Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

A “bunch of A-holes” band together in a post-plot ramble through the Galaxy

Image by Cakes and Comics
Image by Cakes and Comics

Surprising everyone in the Hollywood Galaxy, Guardians managed to blossom in an otherwise down time for the box office. Sitting behind Avengers and Iron Man 3 as the most successful Marvel enterprise to date, the film demonstrated that with the right marketing campaign and a new take on plot, even characters on the fringes of the Marvel master class can find mainstream appeal. James Gunn delivers a thrill ride – fun and exciting, but leaving many scratching their heads over the details.

The film opens on a Rocketman-outfitted mercenary working his way through an Indiana Jones-like ruin, avoiding booby-traps and ultimately discovering a treasure hidden deep in a temple. The quest to offload this artifact leads him into a cast of odd characters, who by a common enemy are united. This band of misfits (in every sense of the word) finds themselves in the middle of an intergalactic conflict, with a warlord on their trail out for revenge, and no clue how to save the galaxy.

Gunn and Co. found their niche in invoked nostalgia. Coming as one of the first collaborations of Disney-owned Marvel, its no surprise they played to their strengths, though the target demographic seems an odd choice for either pairing. Of course the novelty of a talking raccoon and tree Abbot and Castello pairing, as well as the sci-fi crossover with a comic property, draws the 18-35 crew in droves. Yet, with a carefully selected soundtrack of 70s/80s nostalgia, Guardians seems to be extending a Groot branch to the older demos, attempting to bring in the last group to adopt the cinematic superhero as their own. This move shows promise for the future of the diluted Marvel prospects for the future.

Many have already commented on the plot not requiring total coherence for one to enjoy the film. The background conflict is practically non-existent, bordering on a White Hat/Black Hat approach to expositing the good from the bad. A specialty of the film is subverting special plot moments – typified best in the great rally the troops scene towards the end. As each team member reluctantly joins the new squad, standing to show their solidarity, the touching moment is spoiled by a one-liner, dissolving the cathartic bond into a “let’s just do it” attitude. All this to the film’s betterment; by subverting the traditional plot beats, the film finds its identity in the nonconformity of its heroes.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun film that requires a little focus, ultimately an exercise in excitement, rather than serious reflection. Quite the adventure itself, this sci-fi/Superhero crossover demonstrates interesting new prospects for the future of the genre and for the merger of Marvel and Disney. Already on track to have its own animated TV series and an inevitable sequel, $739 million spells many more adventures for the galactic protection squad.


Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

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