REVIEW: Did GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Live Up To The Hype? (SPOILERS)



By Daniel Payne
I won't lie.

As excited as I've been about Guardians of the Galaxy, I was also very worried. For several reasons. First? I've seen some of my all-time favorite characters absolutely butchered onscreen before (I'm looking at you, Venom-in-Spiderman 3 and Bane-in-Batman & Robin), and so I was nervous about having justice done to Rocket and Groot. Second, I've basically spent the last year annoying the hell out of everyone I know over this movie, telling them it's gonna be the must-see movie of 2014 and such... and I was afraid of having overhyped it, or worse, having it be terrible and looking like a moron.

So imagine my immense happiness at being able to say: I literally loved everything about it. Even the few things I'd have done differently can't really be called complaints, because I completely adored the film.

Random thoughts on it after the break...

From the not-so-subtle Raiders of the Lost Ark homage at the beginning, I knew immediately this was going to be fantastic.

Thank you, James Gunn, for sticking Cosmo in, even as a cameo. One of my favorite Marvel cosmic characters, and one I was certain I'd NEVER see in a movie. AND HE WAS ADORABLE.


SO many little things that made me happy, from Cosmo and Rocket growling at each other, to Yondu's arrow, to Rocket's drunken emotional meltdown, to HOWARD THE DUCK... perfection, all of it.

The special effects were amazing, and the scenery and colors were nothing short of breathtaking. 

The entire theater cheered when Thanos first appeared, which as a lifelong fan of the character, made me smile.

Gamora definitely looked better than she did in the trailers. Still not quite as good as I'd have liked, but definitely better. I definitely think they could have made her more fearsome, play up the "most dangerous woman in the galaxy" thing a little more, but Zoe played her perfectly with what she had.

You've been Thanos'd (so hard)

Dave Bautista as Drax was easily the most pleasant surprise of the whole movie. I expected him to be a glaring weak link, but he did tremendously. I was extremely impressed with him. I can't tell you how much I loved him stating that now he wants to kill Thanos. And his comforting of Rocket? Fantasticly subtle and sweet.

Star-Lord was great. I can't emphasize that enough. They amplified a few of his personality traits, like his wise-ass nature and his narcissism, but in a way that made the character even better, and truly capable of carrying a movie by himself if need be.

Now. The big two. Rocket and Groot. Let's just get this out of the way first: James Gunn has given us the definitive Groot. Poor tree-guy's been retconned and changed so many damn times in such a short span of time that it's easy to not really know what he's about. And Mr. Gunn took that and ran with it, giving us a more simple, sweet, innocent, and flat-out LOVABLE Groot than I ever expected to see. And the bit during the credits? I want a toy of that. NOW.

And Rocket, well... any grumbling I may have done when first hearing Bradley Cooper's "Rocket voice" is officially apologized for. Dude knocked it out of the PARK. Rocket was, as we all hoped he'd be, the absolute highlight of the movie. Every damn word he said was pure gold, from his wisecracks, to his insults, to his drunken breakdown, to his mourning. I was afraid of how they might portray Rocket, given how much Bendis has changed him in V3... but those fears were completely unfounded. Much like Groot... I think Gunn just gave us the definitive Rocket. The one people will know and love from this point on.

I'm going to slightly paraphrase my description of the first Cap movie here: this was a love letter to all longtime GOTG fans.


My one, solitary complaint (and it's not a big one at all) was that they essentially made Ronan irredeemable, to where even if he DOES somehow return, I can't ever see him being portrayed as the semi-hero he is in the comics now.

And yes, I found Nebula to be wicked hot. 100%, distractingly, I-can-barely-think-because-of-it hot. It's officially impossible for me NOT to find Karen Gillan sexy as hell.

Overall? I don't feel I'm being biased to call this my favorite MCU film yet, and honestly, quite possibly the most fun I've had watching a movie in YEARS. The feeling of joy and excitement this film gave me was the feeling I wish the Star Wars prequels could have given me. It has so much heart, and leaves you thinking of the Guardians not as characters, but as old friends. 

13 comments:

  1. Oh god guys... this film was so beautiful. All the five main core characters had emotional moments that tore me up inside, and I was glad they all got moments to shine and moments to shine as a TEAM. Ronan is easily the best Marvel Studios villain they have--a terrifying force that you truly hope he doesn't come back or he's going to wreck shit (or become buddies, who knows) and Nebula had this cyborg/least favorite daughter bit going that I felt for to a degree. Yondu was great... just great. Holy crap, Rooker was great and his shining moment was one of the best scenes. This film is magnificent on all sections.

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  2. This is the most fun I've had reading a review in YEARS. Dan, you have such a way with words man. Love reading your posts. Keep 'em coming. And lay off Karen Gillan. She's mine.

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  3. Ronan never managed to be more than just a one-dimensional fanatic and he gets obliterated near the end of the movie. What makes it annoying is that he had a great character development in the comics since Annihilation.

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  4. I loved the movie, might be my favorite MCU film too. My random thoughts:
    -Drax was fantastic. Gunn and Bautista's understand the character far better than Bendis has thus far in the new comics.
    -The animation of Rocket was amazing, on par with Planet of the Ape's Caesar. He was as life-like and relatable as the live-action characters.
    -I suppose non-GOTG comic book fans would have been more sad about Groot getting demolished in the crash, but when it happened I figured unless they were radically changing things we would get a tease of him growing back by the end. (I guess in the movie-verse this had been the first time this had happened so Rocket wasn't aware when he thought he was dead?)
    -Thought Thanos looked great, (though they seem to have changed his appearance a bit from his brief scene in the Avenger's credits.) Loved the way he called Ronan "boy".
    -Ronan was a really good villain. I think his characterization was a good representation of the terrorists/radicals/fanatics we see in our modern times, particularly in various conflicts in the middle east. I think its still representative of his character of the comics, because in the comics his firm belief is that he must do whatever he feels is the best thing for his people (such as in Annihilation: Conquest). In the film, he believes that destroying Xander is the best thing for the Kree.
    -Chris Pratt owned that role. He was so funny. "I gotta be honest, I totally forgot you were here."
    -Gamora was great. Her character motivations at first were a little unclear, but I felt that she turned out really awesome.
    -Groot's scenes were both beautiful and awesome. He was the heart of the movie, I think.
    -When Rocket said "d'ast" it made me so happy. The influence of the 2008 comics run was definitely felt throughout the film.

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    1. Funny, i don't think Gunn intended Ronan as a jingoistic caricature of a islamic terrorist.

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  5. I saw it earlier today, It was great! Loved the End Credit Scene. :)

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  6. I can't think of a time having this much fun at the theater with my family. I too was a bit worried about over hyping this movie, but wow, what a show! I have been reading the comics for a long time with my son and have to say this is the rare case of the movie being just as good or better than the comics. My 14 year old daughter didn't know much about the GotG, but after leaving the theater she asked me if she could read my old copies of GotG comics. (Proud father moment) She said she has a special place in her heart for Groot. She too wants a dancing mini Groot toy. The best we could do was the Groot bobblehead from Amazon. Great job Marvel and James Gunn.

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  7. I was afraid I would be dissapointed because I was so excited about this movie. Was way better than I could have guessed. Was really surprised how good Bradley Cooper was as Rocket. When I read he was doing his voice I wasn't sure how that would go. Groot was the heart of it all. Just a fantastic watch. Loved, loved baby Groot and I to need one as soon as I can!!

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  8. Cheers and applause at the BFI IMAX and we‘re the reserved Brits!!

    Awesome awesome movie.

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  9. Great movie last night.

    Saw it with a horrible crowd (they just weren't into it.)

    Funny, action-packed, and sentimental.

    The opening scene really spoke to me, since I had a similar situation (minus the alien abduction, mind you) 10 years ago.

    I had heard about it, and yes it's true -- Rocket did steal the show, but a darn close second was Drax. At least for me. Rocket did have the FUNNIEST line in the film (which I won't repeat here; it wasn't in the trailers), but I was the only one in the theater who laughed. Like I said, I had a bad crowd around me.

    Nebula was sinister, but not evil enough. I wished her fight lasted longer.

    Great, but not perfect. 4 out of 5. (might boost it to a 4 1/2 out of 5 if there's a director's cut)

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  10. "The feeling of joy and excitement this film gave me was the feeling I wish the Star Wars prequels could have given me."

    Words right out of my mouth.

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  11. GOTG was much better than a lot of the other Marvel movies that have come out recently in my opinion. The five main characters were hilarious and well done.

    I also thought Ronan was a good villain. He reminded me of the ISIS terrorists, they were actually eerily similar.

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