I like comic books, but I’ve never been an avid reader of them for no known reason.
I picked up the first comic of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Galaxy’s Most Wanted (001) at a local comic store. I had high expectations for the comic, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t even write a review on it because I was slightly disappointed.
I went to see the movie when it came out. It was the best film I’ve seen in years. And that’s what I really want to talk about – how Marvel kicked ass and why Guardians of the Galaxy is the best film this year. It’s kind of like a Book to Box Office, so I feel completely justified sharing this with you.
You don’t put a group of lost idiots and misfits in spaceship and send them to fight off the biggest threat in the galaxy…. unless you’re Marvel. There’s so much wrong with this picture – Where’s Hermione? Yoda? Gandalf? Someone with knowledge and experience!! Instead we have Peter Quill aka “Star Lord” – the lost child, reckless in his affairs, Rocket – an angry Frankenstein creation with a vengeance, his partner in crime Groot – the gentle giant with fierce power, Gamorah – tortured and bitter runaway, and lastly Drax -murderous, burdened with the loss of his family. Quill said it best when he called the group losers. They’ve all lost something immensely important to them, their family or their identities or both — they are not heroes. The double-meaning here says all.
Guardians of the Galaxy is an emotional comedy, in outer space, with the best graphics and soundtrack you could wish for. Why wouldn’t you want to see it?
Lucky for all of us the movie has been in theaters for a full run and the DVD is now available. If you were unable to see the movie in theatres that is unfortunate. I saw it seven times and each time amazed me. However, the DVD is widely available and I suggest that you watch it by either buying the DVD yourself or convincing a friend to do so and then crashing at his or her place while you watch it three times in a row. Just a suggestion.
Now, let’s take a walk through the film and realize what makes this film better than the rest. There are spoilers. Refer to previous paragraph.
1. Opening scene in the hospital. After his mother’s death, young Peter Quill runs out and stares back in disbelief at the chaos going on his mother’s hospital room, his hands open in front of him like a hopeless plea. I love this staging of Quill’s character. His open hands suggests naivety. He is too young to help out and had to be ushered out of the room. The rural setting suggests he doesn’t have much, and now he just lost the person closest to him. His hands are open in front of him, helpless, asking the eternal question “why”. It’s heartbreaking. And not until the end of the film, do you realize how much this event shaped him.
2. Quill at Morag. I admit I was annoyed with this sequence because I think it could have been done more tactfully. However, It does do a great job of introducing Star Lord, Peter Quill 26 years later. And it does so without words. It’s actually brilliant. Quill is reckless, sliding along crumbling rock surfaces and toying with alien rats. He’s pompous, but carefree. That minute in the film of him on Morag and walking to the orb says everything you need to know about Peter Quill. He’s an asshole, but just comical enough that you might actually like him.
3. And just after Quill leaves Morag, he gets a call from Yondu, leader of the ravagers. We finally learn what happened in those 26 years since his mom’s death and he was taken by a mysterious spaceship. Yondu Udanta made young Quill one of the ravagers. In their argument, it becomes vaguely understood that Quill was abducted by Yondu and his men, made to ravage and steal. Yondu’s argument for Quill’s compliance is that he stopped his men from trying to eat him. “They ain’t never tasted Terran before!” Suddenly you kind of like Quill a little more. He must have had a rough and confusing childhood. At least he’s still got a sense of humor.
All the feels.
It gets better though. The final battle – each of our guardians of the galaxy is wearing ravager clothing, having joined forces with the ravagers AND the Xandarian fleet (more on that later though). Soon, our pirates of the galaxy are pitching in to save it. Of course, there are lurking motives to the whole ordeal, and Yondu is eager to reap the benefits, but hey, the guardians still couldn’t have done it without him and his men.
4. Ronan the Accuser. “They call me terrorist.” Yep. He’s your typical delusional bad guy. Fashioned with war paint and an enormous black ship called The Black Aster. He’s basically like a spoiled child, with religious loyalty to all the worst things. Here we have the greater evil. It’s a good thing he’s bad to the bone because so far we haven’t really met any heroes. And Star Lord, our lead character, certainly can’t be worse than the villain. Ronan is killing the children and families of Xandar, which is outside the peace treaty between the Xandarians and the Kree people. Wicked to the innocent. You already want to see this guy dead.
5. Rocket and Groot on Xandar, just a couple of bounty hunters, bandits, what have you. Immediately you recognize their dependence on each other, two misfits, one bitter and the other gentle (with fierce abilities). There’s no history on how these two came to find each other, but you’re aware that its the perfect relationship. Rocket, in all of his anger and sharp words, has a deep caring and understanding for his partner in crime. And Groot, though he can only be understood by tonal expression rather than his words (limited exclusively to “I am Groot”) is the devoted friend and lifesaver of Rocket. The two form each other. It’s a beautiful relationship.
6. A Xandarian encounter – In a comical mishap, Star Lord becomes the target of the Rocket and Groot team and also Gamora, one of Ronan’s accomplices. In the mix up, Star Lord, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora all become captives of the Xandarians. We learn a little about each character’s dangerous skills and crime history during the mug shot scene. Each of these baddies have a record, and not one of them seems to give a damn. From there they’re all sent to the Kyln, a high-security prison which is pretty much a hopeless end for the group.
7. The Kyln – These lucky losers are about to learn a lot about each other in the dreadful prison. Thrown together by spite, they learn that they might actually be able to take advantage of each other. And yes, they all have selfish motives. but first, we can’t ignore the loud, colorfulness of the Kyln. It’s supposed to be a hell hole, and it certainly looks it, but the prisoners wear bright yellow uniforms, and many of the prisoners have brightly colored skin. The ruckus the prisoners creates is an irksome music that plays pretty constantly. But if you compare this prison scene to most dramas, there’s something not quite depressing enough about it. Here’s some good foreshadowing. The Kyln is their escape from prison and ultimately a criminal lifestyle (I mean, somewhat). First, introductions. Gamora, who is despised as one of the daughters of Thanos and also as an accomplice of Ronan the Destroyer, reveals that she is actually on a mission to betray her false father and his servant. Rocket is a mastermind who can escape any predicament with the help of his faithful and life-saving friend Groot. And then there’s Peter Quill, a sloppy rebel with just enough tricks up his sleeve to make a plan.
The Kyln is also where Drax enters the picture. A large, angry man who vows revenge on Ronan and his accomplices for the murder of his wife and daughter. Gamora gets caught in his grip and our own reckless Peter Quill convinces Drax to let her live (for now). However, Drax’s inability to understand anything metaphorical makes Quill argument more of a challenge than expected, and of course much more humorous.
The Escape – The Kyln escape plan is an epic scene with enough comedy thrown in to make you remember that its really a bunch of misfits you’re rooting for. In this scene though, the escapees get the last laugh. After hijacking the control center and literally flying it out of the prison center, Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and now Drax are free. But Quill has one last mission. And to the soundtrack of “The Escape” Quill goes back for his one and only valued possession. The mix tape his mother made for him, Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
The Soundtrack – Awesome Mix Vol. 1 is the films narrator. Just as Quill lives and understands the world through the sound and lyrics of 70’s pop music, so will you. The cassette is Quill’s most valuable possession and the music gives him all the faith to carry on to the finish line. From Blue Swede to The Runaways, its obvious that there is a Romantic plot, because if we’re honest, our misfit band of heroes are an emotional melting pot. And also, the music is just badass.
Throughout the movie, there are several important scenes that make Guardians of the Galaxy a truly definitive movie. A cult classic I hope!
Nebula and Thanos – “Thanks, Dad.” Nebula’s sarcastic remark after Thanos openly admits Gamora was favored over her gives a side characters more than just a static position. She’s jealous and ambitious – a deadly mix.
Rocket’s bomb – Rocket’s boredom leads to the construction of a massive bomb. The smallest insecurities can have the most destruction. It’s symbolic as well that Rocket is small himself. This develops later on when they are waiting on Knowhere and Rocket threatens the guardians with his oversized gun, and drunkenly admits that he “didn’t ask to be made.” In one simple phrase, so much is revealed about our favorite furry bandit.
After several mishaps on Knowhere, the team finds itself on Yondu’s ship. Here comes Star Lord’s epic ‘loser’ speech. The team found itself turned against one another, but as it turns out losers get each other. And that is how 12% of a plan saved Xandar.
… and this point I realized I’ve stopped counting. Just go with it.
Possibly the BEST ‘reunited and it feels so good epic walk to showdown’ scene ever created is when the guardians, dressed in borrowed ravager’s clothing, leave Yondu’s ship to follow the 12% plan. Gamora yawns, Rocket scratches his crotch, and the only one who looks remotely intimidating is Drax but that’s mostly because he’s blue and oversized – all of this to The Runaways “Cherry Bomb”. This is more than just comic relief. It’s a reminder that our heroes are regular nobodies in borrowed clothing. The costume doesn’t make the hero.
Finally, the best part. The Black Aster descends on Xandar and Yondu’s men, alongside the entire Xandarian fleet, pick the biggest fight they’ve ever seen. Ronan has the infinity stone and is basically unstoppable, but with Gamora’s insider information and the brute force of the rest of the guardians team, they board the ship and blast Rocket’s massively destructive bomb right at Ronan’s chest. Which doesn’t actually work.
And then the dying scene becomes the legendary “We are Groot” scene. Its absolutely touching, the ultimate sacrifice from someone who days before was only a stranger. It seems heroes are never meant to be alone, the best heroes are the ones who do it in teams, which is what makes the guardians so good.
Groot sacrifices himself, but Ronan is still moments away from destroying an entire planet. So Quill, who basically becomes a dancing munchkin, unbelievably, totally comically, distracts Ronan for the seconds it takes for Rocket to blast the stone from his grasp.
An epic light show ensues, Quill delivers a great line, tricks Yondu once again, and the Guardians of the Galaxy blast off for another adventure. Good or bad, still unknown.
Criminals, ravagers, and the good men and women of the Xandarian fleet had to take one side, but they ended up saving a planet. This is better than the Avengers team because the thing is that these three forces were never meant to be on the same side. And they might not be again, they certainly don’t seem like a good team, but for this one battle it was the perfect reason find the power in losers. Because at the end of it all, they were all losers. That didn’t change. But as we’ve already established. Maybe being a loser isn’t so bad.
and of course, dancing baby Groot is an eternal ray of sunshine. Because the guardians already lost and learned, and Groot is regenerative, it looks like a happy ending. For the most part.