Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Joy. That's the emotion everyone leaving the theater must have felt, because we sure did. This sense of fun and excitement has been much too rare on the silver screen, and it's no wonder it's creating such a box office homerun. J.J. Abrams now has its work cut out for him on Star Wars: Episode VII.


The best Star Wars movie since 1983.

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[do action=”moment” emo=”Smart” title=”The dying mother is how you know this is a Disney movie.”/]

This is how we like our origins story: the old school Tim Burton Batman way. Five minutes of stuff you should know about the hero, and then we get right into it. This tight little scene builds enough trauma for us to invest in Peter Quill’s character all movie long. Come to think of it, pacing is definitely a keyword that comes back again and again when thinking back on Guardians.

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Thought this would be a serious movie based on the family drama and all? Nothing like Peter Quill firing up the Walkman to the tune of Come and Get Your Love to dispel this silly notion. Seeing him dance under the movie title encapsulates all that’s good and fun about this movie.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Exciting” title=”Quill and Gamora have a Meet Cute over the MacGuffin.”/]

There’s something at once playful, classic, and refreshing about how Guardians of the Galaxy builds its story out of self-aware movie tropes. It’s like watching a kid genius pick up the red Lego bricks we all know, and build a crazy toy out of it. For instance, we’re introduced to four of the movie’s five main characters through a cool chase/fight scene involving an orb that might as well have the words “MacGuffin” printed on it. Shout out to Quill’s cool gadgets, the only thing that gives him an edge against his future friends as they try to kick his ass.

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Boy, things sure are escalating quickly. The Marvel fanboys in the audience–us included–all caught their breath at the same time as they realized we’re getting not one, but two of the biggest baddies in the Marvel Universe. The scale of this movie is beyond anything we imagined. And Ronan looks totally badass.

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The first action set piece involves more great ideas than we can count. Everything is captivating, from first seeing most of the gang fight on the floor while Quill negotiates with a fellow inmate for a prosthetic leg, to a brilliant plan that defies gravity. It even hits major bonus plot points for Drax and Gamora.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Quotable” title=”‘Why would I want to put my finger on his throat?'”/]

If there’s one character we didn’t expect to be so compelling, it’s Drax the Destroyer. Usually, casting any WWE wrestler besides The Rock is a risky move, but Dave Bautista really owns the role of the grieving destruction machine who is oblivious to metaphors. He allegedly took months of acting class when he was cast as Drax because he was so excited to play in a Marvel movie; frankly, we think these classes paid off.

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One quote among many that made us grin like idiots:

Quill: “On my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It’s called Footloose. And in it, a great hero, named Kevin Bacon, teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that, dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is.”

Gamora: “Who put the sticks up their butts?”

[do action=”moment” emo=”Exciting” title=”Thanos sure knows how to raise daughters. Sort of.”/]

Seriously, how awesome is Gamora? She’s sexy, sure, but she’s a lot more than just Quill’s love interest. She has her own motivations, and she kicks some serious ass. We’re not surprised to hear that this movie is breaking Marvel’s records for percentage of women in attendance. And what about Nebula, played by the delightful Karen Gillian? That’s quite a break from her role of Amy Pond in Doctor Who, but we’re not complaining.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Sad” title=”Rocket loses his shit following a drunken fight.”/]

Who knew a 3D raccoon would work so well as a character? Much like our comments on Gamora, it speaks volumes about the quality of the writing and voice acting that a talking raccoon is giving us more than comic relief. Rocket is angry, funny, and tormented by his past. Plus, he’s got a wicked sense of humor.

And to think, meanwhile DC is having a hard time giving us a relatable Superman…

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We get that human loss is a great way to build empathy for what’s going on on the screen, but things just went overboard here. It’s safe to say that at least 1000 Nova Corps just died during that scene, trying to protect Xandar. Surprisingly, this movie could end up with more casualties than Expendables 3.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Heartbreaking” title=”We never thought we’d feel sad for a raccoon mourning a tree.”/]

We haven’t seen a more adorable pairing of scoundrels since Han Solo and Chewbacca. Poor Rocket, shedding tears over the death of his awesome friend Groot… You guys probably get by now that we love all the main characters, but what makes the movie even better is the palpable vibe of friendship you get from them.

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Even though everyone could guess what gift was hiding under the paper wrap, the reveal was still pretty cool. We bet everyone will be looking forward to the next movie if only to hear another great soundtrack.

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Of course they couldn’t kill off a character as awesome as Groot… Glad to see him shake it in the credits scene. Vin Diesel just voiced one of his most memorable roles, and he had a grand total of five words to deliver. (That’s “I,” “am,” “we,” “are,” and “Groot.”)

[do action=”moment” emo=”Funny” title=”James Gunn trolls the Marvel fans.”/]

What big reveal awaits the fans at the end of the credits? Well, we sure didn’t expect Howard the Duck! What a perfect joke, considering how everyone was expecting, say, Thanos, or an Avenger. What’s even more hilarious is how online commentators are now wondering if we’ll get an Howard the Duck reboot. Guys? You’ve been trolled.

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