We are Groot
I tried to write this post in Groot-speak but I don’t want to be misunderstood so I’ll keep this simple: “Guardians of the Galaxy” was awesome! I only caught it yesterday, having been stuck at home for a good portion of the week due to an intermittent migraine episode. And I’m very glad I made an effort to watch it.
Why did I like it? The story’s not so original; it follows a template that can be found in many western and heist movies. What made it original is the way the story was told. I don’t possess an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel universe but I can see that GOTG is set in a farther and wider universe. The movie didn’t waste time in exposition and world-building and instead allowed us the audience to experience this universe organically by integrating locations within the plot.
The characters are also compelling and weirdly funny. Anybody who has felt marginalized or discriminated against can relate to these guys and actually root for them. Sure, Drax can be overly sentimental but it only showed his tender side. Gamora balances her deadliness with a stable moral compass. Many many things (and memes) have been written and made about Chris Pratt’s physical transformation for the role so I won’t focus on that here. I, for one, adored him back when he was chubby but I digress. As the only human in the group, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, may not be the fastest or strongest but he’s the most resilient of the bunch. As it turns out, he’s not 100% human.
But no character caught my attention more than these two CG creatures: the raccoon and the tree. These two belong to the firmament of the best CG characters like Teddy (from A.I. Artificial Intelligence) and Gollum (from the LOTR trilogy). Rocket is foul-mouthed and obviously neurotic but he’s also adorable as heck. Plus his back story–hinted at by a short drunken monologue–seems really interesting. Groot meanwhille, is all heart. He gives new meaning to the term ‘wooden heart’.
On the surface, GOTG plays like “The Avengers” but I’d consider it more of a dark remix–with more foul language, snarky humor, and largely morally ambiguous characters. In fact, the main characters were so effective as anti-heroes that the actual villains turned out to be a bit blander than they should. Nebula looked really menacing but she wasn’t given a lot to do. Ronan talked too much; he should have given some of his lines to Thanos (who speaks at last). But these are minor quibbles. Maybe they’ll have more menacing villains in the sequel. Let’s hope.
Finally, the two things I liked most about GOTG was the seemingly bottomless 80s references. In the theater, one can determine the age of the viewers according to which part of the movie they laughed or giggled. I was among those who recognized the references (or, shout-outs as the kids call them these days) to Kevin Bacon, Footloose, John Stamos, Alyssa Milano, Who’s the Boss, Full House, to name a few.
The other thing is the great soundtrack. From the trailer, was interest was already piqued when they used “Hooked on a Feeling”. And when I watched it, when I heard “I’m Not In Love” in one of the first scenes, I was hooked! I’m actually listening to the soundtrack as I’m writing this post, so there.
If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure your friends will recommend that you do. You won’t regret it.