Directed by James Gunn
Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Based on the Marvel Characters by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Honsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Peter Serafinowicz and Josh Brolin
Here we are ten movies deep into Marvel’s little experiment that began with Iron Man in 2008 and the machine just keeps on rolling. After pulling off a momentous achievement with The Avengers, things started to taste a little on the flat side with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, retreading a number of less interesting ideas. I began to wonder if we’d already seen Marvel’s brilliance at its peak. After all, we’d already explored the cosmos, fought in a World War, taken down western capitalism, and witnessed a full on alien invasion. What else could they possibly do that hasn’t already been done? You better hold on to your butts; if Guardians of the Galaxy is any indication, we haven’t seen anything yet.
It all starts when Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) beats Ronan the Destroyer’s goons to an orb that also happens to be one of the most powerful objects in the galaxy. After getting a bounty placed on his head, Quill is chased down by Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who all want in on the orb’s trade value. Once the group duke it out in a glorious battle royale, they’re all thrown into prison together where they team with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to break out and cash in on the massive payout. Ronan (Lee Pace) discovers their plan and seeks to crush them and take the orb’s power so that he can take out Nova Corps (the intergalactic police) and rule the galaxy. When the Guardians learn what Ronan is playing at they decide to team together to fight for the greater good.
Guardians of the Galaxy almost has a dirty dozen vibe coming out the gate as it brings together a rag tag team of galactic misfits to take on the world’s true evil. This makes for a really fun and exciting dynamic where these truly out of this world characters learn not only how to fight together, but also how to live with one another. Unlike the X-men, The Avengers, or the Fantastic Four; the Guardians team up totally by necessity without any real cause or idea to fight for. They all like money, freedom, and enjoying life..and for them that’s about a good a reason as any. This outrageously hilarious yet uneasy tension gives this movie a style and personality unlike any other Marvel blockbuster out there. It’s smart, shocking, absolutely ridiculous, and just subversive enough wink at the audience a time or six. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the best movie to hit theaters this summer.
Each character in the film is rich, layered, and full of eccentric personality. Star-Lord may look like a Han Solo wannabe on the surface, but he brings an extra hint of youth and brains that our Millennium Falcon pilot trades for extra swagger. Rocket is the secret genius who compensates for his small size and rodent status with his loud mouth and giant guns. Drax is a warrior hellbent on revenge who just doesn’t get the metaphor while Gamora is Thanos’ rebel daughter who has never quite experienced real love. Then there’s Groot…he’s just Groot.
You throw all of these radically different (and fairly egotistical) personalities together and you get one heck of a show. Even in their most dire circumstances, these characters never fail to save or sabotage each other over and over again. The cast knocks these roles out of the park and there’s not one weak link to be found. Each of these characters have heroic defining moments followed by some act of total idiocracy and I can not imagine changing out a single role among our heroes. Chris Pratt is the perfect lead as Star Lord, but the cast is strong enough nobody ever feels like they quite steal the show from the other characters.
If there’s a weak link to be found, it’s probably with the villains of the piece who never quite leave the same impact the Guardians do. Like most origin movies, this film is far more interested in its heroes than it is it’s villains and ultimately I think the time spent developing our core characters over an iconic villain was the right move.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that sounded totally bizarre even just a year ago and the film’s creative mastermind (miracle worker?) James Gunn somehow lands every single beat almost flawlessly. This may be another movie coming out of the Marvel factory, but a director’s voice has never been so distinctly felt in any of the other nine films. Whether it’s the irreverently comedic tone, 80s pop culture references, zany characterizations, or the totally spontaneous dance moves in the most unsuspecting moments, this is a James Gunn film through and through.
Guardians is cut from its own candy-coded cloth, but that doesn’t keep it from delivering on everything you’d want from a fun summer popcorn flick. It’s got a fairly simple yet engaging story powered by heart, breathtaking visuals, and set pieces so fast and electrifying you’ll feel like you’re coming off of some sort of high as the credits begin to role.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a sci-fi comic book film that captures the type of fun only found in something like a Star Wars movie. It’s got all the excitement and spectacle you’d want to have at the movies while also feeling unlike any blockbuster to hit theaters in recent memory. James Gunn and Marvel have both just defied expectations by turning one of the most unlikely ideas into the boldest blockbuster of 2014. It may not always be conventional and takes a number of shortcuts in it’s storytelling, but it’s still a must see for film goers of all ages. Watch out J.J. Abrams, you’re going to have a tough act to follow come December 2015.