A completely biased review of 'The Guardians of the Galaxy'
So, there was recently an article on Flayrah I can’t link to anymore since the author asked it be removed, but the general gist of it was that bias in criticism is bad. Not going to argue that point one way or another, but argue a side tangent; the article never really said so, but the argument the author was really making was that negative bias is bad. Positive bias is either okay, or just doesn’t exist.
I don’t like onions, so I would be a terrible person to ask if an onion is good or not. However, if you liked onions, and they were your favorite food, you would also be a terrible person to ask for a review of a particular onion. I would say this onion is bad, because to me, all onions are bad. You would say this onion is good, because to you, all onions are good. Together, our reviews of the onion have told us nothing about this particular onion.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been waiting for this movie a while; you could say I’m biased for it. So, by my very argument, I am unqualified to review this movie. I’m going to do it anyway, because I can, and besides, if one person has a bias, the odds are that many other people share the same bias.
Besides, this isn’t my first rodeo; I know what I’m doing, and believe I am capable of looking past my biases and giving this movie a fair review. Not like it can complain; I’m going to say this movie is awesome, after all.
But, fair warning; this is a biased review. Also, never ask me to review an onion.
This movie manages to be absolutely heartbreaking in the first five minutes, as we get the backstory for one Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a normal human boy who is abducted by aliens, with only a Walkman with one mixtape of classic rock to remind him of Earth. He calls himself Star-Lord, for reasons that aren’t revealed until near the end of the movie.
Quill in the present is basically a space pirate. He manages to steal a priceless space artifact for some sort of collector, but it turns out he’s not the only one after it. He barely escapes from some of Ronan the Accuser’s (Lee Pace) thugs with the artifact, and when his buyer refuses the deal when he learns this, Quill begins to get suspicious that this isn’t just any space bauble.
Meanwhile, Ronan sends out Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted “daughter” of Thanos, to retrieve this artifact. And, on top of that, Yondu (Michael Rooker), leader of the gang of space pirates Quill used to belong to, has put a bounty on Quill’s head, and bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) happen across him just as Gamora arrives on the scene. After a three way fight, all four are arrested and thrown in space jail, where Gamora reveals she planned on betraying both Thanos and Ronan and selling the stone to a third party for, like, billions of space bucks.
The final member of the team, Drax (Dave Bautista), joins up when he believes Gamora can get him to Ronan, who killed his family. Together, they escape the prison and head to Knowhere, to meet the Collector (Benicio Del Toro), who finally reveals the artifact is an Infinity Gem, and also finally explains what an Infinity Gem is to the audience who have been seeing them pop up in Marvel movies for years now but still haven’t read a comic.
The group begins to realize they are out of their league when Drax literally calls Ronan on a space phone and tells them where they are in hopes of a final showdown. When Ronan manages to steal the Gem and set a course for the peaceful planet of Xandar, the group begin to realize that they are the only ones that even know what’s going on.
Chris Pratt as Star Lord is a great lead; he sees himself as a hero, though more of the roguish type than a straight laced type. During the course of the movie, he comes face to face with what it really means to be a hero. He comes off as a bit “bro-ish” at first; he was basically raised by space pirates. He’d be much less likeable if he wasn’t so funny or we didn’t have that first scene that shows us what he’s lost.
He also makes a great leader character; there is a poignant scene where he makes the speech to convince the rest of the group to help out. When Rocket points out what he’s really asking them to do, Star Lord’s expression says it all. He was willing to do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences. But he also cares about these four goofy aliens.
He’s also just a big goof at times; our first introduction to the adult character is obviously similar to Indiana Jones’ plot wise (the George Lucas shout outs come fast and furious, including one in the stinger I won’t spoil, it is so great), but the characters could not be more different; Indiana Jones did not dance and sing as soon as he realized no one was looking.
Groot is great, and I love that Vin Diesel was cast in what basically boils down to a stunt; there’s really no need for someone recognizable to repeat “I am Groot” over and over. Okay, so he apparently did motion capture as well, but it still wasn’t necessary, if awesome.
Groot himself is, if I can go that far, the Jesus figure of the group. I mean, he’s an innocent who is unconditionally willing to sacrifice himself for people who don’t always appreciate him, and he can miraculously regenerate after said sacrifice. He’s a bit dumber than his comic book version There, it’s implied he just has a bizarre speech impediment; he’s actually quite intelligent. Here, Rocket does talk to him, but it’s implied even without the impediment, he’s got wood for brains.
Drax is also played a lot less smart than he is in the comics; first of all, he can’t understand metaphors (“Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I’d catch it.”), which is described as a cultural thing, rather than an actual intelligence issue. That doesn’t explain his sometimes odd plans, such as the aforementioned decision to call up the bad guy. The way he’s played is as an average person intellectually with above average strength and abilities. He, like Groot, comes off as an innocent who took a dark turn when something bad happened to him, and I like this interpretation of character even more than the comic version.
Gamora is probably the least idiosyncratic character of the core cast; despite her family also being killed by Thanos, she seems less interested in revenge and more in just getting away from him. She has been trained to kill by the guy; she’s pragmatic and realizes he’s out of her league. There is a bit of a romantic subplot with Star Lord at first, but it’s implied it’s more mutual attraction, and by the end of the movie, they’re friends, but romance could go either way.
Well, enough of that, let’s get to the character we’re really here for.
Rocket (it’s just Rocket, as he doesn’t even know what a raccoon is in the movie) would be the most straightforward character in the movie after Gamora if he wasn’t, you know, a talking raccoon. He basically plays Han Solo, the guy who swears up and down he’s only in it for the money, but ultimately decides to do the right thing. He even has his own mute yet intelligible to him sidekick.
His backstory isn’t revealed; we just get a glimpse of his scarred bare back, which implies that his transformation was painful. He has an obvious chip on his soldier; in stories about “uplifted” animals, the focus is still often on what this means for the humans. It is often about the moral and ethical implications for humanity; it’s usually assumed the animals uplifted would be glad for their newfound sentience. At one point, he gets drunk, which would sound like the set up to a joke, but instead, with his guard down, he reveals just how angry he is to be “a little monster.”
His relationship with Groot is just as poignant as it is in the comics; perhaps more so now. Groot, here, is an innocent, sometimes blissfully unaware. Rocket used to be like that, until he was changed, without his consent, or even the ability to consent.
Rocket actually is almost a metaphor for modern superhero movies; last year, they tried to make Superman into a brooding anti-hero, for crying out loud. That is a grown man who wears his underwear on the outside. Just because your new costume design doesn’t incorporate that element doesn’t change the fact that that’s who Superman is.
Rocket may have issues; innocence is like virginity. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. But at the end of the day, superheroes are impossible. The vogue for oxymoronic “realistic” superheroes has gone just about far enough, thank you. Yes, paragons of virtue are not realistic, but neither are talking raccoons, so let’s just give “reality” a break for a couple hours, okay?
At the end of the day, Rocket and company are good guys, and I like that. You might even say I’m biased.