The team of misfits, known as the Guardians of the Galaxy band together to stop evil plaguing the universe in the latest Marvel Studios film.
Guardians of the Galaxy
(5 / 5)
I don’t have much of a relationship with Marvel. I never was really into comic books as a kid, and while most other kids my age were playing x-men on the playground, I was busy pretending to be the GI-Joes, the Ninja Turtles or Batman. When I heard about this movie over a year ago, I was like… what is this? I had never heard of any of this marvel mythology. All I knew was that there was a talking raccoon, and that sounded weird and a little bit cool. I put this movie in my “medium expectations” file and went on with my life. Since then there were both Thor and Captain America sequels that I skipped, and I hadn’t seen a Marvel movie since 2013 in Iron Man 3, which left me disappointed. Then, I saw the teaser trailer for this film.
Chris Pratt has been one my favorite comedic actors lately. His character of Andy Dwyer aka Burt Macklin FBI operative, was one of my favorites on the excellent “Parks and Recreation”. Hearing that he was in this film had me reasonably excited. In the most recent season of P&R Chris Pratt showed up visibly bulked up and you could tell that he was ready to move on to the larger stage of film. The names Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista also had me intrigued. Some names I knew better than others, but the stage was set for a pretty good cast. I w2s a little bit excited.
The plot involves Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord (Pratt) finding a sphere-y mcguffin, which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. This gets him in trouble, as he is screwing over his fellow treasure hunters in the process. A bounty is put on his head, and the bounty hunting duo of Rocket Raccoon (Cooper) and his plant based bodyguard Groot (Vin Diesel) attempt to capture him. Gamora (Saldana) is working for Ronan the Accuser (on loan from the Thanos collection) to steal said sphere from Quill. They all meet and get into a bit of brawl and end up in space-jail. In jail they attempt a break-out and are met by the resident monster of a prisoner in Drax (Bautista). Zany schemes and adventures follow from trying to sell the orb to a creepy collector (Del Toro) to stopping the bad guy from getting it and destroying the world. The plot is fairly straight-forward and serves up probably one of the best popcorn movies of the decade.
When you see a really good movie, you can feel it deep in your bones. Sitting there with my 3d glasses on in the Imax 3d cinema, I basically lost 2 hours of my life in the world of this film. After the film, I remarked that “I didn’t even remember I was wearing 3d glasses” I didn’t have time to think about anything but what was happening on the screen. My milk duds box was long dry before the previews had ended, and I doubt I would have stopped to have one during this 2 hour and 1 minute thrillride. There is no downtime in this film, the pacing is excellent. The story moves from large action setpiece to the next. This is how action movies are supposed to work. We don’t spend long scenes stewing about character backstories and emotions. There is no dragged out exposition that can kill the pacing of a good popcorn film. No long spouts of techno jargon or bloviating villians here.
There were a lot of similarities here to another excellent Marvel ensemble film. 2012’s Avengers was just about the perfect action super hero movie. You had tons of fun characters, snappy dialogue, and quite a few spectacular action scenes. There was no stopping for sappy stories and long explanations in that film, and those moments aren’t here. You learn about characters by how they act, you get no more than a few key pieces of background information of the characters and that is enough. This film didn’t have the benefit of preceding individual movies like the Avengers did, but James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman didn’t need them. I was surprised at how emotionally invested I got in the characters of this film, when Rocket Raccoon spouted out the cliche’d line “I didn’t want to be born” it hit. The movie masterfully allows all of these action movie tropes to occur without you caring. This movie is basically all cliches and campy and corny lines, but it works because it is so damn earnest. This movie owns up to its own cheesiness in a way that makes it all work.
One of the highest bits of praise I can give this movie is that I was reminded of another of the greatest summer blockbusters of all time. Star Wars IV: A New Hope. There are plenty of similarities. You have a band of people brought together with different motives teaming up and defeating the big planet-destroying evil. A scoundrel with a huge bodyguard friend who speaks in a language only he can understand. Siblings torn from their parents at a young age. A hare-brained scheme to infiltrate and kill a big bad guy in a giant space ship. Plenty more where that came from I am sure. I will bet this was all intentional too. These tropes work just as well here as they did there. Though, I will have to admit, I laughed a lot more at the villain distracting antics of singing and dancing to “Ooh Child” than I did during the trench run. This movie really feels like a spiritual successor to those first 3 Star Wars films, and that is awesome.
This movie is Fun with a capital F. The soundtrack (which I am listening as I write this) (google playlist here) is an excellent collection of 70s pop tunes and permeates its way throughout the movie. Peter Quill, who witnesses his cancer stricken mother die in the opening minutes of the film, holds on to walkman packed with the “Awesome Mix Vol 1” as his connection to his earthly past. This serves as an excellent device to add depth to that character without long exposition. The walkman also allowed director James Gunn to add in what I can only imagine as some of his favorite music to this movie. It all fits in very well with the fun adventure music of the movie, and I can expect this soundtrack to sell very well.
All of the acting is top notch as well. Chris Pratt seems like pretty much the only actor that could play this role. I can only imagine Chris Pratt, who in real life is a bit of a prankster, would be as close as you could come to a real-life Star Lord. Zoe Saldana is excellent as the bad ass assassin chick with a heart of gold. Dave Bautista (or WWE’s Batista) played an excellent Drax the destroyer, who is quite a bit funnier than you would imagine a big tough-guy to be. And of course Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel lend their voices to the CGI characters of Groot and Rocket Raccoon. Everyone looks like they are having a blast making this film, and all of the characters are spot on. There are no dark moments of brooding or sadness, there is really no time in this fast-paced roller coaster ride to have more than an “I’m sad” moment, broken up by a slap on the back. Guardians of the Galaxy is the cure for the “Dark Gritty Realistic” super hero movie that Christopher Nolan created, and that is OK by me.
I loved this movie, and I am seeing it again.