Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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My daughter and I attended an advanced screening of this film for free, but as always all opinions stated here are 100% my own or those of my family. Before reading on, please be aware that this review contains mild spoilers.

Back during the winter, I truly wondered how my oldest daughter, Abbi, was going to survive a summer without new episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to look forward to and watch every week (or every few weeks). Well, she’s done well so far – it helps that she is old enough to be on Facebook now (with a lot of privacy settings and limits) so she can follow the latest Marvel news as things are announced. And she had something to peak her interest during the summer as well – the new Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy, which just came out on Friday. Abbi and I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the movie a couple of days earlier, which was a really fun mother-daughter outing for us.

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Guardians of the Galaxy does not involve any of the Marvel superheroes that have been part of the Avengers films – no Ironman, Captain America, Hulk or Thor. Instead, the movie takes place almost entirely off of Earth and is based on a superhero team that’s appeared in Marvel comics but not previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The ensemble cast includes the Guardians: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill (Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, who are trying to stop Ronin the Accuser (Lee Pace) from destroying the world of Xandar with an all-powerful orb that he has promised to retrieve for Thanos (Josh Brolin). Working with Ronin are Thanos’ daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Other cast members include Michael Rooker as Yondu, a blue-skinned guy who leads a group called the Ravagers, Benicio del Toro as The Collector, who is also in search of the orb, and Glenn Close as Nova Prime, the leader of the Nova Corps.

Neither Abbi or I were at all familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, storylines or mythology (outside of watching a few trailers) before seeing the movie, so I was curious to see if we would be able to follow the plot without understanding all of the background. The film starts off with the backstory of Peter Quill, who is abducted by aliens from Earth right after his mother dies of cancer. We don’t see what happens afterward, although we can guess from some of the later dialogue that he was raised by the band of Ravagers (led by Yondu) who took him. The movie picks up 26 years later with an adult Peter in the midst of his search for the orb. We do find out more details about the orb later on, and why everyone wants it so badly – but I do admit to some curiosity about how Peter and Ronin knew where the orb was located to begin with and why nobody else had tried to take it previously (or what happened if they did). Not having those details really didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the movie at all though – the movie starts off as action-packed and doesn’t really let down at all right though the end.

We see how this unlikely group meets and bands together to form friendships – you definitely wouldn’t necessarily expect a human, a green-skinned alien female, a talking raccoon, a tattooed warrior and a plant-based, tree-like something to have much in common, but the way that the group forms is explained well and is logical. There’s a lot of humor in the characters and story, which really helps to balance all of the action sequences – that’s what made the film really enjoyable to me. I love watching Abbi watch shows or movies that she’s really into – she gets so emotional right along with the characters and has a hard time suppressing her excitement or angst. She does tend to be a bit loud (ok, maybe a more than a bit), so I kept having to shush her during this movie because there were a lot of nail-biting or ‘aha!’ types of moments, but it was obvious all the way through that she was loving every minute of it. Afterward, she immediately announced that this is now her ‘third favorite’ movie – right after Captain America: Winter Soldier and The Avengers. That’s high praise right there, lol. I asked Abbi to write a short review, so here’s what my 13-year-old had to say about Guardians of the Galaxy:

Amazing movie. It was funny, it was action-filled, it was entertaining, much more than I, personally had actually expected! I had had my doubts about it before seeing it but the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” (or in this case, movie) definitely is correct when it comes to this movie. I’m very glad I got the chance to see it.

Normally this is the kind of movie that my husband would have taken Abbi to see, and she’s already planning to see it again with him, probably for his birthday in a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t mind tagging along to see it again too, although it’s not something that my younger daughters are interested in seeing. It’s rated PG-13 anyway, so it’s definitely not something that we would take Becca to, even if she wanted to see it right now. Hannah hasn’t really been interested in the Marvel stuff all that much, although she’s expressed interest in catching up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before the new season begins, and I think she would actually really like Guardians of the Galaxy, so I think I’ll try to talk her into seeing it with us when Abbi and I take Ron.

The screening that Abbi and I went to was in 3D, but I expect that we’ll see it in 2D when we go again to save on ticket costs. I thought that the 3D really showed off the special effects well, especially the space scenes, so I’m curious as to whether I notice a big difference with the 2D version. I really would recommend seeing Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D if possible – and that’s not something I’ve felt strongly about with other movies I’ve seen 3D versions of in the past. This was my first live-action 3D movie though – the others I’ve seen were all animated features.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie – although it did make me curious about more of the backstory involved in this particular universe, especially as relating to Ronin, Thanos and the Nova Corps. It wasn’t completely clear to me why Ronin was so feared by everyone (we do learn that he killed Drax’s family, so his enmity toward Ronin made sense), but I wasn’t totally understanding the feud between Ronin and the Nova Corp/Xandarians, or where Thanos came in to all of that. I assume that a lot more of the mythology has been explained in the comics – since I’m not a fan of comic books, I took to Wikipedia to bring myself a little more up-to-speed. While you don’t NEED all of the background to enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy by any means, I think it does help to have a little familiarity. I am interested in finding out if there are any books that involve the Guardians of the Galaxy – while comics aren’t my thing, books certainly are. And the movie definitely whetted my interest in learning more about this universe and those who inhabit it.

Which was probably the intent of the filmmakers, because of course I then become very interested in seeing what happens to these characters in the future and since Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has already been announced (coming in 2017), I expect that Abbi and I will be in line right away for that one too. 🙂