. She's always been that way too, I am happy to say. Thanos raised her as a weapon, so she's often known as the deadliest woman in galaxy. That's really all you need to know about her. Rocket Raccoon is a genetically altered animal from the planet Halfworld in the Keystone Quadrant, where animals are enhanced to care for mentally ill people. He was the law, basically, and he kicked all sorts of ass. He doesn't take shit from anyone and has a penchant for firearms of various sizes (preferably large). And finally, there's Drax, often known as The Destroyer, who was originally a human man who Thanos murdered alongside his family. The cosmic being Kronos took his spirit and put it in an enhanced body with the sole purpose of destroying Thanos. I know, that was all a major mouthful, but I felt it was needed to really explain the characters as they existed in print first before we dive right in. Even with all of that, there are still other characters that got left out, but that's what sequels are for.

I don't care how yo do it, but give us Jack Flag and Bug. Please, Mr. Gunn, please!
The tale opens up with young Peter Quill sitting in a hospital as his mother dies. When she does, he takes it rather badly and runs outside crying where he gets abducted by aliens because trauma loves company. We next see him today, all grown up as Star-Lord, still listening to the same Walkman he did as a child as he dances his way through a cave while nonchalantly taking care of the unruly wildlife. It's pretty damn cool. Of course, as the trailers show off, his treasure hunting gets interrupted by Ronan's thugs, led by Korath, and he has to escape in a hurry. We then find out that he's actually stealing this job from the alien who raised him, Yondu, who isn't very pleased about this at all. And Ronan is even less please, as he needs the bauble for his master, Thanos. So, he sends Gamora after Star-Lord and Yondu puts a price out on him, which lures two bounty hunters (Rocket and Groot). After the buyer decides he doesn't want any item that Ronan wants, Star-Lord runs afoul of the aforementioned people and they cause a massive ruckus that results in them being arrested and summarily convicted to serve out their sentences at the Kyln. Gamora turns out to not be very popular there as...wait a second...is that...? It is! It's Lloyd Kaufman again! Oh man, he just keeps po[[ing up here, doesn't he? As they're loaded into general population he's just up amongst a group prisoners, all visibly alien, but he's just...himself. It's weird and rather cool. After all, Kaufman is already pretty alien.

Here we see his reaction upon watching the new Ninja Turtles film. Soon after his face melted off.
Anywho, where was I? Oh right, Gamora starts getting harassed and threatened by Drax (another inmate) due to her being the adopted daughter of Thanos, but Star-Lord talks him out of it by telling him that he can use her to get close to Ronan. Gamora says she vetrayed Ronan and Thanos after learning that Ronan planned to use the orb to destroy Xandar, the lovely world they were arrested on, so the group decides to work together to escape. Drax, of course, tags along and they travel to Knowhere, a colony literally built inside of a dead godlike being's head. The buyer turns out to be The Collector, someone you might know from Thor: The Dark World, and he reveals that inside the orb is one of the Infinity Gems that hold the power to reshape all of reality. For more on those, go read The Infinity Gauntlet. Meanwhile, it turns out that Drax and Rocket got into a drunken scuffle and Drax decided to call up Ronan and tell him where they are so they could finally have it out.

Probably not the best idea he's ever had.
Ronan arrives with half his army, The Collector's assistant blows up his entire place trying to use the gem herself, thus informing everyone why people shouldn't try using the power. And everything just generally goes all to hell. Drax gets his ass kicked, Star-Lord almost dies saving Gamora, they lose the gem to Ronan, and now Yondu has our brash young hero. Before his blue surrogate father can put an arrow through his neck, he talks Yondu into helping them with the promise of monetary gain. They come with a plan to protect Xandar from Ronan that borders on the suicidal, and they warn the Nova Corps (the Xandarian peacekeeping force) ahead of time that Ronan is coming. We then get a jam-packed extravaganza of sci-fi action as they all fight against Ronan's forces. The Guardians go after the big man himself, with Drax facing off against Korath while Gamora fights off her adopted sister Nebula. They get to Ronan, who is now super-charged due to uniting the gem with his hammer, and they find that he's still pretty unbeatable...until flies his ship straight into him. They end up starting to crash into the planet below as Groot creates a barrier around them all using his own body, because protecting his friends is more important to him than surviving.

Seriously, Groot is nicer than Jesus.
They crash, Groot is destroyed and Rocket is grieving over the loss...but Ronan decides to spoil it all by still being alive. So, Star-Lord implements a clever ruse to confuse his enemy as he starts singing "O-O-H Child" to Ronan, who is incredibly perplexed. I mean, it would be hard to find a proper reaction to that, I suppose. Anyway, it works and they get the gem out of the hammer as Star-Lord takes hold of it before Ronan can and it begins to eat away at him. To save him, his friends all join hands with him to share the power load and they seemingly zap Ronan out of existence not unlike the Red Skull seemingly had done to him at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. Our heroes saved the galaxy from the threat of Ronan and are awarded full pardons as they fly off into space with a newly potted remnant of Groot who is growing. We're then greeted to an emotional scene of Star-Lord opening the gift his mother gave him on her death bed and we see the cutest fucking thing in the world. Seriously. Nothing is cuter than what literally happens.

DANCING. BABY. GROOT.
That's it. That right there really cinches it. This movie was amazing. And because it's a Marvel film, we get a great after credits scene where a very particular character pops up. I won't say who exactly...alright, fuck it, it's Howard the Duck. It shows The Collector sitting in his destroyed home as Cosmo the Spacedog (another awesome GOTG character who better be in the sequel) licks him on the face and Howard comments on how gross that is while drinking what seems to be a martini. Now, some of you might not be aware but I love Howard the Duck. I love the comics, I love the 80s movie, and I just love the character in general. He's that character that many others have tried so desperately to live up to that so perfectly critiques everything while breaking the fourth wall. To see him pop up here literally made me happier than I can put into words. And it gives me hope that a new Howard the Duck movie is a distinct possibility.

If it happens, there will likely be less duck tits though.
Guardians of the Galaxy was great. When I left the theater I said it was by far my favourite Marvel film thus far and I still believe that. The directing was phenomenal, the action was beautifully done, the characters were done proper justice both in design and in their portrayals by the cast, and it really opened up the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way that none of the other films have managed to. I was taken with all of the performances, but if I had to pick a favourite it would be Vin Diesel as Groot. Yeah, I know, it's just going to make me look like a Groot fanboy for all the other mentions he's gotten in here, but bear with me. Diesel is playing a character who literally can only say three words throughout the majority of the film (he squeezes in a fourth near the end) and he's also only providing the voice. This means that he had to read his script and properly emote what his character actually means without saying it. He does it not only successfully, but superbly. Every single time you can feel Groot's intentions as if he was saying words other than "I am Groot" and I will forever commend Diesel for this. Chris Pratt is hilarious and charming as Star-Lord too, but Vin really stole the show.

It's okay, Chris. I still love you more.
Now, I do have a few minor gripes, mainly from the eyes of comics fan. I wasn't really crazy about Ronan being portrayed as a psycho, as he was often considered a hero of his people in the comics and he even flat out became a hero during the Annihilation event years back, which set him and other cosmic characters against a wave of insect people who were intent on wiping out everything. I also really enjoyed Michael Rooker as Yondu, but was disappointed that he wasn't more like the classic Yondu of the books. And finally, Drax being portrayed strictly as an alien rather than being more shrouded in mystery so the possibility of his classic origin existing would still be in cards was very disappointing. I get that they wanted to make it less magic/mysticism to a point, but why? We already had a magic gem that can destroy worlds, why worry about Drax's origin being too weird? Run with it, own it, make it work unapologetically. Other than those things, I really have no complaints. It was a really great film that was thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. It was filled to the brim with easter eggs for fans and the writing was spot-on with its humour and character interactions. This is the comic book film to beat. So, while a certain other film may enjoy some attention due to its branding, this one stands out as being good enough to make people care about characters they knew nothing about. Until next time, Bleeders, I'll be here on Earth hoping that Annihilus stays very far away and that the Kree and the Shiar work out their differences peacefully. Later days.

Who the dast is Annihilus?

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