Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU 10)

This is… a weird film.

Like a lot of other people, when it first came out I really, really liked it. I liked the soundtrack (which must have cost a mint); I liked that it was so different from everything else to date; I liked that it was funny!

Now I feel… a little different. Partly this is an emotional reaction to Peter Quill, which is largely framed by his stupidity in the later Avengers films. And watching this film, it’s completely obvious that that later stupidity is absolutely part of his character from the get-go. Which is fine storytelling but doesn’t make me like him any more. There’s a level of arrogance that matches Tony Stark without being offset by Stark’s intelligence (which is not necessarily a mitigating factor; see previous comments about liking Stark being problematic), or his self-awareness, or – frankly – his flare.

The film itself is a bit odd. It has probably the most traumatic opening of any MCU film – certainly of the films so far – and then all of a sudden, Quill is dancing through the rubble of an alien planet. That’s pretty weird. This is also the film where we properly meet Thanos, and find out about infinity stones, and that’s absolutely key to the overarching narrative – in this oddball, eccentric film! On reflection that seems like a bizarre choice. I guess it speaks to the inherent cohesion of the entire universe – or something.

I think Bradley Cooper was a great choice to voice Rocket, and I definitely continue to enjoy the raccoon. A super weird character (thank goodness there’s no more than 5 seconds of Howard the Duck) who manages to display a whole swag of emotions, largely courtesy of a tree. Because again, let’s be honest: Groot is also a super weird character. Don’t get me wrong: I love Groot, and getting Vin Diesel for this point continue to amuse me no end. The most poignant moment of the whole film is given to a tree! (Djimon Hounsou has probably the funniest line, which is just his “who?” at Peter “I am Starlord” Quill). Zoe Saldana is excellent, and brings a nice ambiguity to Gamora; her “I am going to die surrounded by idiots”? – I FEEL IT. Dave Bautista is… well. Drax. Not much you can say about him.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for Lee Pace’s Ronan. I don’t know Pace’s other work much (except as Thranduil, which hardly counts), but he was just… wooden, here. I suspect that, like Christopher Eccleston as Malekith in the second Thor, this can largely be attributed to the overwhelming makeup. But Ronan was a boring villain, with vague and largely unexplained motivation, and I just didn’t care that much. Which is always a problem when the narrative revolves around omg it’s [insert villain] we must stop him!!

Glenn Close swearing, though, is pretty great.

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