Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Review
It’s a strange thing when a film production company starts building brand recognition not only into the marketing of their movies, but into the very fabric of the storytelling. It’s strange because, while simultaneously taking away the autonomy of the individual creators, that company still secures humungous ticket sales and a built-in-audience, allowing them to continue to squash potentially heightened and challenging creative material into their mold unquestioned.
Welcome to the next Marvel movie, one that proudly touts its individuality at every turn. “It’s a comedy! It’s a sci-fi/space opera! It’s both! It’s heartfelt and entirely original! It’s from the director of ‘Slither,’ James Gunn!” But don’t let Marvel’s “superhero-is-not-a-genre-but-an-umbrella-for-many-genres” talk fool you yet. This sometimes-entertaining film ultimately suffers from the same tropes that weigh down every film in the Marvel family.
Which is even more disappointing considering the wonderful canvas they set up. When was the last time we got so many different alien species, planets, galaxies, ships, etc., so fully designed, such an explosion of creative color and shapes? So much potential, and yet it is squandered by poor execution. Aside from all of the wonderful makeup and costumes, 80% of the film is poorly-done CGI. It looks so fake and cartoony that it’s distracting, especially in the place where all the money and time should have gone: Rocket and Groot. Honestly, we may just not be at a place where such characters like a talking raccoon and tree can blend seamlessly into live action, despite our huge leaps in technology.
This problem extends to the overly-animated aerial/space battle scenes, which, aside from feeling rushed and under-composed, lack any tension whatsoever, any investment in any of the characters that make it feel like something is actually at stake. We never really fear for our heroes. We wait to see what half-assed way the writers got them out of their situation.
There’s not a lot of point in wasting more time on this movie, so I’ll just say that on the upside, I got a few chuckles. Mostly, I groaned at the tired Marvel wise-cracking that drips of formulaic timing and desperation to connect with an audience that the studio actually cares little about. It will do well, and it may get your butt in the seat, and if you want something to mindlessly entertain you, this might be your bet. But just remember how good candy tastes until you eat too much of it, and then you hate yourself and the people who keep telling you it tastes good, and suddenly you have a lot of health problems and are facing an unfulfilled life because you didn’t spend your time on something more worthwhile. That’s kind of what it’s like.