Guardians of the Galaxy-Reviewing the Fun Side of Marvel
Come and get your love…
Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t what I expected. Which in itself is fairly ironic since going into the movie I really believed that my lack of any real knowledge about the Guardians freed me from having any preset expectations. But when that Marvel logo crossed the screen I immediately found myself holding the film to a certain inevitable level of excellence that about thirty minutes in, it was failing to live up to. Sure the movie effects and action sequences looked typical Marvel good, and the characters possessed the typical Marvel standout qualities, but this movie just wasn’t up to Marvel usual level of awesome. To be honest the film’s great comedy was about the only thing holding it together. The plot was paper thin, the villains were over the top evil (even for a comic book movie) for almost no reason, and worse yet the story became horribly predictable as it forced a reason for our team of ragtag heroes to unite under a common cause. So as I sat there thinking that this was finally going to be the Marvel movie that I just didn’t love, a funny thing happened. Halfway through a prison break (that is ingeniously scored to “The Pina Colada Song”) that featured Gamora, Groot, and Drax beating the crap out of just about everyone, Rocket shooting at anything that moved, and Star-Lord trying to very politely steal an amputee’s prosthetic leg, I realized that Marvel had somehow done it again, not only had I stopped caring about this movie’s issues, but I was actually having more fun then I’ve had in a theater in years. Much like it’s brilliant late 70’s and early 80’s pop filled soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy is something that just wants to put a smile on your face, and above all else…have fun. So no, this wasn’t the movie I expected, and guess what, that’s just what Marvel was going for.
The movie opens with a surprisingly heartfelt and emotional scene involving a very young Peter Quill and his terminally ill mother. It’s a defining moment in Peter’s life (in more ways than one) and its impact is felt though out the entire film. Peter is soon taken from Earth and twenty some odd years later we are reintroduced to the adult Peter, who also goes by another name, Star-Lord. Who? Star-Lord man. Legendary Outlaw. Played effortlessly by Chris Pratt, Star-Lord is a part Indiana Jones, part Han Solo, Ravager, and said self proclaimed legendary outlaw. He’s also who this entire movie centers around, which is a good thing because right from the beginning we get to see how funny and entertaining of a ride that’s going to be. To get this fun-train moving Star-Lord steals an orb that is also desired by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a Kree psychopath who needs the orb so he can get Thanos (an even bigger psychopath who was behind the alien attack on New York in the Avengers) to destroy Xandar, the home world of the Nova Corps, who used to be enemies of the Kree but now have a peace treaty with them. Needless to say Ronan doesn’t approve.
Also on the hunt for Quill and the orb is Yondu (Michael Rooker), a blue skinned alien who Quill was actually supposed to be stealing the orb for (before Quill decided to keep it for himself). Yondu also happens to be Peter’s surrogate father, and leader of an army of Ravagers. During Peter’s quest to play keep away with the orb we meet the rest of the soon to be Guardians. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is Thanos’ daughter and wants the orb for herself, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) wants to kill Ronan to avenge his families death who died at Ronan’s hands, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), a genticly altered foul-mouth raccoon and a surprisingly charismatic tree (that only ever says three words, I AM GROOT), who have a Han Solo/Chewbacca type partnership and are trying to collect a bounty put on Quill by Yondu. Of course they all ultimately find themselves together in prison, where these five unlikely heroes will have to put aside they’re differences and learn to work together if they want to survive Ronan, and maybe along the way save the galaxy too.
So there you have it. That is basically the entire plot of Guardians of the Galaxy, steal a powerful orb, form a team, and keep said orb away from angry bad guys. Like I said earlier, paper thin. Lucky for us, this movie really isn’t about plot and story, it’s about fun characters and the surprisingly genuine bond they form with each other, and in that, Director James Gunn’s genius really shines through. Guardians is set in way too big of a universe to try and tell a complicated introduction story. The film could’ve got lost spending the entire movie’s running time trying to explain the back story of every new character and location thrown into the movie. So instead, Gunn opts to create a band of likeable misfits that could literally be playing hopscotch and we’d still want to watch them. Now that’s not to say Gunn doesn’t do an excellent job of telling a story that lays some important groundwork for even bigger Marvel cosmic stories in the future, because he does (Guardians does a great job expanding on the glimpses of the larger galaxy we’ve seen in all the other Marvel movies). It’s just that by focusing on these five great characters he’s able to make a universe spanning story feel so much more personal, surprisingly heartfelt, and unbelievably fun.
There have been better Marvel movies than Guardians of the Galaxy, but there hasn’t been one that’s more fun. Built on great characters and a script full of perfectly timed and executed humor, Guardians takes an idea that could have easily been a disaster and turns it into a refreshingly original comic book movie. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch, and it’s definitely not your typical Marvel movie, but it’s one that by the time the credits role you’ll find yourself wishing that you could just spend a little more time with these fantastic characters. I honestly dare you not to fall in love with Star-Lord and his Awesome Mix tape; Gamora’s dangerous smile and ability to kick your ass; Drax’s hilarious inability to understand sarcasm; Rocket’s love of guns and one-liners, and Groot…well, just being Groot. Seriously, I bet you say “I am Groot” at least 100 times before the end of the year (truthfully there are so many instantly quotable lines in the movie). Marvel has once again made something work that only they could, and in the process raised the bar yet again. Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that more then anything else just wants you to enjoy yourself and have fun, and in that it is a massive success.
I give Guardians of the Galaxy 9 outta 10 reasons that I AM GROOT…(99 to go) and did I mention how much fun it is?
Also, per Marvel tradition there is the usual after-credits stinger. Now I didn’t get to actually see it because it was removed from early screenings, but if what I’m hearing about it is true, you are really gonna want to stick around. You’re not gonna believe the idea James Gunn hatched for this one.