Guardians of the Galaxy may be the most fun Marvel film yet
Guardians of the Galaxy has so much going for it that it is almost unfair to compare it to any of the other films in the Marvel cinematic universe. At least without noting that without the previous Marvel films built a framework, upon which the Star Lord danced.
Of the Marvel films this is the first I would call a comedy before I called it an action film. My primary reason for this is not simply because it is funny. I would call it a comedy because when there is a choice between story and comedy, James Gunn chose comedy. I do think this is the biggest weakness of the film, and were I to review this as a super-hero action/adventure film it would have been hurt by this decision. It seems a little obvious on the surface, but really, correctly categorizing a film before evaluating its strengths and weaknesses can make a huge difference in how a film is critically evaluated. I’m sure that is an incredibly fascinating revelation for most of you, but it is an important point. It is important because I could say it was a mundane action/adventure film, or a fantastic comedy film, while both are true in this case, only one honestly represents the film.
That being said, if you enter the theatre expecting the action sequences of Captain America: Winter Solder, you will most likely be disappointed. The action sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy pale in comparison, while remaining enjoyable. Where Guardians shines above its peers is in story and humor. Now I absolutely loved the comedic tones in Iron Man 3, which until now I would have called Marvel’s most comedic film, but Guardians was much more than a well-timed one-liner delivered by a leading man. The best way I can articulate the scope of the humor used is by highlighting two extremes. The first being my personal favorite joke, involving a black light and Jackson Pollock painting reference. The second is the vast majority of the Rocket and Groot interaction that has roots in Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy interactions. Now if you don’t happen to know who Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy are you are in significant need of comedic education and should feel very bad about yourself.
The film completes the establishment that Avengers and Thor began, of the Marvel galactic universe. By the end of the film the intersections between Earth, Asgard (and the other realms), and the outer galaxy should be clearly established. Guardians of the Galaxy follows Peter Quill A.K.A. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), a mildly famous thief, and former Ravager as he is caught trying to steal a mysterious and valuable artifact by Kree guards loyal to Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Ronan, determined to recover the artifact for his employer Thanos (Josh Brolin) sends one of Thanos’ adopted daughters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), to steal the artifact from Quill after placing a large bounty on his head. The bounty attracts Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically enhanced raccoon and Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree, who try to capture Quill for themselves. When Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Quill fight each other on Xandar home of the Nova Corps they are all captured and imprisoned together. While in prison Quill, Rocket and Groot learn that Gamora intended to betray Ronan and sell the artifact to a third party, later they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who is obsesses with killing Ronan and anyone associated with him. Quill saves Gamora from Drax by telling Drax she was going to betray Ronan, and because of that, if they stick together Drax will have a change to kill Ronan. Once Gamora reveals she has a buyer for the artifact and they can split the profit, Rocket forms an elaborate plan to escape. Just after they escape Gamora’s sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is dispatched to track them down and kill everyone. Now fugitives, hunted by Nebula, and Ronan these five new friends, who don’t yet trust each other, must live just long enough to cash in, and make a clean getaway, there is only one problem, it turns out, they have to save the galaxy first.
Guardians of the Galaxy in unbelievably fun, James Gunn manages to keep tight and even pacing though the hilarious adventure, and each member of the cast turns in a performance that defines outrageous characters destined to become as iconic as the current Avengers are. 5 out of 5