Let me start by saying that I realize, even after reading this post, there will still be many people who don’t really understand where I’m coming from and will probably think I must be either touched in the head or just a Marvel movie hater. I like to think that I am neither.
I have heard practically everyone around me sing the praises of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie and even more so about the sequel. Many of my friends had raved about it being an amazing, hilarious, movie with a killer soundtrack. Then they would gasp in shocked incredulity when they learned that I had not even seen the first film yet. It was even harder for them to believe when they considered the fact that I was a Disney fan. I mean, this was, after all, a Disney film under the Marvel franchise label. How is it possible that a seemingly normal person had not seen this film yet in 2017?!?! To be clear, it’s not that I didn’t want to watch the movie. I just, somehow, never got around to it.
After the news from the D23 Expo that Guardians of the Galaxy would soon have its own attraction in Epcot, I decided I had waited long enough. I needed to see what the fuss was all about.
So, recently, my wife and I decided to take a break from our binge-watching Scandal on Netflix to watch the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. I kept my thoughts on the film under wraps for the time being, but the topic inadvertently came up during the recording of Episode 221 of the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast, and I was asked point blank what I thought of the film. Well, I’m not one to lie, so I truthfully said that I thought it was “OK”. This, of course, was met by gasps like the ones I had heard from people when I used to say that I hadn’t seen the film at all. After the gasps, I was hit with the obligatory, “Get out!!” I didn’t care to offer an explanation, though, because my review of a 3-year-old film wasn’t exactly on topic with what we were in the middle of talking about. We were already dealing with a show chock full of content that was turning into a lengthy episode. I knew people wouldn’t understand why I wasn’t blown away by it, but I also knew that I needed more than 30 seconds to explain my thinking. So, I’d like to attempt to do that here.
First off…Is “OK” really so bad?
As a whole, I thought the film was OK. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or that I thought it was terrible. It just means, for me, it was a decent film that I may or may not watch again sometime. I’m not really someone who re-watches very many films again, anyway, unless it’s watching the same movie with my kids 1,001 times. I’m also not a very tough movie critic, which means, in my mind 85% of the movies I see are “OK”, 10% are great, and maybe 5% I would classify as terrible. I don’t really have a complex scoring system like you might find on Rotten Tomatoes.
I am not a comic book fan
I routinely get into skirmishes with comic book fans because I love Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns”. I don’t care that it’s not true to the comic books, because I don’t read the comic books. I feel like this is a good trait to have, because I can look at the movie as a standalone product and not continually compare it to the comics. But, it does explain a little about why I wasn’t busting down the doors, along with everyone else, to go see a movie about some characters I’d never heard of before.
The characters and plot could have used a little more introduction
Allow me to explain. When Disney first purchased Marvel, I was really looking forward to the idea that they could now take the hundreds of more obscure characters and intellectual property that previously belonged to Marvel and they could make them their own. From what I understand, Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the lesser-known Marvel properties, and I thought it was cool that Disney had a chance to introduce the world to a new Disney intellectual property; not an adopted property like Spider Man. For all your average moviegoer knows, the Guardians are Disney characters. That being said, I felt the introduction to the characters and the plot were a little rushed. This was especially true when it came to the villains. You really had several villains in the movie that were interconnected in some way. Some of the villains were even villains of the other villains. I think these characters and their connections needed more than just a passing mention in order for audiences not familiar with the comic to completely understand. Unless you were hanging on every word, you probably got the gist of it but not the whole picture. I had to pull up Wikipedia and follow along with the plot while I watched the movie. I would have never understood that Gamora was Thanos’ step-daughter or that the alien pirates are the ones who abducted Peter Quill in the beginning of the film.
The movie definitely got better as it moved long into the second half
I would say my thoughts at the midway point of the film were that this was a B movie with A-list stars at best. My wife fell asleep halfway through and voiced several times how boring she thought it was before she fell asleep. I agreed with her, but was determined to stay awake until the end. After the final credits, I told her that I definitely understood why she thought it was boring, but had to admit that it really did get better throughout the second half. This is just my opinion, but I think an “amazing” film should be captivating all the way through.
I don’t like Science Fiction
This is something I acknowledge is completely and soley my taste in movies and stories, and I do not hold it against the film at all. I just don’t care for Sci-Fi. I’m an avid Stephen King reader, and I encounter this obstacle quite frequently with his books. As a fan of his novels, I understand that there will be many books that I just don’t appreciate, because he tends to dabble in the Sci-Fi realm from time to time. I knew, going in, that it was probably a little too Sci-Fi for my tastes, but I still kept a positive attitude and very much wanted to be as blown away by it as everyone else was.
Does anything really live up to hype?
This is probably the biggest reason why I thought this film was just OK. I expected a film that was going to keep me on the edge of my seat and have me rolling on the floor laughing at the same time. A friend told me that this movie was hilarious. I thought there were some good one-liners. Rocket Raccoon was crude yet funny. Drax and Gamora’s inability to understand figure of speech expressions made me chuckle a few times, but it was hardly slapstick comedy. This could have been one person’s poor choice of words when describing a movie to me, but that’s a great example of how this film had been built up in my mind. It is extremely hard to be impressed when you go into something with the bar set so high. I recognize that, but it is nearly impossible to see view a movie like this on a level playing field after it has been hyped to such a degree for 3 years. By the same token, I think some fans have a hard time understanding how someone else can view something with so much hype around it as merely a satisfactory film.
I DID think the music was amazing!
This is the one element of the film that I was floored by. As a musician and a fan of Rock and Pop from the 50’s through today, I thought it was great that the classics of the 60’s and 70’s had such a center stage role in the film. I also love the fact that you get an entirely new soundtrack with the 2nd film as well. Similarly, I love how Disney incorporated these classics into the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction at Disney’s California Adventure. A friend of mine at work is always raving about the music in Guardians, and this is one aspect where, for me, the real thing lives up to the hype.
In the end, I enjoyed the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, and I’m glad I finally took the time to watch it. I’ll definitely make a point to see the 2nd film as well. Who knows? I might even watch the first film again. Maybe a 2nd viewing will enhance my enthusiasm for it. I know I hated the Will Ferrell hit “Elf” when I saw it in theaters. It wasn’t until after seeing it over and over again on TV during the Christmas holidays that it began to grow on me, and now it is one of our family’s favorite modern-day Christmas classics. Until then, my view on the first Guardians of the Galaxy film is “I didn’t love and I didn’t hate; I just enjoyed it”. Most studios would probably be fairly satisfied with a review like that of a Sci-Fi movie based on a comic book from a viewer who doesn’t read comic books and doesn’t like Sci-Fi.