Does Marvel’s riskiest movie to date pay off? Find out now!
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan
Directed by: James Gunn
VERY MINOR SPOILERS
It’s official: Marvel Studios cannot be stopped. Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that oozes confidence. Simply put, there’s nothing quite like it out in theaters right now, and there hasn’t been a movie like this in a long, long time. This is Marvel throwing their weight around, effectively daring the general movie going audience to see a movie that features a talking raccoon and his best friend, a giant walking tree. This is a movie directed by James Gunn, who’s most known for smaller scale films like Slither, Super, and Tromeo and Juliet. The lead actor is on an NBC sitcom that doesn’t get nearly the ratings it should, and the most well known star of the film isn’t even seen, but heard. Not only that, but the soundtrack, which features a ton of pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s, is far from the norm when it come to big budget superhero flicks. None of this should work.
But it does. It works so well that it’s kind of hard to believe.
Much of the plot of Guardians follows the orb that you’ve seen Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) grab in countless trailers. It’s the MacGuffin of the entire movie, the one thing that everyone and their mother wants for various reasons (Quill even goes so far as to call it “the ark of the covenant” at one point). Quill wants it for money, Rocket and Groot (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively) want it because of the bounty on Quill’s head, and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) wants it to keep it from her father, Thanos. Drax (Dave Bautista) is just tagging along because he wants to get to Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace), the psychotic big bad who wants to wipe out an entire race.
Naturally, things don’t go as planned for any of these characters, and they find themselves teamed up to prevent the destruction of the galaxy, which is a very likely possibility once the contents of the orb are revealed (folks in the know of what Marvel might have planned for their future films can probably guess what’s inside). The rest of the plot follows the “let’s stop the genocidal madman” formula, but the real fun is watching the Guardians bicker and yell at one another. These moments are so fun that if they took up the entire run time, I’d still love Guardians of the Galaxy.
Honestly, there’s not one cast member that’s misplaced. In fact, the one character that I was expecting to be the weak link, Bautista’s Drax, actually ended up being one of my favorite characters. He’s got some incredibly funny lines, and Bautista does an incredible job of making a character that could be one note into one that’s incredibly fun, and at times relatable. Same can be said for Saldana’s Gamora and especially Pratt’s Star-Lord. Honestly, if this movie doesn’t make Chris Pratt the next big time leading man, there’s no justice in this world.
Every cast member has a scene stealing moment, but the ones who walk away with the most of them are Rocket and Groot. From the moment they make their entrance you can’t take your eyes off of them. It’s equal parts “I can’t believe I’m seeing a talking raccoon” and “oh my god this is awesome”. Cooper gives one of his best performances ever as the character, and that’s not an exaggeration. He imbues Rocket with a real personality, and by the end of the film you not only understand a lot of his motivations, but you want to hang out with him too. Vin Diesel also gets a lot of emotion and range out of three words (he can only say “I am Groot” with different inflections), and when combined with Rocket, the two create a new pair of instant classic characters that will be the go to Halloween costume choice for duos for years to come.
If there’s one thing I’d have to nitpick, the first act of the movie does get a little plot heavy. The film jumps from planet to planet with a little title screen for each world. It gets a little confusing to be jumping from place to place, but it’s not a very big chunk of the movie, and it’s kind of expected since we haven’t had a previous Marvel film to set everything up for us. We also don’t get nearly enough time with Benecio Del Toro’s The Collector and Karen Gillan’s Nebula, but the moments they are on screen are pretty cool. There’s also not enough time with……ah, almost forgot about that “minor spoilers” tag I wrote. Just trust me, there’s something very, VERY awesome for Marvel fan boys fairly early in the movie.
Director James Gunn has crafted something unique and truly original with Guardians of the Galaxy. Somehow he was able to work within Marvel’s guidelines and still make a film that has his marks on it. After seeing this film, I can see why they hired him back for Guardians 2, and I can’t wait to see these scoundrels, lowlifes, and thieves again.
NOTE: I REALLY shouldn’t have to say this, but since people were leaving when the credits rolled (AT AN EARLY SCREENING, NO LESS) there’s an after credits scene. And it’s fantastic. Expect to explain it to your non-comic reading friends (unless they know a lot about 80’s pop culture).
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