Oh boy. Unpopular opinion time.
The internet was abuzz with talk about Guardians of the Galaxy this year. The biggest question seemed to be “How will mainstream audiences be able to handle a talking raccoon and a giant tree-man?”. The answer is simple- Water everything down to a family and consumer friendly package. Who cares about those trivial things like interesting characters and a compelling story? They’ve got to make their money back, darn it!
I’m not exactly a big expert when it comes to the GotG comics, but I have been reading the current series since it started last year. The thing I like the most about the series is the characters and their banter. The clashing personalities of the ramshackle team leads to great dialog and is generally fun to read. How does the film adaptation hold up? Well, they at least made them look like their comic book counterparts. Sorta.
Star-Lord is the resident Han Solo of the series. In the film, he’s just a generic bland protagonist. Chris Pratt was great casting for the role, but the writing is so bad that he can’t make much of it. Gamora is the other Han Solo of the series. (Okay, the entire team is just a bunch of Han Solos.) She’s a badass space assassin, but in the movie she’s kinda just there. Her fight scenes are scant and boring, and she’s completely butchered by a wooden performance. Zoe Saldana is easily the worst performance in the movie. When you’re being out-acted by Vin Diesel and redneck Michael Rooker, you know it’s bad.
Drax is basically Gamora mixed with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the movie, he’s inexplicably gray (pulling a Hulk, maybe?) and played by professional wrestler Dave Bautista, who unsurprisingly gives a dull performance. (Seriously, stop putting wrestlers in movies. They can’t act.) Rocket Raccoon is the only enjoyable character in the film. Bradley Cooper is great at capturing the spirit of the angry runt, and the CG for the raccoon is never once distracting. It’s still clearly an effect, but it’s such a good effect that you don’t notice. God bless you, you crazed rodent. Groot is the team’s Chewbacca, a lumbering behemoth that can’t speak coherently. Unfortunately he’s relegated to the dopey comic relief for the film. They even gave him a more family friendly look, vaguely reminiscent of that guy from Little Big Planet, instead of his usual intimidating appearance.
So, they almost completely ruined the main characters. Surely the movie is at least nice to look at, right? Right? Nope. Take every boring sci-fi cliche and toss it in there. Generic dark/dank prison full of exposed pipes and circuitry? Check. Generic craggy abandoned planet? Check. Pristine 50’s-esque utopia? Check. Pointlessly shadowy and cavernous bad guy ship? Check, check, check and check.
I’m pretty sure 90% of the budget went to Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The CG on the pair looks great. It’s not distracting at all, and they both are stunning to look at. Well, except Groot’s face. Poor guy got turned all market-safe and sweet. The rest of the effects must have been an afterthought. The space battles and landscapes are all just generic CG crap, and it’s neither convincing nor interesting to look at. Even the alien designs are awful. Taking a page from the original run of Star Trek, the makeup team just slapped body paint and forehead prostheses on the actors and called it a day. Seriously, Karen Gillian looks like a cosplayer and less like a character in a big-budget blockbuster movie.
The story is crap, too. I’m sick of every superhero movie feeling the need to be an origin story for the first film. It leads to the same narrative structures and tropes and I can’t stand it anymore. Why not go the route of the original Batman or X-Men and only show origin stories in flashbacks, if at all? Plus the whole “Star-Lord’s mom died” thing has almost no payoff and only serves as a cheap way to make you sympathize with his wooden plank of a character. Michael Rooker’s character was equally pointless and annoying, too. The villains are rushed to make room for the “getting the team together” crap, which is a shame because Ronan the Accuser and Nebula seemed like interesting villains. It feels like their whole purpose was to introduce Thanos for Avengers 3. Thanos is definitely a highlight of the film, but I’d rather have more of the other villains. Stick to your own movie, Thanos.
Overall, this is a dull mess of a movie. The characters are shambling unfunny husks of their comic book counterparts, and there’s nothing fun to look at to distract you. Rocket Raccoon is awesome, but the little fuzzball is hardly enough to carry the film. It’s not particularly funny either. The jokes are few and far between and the ones that are actually funny are even fewer. The Avengers was more of a comedy than this crap. I’m shocked Marvel screwed this up so badly. Heck, even the soundtrack sucks. If you like out of place 70’s soft rock, then go buy yourself a ticket. Otherwise, skip this piece of interstellar debris and watch something else. After this, I’d rather see a Howard the Duck reboot than a GotG sequel.