Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on The Marvel Universe – Guardians of the Galaxy
All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.
This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.
Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.
So here are our final thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy:
Final Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy:
So here we are discussing the last movie we’re going to do for Marvel this time around. Let me tell you, that feels gooooooood.
What feels even better though, is that this was not an unenjoyable movie. I’m going to structure this in the way that makes it more optimistic — bad stuff first, followed by good stuff to finish.
My issues with the movie are many. First and foremost, it’s a story I don’t give a damn about, because none of it matters. Another infinity stone, another space villain trying to destroy another civilization. Marvel’s really worn out its welcome on this front, but they don’t give up on the formula. I started live blogging the movie without having ever seen it before, but after I got 40 minutes in, I had to stop blogging and just finish the movie before I could go back and write. There were too many random blue guys, an evil plot that would bore you to tears and no consequences we really care about.
I’m thinking, “Hold on, so this blue guy wants the stone, but he’s working for Thanos and has his daughters — wait, they’re Thanos’ daughters…but also not really — go get the stone, but not so he can use it, only so he can get Thanos to destroy a planet his seems to dislike because of… religion?” It’s already bad enough that Thanos is in the movie as someone who sits in a chair and hires a contractor to get his rocks for him, but did anyone consider why Thanos would do favors for Ronan in exchange for the stone when his own daughters are the ones getting it for Ronan? Like, none of this makes sense, and there are too many bad guys caught up in this mess. On top of that, we have no connection to Xandar. It’s kind of terrible how genocide has to be Marvel’s vehicle for any sort of characters. So the whole villain plot, the bad guys, the universe building…I considered it to be as bad as Thor 2. Like, the villain stuff in this movie is as bad as it’s been in any Marvel movies we’ve watched in terms of how generic it was and how undeveloped the space bad guys were.
The CGI was predictably over the top, though I want to say that I appreciated their restraint in some cases. A lot of the on-world stuff was semi-practical, which is what gave me the Fifth Element vibe. If you saw our shots article, you probably noticed that we had a few that could have been better if only they’d been slightly less CGI. It’s a sci-fi hero movie, so that’s to be expected.
Some of the references were too much. I wasn’t into the “Ranger Rick” stuff for the Footloose references. There’s tongue-in-cheek, and then there’s tongue-through-cheek-asshole. I also have to wonder who that’s for, because younger people aren’t getting those references, so is it for parents? Older people who decided to go to see this tenth Marvel movie? A lot of it felt like the sort of things that would have been cut if they’d really tried to tighten up the script.
But all of this is secondary because we’re really excited about the characters. Now, the villains suck and Gamora is boring as hell, but the rest of them are cool. Watching the movie, I was mostly frowning and disappointed until we rejoined the main cast, at which point I laughed out loud pretty consistently. Pratt made a black light joke. Cooper ordered the theft of a prosthetic leg for fun. Dave Bautista shot a woman with a bazooka mid-sentence. Groot murdered 20 people and then flashed a Mister Rogers smile. Actually, let’s talk about how Dave Bautista was the biggest surprise of this movie for me. I knew the cast and had heard enough about how popular Groot was to have some idea of what to expect, which was that Pratt, Cooper and Diesel would be fun and Dave Bautista would be the hulking ex-MMA fighter who was cast to be large. He was funny as hell. Not even just with the literal stuff, but in his manner of speaking and in his attitude. “I was not paying attention. I was thinking of something else.” That line delivery was perfect. Or how he greeted Ronan’s ship arriving in Knowhere, or how he was laughing as they crashed into it during the final battle. The man has great moments, and I was honestly expecting to be ambivalent before watching. If your movie or someone in it surprises me like that, you’ve done something well.
I do really want to point out how Michael Rooker was the best supporting character in this movie by far. I’ve really only seen him in a handful of things, but he’s got a killer voice and a wicked smile. Menacing doesn’t begin to cover it. I felt that they could have done a lot more with Yondu, but they still could in a sequel. Simply being a character who’s semi-bad but also sort of attached to the protagonist is enough to put you over the top. I just want more of him smiling at people and murdering things. Almost makes me want to watch The Walking Dead.
We also have to give it to them for casting great actors in parts that didn’t require big names. Random collector and Space Liberace? Benicio. Random space cop? John C. Reilly. Head of the space cops? Glenn effing Close. So there’s reason to appreciate the movie’s cast more than you appreciate the movie itself. That killer soundtrack didn’t hurt, either.
I’m going to save my comparisons for later on, but this goes pretty high up the list simply because it did something different with tone and characters. I have reasons to dislike major portions of the movie, but it’s mostly fun and I’d rather look on the bright side than to dwell on that stuff. Not a bad way to end.
My Final Thoughts:
We all know I openly dislike Marvel. The first Iron Man was great, but everything in between was severely lacking. You can watch them and go, “Okay, I was entertained,” because that’s the purpose of the blockbuster, but wait a month, and you’ll forget half of what happened in those movies, and realize they’re not actually very good movies. As these past ten weeks have basically shown us.
But quite honestly, this movie is the first time since the first Iron Man that I sat down to a Marvel movie and went, “Whoa, this is actually pretty good.” They had me by the time the title card showed up on screen. They emotionally invested me in the character in a non-overbearing way, and then started by having fun with it. That’s really all they need to do. Somewhere between Iron Man and this, Marvel lost the fun. And people would say Avengers was fun. But it wasn’t. Avengers had some moments of playfulness, and clever dialogue at points. That wasn’t fun. You know what’s fun? The prison break. They made that fun. Marvel isn’t fun. It’s all serious and “save the world.” This movie manages to save a world, and I agree it loses steam when it starts to get serious, but the first half of this movie is fun as shit, and they keep enough of the fun throughout to not bog the movie down in the Marvel formula.
I can’t hold this movie to any standards of storytelling, because it’s Marvel. At this point, none of the plots are gonna matter, because none of the plots mean anything for right now. They’re all building to something later. Marvel can never just tell a story within a movie. Cap 2 is the closest they came to actually telling a contained story, which is why most people consider that Marvel’s second best movie. Cap 1 kinda does that too. Which is also why that’s usually ranked highly by people. So I can’t downgrade the movie for that, because every goddamn movie they make is gonna have that. At least this movie was fun to watch and had characters that were unique and interesting.
And they are interesting. Quill is fun because he’s your outlaw trope, with an emotional backstory. Granted, they don’t go too in depth with him as much as they could. Gamora is the one who isn’t very fun, but she works well next to the rest of them. And having Zoe Saldana play her doesn’t hurt. Drax is fucking incredible. Dave Bautista was a perfect choice, and the character is so well drawn that you know everything about him within a scene. And then the other two characters are a raccoon and a tree. And they seriously have more character development in one movie than Gwyneth Paltrow had in three. And it’s not just her. It’s more than her. Hell, they have more development than Thor has had. And let’s not forget Michael Rooker. Yondu is fucking great, and I’m so glad he got that part.
On the villain side — Ronan is underdeveloped, sure. But more scenes for him would have taken away screen time from our main characters, who are really what we want to see. So I can forgive some of that. Thanos has proven to be useless thus far, and I really hope he doesn’t suck when he gets his infinity war movies. So far I’ve seen nothing intriguing about him as a villain except what he wants to do.
I’m in a weird place with this one. Because I want to praise it to the heavens for giving me a Marvel movie I actually liked, but in reality, it has many problems with it, and I’m worried to ever give a Marvel movie praise, because these movies are overrated to begin with. But if you’re just looking at this in a Marvel vacuum, it’s hard to not consider this one of the best they’ve ever made purely because it’s different, it’s fun, and it takes place on the other side of the galaxy from the others, so it can be weird and different and can do what it wants and not really affect the rest of the stuff. Here’s hoping the next one doesn’t screw that up.
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Tomorrow… we’re actually going off format. We’re gonna go over some Marvel stuff, since apparently people like that shit.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)