... Except For Rocket

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
2½ Out Of 5 Stars
August 1, 2014


Wasn't terrible, wasn't great either ... but Rocket was AWESOME! 


A husband, forced to live a life he didn’t want to live.  Compelled by society to keep his true persona and that of his entire family a secret, not feeling strong enough as a man to protect his family as a result.  A very relatable and likable character along with his wife, daughter, and 2 sons, one of which a baby; all first time superheroes by the way. 

A story, primarily geared for younger audiences, yet well received by everyone, earning an OSCAR NOMINATION for original screenplay.  Originality, quality, first time superheroes we’re introduced to, a sequel now in the works, The Incredibles. 

I wanted to say the same for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, something original, of good quality, primarily geared for kids, and maybe we’d get lucky with an Oscar worthy screenplay like we did with The Incredibles.  We weren’t expecting that, I wasn’t expecting Guardians to blow me away as it seems to have done such with EVERYONE, critics and general audiences alike.  That caught my attention.  But I can’t say the same … except for the genetically engineered raccoon character, “Rocket” the one thing I thought would’ve been wrong.    

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) discovers an orb on the planet Morag, after having been abducted by space pirates from his home on Earth who put a bounty on him after discovering his possession with the orb.  This is what sets things in motion as Gamora (Zoe Saldana) needs it to defy her adopted family and break free.  Rocket (brilliantly voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his tree-like humanoid “Groot” (voiced by Vin Diesel) discover the bounty on Quill and they all become intertwined.  Later discovering Drax (Dave Bautista) who has a score to settle with the villain of the story Ronan (Lee Pace); the group discovers they’ve had the tendency of being kicked around all their lives and not being taken seriously, they in avertedly become a team of superheroes “The Guardians of the Galaxy”. 
The Guardians Of The Galaxy
Going into this one I was very sketchy.  It just didn’t look appealing or that it would “stick”.  A friend of mine pointed out that it was geared primarily for younger audiences and that put things into perspective.  Still, some of my favorite films and one in particular, Wall-E, which isn’t really for kids but everyone thinks it is, is one of my ALL TIME favorite films.  So I was still eager to check this out and hopefully my cinematic intuition would be proven wrong.  It wasn’t … except for Rocket. 
Rocket was the main point I thought would be terribly wrong with this story.  I kept looking at this through the eyes of the common, adult, moviegoer.  “A raccoon as a superhero??  What is this a kids film?  Oh I can take my kids to this, but this is not something I’d take seriously as a great film to experience for myself”.  “What in the world is that tree trunk looking thing?”  I still say that about Groot, which wasn’t that bad though, wasn’t great either, but Rocket completely proved me wrong and I’m so glad he did!  In my favorite sitcom “American Dad” the meat and potatoes are the main characters of the family, the husband and wife, Stan & Francine and how their relationship plays out over the episodes.  But the blood flowing through this skeleton of Stan & Francine is the alien they hide in their attic that makes the show work fluidly and gives it electricity, Roger.  Rocket was the Roger of Guardians.  By gosh he had me laughing so much!
But well placed, quirky lines of dialogue don’t make up for a decent and a not too bad of a job type of story.  It definitely doesn’t call for worship of a particular film!  The Stan & Francine here didn’t get me invested enough to jump on this bandwagon of worship.  That’s Quill, Gamora, and her quarrel with Ronan, Thanos and all the major Marvel storylines that are brewing to come about in future cinematic endeavors.  I could’ve cared less about all that when I should’ve been so eager to wonder what was going to come about in the future as well as however many minutes were left in Guardians.  It came off as “completely” for kids with some cool lines from Rocket to throw a bone to us adults and not something for EVERYONE like a Kung Fu Panda or a Ninja Turtles.  The feeling of “comic-booky” just kept overwhelming me as each brand new, foreign, elaborate make up, and costume job appeared, along with that feeling of “Oh Lord, here we go” in anguish and even a little disgust of how much better it could’ve come about.  I said that out loud a couple times “Oh Lord …”, while shaking my head. 
Just like with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista another wrestler turned actor is trying to “make it big in Hollywood” and if their movies sell/make a lot of money in the box office then that makes them “legit”.  Hashtag, cringe.  A no name with stupendous acting and newly started career would’ve done so much better.  But Hollywood "made it work" for someone from another industry to help ticket sales as that's what's always more important to Hollywood.  
Or Zoe Saldana is yet again “kind of romantically intertwined” with someone who just can’t be African American; hashtag, cringe.  I don’t even know where to begin with that.  Loved her butt shot though.  
But most importantly, the story; my heart is supposed to be touched when we reconnect with Quill’s mother at the end just like we were in the beginning when she reaches out for him.  When Mr. Incredible, another superhero geared primarily for kids, lays his heart out to his wife about not being strong enough, THAT touched my heart.  When Quill finally reaches out with his mom to take her hand, nothing happened to me.  I said this is where I’m supposed to be moved, instead of just being moved.  More work was needed here.  I’m convinced it has something to do with the relationships between the characters.  I counted a couple of “missed moments” that could’ve been amazing but ended up “missed” because Gunn and the other writer Nicole Perlman were trying to be “different” and not fall into the box of “traditional”. 
I could go on.  Loved the vintage music, another bone to the adults.  It had potential.  It didn’t completely “suck”.  Props to Marvel for taking a chance on completely foreign, risky material and connecting with the average person who saw it.  I know I’m alone on this one and just like with Gravity I completely do not care.  That’s what that experience taught me.  Stand up for what you believe in.  So that kind of applies here as the Guardians did just that as people tired of being kicked around all their lives.  Gunn and his team had something there and should’ve ran with it.  That scene, however, where they officially realize this and come together was another “missed moment” though.
… Except for Rocket. 
Guardians of the Galaxy
Action & Adventure, 121 Minutes, PG-13
Written by: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Based Upon the Comic Book by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Directed by: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reiley, Benecio Del Toro, & Glenn Close

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