Guardians of the Galaxy Took a Shit on the Universe

The latest mega-blockbuster from unstoppable Marvel Studios was Guardians of the Galaxy. People hailed it as the greatest cinematic achievement since the introduction of the talkie. It was heralded as the best movie of the year. It had everything: action, adventure, comedy, and wonder. It also had a giant sentient tree and a talking raccoon. Let’s face facts here, people. Guardians of the Galaxy was passable summer fare. It wasn’t revolutionary, it didn’t do anything that hasn’t already been done before. It was an average, braindead, popcorn movie that doesn’t have a lot of rewatch value.

I say Guardians is braindead because it requires no active thought on the part of the viewer. All the audience is required to do is sit back, relax, and DURR WATCH DEM EXPLOSIONS BLOW STUFF UP REAL GOOD DURR! As you start to curl your hands into angry fists, take a second to think about that last statement. Try hard to think of a single scene in Guardians that challenges your brain, has a plot twist, leaves something ambiguous, or posits a viewpoint that might challenge your deeply set beliefs about morality or cultures or relationships. Guardians doesn’t do anything close to any of that. All it does is blow shit up.

Granted, Guardians is pretty good at blowing shit up. There are a metric ton of action sequences. They are well directed, slick, exciting, and well paced throughout the course of the film. There are a lot of them, though. There are so many that the movie doesn’t have a lot of time for much else. Forget character development, because there isn’t any. There is no time to plumb the depths of character psyches when they have to fight hordes of CGI bad guys every ten minutes.

There is a lot of CGI. Too much. Like the much loathed Star Wars prequel trilogy, I’m fairly certain this entire movie was shot in front of a green screen. There are some practical sets for the characters to stand inside, but once an action scene begins, everything switches to full-on CGI mode. Two of the main characters are fully CGI: one is a sentient tree and the other is a talking raccoon. When two of your main characters aren’t even real, I think you’ve gone too far.

People talked about how hilarious Groot was. He’s the talking tree who only says, “I am Groot.” I have no clue why they found him funny. He lumbers around, speaks at random times, and generally has no impact at all on the film. At the end, when he sacrifices himself, it is ultimately hollow. He hasn’t earned any sympathy points. He hasn’t done anything worth mentioning, and he sure as hell hasn’t said anything endearing to make us sad about his death. Of course, this being a Hollywood movie, you know from the second the film telegraphs his death, he will be alive again before the movie ends. And, yes, that happens. He comes back to life during the credits. What is the point of killing a character if you are going to bring them back, literally, within the next ten minutes? Death has no ramifications. It’s pointless and dilutes the film from any ramifications.

Most of the acting is passable, with the exception of Dave Bautista who was a travesty. His acting was so wooden he should have been the one playing Groot. Chris Pratt does a good job as Star Lord. He’s basically playing himself, but that’s not a bad thing. He was basically playing himself on Parks & Recreation, and he was amazing on that show. I feel like the movie didn’t do enough to make me care about him, though. He’s an outlaw with no backstory. The movie doesn’t bother to relay his past more than his mom died when he was a kid. Oh, we’re supposed to root for him? Why exactly? Because he’s the main character, that’s why. The character doesn’t earn our support.

Along with not earning things, the group dynamic isn’t earned either. They hate each other, they break out of prison, then suddenly they’re this tight-knit group who fights and dies together. They don’t do anything to win each other over. We’re just supposed to accept it, just like the movie expects us to accept everything else. If anything, Guardians is lazy. It has all the usual action/adventure tropes, but it gets to them by going from Point A to Point C, and completely skips over Point B.

The villain was unmemorable, his nefarious deeds were forgettable (I watched this two weeks ago and I already don’t remember what he was trying to do), and he even looked completely generic. While the action scenes were fun and well directed, without a great villain, an action/adventure movie can only languish.

Guardians is not Marvel Studio’s best movie. The first Iron Man film is still their best output to date. Guardians is certainly much better than everything else they’ve put out. It stands head and shoulders above travesties like Captain America and The Avengers. Nevertheless, it’s still bogged down by mediocre filmmaking. It wants us to just accept everything at face value and doesn’t even attempt to intellectually engage the audience.

I suppose that’s the biggest problem with all the super hero movies that plague our cinemas summer after summer. Most of them are dumb and forgettable.

Verdict: Average

14 Responses to “Guardians of the Galaxy Took a Shit on the Universe”

  1. May 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    There is no Marvel movie I have watched as often as Guardians of the Galaxy. Why? Because it is fun. Plain and simple. Yes, the story is simply. But you know what? So is the story of Indiana Jones, or Die Hard, or Dirty Dancing. Or even of the first Star Wars movie.
    This reads like the article of someone who hare-watched the movie from the get go. Groot does nothing? So he doesn’t protect Peter in Prison, doesn’t rip an important component for the prison break off the wall, doesn’t give a little girl a flower, doesn’t rescue Drax from drowning, doesn’t convince Rocket to go after Peter and Gamora and doesn’t support Peter when he wants the team to participate in his plan?
    There is no character development? Really? I must have missed the part how a bunch of people who only care about themselves decide to team up and risk their life to safe the Galaxy.
    Peter has not backstory? He certainly has. He has most backstory than, for example, Tony had in Iron Man.
    And everyone who claims that Zoe Saldana is anything but outstanding in any role she plays has no clue at all.

    • May 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      The simple, plain fun aspects were what elevated this movie to a score of average. I was completely aware of them.

      Groot doesn’t literally do nothing, but he does nothing of true importance until the end. And his sacrifice was hollow for reasons mentioned in my review.

      Peter’s backstory is that he was kidnapped, worked for some aliens for a few years, and left them. That’s it. It’s not a history, it’s a one sentence blurb. And he is given the most backstory, which isn’t a lot.

      Yes, the team does end up working together, but they go from hating each other to being loyal comrades. The movie skips over this development from an emotional and interpersonal aspect. They go from hate to love with no gradations in between. That is not character development.

      I agree, Zoe Saldana is awesome.

      • May 25, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        You left out that Peter’s mother died, that she kept talking about his angle father coming to fetch him, the importance of music in his life because of her, that as a child he was picking fights to protect the helpless but the habit was kind of supressed while he was basically a pirate…..that is more backstory than you need for any character.

  2. May 25, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Marvels best output is Iron Man? Have you seen Netflix Daredevil yet? I think its at least on par and it is nothing like the SHEILD show if thats scaring you away.

    • May 26, 2015 at 8:41 am

      No, I haven’t seen Daredevil yet. Agents of SHIELD was utterly horrendous, and, yes, it was the reason I hadn’t bothered with Daredevil yet. I do like the main actor in the series. I suppose I will have to give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. May 26, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Guardians was, to me, the Raiders Of The Lost Ark of the Marvel universe. I loved it, thought it was hella good time, and have rewatched it numerous times since I snagged it on Blu (and still think it’s awesome). I don’t understand a lot of your criticisms of it (but then, you’re way harsher than I at this) but take them at face value – I didn’t read into the film what a lot of people DID, and I guess in that I’m perhaps poorer for it, but I felt here some of your critique was unjustified attempts to justify the “shitty” in the blog title?

    I mean, how can you go past a galactic dance-off? 😉

    • May 26, 2015 at 8:24 am

      I gave the film a score of Average, not Shitty. I honestly didn’t hate it. If I hated it, I would have given it a score of Shitty. I just don’t understand the hype and undying love for this film. It was FINE in terms of spectacle, but that was it. It doesn’t do anything else.

      It also is somewhat generic. You could replace all of the characters with anyone else (the Avengers, Indiana Jones, John Wick, etc.) and the movie wouldn’t really change at all. It just screams “AVERAGE.”

      There’s nothing wrong with liking it, and I’ll probably end up watching the sequel whenever that comes out.

      But nothing about it makes it stand up and deserve all the acclaim it’s gotten. If its only claim to fame is that it is the “best Marvel movie”, then that’s not saying much.

      I knew this would be a controversial post ;p

  4. 8 The Knitting Cinephile
    May 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Hmmm… I’m not going to agree with you, but I’m not going to disagree either. Marvel films have become a CGI candyland of the SSSSSSKKKKKK BOOM AND SHIT’S FLYIN’ EVERYWHERE! variety of movie, and you only have to look at the new Avengers movie to see that. The characters of GOTG are simplistic, 2-dimensional, walking emoticons. Then again, I didn’t go into this movie expecting [i]Casablanca[/i] … more of the emotional equivalent of [i]The Wizard of Oz[/i] with a lot less singing but an equal number of creepy dwarves. Is GOTG a bad movie? No. Is it deep and moving? Well, I cried at the end but then I cry at Hallmark commercials and romance novels. If anything, what the Marvel movies are doing is … well, [i]revolutionize[/i] is too strong a word, but they are creating this expanded universe of movies that are tied together without being direct sequels in a way that I haven’t seen before. At least I can’t come up with an example. It’s almost like a concept album, but with celluloid. I want to see if the Marvel industry can carry over into a two-record album, or if side 3 is going to turn into a cosmic jazz shit sandwich.

  5. May 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Can agree with you that it was generic in terms of comic book films. The story went from start to finish without really veering from the well tread path we know in comic book films. Hell, it could have been The Avengers, had the characters has different names.

    That said, I enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s big and loud. A little bit stupid. Groot suckered me in. Probably less Groot, but Rocky’s companionship with him.

    Guardians felt like a breath of fresh air to me when it comes to comic book films. I’ve really begun to tire of them. Maybe it was simply the offworld setting that did it for me. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this universe to the more Earthly Marvel universe.

  6. 12 Dober
    May 27, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I agree with brik on this one. I even went to the theatre to watch this film and left it disappointed. I wonder every time I watch a movie in theatre that has scenes which are just a tiny little bit funny that there is a bunch of people who piss theirselves laughing their asses off. I remember Guardians having a couple of scenes which made me grin or smile like Star Lord’s dancing in the beginning which is a cool scene I admit. I’d even go that far that this scene develops Star Lord’s character more than the rest of the stuff he does in this movie. But people tend to laugh about EVERYTHING – literally!

    The raccoon firing his gun on Groot’s shoulder? People lose their shit and I just thought that the scene would have been much cooler if it was better directed because all of the action sequences in this movie were pretty average. The action market is oversaturated. Amazing action scenes have become very rare nowadays. When I was zapping through TV channels lately Terminator 3 caught my eyes and I was blown away at how good the car chase with the crane truck and the police cars/fire trucks has aged to this day. This action scene is phenomenal.

    I think one problem at least I have with superhero movie action scenes is that they are largely CGI. CGI action in CGI background is even worse. In terms of action there is nothing I remember above average from Amazin Spiderman, Thor or Cap. X-Men Last Stand being one exception.

    I agree with brik also on the characters. I found Michael Rooker’s blue guy and Batista even annoying to watch.

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May 2015


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