With all the hoopla and praise for The Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I was a little worried about seeing it. Wait until it is streaming, I thought. Then I wouldn’t be disappointed if it wasn’t all that. Then I saw the video clip of baby Groot jiving to I Want You Back by the Jackson Five. One, it was adorable. Two, I finally realized that the great 70s funk I’d heard spliced into the trailers weren’t just ancillary. They are actually part of the movie. I couldn’t help myself. I had to check it out.
I wasn’t disappointed on the sound track. None of the music is the kind I would have kept around over the years—on my shelf, as a playlist, or in my head. But it was all stuff I immediately recognized and could sing along with. The 70s wasn’t my teen generation. It was my big sisters. So the sound track took me back to my grade school years. I worshiped big sis and when she got her first car I was on-board anytime I could be. I listened to a lot of her music. My cousin and I would call into the radio station a million times to get them to play a song we loved during the request hour.
So it took me back and maybe that is why I am going to say something I have never said about a movie before. I walked out of Guardians of the Galaxy with the same awe and wonder feeling I had walking out of Star Wars. You know THE Star Wars, back in 1977. I was eleven then (stop. Don’t do that math!) and Star Wars blew every other movie I’d seen out of the water. It was revolutionary for its effects, but it also provided the great quest, good vs evil of the mythic Hero’s Journey that has called to people for millennia. I was the right age for it then. The Hero’s Journey doesn’t really call to me that much anymore. I’ve seen it so many times and the world is just different enough that the 1977 version seems too innocent and naive.
Guardians, has a Hero’s Journey story at its core—our hero must chase after the thing-a-ma-jig and stop evil from destroying the good. He gathers allies, he must break away from his father (or in this case the man who raised him) to find his own way. Yeah, it’s all there but with a more mature take that works a bit better today. Peter is not the young innocent (though we do briefly meet him at a time when he was—a small dose of his back story). He is good at heart, but has been raised to be thief and an outlaw. Which he is. But with a ‘heart of gold’ beating strong and on display in his child like love of fun and play and music. He is almost a melding of Star Wars’ young Luke and Han Solo into one character. One I loved from his first scene and could watch again and again.
In fact, this is the first comic book movie to make me want to go back and read the source material. I should probably mention that I knew almost nothing about the Guardians going into the movie. Never read the comics. Didn’t do much research beyond watching the trailers. Now, I want more and I don’t want to wait more than a year to get it. (Looking for recommendations on where to start!) Besides, I don’t just want the next adventure in this tale that will unfold, I want to know more about these characters. And I don’t even care that those stories won’t necessarily exactly match the details of this one. That is the nature of comic book stories. They are always re-inventing, giving a different take, a fresh look. Comic book readers love that and maybe that is why Marvel has been so successful. They are making stories about characters that haven’t been done for the less forgiving mainstream audience before.
But back to the movie itself. The effects were good. Making a movie with a blend of CGI and human characters has been done before, but this is certainly one with A LOT of that going on and I never thought about it once during the movie. The landscapes were interesting, diverse, and convincing. I love the colors of the Marvel Universe! My only real complaint with the film visually was that some of Saldana’s acrobatics looked a bit jarring and unnatural. I don’t know if it was wire work or a CGI boost, but it film that was pretty astounding, it squeaked as the only trouble spot.
The SciFi of Super Heroes
Some of the tech on display, specifically the tech that make it possible for humans to go into space with very little protective gear, would never be convincing for a straight SciFi movie, but the first time it gave me a hesitation I quickly reminded myself this is the superhero world where the Tesseract is a thing and Tony Stark walks around with an ARC reactor in his chest. I quickly brushed it aside. At least they don’t call it magic. I love that Marvel does use actual science fiction explanations for its super heroes, even if it sometimes seems a little thin.
The characters and the actors’ performances were wonderful. I could swear I was starting to understand Groot by the end of the movie. Batista had me laughing and cheering for Drax. I am pretty convinced that Bradley Cooper actually secretly is a talking raccoon. I must admit I liked Zoe Saldana better as Uhera but she quickly convinced me she was green. Chris Pratt could easily have carried the movie, but he didn’t have to and did an incredible job of sharing the stage to let the team as a whole fill up the screen.
Good News – Bad News
You’ve probably already heard that Guardians of the Galaxy Two has been green lighted. The bad news is it will be a long wait. It is scheduled for July 2017. Ugh! Almost three years. But guess what other movie made us wait three years for the sequel? Star Wars! Crazy coincidence? Hmm? Back in the 70’s the delay had a lot to the state of special effects in that era. For Guardians I think it probably has more to do with the broader Marvel release plan and overlapping characters between Guardians and Avengers. These two ensemble groups did have overlap in the comics so it’s likely they will overlap in the movies and Marvel seems to be working hard to keep continuity in the world as it is being served to the main stream audience.
One Final Thought
To wrap up this little fan girl word explosion I’d like to leave you with one more story from my trip to see Guardians yesterday. As I was getting up to leave the theater, I heard a small boy (guessing around 5) asking Daddy when they could see it again. This overheard chat between dad and son made it clear that both were as excited by the movie as I had been. Avengers made geeks everywhere thrill with excitement over the reality of a shared dream. Our stuff, done right, and loved by so many. But I think Guardians of the Galaxy may be the treasured movie that will inspire children and help shape our culture.
And as for me, well, I’m hooked on a feeling. High on believing….