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Hooked on a feeling or no? – Guardians of the Galaxy

August 1, 2014


Three years ago saw the film advent of the God of Thunder, Thor, in all his mailed and flaxen-tressed glory. In my review for that film, which I liked quite a bit, I focused a lot on how it was the one big element of the Avengers build that could have gone horribly, horribly wrong. It would have been easy for Asgard, with all its mix of science and magic and Rainbow Bridges and highfalutin talk, to come across as untenably silly on the big screen, and it could have been a hellish two-hour exercise in trying to cover both your eyes and your ears with your hands — you know, like any Michael Bay Transformers abomination. (Well, maybe not that bad.) Yeah, Captain America could be stiff (and had his own dreadful adaptations to overcome) and the Hulk could be one-dimensional, but Thor was voted Most Likely to Bomb Spectacularly in that high school yearbook.

But it worked out. Kenneth Branagh and his committed cast held it together, despite said director’s fetishistic obsession with Dutch angles that lasted throughout. It wove the mystical, deified aspect of Marvel’s rich fictional history seamlessly into the Cinematic Universe narrative. It was fun, and it promised that this unprecedented franchise-melding flower was just beginning to blossom.

I dredge all this up because Guardians of the Galaxy feels a bit like Thor, but without the august pedigree. It’s a team movie that bears no relation to the original comic book team (well, mohawked Yondu is in it), and no one cares about that because no one apart from the most devoted Trivial Pursuit Marvel nerds can name the original Guardians roster off the tops of their heads. It’s a team with CGI trees and raccoons. But if it works? If it works, there’s not just a team-up movie for the ages in store. No, we have the great treasure-trove of cosmic Marvel at our very fingertips. High stakes indeed.

So how is it?

It’s not bad. It’s pretty good, in fact. The characters are well-developed, and intergalactic Marvel gets a nice bottle of champagne smashed against her prow. But the story is predictable — more on that in a moment — and writer/director James Gunn falls in love with his and the film’s humor a tad too much. The movie isn’t great, and it won’t send you out of the theater floating on air. It’s a solid moviegoing experience, though, and that’s not a backhanded compliment in an industry glutted with so much drivel.

More analysis and thoughts on the next page (click on the “2” down below), as well as a final rating. Warning: some spoilers, and some fairly major, though no “this happened, and then this happened.”

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