Known for Its Decor
by MIA NGUYEN
Guardians of the Galaxy
dir. James Gunn
It was my first time going to the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, known for its historical architecture and beautiful egyptian decor. The experience melted my face off without involving any hallucinogens or psychedelics.
The year is 1988. In the film’s opening scene, 11-year-old Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) is listening to Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1 from his grandfather (Greg Henry) before saying goodbye to his mother who is dying from cancer. Peter’s mother (Laura Haddock) pleads Peter to take her hand in the last waking moments before passing away, but the young man is too afraid. She leaves Peter behind a small, neatly wrapped gift he refuses to open for years to come. He flees from the hospital room emotionally charged with tears running down his cheeks and is abducted by aliens immediately after stepping outside.
Fast forward 26 years later, adult Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is just a normal guy on the planet Morag dancing smoothly along to “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbones on his Sony Walkman cassette player and headphones. The well-placed nostalgic elements to the film add a feel good touch for audience members fifty and above who are familiar with the oldies. The upkeep and function of Peter Quill’s Sony Walkman on an oceanic planet is an extremely questionable and incredible feat.
He’s in search of a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan (Lee Pace), an object under everyone’s radar and desire. If the orb falls into the wrong hands the world will crumble and obliterate. After successfully obtaining the orb and battling an intense shootout with Korath (Dijimon Hounsou), Peter decides to sell the orb on Xandar, home to the Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force.
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is relentless reformed assassin filled with a heart of gold. She comes off as intimidating with her high cheekbones, sultry looks and green flesh, but means well. Her intentions are set on betraying Ronan the Accuser and selling the orb off to someone else. She deceives and slyly ambushes Peter in order to steal the orb, but doesn’t succeed.
CGI designed bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and his humanoid tree companion Groot (Vin Diesel) join in on the chase to steal the Orb away from Peter. The duo work well together in creating the most lovable pair in the movie. Rocket’s snark, quick wit, and elevated arrogance bring a lot to the table. As audience members, we feel bad for the countless times he has been genetically manipulated. We gain respect for his immaculate one-liners and courage.
The four of them are arrested by Nova Corps and sent away to the Kyln, a superhuman prison. Once in the Kyln, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) wants to kill Gamora for being associated with Ronan. (Ronan was responsible for killing his wife and children.) The relationship between Drax and Gamora doesn’t bode well and he calls her a “whore." The bickering Guardians eventually learn to put their personal problems aside in order to make it out of the Kyln alive.
Director James Gunn takes a lot of calculated risks in his directing style. Gunn's storytelling is built on the simple foundation of interlacing top tracks from the 1970s to work with the plot and character development. The movie rides heavily on its funny dialogue.
Gunn morphs Chris Pratt into a glorious centerpiece in Guardians of the Galaxy. He takes quick sharp witted jabs at Kevin Bacon references throughout, taking the time to really humanize the character. More often than not, the characters and interconnected relationships in Guardians of the Galaxy add emotional value and improbable charming elements to the entire experience. We extend our patience and open our hearts out to an innocence the lovely man-tree carries, for he only can utter three words throughout the movie, “I am Groot,” in that order.
The fundamental theme/meme of Guardians is built around misfits finding their own action and adventure through their rough-around-the-edges personality. We become emotionally invested in the misfortunes and place ourselves in the characters' shoes through our own vulnerabilities. I think what I'm saying is that I cried during Guardians of the Galaxy.
Mia Nguyen is the features editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. You can find her website here and her twitter here. She last wrote in these pages about the only thing she finds reassuring.
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