Dave Actually Watches: Guardians of the Galaxy

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m the nerd who didn’t see The Avengers and doesn’t want to. In fact, I didn’t see any of the Marvel movies except Iron Man, and I’m okay with that. I’m not interested in superheroes, so I’m glad the fans are pretty pleased with those films, but it’s not really my thing.

Guardians of the Galaxy is part of that shared superhero universe; despite it being outer space, it’s set in the present day. It sets up a bad guy who is presumably going to tangle with the Avengers or someone in another movie or so, and in the ending credits bit we find out that The Hulk is Star-Lord’s father. So it’s of a part with those other movies, so there was every reason to pass for me, but it looked like fun. A fun sci-fi adventure movie? I often like those.

We hit the matinee this weekend, opted for 2-D, and settled in. And dammit, it was a really fun ride. It was exciting and moved at a great pace without overwhelming. The bad guys were sufficiently bad, the good guys were sufficiently ragtag, and the universe was constantly interesting. The writing even takes characters like Peter “Star-Lord” Quill and Rocket, the Raccoon, who could easily have been obnoxious “irreverent” characters and instilled them with depth and personality that allowed each of them to not be, “100% a dick”, to quote someone.

I’ve never really followed Marvel comics faithfully, but through osmosis I know some stuff. I know who Thanos is, what the MacGuffin in the story is, and I’ve heard of the Kree. So I have a tiny bit of a leg up on an untrained viewer, but I don’t think not knowing these things would get in the way. At first the number of people interested in the MacGuffin was daunting, but they soon settle down and you’re okay with who’s who. If it fits in with the other movies that’s a bonus for Marvel enthusiasts, but I can report that it stands perfectly well on its own.

I’m pleased that the classic rock soundtrack makes sense, and in fact is pretty well used through the movie. When I first heard it in the trailer I rolled my eyes, but I have to admit they worked it in effectively. And hey, I’ll always take “Moonage Daydream” over “Everything is Awesome”.

People have actually been comparing GotG to Star Wars and that’s kind of a tough one since, for me, I don’t think even Star Wars is Star Wars anymore, but I think it’s an apt description. Like Star Wars, this is a sci-fi movie that is not concerned with big important ideas and gravitas, but just a rollicking adventure flick. Unlike a lot of other science fiction movies these days it’s neither ponderously self-important nor assuming that it doesn’t have to try very hard because you’ll see it anyway.

It’s strange to call a colossal-budget marketing juggernaut like Guardians of the Galaxy, “a breath of fresh air” but that’s kind of what it was for me. I was perfectly pleased by it and yeah, I’ll see another one. Still don’t care about an Avenger, though.

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