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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Guardians of the Galaxy movie review: empty space

Guardians of the Galaxy yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Just another rote space adventure. It’s not actively awful, but there isn’t a single damn thing in the least bit surprising or memorable about it.
I’m “biast” (pro): love the Marvel films
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Sorry, fanboys, but I’m not really seeing how Guardians of the Galaxy is any different from Earth to Echo.

I know: Blasphemy!

But look: It’s a bunch of 80s stuff jammed up into a package that’s only just barely distinguishable from its progenitors, and only that thanks to “awesome” CGI FX that can cram more crap onscreen than your brain knows what to do with. Okay: that’s some 90s and early 2000s stuff, via George Lucas and his ADD approach to “awesome,” which has no focus and no point and considers those lacks a virtue because look at all the spaceships! And look at the completely plausible, utterly realistic cyborg warrior raccoon. I mean, that’s fan-freakin’-tastic, ain’t it?

It’s kind of sad, actually. We can put a realistic cyborg raccoon onscreen, but we can’t come up with a story that doesn’t recycle all the good bits from all the movies we loved as kids? Seriously? We can put a realistic cyborg raccoon onscreen, but we cannot conceive of a female character who is present in the story pretty much only so that she can succumb to the nonexistent charms of the anti-hero?

Peter Quill was kidnapped from Earth against his will. I would like to volunteer to leave and never come back.

Someone threw The Last Starfighter and Star Wars and Doctor Who and Star Trek and Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy into a blender, and out came Guardians of the Galaxy. But that’s cool, allegedly, because it was the 80s when eight-year-old Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) was snatched off Earth by aliens, and he hasn’t been back since. So today, grownup Quill (Chris Pratt: The Lego Movie, Delivery Man) has only his Walkman and “awesome” mix tape to remind him of Earth, and only 70s and 80s references for his security blanket in the big wide scary universe full of a few incredible alien species and a whole bunch who look just like humans with green skin and/or funny foreheads. It’s as if the movie has itself been puked out of Quill’s subconscious. When Quill — working as a thief, salvager, and all-around scoundrel — snatches “the Orb” to sell on for profit, best he can manage to describe it is that it has an “Ark of the Covenant vibe” — without noticing, it would seem, that he had to snatch the Orb in a way that echoes Indy’s snatching of the statue in the South American temple. And it’s meant to be funny? I can’t tell.

(What is the Orb? If Quill had been around to consume any cool 90s stuff, he might joke about the galaxy being on Orion’s belt.)

Not that there aren’t plenty of wisecracks and weird-forehead aliens who discover they like grooving to “The Piña Colada Song,” but Guardians isn’t anywhere near funny enough to be a comedy. It’s just one more rote space adventure that, every time you think it might do something even a teensy bit fresh, inevitably falls back on cliché. As with Gamora (Zoe Saldana: Out of the Furnace, Blood Ties), one of the bounty hunters sent to get Quill and the Orb for superbig bad guy Ronan (Lee Pace: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2), who wants the Orb because that’s what Orbs are for, to be desired by superbig bad guys who want to take over the universe or whatever. Gamora is completely badass and appropriately disdainful of Quill, who is kind of a jerk: he is charmless and gormless, once a kid who got beaten up for standing up for a frog some other mean kids killed for no reason, now a man who kicks little froglike creatures across an alien landscape for fun. (And while Pratt is a handsome guy, he’s not much of a screen presence; he’s no Harrison Ford, and Quill is no Han Solo, though we’re clearly meant to think he is.) Until, of course, she succumbs to Quill’s dubious appeal because that’s her job in the movie as the only female character on the “good” side. It’s like, why else would there be a woman on the team? That’s what women are for, in the long run.

(The other bounty hunters: the raccoon, Rocket [the unrecognizable voice of Bradley Cooper: American Hustle, The Hangover Part III], and his sidekick, the treelike Groot [the unrecognizable voice of Vin Diesel: Riddick, Fast & Furious 6]. Everyone hangs around with Quill because he and the Orb are too valuable to let out of sight. Not because they like him. Until of course they do.)

That’s far from the worse retreat into cliché. The big one feels like an enormous storytelling cheat, and nearly made me groan out loud in despair.

What makes Guardians so instantly forgettable is that it isn’t about anything. Not even a little bit, not even in an awkward clumsy way (like how Earth to Echo was ultimately about friendship, if almost embarrassingly so). It’s not about, say, diplomacy versus military power, via how Ronan fails to respect some treaty or other between his people and that other alien world he ends up attacking. It’s not about revenge, though there are some desperate attempts to make it so (basically everybody hates Ronan and has cause for vengeance). I almost want to say that it’s about Quill learning not to treat women like disposable garbage now that he appears to Have Feelings for Gamora. Cuz our “funny” introduction to adult Quill involves him having forgotten that a beautiful half-naked alien woman, whom we may presume he has recently had sex with, is still present on his ship. And there are lots of other “jokes” about how he makes women angry. But we actually don’t know if it’s true that Peter has learned anything: he doesn’t have much time to treat Gamora one way or the other before the movie ends.

Maybe the sequel will deal with this. Though I doubt it.

This isn’t actually a bad movie. It’s not actively awful. But for a movie that clearly is in love with how special and unique it thinks it is, there isn’t a single damn thing in the least bit surprising or memorable to be found in it.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Guardians of the Galaxy for its representation of girls and women.

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) | directed by James Gunn
US/Can release: Aug 01 2014
UK/Ire release: Jul 31 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated FOSAFSN (full of sound and fury, signifying nothing)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate fantasy action violence, threat, moderate bad language)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • a

    I know this comment is gonna be deleted, that’s a given. But, I’m just utterly shocked that this 70% negative review got a fresh tomato, I mean, its not a crime to dislike a marvel film…

  • MisterAntrobus

    It’s my guess that, since RT has only two ratings and MaryAnn has three, they may just give anything with a yellow light from MaryAnn a “fresh” rating.

  • lilyboosh

    I figured. This looked rote despite the hype of “epicness”. And we’re not even talking about the awful issue of women’s representation that you can see already on paper.

  • Why would I delete your comment? There’s nothing inappropriate about it.

    I choose my ratings at RT, and you can believe I debated mightily with myself over this one. But in the end, I decided that the many problems with this film didn’t quite come up to the level of Rotten.

    I really can’t win with this. If I’d given it a Rotten rating, I’d have the fanboys arguing that some other film I’d given a yellow light was Fresh and I gave this one a Rotten just to bring down its freshness score. :-)

  • I choose my own Ratings at RT. Please see my reply to the commenter you’re also replying to.

  • Beowulf

    I’ve been waiting so long for this I’m gonna have to see it anyway. But one comment–why has it become the “in” thing to have famous names do the voices of animated or cgi characters? As with Bradley Cooper, 90% of the time, I go “THAT was so and so? Sure didn’t sound like so and so.”

  • Lets not forget, It is OK to disagree with Mary Ann. Some people are easily influenced or biased towards a certain genre. This film hits all the buttons for me. My interests override any logic or complex thought I could apply to this film.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Thanks, MaryAnn!* I actually might be able to enjoy this one now. So many of the corners of the internet I frequent have been so in the tank for GotG for so long that I was having my own personal backlash against the hype. Now I can go in with lowered expectations, something that usually helps tremendously with enjoying overproduced genre flicks.

    *No, seriously, this kind of tepid recommendation is just what I was hoping to read. Seriously!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I assume you mean “a film’s merit”? Also, you liked GotG because it made it made your brain stop working? That’s kind of damning with faint praise, isn’t it?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    RT lets critics choose their own fresh/rotten rating, and their own pull quote. That’s why you so often see the quote and the rating at odds.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    If, gods help me, I ever find myself moderating a discussion board, I’m going to have a policy of deleting unread every comment that contains the phrase “this comment is going to get deleted”, leaving behind only that request. :)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The binary nature of RT nags at me. I’d switch over to Metacritic, but their site is ugly and I have it stuck in my head that they sample a much smaller data set.

  • Wow I edited that part out pretty fast, surprised you caught it so thanks. Nope didn’t say the film turned my brain off. I have yet to see the film. I was not so straight forward so here is maybe what I should have said. I like comics. I’ve read them for all but about 7 years of my life so that is 34 years give or take a month. Some of those comics had these characters in it. My interest and love of the characters will override any shortcomings this film may posses.

  • Froborr

    I’ve been dreading this one ever since the first trailer. I should note that I’ve enjoyed almost all of the MCU (the Hulk films and Iron Man 2 were pretty lackluster), but every single thing revealed about this movie made me less interested in it. (Oh look, a raccoon with a machine gun. That’s apparently exciting and fresh? I’ve been watching anime and reading webcomics since I was a teenager, “murderous cute thing” is as tired and old a cliché as everything else the trailers presented.)
    Most of it, though, is simple hype backlash; the massive amounts of enthusiasm from all corners of the Internet for what appears to be nothing more than a foamy bit of pre-formed pap just made me sad. (Sort of like how being underwhelmed and kind of bored by Pacific Rim turned into actively hating it after the 15,000th person took it upon themselves to try to argue why it was the greatest movie in the history of movies.)
    I will probably be dragged to this movie, and I can only hope that my low expectations are met. I suspect that they will be, and as a result I will enjoy it more than my friends who are excited about it and doomed to disappointment.

  • BrannigansLaw

    You’ve said “What makes Guardians so instantly forgettable is that it isn’t about anything”. However, other reviewers have stated that this movie is about the forming relationships between the characters. I don’t know… could it be that perhaps you were looking for something fresh and new in sci-fi while overlooking the central point of the story? In any case, I’m always fascinated by the those reviews that are wildly divergent from the consensus. In these cases, it’s not that the reviewer is wrong (it’s all subjective, anyway), but it would be instructive to understand why a person misses that to which the majority connects.

  • I’ve tried several times to get Metacritic to add me, to no avail. Might be time to try again.

  • There’s not much there there in the “forming friendships” aspect of the story. But even if there were, that’s not quite what I mean. I mean there’s no subtext, not even the shallowest kind. There’s absolutely nothing here except what’s on the very shallow surface. I don’t need a movie to be “deep,” but a little bit of substance would be nice.

  • Groot

    I am Groot….

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    As a reader, is there anything I can do to help?

  • Djimd

    Its why you have to look at the average rating as well as the metascore… and more importantly read the reviews of the critics you actually trust to decide if the people with similar taste to your own, liked it or not. Obviously coconut is not everybody’s flavor, and there is no flavor that is universally loved by everyone, even chocolate.

  • Djimd

    The raccoon with a machine gun does not determine good or bad. A one of a kind genetic experiment who had been tortured for science, and is now an extremely intelligent, cynical, lonely person finding friendship is interesting IF DONE WELL Ultimately “good” is about execution at the character level, not about whether its a machine gun, or a ray gun, or a samuai sword. The exotic space setting and the fact that its a raccoon does allow for the setup to be different, but we still have to see a person behind those CGI eyes in order to relate.

  • BrannigansLaw

    I’ll have to wait to see it for myself, but given the run of Marvel movies this one *seems* to be more about something than what came before. Given that these are new characters in the MCU (i.e. not much of the general public is familiar with them), it’s clear to me that the focus should be on connecting viewers with the new characters, rather than creating psychological/philosophical depth. In that sense, the subtext appears to that of tolerance… acceptance… respect… and being more involved in the world around you, because you are a part of it… you are in it and of it. You matter, no matter who you are. In any case, considering the genre, I’m not clear on *your* idea of subtext. For you, what was the subtext in any of Marvel’s previous outings?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, I have my 4 or 5 critics I read whose opinions i find informative and/or entertaining. But since no one critic has exactly my tastes and reactions to every film, I like the aggregators to give me a sense of the consensus. Metacritic’s system of assigning a 0-100 score to each review is more information rich than RT’s up-or-down system (and less prone to assigning a recommendation to a generally disfavorable review), but as i said, Metacritic’s data sample is much smaller than RT.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Dude… get your own yogurt!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Have you considered reading her reviews on the previous MMU films, with an eye for discussion of the the films’ subtexts? You may find your answers there.

  • BrannigansLaw

    That would be instructive, however, I’m trying to engage in a discussion as it relates to her views on this film. Only she will be able to shed more light on her comparison.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I dunno man, it seems like common courtesy to me.

    I’m also not sure where you’re going with this. Are you suggesting that the comic book genre (or at least, the comic book movie genre) doesn’t engage in the use of subtext? Here in the post-X-2/Dark Knight/Spiderman 2-era, i don’t think you’re going to get a lot of support for that view.

    Are you gearing up to declare MAJ’s review “invalid” because you think she held some different view on some other movie she saw and wrote about months or years ago? People try that around here from time to time. It’s never the winning argument they seem to think it is. Usually because they fail to recognize that film criticism isn’t an objective, logical analysis. Rather, it’s a subjective, inferential one. Essentially it asks, “How do I feel about this movie I’m watching right now.”

    Or do you really not know what subtext is, or why it’s an important element of effective storytelling?

  • Froborr

    My point has nothing to do with that–people have been praising trailers that depict the raccoon with a machine gun BECAUSE it’s a raccoon with a machine gun, as if that is an inherently fresh and interesting thing. It’s not.
    Which, as I said, is just one example of the cliché-storm the trailers presented while trying to pretend it was something novel and interesting, a pretense that for some reason fans seem to have embraced sight unseen.

  • BrannigansLaw

    I appreciate your response, but I think you’re reading too much into my question to MaryAnn Johanson. I would assume that she is perfectly capable of communicating her ideas as per this discussion; I doubt very much that she needs you to defend her from a post that is clearly not attacking her or her work.To answer you directly, I’m talking about the MCU. I stated that. And if you think I don’t understand subtext, then you didn’t read my post (to which you replied). But just to continue this discussion on a more productive path, what MCU movie presented a greater subtext to you?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    *shrug* Call it a pet peeve. And having spent enough time reading MAJ’s work to know that she’s not exactly swimming in free time. Whereas I still have a couple weeks before I go back to work. :)

    That doesn’t really answer me directly (other than that last bit), since my question is: where are you going with this?

    I can’t speak to “greater” as I haven’t seen GotG (and won’t until next week sometime at the earliest). But both Iron Man 3 (PTSD) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (the surveillance state) had reasonably deep subtexts.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Where am I going with this? What’s wrong with having a discussion? Why must there be some objective beyond that? Anyway, she can reply (or not) at her leisure. We are all busy people; I’d like a reply from her, but I’m not exactly chomping at the bit. As far as the movies you’ve presented, I would agree. Even so, I don’t think that the subtext that I presented for GotG is any less valid. Really, you don’t have to see the movie in order to get that subtext. It’s even in the trailers. It’s embedded in the property, itself. Having said that, each person brings his/her own subtexts to any movie; the movie’s subtext (should there be one) will be found only if it aligns with your own. I find that interesting, and worth discussing.

  • This is a classic nit picker its a comicbook movie not pucking shindlers list jeeeez !!!

  • Danielm80

    I’m pretty certain I could find subtexts in Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will that don’t align with my own.

  • That’s more a philosophical issue, it doesn’t have any relevancy to this movie…

  • comic book movies can and should be made with consideration to quality and coherence. We’ve already seen movies – Dark Knight, the first Superman, X-Men I and II, Incredibles, and I would include both Captain Americas – get made with an eye for philosophical reverence, craftsmanship, and that touch of the human spirit that makes for compelling Oscar-winning epics.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Having aligning subtexts doesn’t mean you agree with contrary ideas. It simply means that there are ideas and events that have your focus or that define you. For example, any movie that glorifies racism will likely not be pleasing to you. However, if you or no one you love was ever the victim of racism the movie will not likely affect you as it does others who have. This doesn’t mean that those others agree with the ideas presented, but they will identify with the victims depicted. Because of this, they will derive a different subtext than that intended.

  • Danielm80

    With every comment that you post, I have less and less idea what you’re trying to say.

    Let me ask you a basic question: How do you define subtext? Because it’s possible you’re using the word to mean something different than the rest of us are.

  • BrannigansLaw

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subtext Granted, I’m using subtext in two contexts: cinematic and biographical. I’m doing so because it is clear that the biographical context dictates the perceived cinematic one (and because we’re talking about cinema).

  • Danielm80

    It’s possible that the subtext you see in Guardians of the Galaxy–characters forming relationships and becoming more altruistic–is what MaryAnn thinks of as text.

  • BrannigansLaw

    LOL! I’m not even sure what that means, but the phrasing hit me :-)

  • johan jansson

    The original comic is from the 80s and contain both rocket and groot. It is just a joke when people say “how can this be bad if there is a talking racoon with a shotgun?”

    Btw I personally don’t know any other movie with a cute little Gangster shooting people…

  • BrannigansLaw

    I don’t know about that. There has been a great deal of skepticism about the movie based raccoon with a machine gun! Also, I don’t know how many live-action movies *you’ve* seen with a talking raccoon toting a BFG…

  • BrannigansLaw

    Agreed, there is not relevancy, whatsoever. Dr. Rocketscience and Danielm80, can you guys agree with me on this, at least? :-)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I don’t agree with anybody. Everyone knows that.

  • Danielm80

    Sorry, I’m picturing the “I am Spartacus!” scene with talking trees.

  • You could email Metacritic and ask why I’m not included in their ratings. :->

  • it’s clear to me that the focus should be on connecting viewers with the new characters, rather than creating psychological/philosophical depth.

    But a story connects viewers to new characters by making them being with psychological/philosophical depth!

    For you, what was the subtext in any of Marvel’s previous outings?

    Seriously? *Captain America: The Winter Soldier* is about surveillance society and trading liberty for security. *Iron Man 3* is about terrorism as political theater. Those are such obvious subtexts there can hardly be a mere “for me” about that.

  • I do suggest you read my reviews of some other Marvel films to see how much meatier a comic book movie can be.

  • What Daniel80 said. The overt, on-the-surface things that the characters say and do isn’t subtext: it’s text.

  • *Captain America: The Winter Soldier* and *Iron Man 3* aren’t *Schindler’s List* either, and yet they have something say about the real world. Jeeez!

  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    Would that include your own comment?

  • BrannigansLaw

    When I see the movie for myself, I’ll have to reply to that in context. On the surface of it, though, the movie appears that it will resonate with me because I see a subtext embedded within the property. I’m much more interested in the developing relationships between characters than I am in “message” (which is to what you seem to be referring).

  • BrannigansLaw

    Of course I’m not implying that there should be no psychological/philosophical depth between characters ;-) I should have been clearer. I was really referring to sociopolitical message; it isn’t really needed in order to have a worthwhile subtext. To me, the developing relationships between characters *is* the point. But these things didn’t resonate with you, as you implied in your review. What you’ve pointed to in IM3 and TWS are not truly subtexts… they are the focus of those respective movies (i.e. they are explicit, not implicit). If you think that there is no real plot in GotG, I can understand that; but, there does *appear* to be a worthwhile subtext… at least to me… BTW, thank you for your reply :-)

  • BrannigansLaw

    Well then… that statement is not true. If you disagree with me, then you agree with Groot. And that’s not cool, man… NOT. COOL!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dude. That’s meta.

  • BrannigansLaw

    I will certainly read your other reviews, but I don’t need any evidence of the “meatiness” of those movies :-) I think each one is meaty in its own right; some just don’t have/need an obvious sociopolitical message to be considered good entertainment.

  • Tonio Kruger

    So basically it’s this year’s RIPD….

  • BrannigansLaw

    Given that R.I.P.D. received a 13% on RT after 79 reviews, while GotG is at 94% after 63, I’m not sure how you can even equate the two…

  • Danielm80

    Tornio is a regular reader of this site. I’m guessing he trusts one critic more than the other 62.

  • Harate

    You’re so EDGY by addressing the “fanboys.” You’re so against the culture and mainstream Marvel fandom. I love how the comic predates your evidence as to why the movie isn’t memorable or exciting.

    I also think commenters going against the “hype” train are hilarious. This movie was barely on the general publics radar until the last 3-6 months.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Um, 3-6 months is a really long build up for a movie. Also, this one has been promoted for closer to a year.

  • cinderkeys

    So this movie includes:

    1. A beautifully rendered cyborg raccoon
    2. An alien woman whose only alien features are green skin and a few facial ridges

    If we we’d been given no further information, I have a feeling this would tell us everything we need to know.

  • A story can have both.

  • I was really referring to sociopolitical message; it isn’t really needed in order to have a worthwhile subtext.

    Of course not. I never said it was.

    If you think that there is no real plot in GotG,

    No, there’s nothing BUT plot.

  • I haven’t seen that one, so I can’t comment.

  • You’re so against the culture and mainstream Marvel fandom.

    Citation needed.

  • Rocket is truly a marvel of CGI. And yes, he is more developed as a character than the green woman is. (Not by much, though. All the characters are pretty thin.)

  • David

    “Gamora is completely badass and appropriately disdainful of Quill, who is kind of a jerk:”

    That kind of describes the relationship between John Crichton and Aeryn Sun, but I’m guessing the movie doesn’t measure up in that regard.

  • It’s as though Groot’s following a completely different conversation, you know?

  • Jonathan Roth

    Farscape had the benefit of three seasons of character development and it was an incredibly rocky road along that line.

  • Jonathan Roth

    Bugsy Malone

  • It could describe lots of relationships, including ones that could make for interesting drama.

    John and Aeryn’s relationship changed very slowly and in lots of hard-won ways over many many many hours of television drama. This movie awards Gamora to Peter because he is the Hero. That’s it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    What Danielm80 said in his response to your post.

    Plus I don’t regularly read the RT site. Nor do I take it all that seriously when I do. In a world where an awful film like Elf is treated as a Christmas classic by Entertainment Weekly, it is probably just as well.

    Anyway, I do remember a lot of people saying the same positive things about
    RIPD prior to its release that they are currently
    saying about GotG. So consider me a bit skeptical.

    Fool me once, fie on you. Fool me twice…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You missed nothing of value. Even Jeff Bridges looked embarrassed by it.

  • It looked like a warmed over Men in Black. I might still catch it at some point, but it’s not a priority.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Well… when she writes a review and gets attacked for her opinion, it would make sense for her to be wary, no? I would be much cooler if fans of a property didn’t first leap to attack, but accept a contrary point of view… or at least acknowledge that a reviewer may see the world differently. You’re right, though, on one point. With regards to GotG, there hasn’t been a long term promotion to the public. Certainly not to the level of, say, The Winter Soldier, which reached oversaturation levels. Even those who would be prone to like this genre were heavily critical of nearly every aspect of GotG. Case in point, how many “fanboys” out there cheered with excitement when they heard that Bradley Cooper would voice Rocket? Zero. Many predicted it would fail because of it, and even harshly criticized Rocket’s CGI and animation. No, there was not a lot of love for GotG before the stellar reviews. But I think that those who are annoyed at the “fanboys” are the ones that are most subject to (over)reacting to the hype.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Agreed :-) BTW, I have enjoyed this discussion. I hope you see it in the positive light that I intended; I know you get attacked by those who may disagree, but only wanted to understand your viewpoint, not attack. It’s very possible that you will review my work in the future, so I look forward to a healthy discussion. Take care:-)

  • BrannigansLaw

    I watched it, regrettably. No discernible subtext. No real advances in characters or relationships. Pointless plot. Non-impressive (by today’s standards) CGI. If your GotG is any indication, you’d be better off spending time doing something that you would truly enjoy. After all, you will never get that 96 minutes back… and you *will* want it back.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Yes, I’m an outsider here who came to MAJ’s review on RT out of curiosity. I keep thinking of this as a general discussion board. My bad.

  • BrannigansLaw

    I don’t recall Crichton being a jerk to Aeryn. In fact, he was anything but from the very first ep.

  • Dr. Rocketscience


  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It is a discussion board, it’s not a pity party. Don’t make it one. Tonio made a statement, you challenged it, Danielm80 challenged your challenge. That’s just one of the many ways discussions work.

  • BrannigansLaw

    You misread my post again. I was being genuine. I guess you and I are doomed to miss each other, Dr. Rocketscience.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Really? I misread that? You meant “I keep thinking of this as a general discussion board. My bad.” as something other than passive-aggressive self-pity? You’re gonna have to help me out then, man.

    Also, as I noted elsewhere, RT ratings are binary. It is possible (if unlikely) for a movie to receive an RT score of 100%, and yet have every review essentially come down to “It’s not actively awful. But there isn’t a single damn thing in the least bit surprising or memorable to be found in it.” That same movie could have gotten a 0% score.

  • BrannigansLaw

    I can see how you would misread what I wrote. It is all my fault, admittedly. I just typed it in quickly without realizing that there would be a negative subtext derived (see what I did there? ;-) ). As Danielm80 implied, Tonio Kruger’s comment was in the context of following MAJ’s review history. Because of that fact, this is not a general reviewer page, but a specific one. I made the mistake of not remembering that when I replied to Tonio Kruger. Even so, I will continue the discussion along the line your presented. Whatever your views on RT, you have to at least admit that the significantly divergent scores for R.I.P.D and GotG would imply that they would not likely equate, no?

  • BrannigansLaw

    I don’t remember there being a major positive pre-reaction to R.I.P.D. There was significant negative buzz. In fact, the RT score bears this out. I’m not sure why it became so popular to berate RT; much more often than not, the scores do give a fair assessment.

  • Jim Mann

    The comics with this group of characters really date from 2008. There was a different, one-shot Guardians earlier. Rocket dates from earlier as an occasional character — first in 1976, when a larger percentage of the audience got the Beatles reference.

  • LaSargenta

    Howzabout both of youse just drop yer pants and me and my measuring tape will decide who wins this argument?


    Happy to arbitrate.

    That has as much relevance as RT and its “meter”.

  • Tonio Kruger

    There was a positive pre-reaction to that movie’s trailer when it was posted on this site. Or at least most of the comments made about it seemed optimistic.

    Anyway, I’m not necessarily trying to be popular when I berate RT — or when I post something that can be interpreted as berating RT. I speak for me and no one else. If other people choose to agree with what I say, well, I’m not going to pretend that I will be disappointed. However, if it was just popularity I was after, there are a lot of things that I have written on this site that I would write differently.

  • Tonio Kruger

    What Dr. Rocketscience said.

  • Beowulf

    Wow, was this fun! Fairly full theater for a 1 PM Friday show, and lots and lots of laughter and chuckles. Very funny. And wait for the after-credits bit with a reviled web-footed movie star.

    Oh, and Vin Diesel supposedly recorded “I am Groot” in a half dozen languages.

  • BrannigansLaw

    Wuuuut? I was not aggressive in any way. Oh, well… it must sure be they way that I’m communicating on this site, that I’m often misunderstood.

  • Glad you liked it.

  • Beowulf

    Boy, does this show the inadequacy of nonface-to-face communication!!
    One reading: “Glad you liked it (fan boy)!”
    ‘Nother reading: “Gosh, I didn’t care for the film, but I’m sincerely pleased that you had a good time.”

  • The latter was my intention. I’m sincerely happy you liked the movie. Wish I could have liked it more.

  • Bluejay

    I really enjoyed it! I agree that it relies somewhat on some tired tropes and that it’s not quite as “meaty” as other Marvel films like Winter Soldier; but I thought it was an excellent lark, told with joy, visually stunning (and unafraid to be colorful unlike a lot of space SF), and I guess I found the characters more engaging and the comedic elements more effective than you did. I thought Chris Pratt was great, but I’m a fan of his from Parks and Rec and I’m predisposed to like his brand of charm. Rocket was great, and Groot: oh, Groot was fantastic.

    I dug the music as well. (Will be getting the album via your link soon!) And yeah, all the 80s stuff blatantly pulled on my strings, but I liked having them pulled. :-)

    I don’t think the movie “isn’t about anything, not even a little bit”; among other things, it’s about a group of hostile strangers eventually becoming friends, and overcoming their selfish interests and petty squabbles to Save the Universe. Maybe Avengers did it better, but that IS something that the film is about.

    Sorry you didn’t like this one. Maybe this can go in the “agree to disagree” file with Avatar: the Last Airbender. :-)

  • Bluejay

    Oh wait, I just saw your comment explaining about the “not about anything” bit being about lack of subtext. You’re probably right about that. Never mind.

  • I thought Chris Pratt was great, but I’m a fan of his from Parks and Rec

    He’s great on that show. But I wouldn’t want to see a movie about that character.

  • thomskis

    Nice Photo of you on RT. Friendly and approachable looking :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Did you like Karen Gillan’s character too? I heard she was in this movie too and I always thought that she has a bit of a following on this site due to some TV show she was on… Of course, it might help if I could remember the name of said TV show because it gets mentioned so rarely…

  • Bluejay

    Karen Gillan was fine, but her role isn’t particularly prominent.

  • misslucas

    I wish you had spent more time on the question why this movie is so successful despite not providing anything ‘surprising or memorable’. My take is that it’s down to timing. When was the last time a genre movie has made the effort to make people laugh? Both sci-fi and fantasy have produced a lot of dark and dystopian stuff recently. That and the godawful news we get every day is enough to turn a movie about some goofballs in space with a great nostalgic score into a giant blockbuster. There’s a connection between movies and political climate similar to the one between hemlines and economic crisis/stability. This looks like a prime candidate for a fresh take on the issue.

  • I didn’t even even know she was in it until I was told after seeing it. You don’t even recognize her.

  • I liked it quite a bit as well, but found the music annoying. I’m kind of sick of 80’s music for one, but i also thought it felt too forced.
    Speaking of forced, we have the I hate you, oh, wait, I like you, relationship between Peter and Gamora. I wish they didn’t do that. Just skip the damn romance for once!

  • She had absolutely no impact on me whatsoever. A complete nonentity here.

  • I wrote and posted my review before the movie had even opened. It wasn’t yet successful.

    Lots of genre movies try to make people laugh (the Transformers flicks, for instance). Most of them fail… and this one does for me. I’m stunned that so many people are getting such amusement out of it. I’m glad they are, but it mystifies me. I never could have predicted it would be as huge as it is. And I don’t have a clue why this is.

  • But the hero must get his reward!

  • Bluejay

    Lots of genre movies try to make people laugh (the Transformers flicks, for instance).

    I think one difference is that the humor and general feel in Guardians — for me, anyway — is mostly sincere and sweet and corny. Transformers is not sincere or sweet or corny. Maybe a lot of people are finding the tone of this film to be a refreshing change.

    My opinion pretty much lines up with io9’s review, which also points out the corniness factor:

    …there’s a lot of intentionally cheesy stuff in this movie — not just the music, but the cliche-ridden storytelling and some of the little character moments. To some extent, the movie gets away with the cheese because of the riotous humor — but also, you sense that the movie 100 percent invests in the cheese, and believes in it. Like Stevie Wonder calling to say he loves you, this movie means it from the bottom of its heart. By embracing the corny instead of keeping an ironic distance, Guardians winds up being able to work on a few levels at once: funny and sad, superheroic and self-mocking. And Gunn seems to be making the case for cheese as a valid aesthetic, not just something that has to be deracinated and reimagined endlessly to be acceptable to “sophisticated” audiences.

    Of course, everyone has different tolerance levels for cheese. Guardians hit just the right balance for me.

  • LaSargenta

    Truth In Advertising: Haven’t seen it. But, I have heard so much about these “80’s” songs that I have to comment.

    I’ve seen the incredibly stupid-looking trailer. The only song in it was Hooked on a Feeling, the unka-chunka version which was from the mid-70’s. No kid in 1988 would have had that on a mixtape unless he was a total music nerd of a very particular sort that really didn’t exist prior to the nothing-ever-dies state of the Internet.

    He would have been likely to have had The Beastie Boys. Or U2.

    I looked at that soundtrack list. There’s a song from 1969 on it! And not one that a white kid from Blandsville, MiddleOdSuburbia would have listened to.


  • Bluejay

    The mix tape that he listens to in the movie is a collection put together for him by his mother, who put HER favorite songs on it (including hits from the 60s and 70s). He listens to it because it’s his one remaining connection with her.

  • Danielm80

    I love Karen Gillan. Her performance in “The Girl Who Waited” was one of the highlights of that show she was on. But I thought she was badly miscast here. Her character was supposed to be fierce and intimidating, and she came across as tiny and lethargic. I don’t know whether she was directed poorly or whether the role simply didn’t suit her personality.

    She did have a very sexy voice, due in part to electronic enhancement. So did Lee Pace, for anyone inclined in that direction.

    I enjoyed the movie, but I liked it more for the small details than for the plot or the dialogue. I liked Chris Pratt’s goofy dance moves and the beautiful, disturbing design of his helmet and Zoe Saldana’s impossibly-fast fight choreography and the starship that looked like a Moebius strip and the gloriously awful ’80s music. The space-opera storyline was something I had to sit through to get to them, and they were worth the wait.

  • Danielm80

    I kind of want to see a prequel about Peter Quill as a little boy, growing up in that odd, troubled family. It might be more interesting than the science-fiction story we got.

  • Bluejay

    You didn’t like it either? Awww.

  • LaSargenta

    Aw. How sweet. O_o

    Trailer still was stupid. I was so relieved that it seemed for a while we had gotten away from films that had to have infantile wisecracking. I guess it was an aberration and systems are returning to normal.

  • Bluejay

    I can’t stand excessive wisecracking in a lot of films (like, say, animated “family films”) but I enjoyed it here. It feels of a piece with the story and the characters and the film’s general goofy tone, rather than borne out of cynicism.

    Having said that, I think the trailers accurately reflect the feel of the film. If you didn’t like the trailers, you should probably avoid this one. :-)

  • Bluejay

    – Spoiler –

    Speaking of dance moves, there’s another character that busts out some moves right before the end credits. Surely Disney/Marvel must realize that they have to turn this scene into a toy, because millions of people will buy it. Including me.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I duuno, io9 has been pushing this movie like it’s their job. Literally.

  • Danielm80

    For what it’s worth, I hated the trailers and loved parts of the film–mostly the parts that weren’t in the trailers.

  • Bluejay

    A few scenes in the trailers weren’t in the film at all. There was a trailer scene of a gratuitously-naked Gamora that I was happy to NOT see in the film.

  • Jim Mann

    I think it depends upon what you mean by “subtext.” It certainly doesn’t have the real-world political subtext of the latest Captain America film, not the view of corporations and the military seen in Iron Man.

    But there is a character-driven depth here that goes beyond the “forming friendships” surface. It’s not just forming friendships. It’s getting over your past, and not being controlled by rage, regret, etc. Rocket sort of sums up when he say something like “we all have dead people in our past. That’s no excuse for getting everyone around you killed too.” You see this in the characters of Drax, Rocket, Peter, Gamora, and Nebula, all of whom are driven by where they came from, and those who succeed find ways to overcome this.

    Granted, this is not done with the depth you’d expect in a more serious film, but it’s there.

  • Danielm80

    We don’t know that it was gratuitous. Maybe the markings on her back turned out to be choreography for a long-forgotten dance once performed by her people. At the end of the film–in another cut scene–they would have performed the dance once again to the joyous chords of “Footloose.” And if that’s not what James Gunn had planned, he missed an opportunity.

  • Bluejay

    I am a big fan of dancing at the end of movies. Make it happen, Marvel!

  • I like a fine cheese. This felt like it was trying too hard and yet getting nowhere with what it wanted to do.

    It didn’t use its clichés in any interesting way, for one. Simply being aware that you’re using clichés, as a storyteller, doesn’t automatically make them interesting or funny.

  • Whatever characters blatantly state cannot, by definition, be subtext.

    And I didn’t believe a damn word of any of it.

  • only with better casting, better sfx, better soundtrack, and a dancing twig. which makes it a sure-fire OSCAR NOMINATED film!!! …what?

  • Saw another review http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/03/an-academic-critique-of-the-film-guardians-of-the-galaxy/ where the reviewer just kinda went stream-of-consciousness about the giddiness that comes with watching this film. I saw it Sunday: the movie has a whimsy to it, an attempt at charming the moviegoer instead of bludgeoning us to death with spectacle. The dialog between the characters is more important than the stuff blowing up on the screen. I can see the comparison to Firefly/Serenity, as well as to Last Starfighter. The movie reminds me of some of the low-budget late-80s sci-fi straight-to-video stuff that had to rely more on wit than on sfx… and were better than expected (I admit a guilty pleasure in Spaced Invaders). Another way to saying it: GotG is like a Saturday afternoon delight found during channel surfing after getting all the yardwork done.

  • Danielm80
  • LaSargenta

    This’ll be like that mounted singing fish a few years ago…future landfill.

  • Bluejay

    Yes, I saw that! Here’s hoping.

  • Bluejay

    You, madam, are No Fun At All. ;-)

  • LaSargenta

    Yup. That’s me.

  • Danielm80

    On the contrary! This is going to be a hit CGI children’s film a few years from now. The Dancing Tree will team up with Big Mouth Billy Bass, a Chia Pet, and a Drinking Bird, and they’ll rescue their friends from an evil hoarder who wants to lock them all away. It will be number one at the box office and allow people to sell years of stockpiled merchandise.

  • LaSargenta

    >Insert Bronx Cheer here.<

    Whatever you do, DON'T get me one for my birthday. Please.

  • Tonio Kruger

    In other words, Groot should make like a tree and — er — dance?

    Personally, I’m more likely to buy a dancing Rick Gervais doll. And I don’t particularly care for Rick Gervais. Except when he’s dancing to please an evil muppet…

  • Tonio Kruger

    So maybe you should rent some old movie musicals. :-)

  • Bluejay

    Yeah, but I want MARVEL to do one.

  • Jonathan Roth

    Just came back from it. Put me in the “right vintage of cheese” camp, perhaps because I’ve been rotting my brain with episodes of Transformers Prime on Netflix lately, and was in the right space for it.

    I may also be exceptionally biased one one account though: Rocket.

    I know; compared to Hollywood’s poor track record of getting actual humans of the non-white/straight/cis/male variety, complaining about being nerd-baited on fantasy creations in a movie isn’t high on the list of priorities. Still, I don’t think I’ve been as satisfied by an “effect” character in a movie since Dragonheart.

  • Not even Gollum? Or Caesar the ape?

  • Jonathan Roth

    Oh geez, that’s embarrassing. Yes, they both definitely count. I’m terrible at that… ask me my 5 favourite movies, and a day later, I will remember at least one that I love more.

  • aliens

    Stop referencing this movie to star wars. It is it’s own thing and quite frankly is better than any star wars movie I’ve seen. You clearly have no enjoyable bone in your body. Why don’t you crawl back into the hole you came out of and spew your horrendous opinions to yourself. Stick to watching the terrible artsy movies since all you critics love them so damn much for some reason.

  • aliens

    You wouldn’t know a good movie if it splooged on your face

  • Danielm80

    What sort of movies have you been watching? That’s really taking 3D to an extreme.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Having seen it, I’m with MaryAnn on this one.

    The best way I can describe it, is that this movie doesn’t earn anything that happens. Not a single character trait or story beat or plot development or joke. Everything just kinda is. Mostly because the script says so.

    Take Gamora. *minor spoilers* We are introduced to her as a major badass. then she shows up and does a decent job of kicking ass. But then she’s all, “Oh, no no, I’m actually working against the bad guys.” And no one ever questions this. It just is. Because the script says so.

    Or Groot. Put him into a situation, any situation. Now, predict how he will react. Will he be childlike, or genre savvy. Will he be appalled at the notion of violence, or will gleefully murder a dozen mooks. The only way to predict is not to ask, “What would Groot do?” but rather “What does the plot need Groot to do?”

    Having Thanos appear as he did here was a mistake. Referring to him makes him seem powerful and mysterious. But having him show up and do nothing makes him seem feckless. This is supposed to be the Big Bad of the entire MCU.

    At least Michael Rooker looked like he was having fun playing out the same scene 5 times.

  • rwmcgee

    Watched it, loved it. Will disagree to the death with anybody who thinks The Purge: Anarchy was a better movie. =) but to each their own, I guess.

  • Lou B.

    This movie is pretty entertaining! You might be too old or have some kind of heart condition. It was fun.. a lot of fun and that’s why the vast majority of people who see it will be entertained! It’s not a love story. It’s not a comedy. Its not a drama. It’s all of those things mixed in a Sci-fi thriller. Just try to relax, stop over analyzing everything and let fun into your life. I have never read a more prudish review.
    And if you don’t post this…you and I will know who is right.

  • Lou B.

    GO see this movie! See it in XD 3D IMAX. Seriously worth it!

  • Why? Can you explain yourself even just a little bit? Or did you just drop by to reassure me that I am allowed my own opinion?

  • Lou Harry

    Bravo. You nailed it.

  • Froborr

    Having now seen the film… yep, MaryAnn was completely right. What’s most frustrating about it, though, is that about 90% of its problems could have been solved by focusing on Gamora instead of Quill. She’s the one with the emotional connection to the villains, the one who understands what’s going on, the one who experiences an actual arc… get us inside her head and let us see what she thinks and feels about all this, let us see bits of her relationship to Thanos and how she freed herself, her relationship with her sister and Ronan… then the movie would have what it most needs, an emotional center.

    But nope, there’s a white dude in the room, so he’s automatically the main character. I keep seeing this meme floating around about how DC doesn’t think there’s an audience for a Wonder Woman movie while Marvel gives us an armed, talking raccoon. But now we actually see the movie with said raccoon, and it has a woman (a black and Hispanic woman, no less), who all the story logic says should be the main character, marginalized in favor of a wisecracking white dude, the raccoon, and a tree. Yay Marvel?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Another option would be to take the “Firefly” route (which seems to have take some inspiration from GotG) and have Quill’s crew established with himself, Rocket, Groot, and Drax*. Gamora arrives, just as ruthless as the rest of them, but with a moral goal. Focus the emotional center on the interplay between Quill’s narcissism and Gamora’s righteousness. Let Gamora learn the value of working in a team, and let Quill learn to see beyond his own nose. The other three then fill their roles as color and plot devices.

    * What is the point of Drax, though? If Groot is the muscle, Rocket is the ideas man, Quill is the pilot, and Gamora is the skill, what role does Drax serve?

  • rwmcgee

    I suppose I could explain it, but honestly I can understand why you and others were less enamored of it, and so I don’t feel any huge need to lobby hard for the film.

    I thought it was fun. I thought the characters were fun, most of the jokes landed for me, and the ‘spectacle’ was generally effective.

    There was something of a misogynistic tone to the film which I didn’t love, and having read many of your reviews, I imagine it contributed to your rating. I’m mostly giving this film a pass for it because I believe, given the people involved, that it was unintentional. (as opposed to, say, your average Apatow film.) If they can’t do better by Gamora, (or even better, Nebula, who I thought was great with way too little screentime) next time around, then I suspect I will be more in your camp.

    And I like to reassure everybody, including myself that we are allowed our own opinions. It’s not something to take for granted, lol.

  • amanohyo

    This was the front end to a disappointing double feature (Boyhood was the clutch hitter – Linklater let me down too). Both films were mildly disappointing, and it all boils down to timidity. In both cases, the film makers laid down a mighty foundation, capable of supporting something strange, novel, even exciting. And as they began to build, their confidence wavered.

    I agree with MA. Whenever this film positions itself to take you somewhere new, the writers pull back into the warm safe arms of cliche and pop culture quotation. When quoting a famous film, especially one in the same genre, you must be willing to play with the ideas, context, and images in the original scene, otherwise all that’s produced is a burst of borrowed pleasure followed by the foul aftertaste of an unfavorable comparison.

    The Raiders theft and Star Wars dogfights were mentioned in the review, but we also have Empire hand severing, Return of the Jedi electrocution, a Rocketeer costume, and oh look, there’s Unicron’s head (not to mention a couple heavy-handed Superman/Jesus bookends). And on your left you’ll see our famous “Entering Prison Scene,” “Escaping Prison Scene,” and everyone’s favorite “Gambling Scene.” And on your right you’ll catch a glimpse of America’s favorite action movie pastime, MacGuffin juggling. Worst of all is Groot, a weaksauce Iron Giant. Almost everything Groot does, down to his noble final words and predictable resurrection reminded me of that superior film, admittedly one of my favorites. It’s clearly an intentional homage, as are all the other moments, but when you strip away the references and homages, what’s left?

    MA says nothing. I disagree somewhat. This is a movie that is trying to be about something – not in a very subtle way, but it is trying. Unlike in the comics, Ronan the Accuser is portrayed as a religious fanatic who uses violence to preserve tradition representing of course, Muslim extremists. His right hand man is an African with an altered brain, the women who fight for him have been physically mutilated against their will. The Guardians of the Galaxy represent America, a ragtag, materialistic inclusive band of rebels that just wants everyone to chill out and enjoy themselves. This is a big budget Hollywood movie, so of course Nova Corps represents Israel. I don’t know if Nicole Perlman is jewish, but my comparison holds even if she isn’t. Nova Corps ships look like stars (not six pointed – that would be too over the top even for this film), they form a shield (or dome if you will) to protect the innocents from the suicidal attacks of Ronan’s army. Ronan wishes to completely destroy the homeland of those he attacks and commit genocide on its inhabitants.

    One of the major failings (or unintended strengths) of the movie is that it often undermines this clumsy anti-extremist narrative. Supposedly, the Guardians are inclusive and supportive of women and minorities, but the structure of the team places the musclebound white dude with the least amount of ability in the leadership role. The two black actors are relegated to sidekick/punching bag and sidekick/love interest roles. No other nonwhite actors are to be found, even when it comes to voice overs. The tree and raccoon characters are default male – a truly rebellious movie would have tried a gender swap. The only other woman in the movie is cyborg Sinead, an actress clearly chosen for her appearance rather than her fighting ability. And who does she fight in the final showdown? The other woman, of course. They are intended to be foils, but are both so poorly developed that they could be interchanged without any noticeable difference. The Guardians are primarily driven by materialism, they are neither good nor bad as they profess in the final moments, and clearly have no problem killing innocent prison workers who will presumably not get to embrace their orange spouse and child in a saccharine montage at the conclusion of the adventure.

    In many ways this is a movie that perfectly captures the spirit of the times we live in (I refuse to use zeitgeist). It is highly referential and has a short attention span (it also has a character drunk dial the villain, one of the rare flashes of genuine originality). it veers wildly from sentimentality to goofiness without taking the time to develop any meaningful context for its manufactured emotion. It claims the moral high ground and then reveals a complete lack of any moral and intellectual depth. It’s superficially diverse, fresh, and original, but fundamentally safe, stale, and homogenous. It’s the teenager of sci-fi action movies: irreverent, loud, sarcastic, well-intentioned, but secretly terrified of not being liked or understood (my god those infordumps were annoying). I didn’t hate it, I laughed a couple times, it made me remember movies that I love… is it a step forward for sci-fi action? Is it as clever or courageous as it could have been, or even as it seems to think it is?

    I’m pretty sure the answer to those questions is I am Groot.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Good analysis, even if you’re losing my on the Israel stuff. I might have gone with it but for, “This is a big budget Hollywood movie, so of course…” which leans too heavily on the “The Jews™ control everything” conspiracy tropes.

  • amanohyo

    The Hollywood comment was half tongue in cheek – I don’t think Jews are a monolithic, malevolent force, but they are clearly overrepresented in the entertainment industry, particularly in positions of power.

    The repeated metaphorical airing of their issues and fears isn’t a coordinated conspiracy, but it is kind of boring to see the same themes pop up over and over (World War Z comes to mind). It’s unavoidable at this point I guess.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Even if I were to grant that your second paragraph follows from your first, in WWZ the leaders of Jerusalem thought (quote wrongly) that building a giant wall around the city was sufficient protection. I’m not seeing a ringing endorsement of that plan in the film.

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Your political allegory analysis of GotG is not otherwise unsupported. I’m just a little disappointed. But I’m sure you’ll be able to live with my disappointment.

  • Danielm80

    I’m begging you: Stop digging.

  • Ronan the Accuser is portrayed as a religious fanatic who uses violence to preserve tradition

    What? Really? I literally had no idea in the slightest what the hell Ronan’s issue was with whatever the hell his problem was.

  • amanohyo

    I calls ’em like I sees ’em. You dig?

  • amanohyo

    Wasn’t WWZ the movie with the plucky Israeli female soldier who served no role in the plot (and never appears in the book)? Also, the attack that breached the wall was triggered by the joyful singing of the Palestinians and Jews living together in peace. I read the book prior to watching the movie – the magnification and glorification of Israel’s role in the film verges on satire.

    I admit the Nova Corps – Israel connection is not nearly as blatant in GotG. If you prefer, you could see the Xandarians as western civilization in general (a shot of the Kree mothership taking out a couple skyscrapers lends credence to this interpretation). My views have no doubt been influenced by recent world events, but I like to think that I would have made the connection in their absence – hopefully more out of general boredom than pure Antisemitism, although there is a sprinkling of the latter too. I’ll own it.

  • amanohyo

    Yeah… he only has a couple lines that aren’t of the “I killed your family! Seize them! I’m evil!” variety, but they’re in there… I’m not willing to rewatch it to retrieve the exact quotes. Most of it happens near the beginning when he’s infodumping his motivations all over the audience.

  • He says something about not wanting to honor a treaty. But we get no idea whatsoever what the treaty is about, what problem it was meant to solve, and what his beef with it is. We don’t even know what the bone of contention between the two parties is.

  • amanohyo

    So, it’s finally happened. I’ve gone insane. Kinda anticlimactic for my first hallucination. Very well… you leave me no choice. I shall bring a notebook and jot down the quote on my next outing. It’ll probably be a couple weeks though.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    That’s rather condescending…

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    Huh, I had the completely opposite reaction to Karen Gillan’s character. Thought she was the best, most dynamic villain of the bunch.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    I would like if it you could elaborate one day on “trying too hard,” because I feel like that’s one of those expressions everyone uses, but I don’t really have the critical vocabulary to unpack it.

    (FWIW, I agree with your take on the film, even though I think I liked it more than you did. It did give me the impression that it was “trying too hard,” but I don’t know exactly where the line is between “trying” and “too hard,” and I can’t explain why I felt that way about the film.)

  • Could explain who she was? What her motivations were? Why she was a character in the story at all? What did you find dynamic about her?

  • It can mean something different for different films. In this case, the movie is so self-conscious about itself. It seems to care more about referencing other bits of pop culture than in putting together characters we care about doing something that really matter. It feels like the movie wouldn’t work at all if you weren’t steeped in the pop culture of the last 40 years.

    Contrast with something like *Firefly,* to which this movie owes a lot. Even if you’d never seen a single Western or a single SF movie and so you didn’t get that it is a clear synthesis of the two genres, there are still compelling characters doing interesting things that are obviously important to them. But take away all the genre trappings, and there’s nothing left to *Guardians.*

  • Liang Li

    The longer I think about this movie (the longer it’s been since I’ve seen it), the more I dislike it, mostly because its motives become more and more transparent. There is a kind of subtle dimension to a movie that comes from the “storytelling” aspect, which involves sensing something that has touched the storyteller, beyond the punchline to the story itself. So our experience of movies, and probably everything, is based heavily not only on consumption but on empathy or some sense of a shared spectacle. What makes a movie “so bad it’s good” is that the longer it remains with us the more the intention of the author seems to shine through, and we sort of realize, ok, the dude is not so bad after all — he has seen things. With age, the movie becomes less transparent, the scenes more bizarre, even as we understand the storyteller more. Probably what is called “aboutness” here.

    So the opposite happens for GoG… I disliked it when I exited the theater, and it only gets worse with time. The overwhelming feeling is that it panders to you, that it has no story to tell, nothing to share, etc., that it is constructed soley for the consumption experience and has no event that had left an impression on the storyteller. And, oddly enough, a big tell that there is no such impression is that it seems to contains so many such impressions within the narrative.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    Mostly Gillan’s acting and the way she seemed to ooze hatred from every pore. Not the deepest characterization, but I did say “most dynamic” meaning relative to Ronan and Thanos.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    What makes references to pop culture self-conscious as opposed to clever? Or is it just a matter of being judicious about it? In this case, does the self consciousness stem from the fact that the film favor pop culture pandering much more heavily than any attempt to create real emotional weight?

    Hmmm, I guess I can see how that works. Disguise the artifice and all that.

    And I see what you mean re: Firefly. That really does explain why I like that so much more than GotG despite the superficial similarities.

  • In this case, does the self consciousness stem from the fact that the film favor pop culture pandering much more heavily than any attempt to create real emotional weight?


  • Chamie

    OMG why should every entertainment movie teach you some obvious “truths” about our real nowadays world? It’s not a school, it’s entertainment! Or should every movie appeal to the college and/or high school students to make them feel wise by recognizing what they’ve just learned in their classes?
    Though that could be just me being sociopathic and finding the topic of friendship-building being more complex than those copy-book maxims like “trading freedom for safety” (being mentioned over and over each time another movie’s authors want to show their “depth”).

  • Danielm80

    I was disappointed with the movie because the friendship-building wasn’t complex enough. The characters disliked each other, and then, suddenly, they loved each other. They were selfish and immoral, and then, suddenly, they were willing to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. They wanted whatever the plot needed them to want. The movie didn’t give me a deeper understanding about friendship or community or morality, because there was nothing there to understand.

    A movie doesn’t need to spell out obvious truths to be meaningful. People are still arguing about the social implications of The Incredibles and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy–or whether they have any larger social implications at all. I prefer movies whose truths aren’t always clear or obvious. I just want a sense that there are some truths up there on the screen.

  • Chamie

    Are you serious?
    >The characters disliked each other, and then, suddenly, they loved each other.
    Wasn’t Quill hitting on Gamora from the very beginning? Didn’t Drax call Quill a honorable men several times before finally admitting him as a friend?
    Or, you know what? Point out please that exact moment when they all “fell in love” with each other. Because I can’t. Because for me it’s not even clear up to the very end of the movie, for example, if Rocket really thought that way, not just hanging with the rest of the team just waiting for his little tree to grow back to protect him if he go away.
    Yep they were fighting together to save the galaxy, but wasn’t that mostly because each one of them “happened to be one of those idiots who lives in it” (©Quill) and would be wiped out anyway if they won’t do that?
    P.S. I also hate the way the “subtext” is implemented in most of the movies — either by making the characters dumb enough to not see the obvious themselves or by doing something illogical so that it makes you think up some hidden (non-existent) motives and meanings. In this particularly movie the characters didn’t act either ways — someone always stated what’s obvious and none acted illogically just for the sake of implying some “hidden depth”.

  • Could you explain how this movie depicted friendship-building?

  • Danielm80

    Quill did hit on Gamora, but he also slept with another character and then forgot she was on his ship.

    Toward the end of the movie, Drax referred to the other Guardians, more than once, as his friends, and Gamora said, “I would be grateful to die surrounded by my friends.” I believe she even implied they were family. But the comments came basically out of nowhere. We never saw the friendship develop, at least not enough to make friendship-building a complex theme of the movie.

  • Bingo.

    Yeah, the movie sets up Quill as a guy who treats women like shit, and there is *zero* evidence anywhere along the way that he has some massive change of heart (or dick).

  • Chamie

    >Quill did hit on Gamora, but he also slept with another character and then forgot she was on his ship.
    Do you think he’d ever risk his life to save that girl too?
    And your overall comment looks like you haven’t read mine.
    >Toward the end of the movie, Drax referred to the other Guardians, more than once, as his friends
    Yup, and as I said: Didn’t Drax call Quill a honorable man several times before finally admitting him as a friend?
    So now please
    >Point out please that exact moment when they all “fell in love” with each other.
    >We never saw the friendship develop

    What “friendship development” would you be satisfied with? Them playing baseball or roasting BBQ? They’re interstellar outlaws, they won’t do ‘cute’ things like group hugs and “I love you guys!” shouting. They’re all not some easy persons to stand so they just appreciate each other as people whom they could stay together with.
    Btw, referring to the phrases like “die surrounded by my friends” don’t forget it could be just a “friend-or-foe” category of “not foes” or a friendly party of conflict or whatever else. Or maybe she implied that she’ll consider everyone who’d help her as her friend?

  • Danielm80

    Point out please that exact moment when they all “fell in love” with each other.

    Well, there’s this snarky-but-sentimental moment:

    Drax the Destroyer: I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you’ve accepted me despite my blunders. It is good to once again be among friends. You, Quill, are my friend.

    Peter Quill: Thanks.

    Drax the Destroyer: This dumb tree is also my friend.

    [Groot grunts]

    Drax the Destroyer: And this green whore is also…

    Gamora: Oh, you must stop!

    Yup, and as I said: Didn’t Drax call Quill a honorable man several times before finally admitting him as a friend?

    Yes, but he also undercut it by making comments like this:

    Drax the Destroyer: [lets Star-Lord into the Milano] This one shows spirit. He shall make a keen ally in the battle against Ronan. Companion, what were you retrieving?

    [Star-Lord hands him his stereo-player]

    Drax the Destroyer: You’re an imbecile.

    I’m not saying there’s literally no development of relationships in the movie at all. I just didn’t find the friendships particularly complex, not in a way that reveals deeper truths about our society or provides much of a model for people in real life.
    If you saw complexity in the movie, or if you enjoyed it as superficial entertainment, that’s great. I’m glad you liked it. I liked it, too, up to a point. I also agree with MaryAnn when she says there’s not much depth to the movie.

  • Brian Adair

    I’m curious… This tired and droll cliched representation of the murderous cute creature(raccoon with a machine gun), is not brining anything to mind. Surely such a overladen cliche has many examples, right…? Feel free to enlighten me…

  • Constable

    They did in Pacific Rim…

  • Thomas Watson

    It’s magnanimously hilarious. I watched it twice in the theater.

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