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Genre: Sci-fi
Premise: A group of galactic misfits are forced to work together to stop an evil mad man from destroying the universe.
About: Up to this point, the Marvel universe has kept things pretty conservative, bringing out its most cinematic and popular heroes for display (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor). “Guardians” is the first true risk its taken. Not only has the average moviegoer never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, but we’re switching genres as well, from Comic Book to space operas. Writer-director James Gunn originally had no interest in directing Guardians. But after The Avengers came out, he saw the opportunity to do something cool (and make a lot of dough doing it!). Gunn’s more of an indie guy on the directing front, directing the 2010 Sundance hit, “Super,” about a regular guy who turns himself into a superhero. On the writing front, though, he hasn’t shied away from studio assignments, writing stuff like Scooby-Doo and Dawn of the Dead. The original draft of Guardians was written by unproduced “neophyte” screenwriter Nicole Perlman. Perlman got the Scriptshadow treatment for her breakout Black List script, Challenger (about the crash of the space shuttle, Challenger). It’s rare to see an unproduced screenwriter working on a project this big, but Perlman was able to get into the Marvel writer’s program early (never knew Marvel had a writing program) and pick up Guardians when no one was interested in it. Guardians debuted to a big box office haul this weekend, bringing in 30 million more than everyone expected it to (93 million total).
Writers: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (comic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning)
Details: 121 minute running time

guardians-of-the-galaxy-hed-2014

Is Guardians of the Galaxy the new Star Wars?

It might be. No space flick has come this close in 30 years. It definitely captures the thrill of exploration the original Star Wars had. It nails the fun. It even brings something the original Star Wars didn’t have (but I think modern audiences need). It had attitude.

But before we anoint Guardians of the Galaxy as the next big thing, we should look closer. There’s kind of a “flawed masterpiece” thing going on here. For the first half of Guardians, I thought I was watching a rough cut of the film. The timing of the jokes felt a beat or two off. The characters felt forced (I’m looking at you, Rocket Raccoon). Some of the choices seemed uninspired (how many people need to shoot other people with colorful electrical weapons when they’re running away?). Even Chris Pratt, who going in was the best thing about the film, felt muzzled. Like someone kept telling him to “calm down.”

But here’s the thing about watching something truly unique. You’re not prepared for what you see because you’ve never seen anything like it before. And Guardians is so different (in many respects), you can’t quite process it yet. It’s similar to how I felt after watching my first Wes Anderson film. I couldn’t decide whether I’d just watched genius or a train wreck.

“Guardians” follows former earthling Peter Quill, a galactic scavenger of sorts, who’s been tasked with securing a tiny sphere thing that we’ll later find out has the power to destroy the galaxy. But Peter doesn’t know that yet.

Ignorantly, he tries to deliver the sphere, but is attacked by others who want it, namely Gamora, a hot green chick (when in doubt, just insert a hot green chick into your script).

A chain of events eventually leads them to Rocket Raccoon (a genetically altered human turned raccoon) and his muscle, the giant but adorable Groot (a tree that can only say three words – “I am Groot.”) Finally, there’s Drax, a muscled alien whose species takes everything literally (“Whatever you say goes right over his head.” “Nothing goes over my head. I’m too fast. I’ll catch it.”).

Our ultimate baddy, a face painted nasty dude named Ronan, finally steals the sphere away, allowing him to become super human (or super-alien I guess). He then heads to the nearest planet to destroy it. It’ll be up to our band of misfits then, none of whom really like each other, to put their differences aside and stop Ronan from turning this planet into a galactic parking lot.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-chris-pratt3

Whenever you sit down to write a sprawling sci-fi flick, you need to find your focus. You need something to keep the characters and the plot centered, or else things fall apart quickly. There are a few ways to go about this, but the best way is probably the “MacGuffin Approach” a favorite of one George Lucas. You’ve seen it in films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Basically, the MacGuffin Approach creates an object of desire that everyone wants. The reason this approach works so well, particularly on the blockbuster stage, is that it simplifies things for the audience. Almost every character has the same goal (get the sphere), which is advantageous if you’re throwing a ton of information at the audience (new characters, new worlds, lots of exposition, lots of rules). If you try to give every character unique goals, it can be hard for the audience to keep track of it all.

Simplifying the plot was important because Guardians had one of the toughest jobs you’ll find in screenwriting – bringing together five totally unique characters and seamlessly and quickly sending them off on their journey

Now some of you might say, “It’s not hard to bring characters together.” But it really is. In the same way you’ll never see Justin Bieber and Bill Gates at the same venue, in a screenplay like this, where all the characters are different, it’s unlikely you’d find Raccoon Man around Painted Chick Girl. So you gotta come up with reasons they’d cross paths. And then you gotta come up with reasons they’d be at that location at the same time (it can’t be coincidence!). And then you gotta come up with reasons why they’d leave together. And you gotta do that for three other characters as well.

It all seems so easy once you’ve seen the film, but it often takes draft after clunky draft of cramming the characters together before a natural flow emerges. And Guardians didn’t quite get there. If we’re looking at 10 drafts to perfecting this first act, it looks like they made it to Draft 6. The weird Jackie Chan sphere bobble city set piece was way forced.

Chris Pratt didn’t help either. His forced opening dance routine (I swear it was like we were watching one of those leaked actor auditions) felt like 21 suits were behind the camera simultaneously yelling at him to “stop being so weird” until the take we saw, where he was as stiff as a tree.  It’d be like if Captain Jack Sparrow acted only 50% like Captain Jack Sparrow.  You can’t muzzle Captain Jack Sparrow!

Compare Pratt’s mechanical delivery to, say, Han Solo in Star Wars, who never once seemed to give a shit about what came out of his mouth. Solo is so iconic because he let loose. Pratt wasn’t allowed to let loose until the end, likely when those producers finally left the set.

And then something happened. I can’t pinpoint when or where it happened. But out of nowhere, everything finally gelled, especially the characters. They weren’t trying to announce their arrival anymore. They weren’t scared to take chances.  They were just “being.” And once that was the case? Guardians got REALLY good.

And yeah, I’m doing it. I’m announcing Groot as one of the best big-budget movie characters in history. It goes to show how awesome showing and not telling is (Groot is so “dumb” he can only say three words – much of what he offers, then, is through action). There were these great visual moments, like after Groot vouching for Peter, Peter making a point that Groot seemed to be the only smart one here, only for Peter to look over and see Groot eating a flower off one of his limbs.

Groot takes the “Chewbacca” role and makes it even more lovable, if that’s possible. He’s such an earnest goof who only wants to protect his partner (Rocket) that we can’t help but love the guy. One of the best moments in movies this year (spoiler) is when he builds that tree nest in the end to protect everybody as the ship goes down.

What really impressed me though is how Gunn used the theme of friendship to drive the film. I thought all these guys hating each other was totally believable, and the gentle changes throughout that brought them closer together, to the point where they’re actually (spoiler) using the “hold hands” move to save the galaxy (and it working) is a testament to the excellent mix of character development and theme in the film. Shit, I even got teary eyed when Groot says (spoiler) “We are Groot.”

I don’t know if Guardians was shot in order or not, but it’d make a lot of sense if it that was the case. At the beginning, everyone seemed tense and forced (including the director), like they didn’t want to be Marvel’s first big bomb. But as the movie went on and everyone got comfortable, the film started to shine. It’s not perfect, but these types of movies never are. In fact, their weaknesses end up becoming strengths, as they’re woven into the re-watch fabric of the legacy.

And I’m going to say one more thing about this film before I go. Because it’s one of the few times I’ve seen it in the past 20 years. For some reason, at some point in history, summer blockbusters became “one and done” movies. They were made to work for one weekend and that’s it. Gone were the Star Wars’s, movies so rich you wanted to keep watching them over and over again. Guardians is the first summer movie I’ve seen in forever that wasn’t interested in being one and done. It wanted to be rewatchable. It wanted to do more. And I hope its success inspires more summer movies to do the same.

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: With a giant blockbuster flick that requires conveying a lot of information to the audience, instituting a MacGuffin (an important item that all the characters, good and bad, are after) is one of the easiest ways to simplify the plot.

What I learned 2: Embedded Goals – Embedded goals are goals your characters need to achieve in order to get back to the main goal (in this case, getting the sphere).  So, early on, our group is thrown into prison.  Obviously, the main goal needs to pause while they deal with this problem.  They must accomplish the embedded goal (escape the prison) to get back to business.  Embedded goals help add texture to the story.  If your characters are only pursuing one single thing for all 120 pages of a screenplay, things can get monotonous quickly.

  • http://screenplayamonth.tumblr.com FilmingEJ

    I hope Gunn gets more free reign with the sequel, because in my opinion, this had some fantastic potential, but because it seemed to have to fill out a quota of what could happen in the story that potential wasn’t fulfilled. But this was one of the best Marvel movies, and definitely one of the best blockbusters I’ve seen this year.

    • charliesb

      I think he will (to a point) every once in a while you can see his sense of humour shining through. The Jackson Pollock line for example is his ad-lib if I remember correctly.

      I’m really curious to see the deleted scenes for this (and my God, I haven’t bought a DVD in years) because apparently a lot of stuff was left on the cutting room floor.

  • RO

    I was taught that one of the main goals of writing a script is so that when it’s filmed and complete it has a re-watchable factor. Glad to see a movie that does that. It’s been long over due.

    • Scott Crawford

      Some films are great but, once you’ve watched it once, seen how it played out, you don’t NEED to see it again. I don’t necessarily mean the Schlinder’s List I have to see this film (but I won’t watch it again) -type films, but rather films that are perfectly good fun but have nothing you really NEED to see again like, say, Transporter 3, I don’t know. But some people will watch a movie like Guardians three, four, five, TEN TIMES before it even gets a home release.

  • Scott Crawford

    “MacGuffinization” (neologism – never gonna happen) worked wonders on the Bond film For Your Eyes Only and Ronin. Less exposition, more action. But it CAN result in a cool, maybe even sterile movie. Sometimes better for the MacGuffin to be a human, or something very human.

    I mentioned this is a couple of posts ago but, John Le Carre is very good at writing these complex, jargon-heavy spy thrillers but at the center of the mystery the MacGuffin is human – a traitorous friend, a missing girl, a dark secret from a character’s past. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes chasing after the “Magic Box” might not be enough, unless there’s something special inside it.

    • brenkilco

      A classic Hitchcockian MacGuffin is both vitally important to the characters and absolutely irrelevant to the audience. Ronin provides a good example. What’s in the case? Who cares? Mamet goes one step further in Spanish Prisoner where the Macguffin is a formula that will allow control of the global market. What market? What is it a formula for? He never tells you. As Hitchcock said of the Macguffin in Notorious, “If you don’t like uranium, let’s make it industrial diamonds. It doesn’t matter.”

      Not quite getting your le carre example. His books often have precise goals: the framing of an enemy agent in Spy Who Came In From The Cold, the discovery of a mole in Tinker Tailor. But remove the specific goal and the story would completely unravel. The goal is not a just a random peg to hang the skullduggery on, as a Macguffin is. It’s a vital component of an intricately constructed plot.

      • Scott Crawford

        What I meant was that Le Carre didn’t have his characters chasing after “missing treasure” or “secret formulas”, despite the excellent examples you gave, and other movies – I mean Raiders, excellent MacGuffin. But Le Carre made his MacGuffins PEOPLE, so in this way they are not Hitchcock MacGuffins, but they are MacGuffins none the less.

        I recently watched Smiley’s People the follow-up to the BBC’s Tinker, Tailor… where the MacGuffin is…. well, I don’t want to open the “Mystery Box” for everyone, but the emotional impact on the audience when we find out “what it’s all been about” is terrific. Makes the series, for me anyway.

        Different stories, different approaches. Some movies the MacGuffin is irrelevant, others the key to the mystery. And if the mystery has an EMOTIONAL impact, not just an intellectual one, I think that’s good.

        • brenkilco

          Well I guess we’re arguing nomenclature. I’d say when the object of a film’s plot becomes really vital and emotionally resonant it ceases to be a MacGuffin and becomes something else. Something better as you say. Spoiler Alert. Never liked the ending of Smiley’s People. Le Carre sort of lets Smiley off the hook. Smiley never quite comes to grips with what a ruthless bastard he actually is. Defeating his enemy only by exploiting his love for his child.

          • Malibo Jackk

            “Smiley never quite comes to grips with what a ruthless bastard he actually is.”
            The point of all the novels is that it was a dirty war.
            If Smiley was ruthless, not sure what you would call the Russians
            — where people were shot, disappeared, sent to sanitariums or Soviet gulags.

          • Scott Crawford

            There is no good or bad in Smiley’s world, only winners and losers. Team A vs. Team B. It’s better to be on the winning team, but it doesn’t make you a better person. Better to be a western democracy than a communist dictatorship, but it doesn’t mean you won’t find good and bad people on both sides.

            You have to frame good people and send them to the firing squad because they know too much. You have to arrest your best friend. You have to blackmail a man with the only true thing he loves.

            This is what sets Le Carre against Robert Ludlum. Ludlum’s heroes are anti-authority figures, rogue CIA agents, freelance journalists. His villains are global conspirators, like the Trilateral Commision or the Bilderberg Group. But it’s still good vs. evil. Not that there’s too much wrong with that – most stories are like that and there’s no problem there. But Le Carre wants you to think could you condemn a good man, a communist, but a true believer, an idealist, could you send him to death by firing squad just to protect a former Nazi mercenary, sell-his-own-grandmother scumbag… who happens to be working for YOUR side.

  • Michael

    Best song list since A Knight’s Tale, made so so scenes good and good scenes great. The importance of music in film can’t be overestimated.

    • hickeyyy

      I agree 100% here. The music absolutely made parts of that film. In fact, Carson states the intro felt clunky to him, but I didn’t feel that way. The music matched with the dancing felt natural and fun and really set the tone for what I was about to see.

      I would absolutely give this movie a [X] Genius. It’s been a LONG time since I enjoyed a movie so much.

      • carsonreeves1

        Wowwww. Really? A genius?

        • hickeyyy

          I definitely think so. The movie made me laugh more than most comedies in recent years. The action scenes felt appropriate, though I will agree with you that the initial fight scene between the Guardians themselves felt clunky. I felt a great connection with all the characters, and that says a lot considering one was a tree, one was a raccoon, and this wasn’t a Pixar flick. The soundtrack was perfect. They got a great performance out of a pro wrestler not named The Rock. Pratt proved to me he can handle a franchise, which is huge, considering he’ll be running as the lead in the new Jurassic Park.

          It already vaulted to the top of my rankings of Marvel movies. Of course, I’m a sucker for space-themed flicks, so maybe I’m looking through rose-colored glasses. I do believe this movie is going to only get bigger as time goes on. Based on the rave reviews and the great box office return, when the sequel comes out, I believe it will be one of Marvel’s biggest takes (whether it lives up to the hype of the first or not).

  • Paul Clarke

    Don’t forget the soundtrack. Really completed the atmosphere.

    I loved it. The part where I felt there was an evil producer intervening was the forced romance between *SPOILER* Gamora and Star-Lord. I loved the companionship amongst misfits. For me that was enough. I never bought any romantic chemistry between them.

    • Scott Crawford

      Love stories can make “boy films” more appealing to “girls”. Look at Spider-Man (the first one). Laura Ziskin FOUGHT the studios to get Mary-Jane on posters – she knew it would make girls more likely to see the film.

  • Nate

    I wouldn’t say Guardians was Marvel’s first true risk. Iron Man was.

    Marvel took a character who wasn’t well known outside of the comics and cast an actor who had been out of the spotlight for years. That was a huge gamble. If it bombed then we wouldn’t even be talking about Guardians.
    To be honest I’m not really sure Guardians is even a risk. If it bombed then it’s a drop in the ocean for Marvel. They might be a bit more reluctant to start a new franchise, but I don’t think they’d really be affected by it.

    • Scott Crawford

      Remember, anyone, who the FIRST choice to play Iron Man was? An “Up” vote from me to whoever gets the right answer!

      • cjob3

        I’d assume the studio wanted the same guy I wanted at the time, Tom Cruise. Cruise really looks and acts a lot more like the comic-book Tony than Downey.

        • Scott Crawford

          CONGRATULATIONS. Cruise was attached to Jeff Vintar’s script but said he didn’t think it was different enough from other superhero movies at the time.

    • G.S.

      I’d say Marvel’s approach in its entirety has been the opposite of risk aversion. The very concept of a shared universe was a risk because it had the potential of falling apart under its own weight due to lack of consistency.

      While you can argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is made up entirely of “comic book” movies, that idea needs to be taken in light of the fact that comics themselves span the genres – comic westerns, comic space operas, comic crime drama. Almost every movie has been presented with a unique genre spin which is one of the reasons why the MCU is so immersive. Iron Man was certainly more traditional as a superhero origin story. The Incredible Hulk was a manhunt thriller. Captain America: The First Avenger was a period war story. Thor was basically a fish-out-of-water love story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political spy movie. And now Guardians is a comedic space opera.

      One of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the MCU is that the studios have (for the most part) allowed the creators to be innovative as they craft something that’s never been done in cinema. It strikes me as a revolutionary move towards more constructive corporate/creator relationships.

  • lesbiancannibal

    I saw this last night and it was great fun, most fun film of the decade so far, but a slight problem I have with the Marvel films is there’s no real pathos – is that the right word? There’s never a moment where anything seems remotely serious, about the world, stakes or characters.

    I heard someone seriously review it as ‘Indiana Jones in Space’. Well that person can fuck right off.

    Look at the lows in Raiders, when it appears Marion’s dead for example – that soaring melancholy music, and the exploration of faith, history, everything.

    This is more than a comedy than a space opera. It raises the bar for Star Wars VII in terms of entertainment, creatures (‘cept Ed), visuals, but I’d be disappointed if SWVII was so breezy and just disposable. A true popcorn flick and that’s pretty much all.

    I also picked what was in the mum box straight away.

    But I did love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrotsEzgEpg

    • charliesb

      “There’s never a moment where anything seems remotely serious, about the world, stakes or characters.”

      I agree. There was no sense of gravitas, even when there was a good chance that a planet was about to be destroyed. It’s ok to be a comedic space opera, but it wasn’t funny enough to just be that.

      If you can start a film with a cancer ridden woman dying in a hospital bed, you can add some seriousness to the fate of a world resting on a bunch of “a-holes”.

      • carsonreeves1

        This is always a hard balance to strike, playing it fast-and-loose but also needing to be serious at times. I thought they achieved this balance in the final act, but yeah, earlier, there was SO much winking at the audience that you didn’t feel the stakes.

        • lesbiancannibal

          I’d further this by saying look at the first act of Star Wars.

          You see the smoldering corpses of hero’s aunt and uncle, the wise-old-man cuts someone’s arm off in basically a bar fight and the villain destroys A PLANET.

          Watching that for the first time, (I was four) you’re thinking, ‘yeah, nice threat, but we’ve seen this before, you’ll not actually destroy a… oh my God, wait, what, oh the humanity!!!’

          Star Wars is dark and an actual film. GOTG is just fun, comic-booky, not actually a film. Still great though :)

  • cjob3

    So Rocket was a modified human? I heard talk of him being genetically modified but I didn’t quite pick on how or why. I though he was just an alien who happened to look like an earth raccoon. Just like Howard the Duck.

  • Film_Shark

    I haven’t even seen this film but but I can tell you that the MacGuffin ‘orb’ in ‘Guardians’ is straight out of Indiana Jones with a galactic twist. Every story has been told. It’s a good screenwriter that knows how to repackage a story to make it appear fresh.

  • cjob3

    They really went big on getting sympathy for the hero. A small boy watching his mother die in the first moments of the script was pretty surprising to me. It worked though.

    • Sullivan

      Isn’t that the backstory of every superhero?

      • cjob3

        Yeah kinda. The mentor always dies but not usually right up front. Imagine if Uncle Ben dying was the very first scene.

        • G.S.

          I’ve never seen it as the VERY first scene, but it’s always REALLY early on… like Batman.

          • Sullivan

            And Superman.

          • G.S.

            There it is! Duh, G.S.!

  • Poe_Serling

    OT: According to the newsletter, I see that Black Autumn nabbed the AF slot for this
    week.

    Quick ? for Bluedust: Is the script link in the newsletter for your most recent version of the project?

    • Linkthis83

      I’d like to know as well — So I don’t copy and paste irrelevant notes (I will just type NEW irrelevant ones :)

      • Bluedust

        LOL Link, those irrelevant notes of yours were some of the most helpful as far as tightening the first act up. The script didn’t change much, I just tried to convey a more ominous tone that may have been missing from the earlier parts of the story.

        • Linkthis83

          That’s great to hear :) If you don’t mind, I’d like to check out the script you sent Carson:

          linkthis83 at yahoo dot com

        • charliesb

          Me too please.

          birdieey at gmail dot com

    • Craig Mack

      I have read Black Autumn twice now. As far as found footage films go — this is a winner. It’s Predator with Non-Twilight Vampires. I loved it.

    • ElectricDreamer

      I confirmed that the file name from the newsletter matches the AOW draft.
      And the last page of both files is exactly the same as well, seems we’re good.

      • Bluedust

        Hopefully Carson received the new version I sent him last night, ED. Just glad this vampire script has risen from the grave.

        • ElectricDreamer

          Can you express that to me, pal? My contact info hasn’t changed.
          I’d like to have a full analysis ready for your coming out party! ;-)

        • Poe_Serling

          Thanks.

    • Bluedust

      Poe, thanks for asking. No, the version Carson posted is not the new one. Just very, very similar ;). The new one has an added scene and some dialogue changes in the first act that were inspired by the notes I received here. I sent him the new one last night after I got the newsletter.

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Bluedust-

        Why don’t you post a link to the revised version of Black Autumn here? It will give interested readers a four-day window to give it the once-over.

      • Rachel Woolley

        Congrats on the upcoming review Bluedust! Better late than never :-)

  • charliesb

    I don’t know if I completely agree with your assessment of Pratt – though he definitely did become more comfortable with the character as the film went on.

    I compared Peter Quill to Hans Solo because there both heroic, funny, and more altruistic than they believe. But the big difference between them is Solo undeniably cool, while Quill is a bit of loser. That’s why we get awkward dancing scenes and excitement at an enemy remembering his name. He doesn’t have the suave of Solo, because he doesn’t have the suave of Solo. And I honestly think this is on purpose.

    While Solo exists as the type of hero many aspired to be, Peter is the kind of hero that today’s huge geek and nerd culture can identify with. The chubby guy from Parks and Rec, who is now starring in a Marvel movie and the new Jurassic Park.

    I do agree that Groot was the best part of the movie though. And that dancing pot at the end, should be made into a toy STAT. (pulled picture, because it’s a spoiler – but look it up)

    It wasn’t perfect, Zoe is flat (as per usual), there were too many characters that didn’t get a real chance to shine (John C. Reilly, Glen Close, British guy from Shaun of the Dead). The rivalry between Nebula and Gamora wasn’t strong enough or (integral enough), so their fight did nothing for me, and Merle being Merle in space was amusing but unoriginal.

    But I still enjoyed it, it was funny (when it was funny), it looked great, and it took a real chance on building a world that most of us know very little about.

  • charliesb

    I don’t know if I completely agree with your assessment of Pratt – though he definitely did become more comfortable with the character as the film went on.

    I compared Peter Quill to Hans Solo because there both heroic, funny, and more altruistic than they believe. But the big difference between them is Solo undeniably cool, while Quill is a bit of loser. That’s why we get awkward dancing scenes and excitement at an enemy remembering his name. He doesn’t have the suave of Solo, because he doesn’t have the suave of Solo. And I honestly think this is on purpose.

    While Solo exists as the type of hero many aspired to be, Peter is the kind of hero that today’s huge geek and nerd culture can identify with. The chubby guy from Parks and Rec, who is now starring in a Marvel movie and the new Jurassic Park.

    I do agree that Groot was the best part of the movie though. And that dancing pot at the end, should be made into a toy STAT. (pulled picture, because it’s a spoiler – but look it up, it’s adorable)

    It wasn’t perfect, Zoe is flat (as per usual), there were too many characters that didn’t get a real chance to shine (John C. Reilly, Glen Close, British guy from Shaun of the Dead). The rivalry between Nebula and Gamora wasn’t strong enough or (integral enough), so their fight did nothing for me, and Merle being Merle in space was amusing but unoriginal.

    But I still enjoyed it, it was funny (when it was funny), it looked great, and it took a real chance on building a world that most of us know very little about.

    • bidi

      i also originally compared Quill to Solo, but later i realized that it was ROCKET who was most like Han Solo, even down to the giant body guard. i think Quill is more heroic than Solo, and i think he has to be. if he’s the main character, he has to be more of the glue holding things together. you can center a movie around Quill, but you can’t center a movie around Han Solo. they tried that with Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and look how that turned out

      • charliesb

        I agree. Rocket is definitely closer to Solo, minus the crippling backstory, emotional problems and complete lack of game. ;)

        I think their pretty equal when it comes to heroics though, Quill just came to it a bit sooner.

        I actually didn’t see Pirates 4, (One was enough) but I’ll take your word for it.

  • ripleyy

    (SPOILERS)

    Groot and Rocket are my favourite characters in a LONG time. The scene where Groot shoots a branch and skewers those bad guys and starts slamming them all around the hallway made me laugh and was one of my favourite scenes: it was bad ass, but it was Groot’s goofy “See what I just did?” smile that just elevated it.

    I haven’t anything to complain. I thought it was seamless and it’s going to take a lot to overcome my feelings for it.

    And don’t get me started on the dance-off: the second perfect scene in the whole movie. People are complaining that Ronan was one-dimensional and overtly-theatrical, but that’s the whole point!

    Quill not only has the balls to do it, but he’s also making fun of Ronan for being such a massive dick. Seriously, that was a perfect moment. It wouldn’t have worked in anything else. You want to humiliate your enemy? Do a dance off then end with – while keeping your face straight “I’m distracting you, you turd blossom”. What a really clever scene.

  • klmn

    About the Newsletter: I think Miss SS’s (whoa too many esses! I feel like I’m in a snake pit) drawing is one of her best efforts.

    Well done, Lauren.

    • Mike.H

      Meow to Lauren, Cheerio to Carson. :)

    • http://www.twitter.com/laurjeff Lauren

      You’re too kind! :)

      Definitely my favorite sketch to have drawn for the newsletter – you can probably tell how much fun I had drawing it. I’m so glad you liked it!

      • klmn

        You should develop your drawing along with your writing. Consider taking a course or two.

        You might want to do a comic book or graphic novel sometime. Besides, it’s healthy to push the writing out of your mind at times.

        • http://www.twitter.com/laurjeff Lauren

          Good idea! I’ve considered exploring it more, *especially* as the writing’s gotten tougher… :)

  • Sullivan

    While this film does seem good, the template for these comic book movies are all too ridiculously the same. Backstory of the superhero (or heroes). Villain appears. Big fight scenes. Superhero triumphs in the end.

    Is this all we can expect from Hollywood films in this decade?

    • Magga

      There’s a bit of a movement away from Hollywood right now, it seems. This is completely anecdotal, but friends of mine are getting much more interested in watching homegrown movies and imports from other places than America right now, and in my experience these tendencies usually spread gradually. Even Bollywood movies are getting more common here in Norway, and due to some financial disagreements most cinemas in our capital did not screen Transformers 4 and some Marvel stuff. No one’s complaining. I realize that foreign markets are an increasing percentage of a Hollywood movie’s gross, but that’s mostly due to new markets opening up, and the U.S grosses for U.S movies are declining while costs are going up. This movie unfortunately opened well (I always root against movies like this one regardless of alleged quality) but this has been a gloriously bad summer for most Hollywood fare domestically.

  • Midnight Luck

    I would love to read this review Carson, but I won’t.
    As I am one of the 10 people who haven’t seen Guardians.

    This is actually one of the Superhero type movies I DO want to see.
    One that TAKES CHANCES. One That does something (even if it is only Slightly) different.

    But I have to wait until Tuesday.

    So don’t want to see spoilers or change my feeling about a movie before I go.

    That can spoil things, or change things, when it shouldn’t.

    I like to go in with clear thoughts and a clear space in my head.

    Sadly, I have to miss out on this particular conversation.

  • Magga

    Might stream this on netflix one day, but it can’t be the new Star Wars because when that came out, big children’s movies were a rare thing. Now it’s the only game in town, making this another toy off the conveyor belt. Might still be a better movie, of course, but what’s it going to influence? More comic book adaptations? Even the music is old and familiar. Should reserve judgement for when/if I see it (still trying to get through Avengers) but the next Star Wars can be nothing like Star Wars

  • wlubake

    “Guardians is the first summer movie I’ve seen in forever that wasn’t interested in being one and done.”

    I’d certainly argue for Inception, but I don’t know what your definition of “forever” is. Hopefully this is a stepping stone to more risk-taking in Hollywood, but certainly the comic book universe.

    Comic books are written for lots of different audiences (targeted). I don’t see why comic book movies should be for everyone. You just need to budget accordingly.

  • Magga

    Off topic, but did people here see Boyhood yet? I have to wait until the 22nd for a release here, but it’s getting a reputation as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece and the movie seems like a genuine risk-taker with true directorial vision. What did people here think?

    • Midnight Luck

      Absolutely awesome.

      Definitely should go see it.

      Strange how odd it felt to me when it started off. To watch this almost Documentary style fictional account of the boys life. But it got more and More and MORE intense and interesting and incredible as it went and you watched everyone age in time.

      By the end I was so interested in what was going to happen to everyone and how they were going to finish it.

      Definitely an INCREDIBLY unique and amazing movie. Like nothing out there.

      Ingenious.

      • Magga

        Sounds fantastic!

        • Midnight Luck

          It was great. And different.
          Different can be a great thing.

      • pmlove

        I loved its treatment of the hard hitting subjects – every time you thought it was going to take a turn for the depressing, it handled it in a very light touch manner.

        I do wish it had a bit more to say, though. I was impressed that my interest was held despite the lack of a driving narrative (and absolutely any hint of GSU – not necessarily a bad thing) but there were occasions when mulling on being a teenager, being confused felt generic (eg the late night diner scene), despite the impressive effort that it took to get there. I felt like it worked so hard and did so well but just fell slightly short of being truly astonishing.

        In short: I wanted it to make me shed a small tear but I remained frustratingly dry-eyed.

        • Midnight Luck

          I think one of the things that was so amazing about the movie is that it showed it could be very interesting, keep your attention, and was extremely entertaining, WITHOUT the typical GSU.

          Now, the “story” has a built in G, which is just to live. It has a timeline, we know the kid will be growing up, and we and he are interested to see what happens in his life.

          But it has no S, as the film has no stakes in anything. We are just observers watching what happens. Occasionally someone wants something, something is important, but it isn’t an overall Stake for the movie from beginning to end.

          And there is no U at all. Urgency cannot happen as someone lives by real time. While you may feel desperate to become 16 when you are 11, when life “Really Happens”, it cannot speed up time, so you quickly decide your stress and Urgency are fruitless and misplaced, so you go grab a bong and Get Stoned instead (This is the unknown yet famous final G and S parts of GSU. GSU-GS).

          I also liked that some of the conversations were generic, as teenagers tend to talk in Generics. They are either Acting like someone they have seen in a Movie / TV show / Music Video, or they are repeating silly thoughts and dialogue they picked up from someone famous somewhere else. Or, if you have ever sat at a restaurant or coffee shop and listened to tweens or teenagers have a conversation, most of the time it is unbelievably canned, cliche’d and boring, yet amazingly repetitive and steals from every famous thing known. I liked that it seemed rather realistic. I felt some of the dialogue where the kids said more adult things, and talked in perfect sentences, or with complete ideas, was less authentic. It didn’t hurt it too bad for me.

          I enjoyed it immensely.

    • pmlove

      Carson would hate it.

    • Bifferspice

      i thought i’d love it, but i found it pretty rubbish. wrote this review a while back:

      america’s mike leigh had a fantastic idea, and yet the total is less, or definitely no more, than the sum of its parts. lots of individual scenes, some of which work well, some of which don’t, and you get the feeling it’s meant to mean that at the end you feel you have shared this kid’s childhood, that you know him really well, and yet it didn’t work for me. it was largely very watchable (though linklater’s over-fondness
      for really not very interesting philosophical conversations really started grating once the kid got a girlfriend – i appreciate that this sort of thinking is awe-inspiring when you’re a teenager and experiencing it for the first time, but re-experiencing it as an adult, in pretty much real time was pretty annoying).

      it felt like linklater thought that spending more time with the character than normal
      would make us understand him more. but it didn’t. it just took longer. i think the biggest disappointment was that the kid was still a paper thin character at the end. i had no real insights to him. he was just a kid, less developed as the main teen character than in a lot of other less ambitious films, despite taking far longer to tell its story. i feel linklater took us through episodes with teflon coated characters,
      so that they didn’t change or evolve, so that the episodes meant nothing, and were never referred to again later.

      it was like he did a big old sprawling project, and took ages to do so, but it was so
      episodic, like a tv series, where the characters were reset at the beginning of each next segment. so you never got any more understanding of them by the stuff they went through. far less ambitious projects seem to have produced far better rounded, deeper, more evolved characters. i think he’d have been better set telling a story with less change, and gone more indepth.

      i was awestruck by the idea and scope of the project going in, and while the end result was perfectly watchable, i’m afraid i really don’t think it was worth the effort. i
      expected, having watched a kid actually grow up and age over a film, that i’d feel some knowledge of him, and seeing a troubled teenager, share some sense of nostalgia with the parents of the untroubled kid we see in the early scenes. but it just didn’t emerge like that. in fact, they could have shot the whole thing in a few months using different actors. wouldn’t have changed anything.

      it’s perfectly watchable, and has some enjoyable scenes. not a wasted evening at the cinema at all, but i won’t remember it in a couple of weeks, and i just feel pretty disappointed that such a good idea for a film seems to have been wasted. a missed opportunity.

  • andyjaxfl

    Loved the movie. The Guardians were a great group of characters, though I thought the villains were a little bland and not dangerous. I don’t recall seeing Ronan or any of his acolytes really put a hurting on anyone other than Drax.

    Also, I thought the action scene and fight editing was a little too Generation ADD for my tastes. I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on half the time.

    But minor nitpicks aside, I thought the movie was great and looking forward to seeing what they do in Round 2. Also, the origin of Star Lord, “We are Groot”, and Rocket’s Samuel L. Jackson level of anger were tremendous.

  • mulesandmud

    “Perhaps studying the craft is now ruining movies for me. LOL. I hope that isn’t true.”

    Don’t let the haters convince you that knowing movies better means enjoying them less! Criticism is its own form of appreciation.

    It’s the same as with everything else: experience changes the game, tastes evolve over time, and what entertained us once won’t do it for us forever. If that were how life worked, we’d all still be sucking our thumbs.

  • UrbaneGhoul

    I enjoyed myself mostly. I don’t have any major complaints like most of Marvel’s movies. Rocket came closest to a misfire. He never quite got there, but they went for Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop 2 when he needed more coolness of Beverly Hills Cop. It just seemed like he yelled throughout the movie. Thankfully he actually didn’t so I liked him enough.

    Some other things I was glad about the movie. No forced romance. Star-Lord and Gamora had a flirtation going on, but thankfully didn’t end with them kissing while flying up in the air. No extra characters that are simply setup for the next movies. They probably realized not to do it since this one is such a gamble. One character in Captain America: Winter Soldier sole purpose is for reveal in the next Cap movie. Cut her character all together and the movie improves with a shorter run time and no wasted moments. Nothing against the actress or even character, but she was not needed.

    Karen Gillan is probably the closest to be an extraneous character. There was a moment where there could be a subversion to character A and B have to fight, but they fought anyway. I kinda wanted an deus ex machine in the form of a character coming in expectantly.

    It was a Star Wars ripoff under the Marvel gloss. It looked like a Marvel movie without being one. There was nothing “superhero” that stuck out since there are powered beings all over the place. To reference CA:WS again, the movies basically have the same climax, but it actually makes sense here.

  • cjob3

    I’m working on a sci-fi comedy and I’m hoping to get a pass with that too. It got me to thinking – I’m not the biggest star wars buff so maybe this is a dumb question- was Han Solo from Earth?

  • charliesb

    I think it’s because it can become annoying/complicated for the viewer. Having one or two characters speak a little strangely can work (i.e. Groot, Drax) but the average popcorn loving movie goer doesn’t want to think to understand.

    You can be smart about it if you like, like in the second season of Vikings. When characters who speak the same language are together it’s english, but when they come together, the languages change. But in a movie like this I don’t think it’s necessary.

  • SinclareRose

    So, uh, Howard the Duck?
    I can’t imagine how crazy the Netflix warehouses are going right now to get that movie shipped out.
    Sooo many people were saying, “Who’s Howard the Duck?” as we were leaving the theater.
    Poor Lea Thompson has to relive that again.

  • carsonreeves1

    I thought he said something to that effect like, “I’m a modified experiment, half human half raccoon” or something like that? Not the case?

  • Sullivan

    Yes.

  • Sullivan

    Tony Stark’s father dies making him a millionaire. He fights and is wounded in Afghanistan. He makes an Iron Man suit. Yadda. Yadda.

  • David Sarnecki

    I’m so sooooo shocked you didn’t say “I didn’t get this, it was weird and dumb. Now Ninja Turtles 2014, THAT’S where it’s at!”

    Our tastes rarely align. I feel like I need to buy you flowers now.

  • G.S.

    Typical sci-fi apologist answer is “universal translator.” The general idea is that advanced space-faring peoples who could expect to encounter hundreds of different languages would have some tiny, seamlessly functioning device on their person (IN their person if we’re talking nanotech) that ensures they will hear their native tongue regardless of what language another is speaking.

    It’s the equivalent of ubiquitous faster-than-light travel making a galaxy as accessible as the planet is to us by air travel. Without these things, the stories become unwieldy and unwatchable.

  • Linkthis83

    Ah-gree. I like this rant.

  • jw

    I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment, but this article on Vice was fucking hilarious: http://www.vice.com/read/what-the-fuck-is-going-on-in-guardians-of-the-galaxy-805?source=vice_iphone_app

  • carsonreeves1

    I’ll be honest. I didn’t really like the mother death stuff at the beginning, and I thought about bringing it up. Sometimes I don’t mention this stuff because I’ve already railed on it in a previous review, in this case with the Godzilla review you mentioned. :)