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The Mass Media

‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ review

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Hunter Berry

A student watches TV from the couch.

‘Tis the season for presents, holiday music and Christmas movies. That means everyone can watch more of the classics, like “Rudolph” and “Frosty,” or even look for new favorites. Recently, Disney+ released “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” starring Marvel’s space troublemakers as they discover the meaning of Christmas. Is it good? Is it bad? Somewhere in the middle? To see what audience the hour-long special might appeal to, read on.
The special primarily centers around Drax and Mantis, played by Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff, respectively, as they try to cheer up their fellow Guardian of the Galaxy, Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt. They decide that the best way to go about this is to celebrate one of Quill’s Earth holidays, as he is the only Earthling among them. They travel to Earth to give Peter a present they are sure he’ll like.
To begin with, this is a continuation of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and stars all the characters from the previous installments of the franchise. This means that anyone going into the special already hating the characters and the sense of humor established by the previous films, will almost definitely not like this special. Also, this is a Marvel film, so if anyone hates the idea of franchises and doesn’t want to see that in their holiday specials, then this isn’t going to appeal to them.
What about new audiences? If someone has never seen a “Guardians” movie, or a Marvel movie in general, this new installment is probably as new-viewer friendly as a new Marvel project can be. There is no dependency on previously established lore, like the way Thanos had planned to kill half the life in the universe or why the Eternals were sent to Earth. However, like any sequel, this is still made for people who have already watched the previous “Guardians” movies.
The entire plot centers around kidnapping Kevin Bacon, as Star-Lord has talked about him to his fellow Guardians as if Bacon really was the characters he played in his movies. The special does a decent job of explaining these things to newcomers, but the jokes probably won’t resonate as much with a newer audience. It’ll still be fun, but the new viewers will probably feel that they have missed something.
Regardless of the film’s place in the Marvel franchise, the main themes of it have less to do with pre-existing lore and superheroes, and more with the timeless themes of giving and coming together for the holidays. As most of the characters in the special are aliens and have not grown up with Christmas, it is interesting to see how they react to these ideas. Overall, these reactions are funny and odd, but the special pulls off a heartwarming ending.
As for how it looks, it is clear that this was filmed specifically for television as opposed to movie screens. The camera is closer to the characters and there are fewer establishing shots that are meant to show the scope of the settings. That’s not what this project is about. Instead, there is a focus on how each character interacts with the people around them, which is fitting for the overall holiday “coming together” vibe.
The screens are also filled with green and red throughout. One doesn’t need to know the title to know that they are watching something related to the holidays. If that color scheme warms the heart and brings cheer, then this is a special at least worth trying out. If the vibe is too alien or unfamiliar, then there is no shame in sticking to the familiar Christmas classics set in the North Pole or the Big Apple. However, for those who view the themes of the holidays as something universal, then why not venture a bit further into the galaxy?

About the Contributors
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer
Hunter Berry, Photographer