Ian Soltes is a 25-year-old Norwalk resident and former Norwalk Communitiy College student. He is write game reviews for an online review site, Darkstation, and has written more than 50 reviews for Gamefaqs.
NORWALK, Conn. – Well it’s that time again. Within the movie theaters over the past few years there have been many constants:
- Any movie with Michael Bay will have a lot of explosions in it
- The majority of remakes of classic fairytales will end up being noticeably sub-par unless made by Disney or Dreamworks
- And Marvel movies are simply great
Marvel’s latest movie is “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is simply a great movie that is fully enjoyable to almost all age groups. In fact, when I went in to see it, I was fully surprised not only at the number of adults present, but the sheer volume of kids there as well. I suspect that most of them saw Rocket, the little raccoon character, and thought it would be just a light-hearted movie.
The story begins quite simply. On Earth in the late 1980’s, a young boy named Peter Quill is in the hospital with his mother, who is dying from cancer. Things keep going downhill until she cannot survive any longer. Distraught, the young Peter flees the hospital, crying, before getting abducted by aliens.
Cut to many years later where Peter is now working as a junker/outlaw who harvests various artifacts and pieces of junk to turn them in for cash. While exploring a set of ruins on a deserted planet, he discovers an ancient orb that he has been hired to find. The orb contains something of immense value within – so much value, in fact, that Peter doesn’t even get to leave the ruins before being attacked by a group of aliens called the Cree who want the orb as well.
The aliens are commanded by Ronan, their prince, who desires to end a peace treaty that he views as being unfavorable to his people and desires the power of the orb to give his people a major edge. He opts to dispatch his adopted sister Gamora to obtain the orb. Upon confronting Peter, Gamora attempts to betray her brother and soon Peter, Gamora, and two bounty hunters named Rocket and Groot are captured and sent to prison where they find Drax, a man whose family was killed by Ronan and Gamora and seeks revenge.
The movie is very well thought out and pretty well acted, with plenty of well-delivered dialogue, especially coming from Rocket and Groot, the run-away stars of the film. None of the five primary characters feel tacked on or “side-kicky,” as all five get some very good moments. For example, Groot, despite being as dumb as a plant – which he IS – is a very strong and aggressive fighter and gets multiple scenes in which to show off his talents, as does Rocket, with his ingenuity, and Gamora, with her fighting skills.
Even Ronan, the primary antagonist of the film, gets presented as a fairly solid and threatening villain despite being fairly slow and stotic in his motion. He comes across as more of a statue of power, slow-moving but utterly decisive, when he strikes.
In addition, the movie takes advantage of its space and sci-fi setting. There are several inventive fights that take full advantage of the fact that this is a world of the future with technology that does not exist today, and they do so without making it obtrusive or techno-babbly. Even simple things like acknowledging that the gravity in a place is artificial is used to a very inventive degree, which I did not expect. I went in expecting to see a bunch of run-and-gun laser fights that displayed cool tech without really explaining why beyond “Oooo! Lasers!” and got some nice, lateral, thinking that surprised me at times.
The plot isn’t the best, but it did a lot of things right. While some plot-points were very predictable, the movie managed to pull a lot of sudden left turns that caught me by surprise. There were at least three moments where something I had not expected to happen did, some practical and fairly sane choices that are rarely seen in movies.
Sadly, there are flaws that keep this from becoming an exceptional movie. The first is Peter himself. He’s the predictable hero/outlaw who is good but on the wrong side of the law, in it for the money until things suddenly change around him. While he has some good moments (including a bit during the final fight against Ronan that was… surprising), he’s mostly there to be the stock hero and remind everyone that he’s from the ’80’s.
Another is that the pacing, camera angles, and slow dialogue make it so you can almost see the comic book panels as you watch it. While this is a movie based on a comic book, prior movies that have been based on comic books, such as the X-men and Batman movies, have managed to present themselves as a legit form of media without performing such a thing to an almost-distracting point. But when one who barely even reads comics can almost see the framing and speech balloons forming, there is a problem.
Additionally, as threatening as Ronan actually is, he doesn’t actually do much. Even toward the end of the movie during the final battle, he is less of a fighter and more of someone who is just, there – an object to be feared instead of a villain.
Lastly, for all the nice twists and surprises that the plot had, there were quite a few utterly predictable moments as well. Anyone who has seen enough movies will be able to pick them out almost the moment they appear on-screen. Sadly, these are present for almost the entire movie. The minor divots in the plot stream are fun and interesting, the major, general flow of the plot is predictable.
For all of its flaws, the movie is still undeniably good and a solid addition to the Marvel line-up and flat-out enjoyable movie. It feels like a cross between the pirate movies and westerns set in space and does so wonderfully. The visual aspects are great, the script is solid, Rocket is simply an amazingly funny and well-written character (by far the best), and the movie was more than enjoyable throughout its entire runtime. On a scale of 1-10 with a 5 being the many forgettable movies that come out every year and leave no impact except upon the library shelves where they’ll stagnate for the next 10 years, this is definitely an 8. Despite its flaws it’s highly enjoyable and, so long as you don’t mind a bit of course language, can even be seen with your children without concern.
This movie is one you should go see, as movies like this don’t come along often – unless they’re Marvel movies, which seem to have managed to score a run-away series of great movies for quite a while.