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Guardians of the Galaxy: Beware the Movie That's Too Much Fun

<i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i>: Beware the Movie That's Too Much Fun
Marvel Studios

Beware the movie that's Fun! with a capital F, the one populated with seemingly unpretentious characters that say adorable, clever things, the one that presents each off-kilter joke as if it were a porcelain curio, the one that boasts a comfort-food soundtrack of songs you've always liked but perhaps haven't heard in a while. On the plus side, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy, adapted from the Marvel comic book series of the same name, has a sense of humor about itself: Even when characters strut around dropping hefty expository bundles like "Ronan is destroying Xanderian outposts throughout the galaxy!" they do so with a wink. But by the end, you'll have been winked at so much you may think you've been staring at a strobe light for nearly two hours. Guardians of the Galaxy is proof that a picture can have a sense of humor yet have no real wit. It hits every beat, but it hasn't got the beat.

See also: "A Note to the Guardians of the Galaxy Fans Who Are Calling Our Critic a 'Harlot'"

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Directed by James Gunn
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Opens August 1



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You might be fooled into thinking otherwise at the beginning. Guardians opens with a flashback preamble detailing a key episode in the childhood of our hero, Peter Quill (played, as a youngster, by Wyatt Oleff): His mother, dying in a hospital, begs him to take her hand; he recoils, only to be filled with remorse seconds later, when she draws her last breath. The totem he clings to is a mixtape of "Awesome Music" she's made for him, filled with rad-pop treasures from her own youth and maybe from yours, too, like the Raspberries' "Go All the Way" and 10cc's "I'm Not in Love." Cut to Quill as a brawny, space-roaming grown-up, now played by Chris Pratt: He's still listening to that tape, and we see him, headphones clamped to his ears, swaggering through a dazzling, surreal, blue-green alien landscape -- rife with obnoxious, scampering lizards, which he impatiently kicks out of the way -- to the strains of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love."

Fun! Right? Actually, that early sequence almost is fun, though it's just a little too self-aware, too pleased with itself, to work. Later, our rogue space scavenger Quill is joined in his exploits by green-skinned butt-kicker Gamora (Zoe Saldana), beefcake-y, tattooed chrome-dome Drax (pro wrestler Dave Bautista), and an unlikely duo of soldiers of fortune: cranky, talking-raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his bark-covered sidekick, Groot (Vin Diesel), a thinking, feeling, ambulatory plant form with exceedingly sad, slightly watery eyes. Naturally, none of these characters likes one another much at first. But they quickly realize that five heads and 12 legs are the bare minimum needed to prevent the villainous, stripey-face Ronan (Lee Pace) from destroying the galaxy. Also, at one point they'll have to take a meeting with Glenn Close in a winter-white pretzel hairdo, and that's seriously scary.

Gunn has to juggle so many plot elements in Guardians of the Galaxy -- so many booming galactic battles, so many whisker-close brushes with death, so many almost-poignant moments of epiphany -- that it's little wonder he loses his grip on the thing. Then again, he and Nicole Perlman wrote the script (adapting it from the comic books by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning), so they bear some responsibility for its top-heaviness. Gunn inserts occasional moments of wonder -- in the most effective one, a character makes a sacrificial act to save the others, as twinkling lights, ostensibly representing compassion and generosity, dot the frame. But he doesn't bother to smooth over the seams. Time and again, he cues us what to feel, which is different from creating the perfect weather conditions for it and then stepping back.

What really kills the fun -- as opposed to the Fun! -- of Guardians of the Galaxy is its desperation to be casual and quirky and irreverent nearly every minute. Groot and Rocket are, admittedly, well designed: Rocket, with his expressively raggedy fur, comes off as a crotchety refugee from Fantastic Mr. Fox. And the perpetually sorrowful Groot, his arms and legs a tangle of art nouveau roots, strikes the right balance between somber elegance and whimsy. (Diesel makes the most of the single growly line Groot repeats throughout the movie -- "I'm Groot!" -- turning it into a lament or a declaration, as needed.)

Oddly enough, these CGI-created characters are the most naturalistic element of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Otherwise, the movie works so hard to advertise its disreputability that it comes off as anything but. At one point, Quill not-so-subtly flips the bird to an intergalactic cop, putting an old schoolboy's trick to use. Pratt -- an actor with a degree of rakish charm -- feigns innocence at his own naughtiness, and the moment is almost funny. But though Quill is, ostensibly, a lady-killer who swears like a sailor on shore leave, he's repeatedly forced to use the distractingly demure term "a-hole." The saltier, full-strength version would surely give offense to the dark lords of the MPAA, who would, in their wrath, snatch away his movie's PG-13 rating. It's all just too precious for words. Especially those four-letter ones.

Correction: The abbreviated "capsule" version of this review was originally published in this space. This is the full review.
 
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132 comments
jlplatten
jlplatten

My honest review of GotG posted on metacritic... I love everything Marvel Studios and hated Man of Steel:

 

You know there's something terribly wrong when the most memorable part of the movie is the sequence after the climactic finale... yes, I'm talking about a baby dancing Groot. There was nothing about this movie that really drew me in, and it's because the character stories were rushed so fast that you didn't get a chance to feel anything for them. We get to see each character for a few minutes before their paths collide. So when the characters only know each other for a few days, we're expected to believe they've bonded to the point where they'll die for each other? This movie should have been an animated film for kids in my opinion. The dumbed down dialogue sure fit. I really wish they focused the story on Peter Quill, instead he felt like a side character. That's probably because we have five heroes, four villains, and tons of side characters: Yondu and his crew, the Collector and his slave, Nova Prime and the entire Nova Corps. So many pointless characters could have been cut from this film, and the necessary time could have been given to develop Quill's story. This would have improved the movie dramatically. Don't get me wrong... all the characters in this movie do look really interesting, however, you can't squeeze all their stories in a 2 hour film, otherwise it's a mess. The directing was great, the overall story was good, the action and special effects were superb, but the characters are so shallow... the core flaw with this movie is the numerous characters that shouldn't be in a film that's introducing the casual viewer to a completely new universe. Keep it simple. This is not the Avengers, where each super hero already had their own individual films that established their character's background.

robertdhow
robertdhow

.

I totally agree with this review though it has an unfortunate title. It's just not enough to follow all the bog standard comic book cliches (one dimensional villains with no character or motivation, chasing around the galaxy for an interplanetary McGufin), all whilst winking at the viewer and shouting "ISN'T THIS IRONIC", whilst not knowing what irony means. It's a feast for the eyes, but a famine for the brain.

Iain McGregor
Iain McGregor

Only a joyless wanker couldn't enjoy this movie

Dorine Walski
Dorine Walski

You know, I didn't even pay attention to who the writer of the piece was, but now that I see, I'm really glad I didn't bother with it.

Dorine Walski
Dorine Walski

Actually, that and the anachronistic use of music is what made it so fun. I can't even click on an article with such a silly premise.

jswilliams1988
jswilliams1988

1) Work for Time Warner (thereby being extremely biased for DC).

2) Positively review every bit of trash DC puts out (i.e. Man of Steel)

3) Negatively review every highly lauded film Marvel puts out (i.e. Guardians of the Galaxy)

4) ???

5) Profi... NO! No profit! No one is falling for your biased misperception of reality. :)

randarchist
randarchist

Gee, a Time Warner critic disliked a Mabel movie... again. Big surprise

randarchist
randarchist

Gee, another Time Warner (who own DC) owned critic hates the Marvel movies.... what a surprise. Don't get me wrong, Marvel Studio did a LOT of things that earned my ire, especially Iron Man 3's awful AIM take and maybe fake (?) Mandarin ( then again, he might be running a super brilliant con), but nothing was as bad as the 80's Superman and the 90's Batman movies *cough* bat-nipples, neon Batmobile etc... *cough.* . Anyone else remember those horrible late 70's Captain America TV movies?

But I digress, what I do notice is that there are a set of critics who really loathe every Marvel movie, and the strangest of coincidence: an unusually large number write for T/W owned publications.

Another thing I've noticed is a lot of reviews are by people who seem to hate ALL nerd culture related movies. Geek bashing seems to be the one still very acceptable form of bigotry and bullying. Yes, Jimmy Kimmel, I'm calling you out. I'm not a big cosplay person, but I can appreciate the skills and joy that goes into the crafting of those costumes. Find it supremely ironic how some people who laugh and poke at costume making fans playing at a battle pose for a picture, and say stuff like "Hey dork, you aren't really a Jedi/Superhero..." and don't think twice about wearing a football jersey and painting half their face in the same color scheme, get ACTUALLY violent with opposition team fans without any sating "Hey, you aren't really a pro athlete...".

The review in question wreaked of both shilling for the boss and just the ever present stink of geek bash, to which I respond: So what?

NoMojo
NoMojo

125k reviews on RT say the movie rocks and you.... hahah.. maybe time for a career change.  

hthieke
hthieke

YES! THIS! "Winking" was the exact word I kept using to describe it after seeing it last night. The beginning drew me in but then it just fell flat. I adore Chris Pratt and thought he did a great job but I simply did not care about this movie. I sorta cared about Groot...the one character who I thought would do nothing for me. That's about it

eugeneelder
eugeneelder

It's pretty embarrassing how angry some people get over a review like this. Like, "How dare you not like a popular movie!?"

I agree that Guardians is often heavy-handed in its "light touch," but I still found it pretty sweet. Most people who knew they wanted to see it the second they heard about it are going to feel the same. I think that if a Transformers movie were ever this good, it would never get a negative review. But we take superhero movies so seriously since The Dark Knight that we really notice every missed opportunity. 

High bars are a good thing. Keep up the interesting work!

rdaggard
rdaggard

An interesting take of the film and it's tone. I wholeheartedly disagree with most of 'em, because I was able to just sit back and enjoy the ride (sci-fi doesn't have to be all about the human condition and what makes us what we are, sometimes it can be about going along for the ride and having a good time at the movies). It was goofy, silly and fun. With a capital F. I dug the 70s tunes. I dug the 80s references. I dug eye-popping, sumptuous visuals. And I especially dug the banter between the characters (Rocket and Groot are the new Han and Chewie). But thanks for your honest opinion and thoughts on the film! If we all agreed on everything it would be a pretty boring galaxy ;)

4/5. 

elric301
elric301

Does a Rotten Tomato rating mean so much to so many, outside of a Studio's Marketing Dept.?
Does someone else's educated, particularly when comparing such poetic words as Harlot and whatever "Pie" the "special needs" person mentioned, opinion mean so much that it invalidates your own? Did the review make you cry and  not make you want to go and rush out to see the movie anyway? That would seem to be what's going on, based on the charming responses seen here. It is simply delightful to see Fandumb being represented by such talented and creative writers whose words flow off the page like so many handfuls of dung thrown by zoo animals when they're annoyed.

Or...maybe....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrgpZ0fUixs

johnnieice
johnnieice

I do not agree with Colin or the manner and degree of his comments, but when your beliefs are challenged in life aren't you supposed to stick to your convictions and not let someone trash something that compromises your beliefs? Stop saying he has no life, he is just challenging (In a gross way) someone who differed in a belief the same way anyone would in real life unless he or she is a weak

john
john

not a huge fan of wall-e or dark knight.  loved the perfect holiday and blood and chocolate.  enough said.

justybear96
justybear96

colin.griffon, how much does this review really affect your life as to where you need to comment on everyones post and sound like a complete asshole marvel fan lashing out because someone has a different opinion than you on something? hahaha Get a life dude.

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

This idjit gave Man of Steel a positive rating. Village Voice, get a real reviewer, not this pretentious twit.

rashomon
rashomon

And the fanboys weep because criticism of their beloved movie is too much for them to handle. Good grief kids, let it go. If one review ruins your movie experience then maybe you don't really like the movie as much as you think you do.

lauraling
lauraling

Reposted because I want to little boys to actually see it:


I love that you're calling out these comments.  Let's make them as public as possible, show them for the awful comments that they are, and then turn our backs on the little boys who can't play nice.


I am a woman, I'm a fan of comics and Joss Whedon and Lord of the Rings and Dune and Star Wars and pretty much everything nerdy, I have been since before I could walk when my dad started introducing me to them ... and I also don't say awful things about people who don't like these things.  Seriously, what's wrong with you basement-dwelling lot?  Learn to express your opinions like the grown up people you are, or go back in your basement and stay there.  Your choice.  


(By the way, this is how I treat my kids if they act the way you do.  I'm sure your mothers would do the same, and I'm also sure that's exactly why you're only saying these things anonymously on the Internet.  Grow up.) 

juliusyeung95
juliusyeung95

Good review.


I know a lot of fanboys who are immature will post bad shyt on the comment section but they know nothing when it comes to review films.


I haven't watched the film yet but I have to say that I'm expecting a great flick. Reading good reviews that has a bad rating isn't good since it can make the reader go "yea... this seems right! The hell?" so I decided to stop reading at a certain point to have myself back into the hype of the flick.


You see guys, THIS is a good review. The reviewer is not bashing a film but explaining her subjective experience of the film and what the film lacked for her or, at times, what the film had that made it not terrible.


It's reasonable and well written. Unlike the one done by that other guy who gave a curious 25 on Metacritic. Now THAT is a terrible review. Just blatant bashing of a film just because it's a comic book movie. In fact, I don't even know if he likes shyt at all! His reviews posted on Metacritic has been all low scores. I guess Metacritic needs to lower the scores of movies to try and give a more appropriate rating but I think it's wrong. Meta needs to concentrate on finding the best critics and film reviewers and use their data and reviews. I found out that in a lot of movies, like this one, there are those few reviews that are just blatantly hateful and just really badly written (bc of how skewed and narrow the review is).

saffarisean
saffarisean

don't let the bastards get you down :)

AbacusFinch
AbacusFinch

This review sounds similar to my experience watching THE LEGO MOVIE. Trying so hard to be irreverent and self-referential and pack ten jokes into every minute of screen time, that it's just exhausting and off-putting. I made it about thirty minutes into that one before I cried uncle because I had cringed more times than laughed. I fear this one will be the same.

alexanderhomevideos
alexanderhomevideos

This is someone who skews the general reviews of any awesome superhero summer blockbuster from having a perfect score. I think she does it just for the attention, even if it's negative attention. She should stick to reviewing chick flicks only.

william_warrington
william_warrington

She gave Man of Steel a positive review and trashed all the other Marvel movies, wolverine, X-Men Origins....obviously a DC fan!  ;)  Actually she just tends to lean the opposite direction of the prevailing winds.  Don't take it personal.

harate
harate

"Correction: The abbreviated "capsule" version of this review was originally published in this space. This is the full review"


Uh huh. At least someone at your publication realized you were getting paid to write 3 paragraph articles. 

justybear96
justybear96

Actually laughing at all the comic nerds and die hard marvel fans bashing and telling this women to die. 1.) Its a goddamn movie. 2.) Take a step outside and enjoy some sunlight on your white pasty ass skins. 3.) Watch the film yourself and judge because im 100% sure over half of you have yet to even see the movie yet. Youre all pathetic.

jswilliams1988
jswilliams1988

@colin.griffon  Man of Steel is DC. Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel. This person works for the company that owns DC. That simple.

justybear96
justybear96

Hey fanboy stop being butthurt over a review thats not going to affect your life in anyway shape or form. :) Again youre pathetic :)

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@rashomon what are you, the reviewers fart catcher? Nothing worse than a clown who feels compelled to defend other clowns.

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@lauraling Women are not posting that this review sucks? Really, you must have some amazing ESP powers to be able to determine the sex of your ideological opponents.


Maybe the reviewer is full of shi_. Possible?

midnightcreature
midnightcreature

@AbacusFinch Um that is one of the most popular children's movies of this decade.  Maybe you are just too old to get it?  

rashomon
rashomon

@alexanderhomevideos Why does a movie have to have a perfect score? Does that somehow make the movie more appealing to you? Is 99% approval just not good enough? Come on.

Matt
Matt

@alexanderhomevideos And it would seem you throw tantrums like an ignorant sexist manbaby for attention.


So what's your point?

DanMitchell
DanMitchell

@greenarrowmn This gentleman's name is Damon Thrift of Minneapolis. He's an unsocialized, emotionally maldeveloped cretin. He's 46 years old, works at Target,  and is obsessed with comic books and superheroes. It's not a hobby -- it's his whole life. Or, nearly his whole life, because he also does gay camporn. Really. I'm guessing it's not very lucrative for him. 

randarchist
randarchist

Time Warner owns this paper.... *WINK*

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@justybear96 whats pathetic is people defending a reviewer who gets paid to post opinions about movies


is it your kid sister? No? Grow up. People are telling her she is full of sh__, and they are right

joshdestardi
joshdestardi

@justybear96 This comment is racist.  It implies african-americans cannot be into movies of this sort.  It's also racist towards caucasians because not all of us have 'pasty white skin'.

lauraling
lauraling

@colin.griffon @colin.griffon Nope, you have every right to disagree with her review.  Just as she has a right to write one.  Or you have a right to write your own review.  A review is an opinion (an educated one, in her case, but still an opinion.)


What you don't have the right to do is personally insult whoever wrote the review, as a way of dismissing them.  Talk about their opinions, but you can't jump immediately to 


"She's just pissed because she lives in the Village full of gay men and no one wants any of her old, dried out pie."  


or


"this harlot has the nerve to knock it because it's too fun?"


(or any of the dozen I could have pulled from here, or any of the bad reviews on Man of Steel, etc).


without coming off like a petulant child.  Thus my chiding you like one, because that's what you're acting like.  


Also, I suppose lines like what I've quoted could have been written by women - I have met some self-hating women in my time - but odds are pretty good that that's a guy writing that kind of stuff.  And I'm a betting kind of gal.  

justybear96
justybear96

NO the only person full of shi* is you and your psychotic comic book nerds. This reviewer is a PERSON doing a job. And you people tell her to kill herself and call her names all because of a review!? Youre all worthless people who need to be taken off the internet.

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@justybear96 ah, I see just how 'tolerant' and levelheaded you are. I said no such thing, perhaps you should have stayed in school.


Go find more windmills to tilt at, you confused, misanthropic child.

justybear96
justybear96

And youre 'tolerant'??? hahahaha lol goodbye I cant deal with your stupidity any longer hahaha

justybear96
justybear96

Lol say that to my face. Again youre pathetic. Sit behind your computer and troll all you want but we all know in real life youd get your ass handed to you hahaha

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@justybear96 My stupidity? You write as though you have a vocabulary that on a good day might approach 300 words.


Good luck with life, you will need it.

colin.griffon
colin.griffon

@justybear96 Another example of the tolerance and clear thinking you so clearly exemplify.


I am pretty sure you would need help tying your shoes, punk. Now go find some kids to harass, the internet Tough Guy (tm) routine is pretty old and boring.


Also, you would get your fucking teeth broken. Toodles.

justybear96
justybear96

Hahahahaha oh my god. Actually I love my life getting paid $22 an hour doing something I love and im in shape and have a girlfriend. I think im doing perfectly fine. Now youre probably overweight and have no one but a pet :) have fun good bye

 

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