Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review

“I-I-I-I-I’m… I’m hooked on a feeling!”

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So goes the chorus of that song.

While I’m not a fan of the song, it sums up my experience on seeing James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest entry from Mickey Mouse’s “official” line of Marvel Comics adaptations.

While not familiar with the comic book series (I later heard there were two incarnations), the title of the then-upcoming movie seemed to intrigue me. It evoked a title of a space-age movie made either in 1964 or 1967. It’s got that psychedelic overtone to it, “The Guardians of the Galaxy”. Then I heard about this compilation album roving around the small corners of the Internet, Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 — the non-score soundtrack to the picture. Then I read articles of the track list. It had me with the track list.

At home with most of the songs, a healthy mix of vintage rock and R&B, songs I grew up with—whether through classic rock radio or by way of my folks, it got me interested in seeing this movie all the more. “How did they sequence the songs in the movie?”

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So, I saw it. I saw it with an outsider’s pair of eyes.

The verdict? The movie was great! Magnetic, I’d say charismatic, performance from Chris Pratt as the Earthling protagonist. The guy is soon to make it as a household name. You just watch. Then there’s Dave Bautista, who fans of pro-wrestling would know as “Batista”. It’s Batista being Batista, but this time his skin is blue. It was enjoyable to see him ham it up—from gait to stance to talk, considering pro-wrestlers do that a lot. Hilarious to see John C. Reilly there, in what appears to be a walk-on part. In a good way, I can never take the man seriously, from “Boogie Nights” to “The Dewey Cox Story”. I had to stifle my laughter seeing him there. But the ones who really stole the show were ironically not there—Bradley Cooper, as Rocket the talking raccoon, and Vin Diesel as the Pokémon-speaking tree-thing, Groot. They were computer-generated performances, but it is the delivery of the duo that made the movie enter a whole different dimension of wonderful. (Seriously. Have you ever seen a live-action movie with a talking raccoon as one of the leads?)

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There’s the salty dialogue. I was surprised to see that much cussing in a comic book adaptation  (by comic book adaptation standards, that is). There’s the subversive treatment of the story. Before the a-holes of the movie could ham it up with the melodramatic “antagonist’s monologue”, as expected of a comic book adaptation, somebody interrupts them either with a rocket launcher or a spacecraft. Such irreverence. And yet, all of these were refreshing. Truly, what Robert Altman did to war movies with MASH, James Gunn did the same to comic book movies with this picture. That sequence where the would-be Guardians and the Nova Corps engage in a dogfight with Ronan’s (Lee Pace) army has got to be one of the most stunning final battles I’ve seen on the big screen in a while. Commenting on Gunn’s execution of the action, I went, “Jesus H. Crist! He’s clearly having fun with this.” And you could see he was. He staged it like it was one big shoot-‘em-up game. The lingering shots helped, too. You could clearly see the action; something lacking from modern blockbusters now. It was also memorable, unlike that of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction (I don’t even remember much of his Transformers movies).

Back to the music. The selections were great. Diegetic in the form of a cassette tape, the aforementioned Awesome Mix, Vol. 1, these sets of tracks from the late-1960s to late-1970s were a perfect ingredient to the plot, and at times poignant, as they were Peter Quill’s (Pratt) only connection to the Earth, and his departed mother, before he got whisked away by interstellar forces. I relate myself to Quill, as listening to these songs before viewing the picture (especially the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way”) made me remember a time when life was simpler and people were happier. When most of my loved ones were still living, when my hometown was still a town, when my friends were still innocent, and when I was carefree enough not to worry about anything. It really hit a nerve with me; and sometimes, I wish I could travel back, for at least one day, just to relive the “halcyon years.” They say nostalgia isn’t healthy, but sometimes, it’s a nice antidote for the escalating ills we are currently facing in the present, may it be here or outside the solar system.

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I can say I thoroughly enjoyed The Guardians of the Galaxy. I do believe it’s the best thing that has ever happened to comic book adaptations since Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Humor played a part in propelling the movie forward. What makes these Mickey Mouse Marvel flicks so fascinating are the open casualness ironically lacking in Christopher Nolan’s supposedly-realistic take on Batman. With no famous icon from the Marvel Studios canon to work with, such as Iron Man or Captain America, I’ll have to praise Gunn again (who also co-wrote the screenplay) for making something worth watching out of characters not really known well to the public consciousness. Essentially, it was a giant leap of faith. The result is one of the most life-affirming movies I have ever seen in my life. If New York’s Village Voice declared A Hard Day’s Night as the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals,” then I’d like to declare that The Guardians of the Galaxy is the Hard Day’s Night of comic book movies. If there are morals I’ve learned from the picture, it is these—One: Forget melodrama. And two: Pop music can be good for (and is the window to) the soul.

Back to the music. The selections were great.” and before “Diegetic in the form of a cassette tape…

 

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