Film

The Top 10 Reasons Why 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is Awesome

Leave it to Marvel to save the Summer 2014 movie season with this amazing slice of popcorn entertainment. Here's 10 reasons why this unusual group of heroes is blockbuster boon.

It shouldn't work. It doesn't have the standard issue super heroes on display. It starts off in pain and continues to mine said subtext throughout while adding a healthy dose of irreverent humor. There's a questionable villain with what appears to be a religious fervor mentality to his plotting and terrorizing. Most tellingly, one of the main features is a diminutive raccoon with a sassy, salty mouth.

So how did James Gunn do it? How did he manage to make what is arguably one of the Summer of 2014's best films? Easy: he followed his own amazing muse, and Guardians of the Galaxy is the result. Spinning several fringe Marvel characters into a cohesive whole is one thing, but to do it without the mandatory pre-Avengers origins films is another. To make something that rivals Joss Whedon's billion dollar baby is proof of the talent both in front of and behind the lens.

Instead of offering a traditional review, we figured we'd go a little rogue and deal with the movie's many endearing elements. We could mention Zoe Saldana's sexiness under a glorious green disguise, but she already mastered that in Avatar (where the color du jour was blue). And, so as not to be chauvinistic, we will also mention that Dave Bautista is one helluva hunk under his unusual tribal scar tattoo make-up job.

We could comment on the ancillary cast (Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, Peter Szymon Serafinowicz) or the various cameos, but instead, we'll just focus on the big stuff, the ten main reasons why you will absolutely love this film (minor spoilers ahead). Granted, that may seem like unnecessary hyperbole, but when you've sat through three months of dour doom and gloom, a little levity goes a long way.

 
#10: The Stunning Visual Imagination on Display
While the vast majority of the Marvel movies are grounded in a kind of extended reality (our world, just pushed to certain limits to allow superheroes to exist within), Guardians of the Galaxy gives us a completely alien universe, and it's a wonder to behold. From the various factions and their visual make-up to the little details in the corners (both flora and fauna), we are enveloped in something that not even George Lucas and his ILM mavericks could create. Every frame is filled with wonder and optical awe, a space opera fantasy that constantly leaves you wondering what it's like to live in it every single minute you are there.

 
#9: Character Depth and Emotional Involvement
Again, it's sometimes hard to get to the heart of a superhero's personal issues. Bruce Banner is badgered by his shape-shifting Hulk alter-ego, but for the most part, it's a problem, not a psychological scar. Here, all the Guardians are given over to moments of grief and dark reflection. Peter Quill lost his mother to cancer, while Gamora is the daughter of an evil space overlord with destruction on his mind. Drax lost his family while genetic anomalies Groot and Rocket are the only friends each other has. Brought together, they become a band of "losers", in that they have each lost something. It makes for moving, memorable characterizations.

 
#8: Michael Rooker as Yondu
This Avatar-like extraterrestrial with a wicked Southern drawl and a mind focused with laser-like intensity on his various nefarious missions might just be Guardians of the Galaxy's secret weapon. Granted, he himself is holding a undisclosed truth about Quill, but he's not allowing that to get in the way of his otherwise questionable business. And then there's the issue of his weapon of choice, a deadly arrow which reacts exclusively to his whistles and hoots, leading to a last act moment of destruction which is simply amazing to behold. Director James Gunn has said he wrote the role with Rooker in mind, and it shows. Both men are having a blast with it.

 
#7: Chris Pratt
He's been a fixture on TV since his guest shot as Ann's slacker ex-boyfriend on Parks and Recreation turned into a regular gig. He's also been seen in films like Zero Dark Thirty and Moneyball. But 2014 was truly the year for this 35-year-old. After starring as the voice of Emmet Brickowski in the brilliant Lego Movie, he adds to his ascending stardom with his turn here as Peter Quill. Funny, dorky, and capable of playing both champion and chump, he's the truly human center of a situation that surrounds him with out of this world allies. Even his dopey dance moves are adorable.

 
#6: Groot's Expressive Dialogue
As a character, he's a living tree with the ability to alter his shape to attack/defend his enemy/position at will. When it comes to vocabulary, however, all he can say is "I am Groot". That's it. Yet director Gunn makes it very clear that, once you get to know the walking lumber yard, those three words take on a whole different dynamic. Toward the end, when it looks like the odds are against our heroes and all is lost, Groot utters his by now familiar line and we too begin to see the nuances in the deceptively simple statement. Never before has one phrase meant so much.

Next Page


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.