Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted: August 2, 2014 in Movie Reviews

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista_Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Studios has proven——nine times now——their adeptness at creating entertaining and intriguing comic book films that contain even more entertaining and relatable characters. Whether it’s the God of Thunder or of Mischief, Marvel’s ability to create films that all audiences, regardless of previous knowledge, can watch and thoroughly enjoy has become a cultural phenomenon. But, up until now, Marvel has yet to spread out to their other less-known properties. Most (if not the vast majority) of our reactions upon hearing Marvel’s adaptation of their Guardians of the Galaxy series was, “Guardians of the what?” With a bizarre tone and characters like a walking tree and a gun-toting raccoon, skepticism has been prevalent among us film-fans for the past couple years. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Marvel Studios (and especially lately under Disney), it’s to never doubt their capability.

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Summary: (No spoilers)

Having been abducted from earth at a young age, Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt—–Moneyball, The LEGO Movie) has created a life for himself as a scoundrel “junk collector”, a man who finds and sells anything that can turn a profit. His exploits lead him to a metallic orb, an item ultimately worth 4 billion units (or dollars, in our Earthly vernacular). Star Lord eventually finds himself engulfed in an escapade revolving around the very fate of the galaxy itself when he discovers that the villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace—–Lincoln, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), working for the ultimate baddie Thanos, desperately covets the orb and its hidden abilities.

After being thrown in prison, Star Lord—–in order to escape——is forced into a hesitant and, at first, reluctant alliance with four rogues: the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana—–Star Trek Into Darkness); Drax the Destroyer, out for vengeance for the murder of his family (Dave Bautista—–Riddick); and the two rag-tag mercenaries Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Together, these unlikely heroes must learn to trust each other as they fight against Ronan in order to save the galaxy from total annihilation and truly become the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Also starring: John C. Rielly, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker, and Benicio Del Toro. Cameo by Stan Lee, of course.

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 First off, I’d like to get some obvious preliminaries out of the way. Yes, this looks weird. Yes, it has a talking raccoon, talking tree, and people with green skin. Yes, this is Marvel’s riskiest film to date. But let me assure you one thing: this film is fun. In every literal sense and meaning of the word, this is a fun film. It may look odd, it may feel odd, but in no way is it an odd film. Give it a chance, and I guarantee a memorable time at the movies. With my assuredness having completely convinced you, let’s proceed.

Chris Pratt_Guardians of the Galaxy

Tonally, the film has that classic ‘80s sci-fi vibe, which makes sense since Peter Quill was abducted as a kid in the ‘80s. With the integration of songs like “Hooked on a Feeling” along with a Star Trek ambiance, Guardians of the Galaxy is completely reminiscent of the classic ‘70s and ‘80s sci-fi action films. The tone, as wacky and bizarre as it may be, works perfectly to the film’s advantage and plunges you head-on into the craziest adventure Marvel has yet concocted.

Like The Avengers, each main character is given plenty of screen time to establish their personality. The main difference is that we haven’t had five previous films for us to truly get to know these guys individually. So the job has to be accomplished in one. Five characters, one film. We have to know where Star Lord came from, we have to know who Gamora is, why Drax is out for revenge, and what’s up with the talking tree/raccoon duo. All in one film.

Chris Pratt as Star Lord plays the character with a suave, Han Solo-like appeal. I can’t say he was played to perfection, simply because I know nothing about the source material, but I can say that Pratt as Star Lord is ideally cast and brings a fresh approach to the genre. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora with a certain sense of aura and mystery; a character with a past who isn’t yet ready to open up about it. While Dave Bautista may not be a particularly known actor, having come from a wrestling background like Dwayne Johnson, his brutish character still has personality (and even a hint of charisma) and several memorable lines of humorous dialogue. But as far as personality is concerned, it’s Groot and Rocket that steal the show.

Rocket, Groot_Guardians of the Galaxy

A walking tree and a rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ raccoon may not seem like the most likely of companions, but let me assure you that they are the most memorable. With Han Solo/Chewbacca chemistry, the two prove that even CGI characters can often be the best. Despite overwhelming differences in both temperament and stature, Groot and Rocket will be instant hits among fans throughout the ongoing franchise. Let’s just say that if Rocket ever meets Tony Stark, dramatic and comedic fireworks are sure to ensue.

Concerning the villain, Ronan is neither particularly engaging nor memorable. Much like Malekith from Thor: The Dark World, he’s your standard, two-dimensional comic book villain. Though wonderfully played by Lee Pace, the character never rises above the afore-mentioned Malekith nor the Red Skull, and makes us yearn all the more for the time we’ll see Loki’s return. But in the film’s defense, Ronan is merely the expendable stooge to the ultimate villain.

In a nutshell:

As out-of-this-world (literally) as it may be, Guardians of the Galaxy is a prime example that witty, boisterous film making doesn’t necessitate campy film making. If you can get past all its oddities, you’ll discover that this film is fresh, this film is immensely entertaining, and that this is indeed Marvel’s funniest film to date. Well done, Marvel, for showing us that ridiculous and bizarre can be some of the most outlandish fun we have in a movie theater all year.

8.5 stars

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