Release Date: August 1, 2014
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan
Director: James Gunn
Studio: Marvel Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre(s): Adventure, Action, Comic-Book Superhero
Marvel really kicked it into high gear with their new release Guardians of the Galaxy. I am not a huge Marvel comic book reader (DC Fan here), so I glean what I can from Wikipedia and friends who read the comics (mostly Sam, my co-editor) but I do follow the cinematic universe pretty closely. Marvel has repeatedly done well with their movies, despite the hiccup I would call Iron Man 2, each film has been better than the last and Guardians is no exception.
Right off of the success of Captain America 2: Winter Soldier comes Guardians with another wonderful ensemble cast and a story unlike any we’ve previously seen. I have to hand it to Marvel for being able to make what might look like just a rag tag group of law breakers into heroes right before our eyes. Not many filmmakers and producers could take a bipedal talking raccoon and make him into the gem that is Rocket. The humor is spot on with this one, making it the most hilarious Marvel movie to date. While all the Marvel films have a light hearted side to their stories, the core plot is a serious one and you don’t find yourself laughing all the way through the movie like you do with Guardians.
Maybe it’s the wise-cracking Chris Pratt, who plays Peter Quill aka Star Lord, a new hero and ex-ravager who went from planet to planet as a thief. He’s a rogue and a sweet talker, with a not too honest smile, but you can’t help but root for him when he defends the little guy and saves the galaxy. Maybe it’s Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, playing the brilliant but snarky Rocket Raccoon and Groot, his plant/bodyguard who only says “I” and “am” and “Groot” and only specifically in that order. They fly off of the screen at the audience who can barely keep up with the jokes that they are throwing at the crowd.
I’ll be the first to admit when I saw the concept art for the movie, I was dubious. Having never even heard of Star Lord or Gamora, I was wondering why Marvel was doing this. Well that all turned around when I got a look at this movie. The story plays heavily on heart and laughs. While its fighting sequences don’t really match up to the triumphant Battle of New York in The Avengers, the plan is a solid one and shows off not only how intelligent the Guardians can be, but also how fearless. They know they are going into a fight where they have a 99% chance of dying. They are still willing to do it.
There are very few moments of lag in the film, mostly because of awesome work of music producing by Tyler Bates. The original soundtrack plus all of the 1970’s and 80’s music pulls the audience in the minute each catchy tune starts playing in your head. Even if you were raised without an ounce of that music in your system you still find yourself tapping your feet along with the tunes as they blast over the technicolor screen.
Despite heavy overtones of genocide and destruction set by Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Ronan (Lee Pace) along with Nebula (Karen Gillan), the movie is light. There are a few tear jerker moments (though I am also a pretty big crybaby so maybe they aren’t that sad), but they are never unnecessary or tasteless like they so often can be. I found myself itching for more adventures with the Guardians in the end, and ready to jump on their ship to join them for more of saving the day.
Visually the movie is stunning, with colors that rival Pacific Rim and destinations like Xandar and Knowhere, this movie is a visual masterpiece. The leading cast do great with their alien surroundings, and the neon colors and unfamiliarities pique our curiosity and interest. The movie is otherworldly but never unreachable. It’s beautiful, and I’d argue it’s Marvel’s best work so far.
Final Thoughts: Absolutely stunning to look at, hilarious to watch, and never takes itself too seriously or gets dragged down in melodrama. It’s light hearted when it needs to be, and perfect for the Marvel fan itching for the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.