Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy photo starrating-5stars.jpgAt heart, Guardians of the Galaxy is a simple tale about a group of misfits. A mysterious orb of untold power is stolen by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aka Star-Lord on the planet Morag. The valuable artifact is coveted by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a genocidal militarist of the Kree race. Star-Lord attempts to sell the relic on the planet Xandar and pocket the money, but before he can, it is intercepted by Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a curvaceous alien warrior. The ensuing commotion also draws in Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a anthropomorphic raccoon and Groot (Vin Diesel) a tree-like biped. They all end up in jail where they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a massive brute out for vengeance. This rag tag aggregation of prisoners become allies who unite against a common threat.

Superhero movies are inherently ridiculous. Beings, often from another planet, dress up in some getup and fight crime with their bizarre superhuman abilities. Silly no? That’s why I like mine served with a big fat helping of comedy. The more winking at the audience, the better. Guardians of the Galaxy may be from a comic book, but it doesn’t feel like a Marvel picture in the traditional sense. It concerns a disparate team that are rather disorganized. This motley collection of mercenaries are pretty selfish too. Fighting corruption is the furthest thing from this sorry gang’s mindset as you can get. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t yearn to adhere to the superhero template. It wants to kick back and relax to the soft rock stylings of the 70s. The production would prefer to just rest its feet on the archetype like it was an ottoman.

What makes the fabric of this story work, is the charismatic mix of personalities that ordinarily would have no business being friends. There’s no reason why this unorthodox lot would ever associate with one another. The combination of individuals is unlike anything ever seen before and yet they are instantly recognizable. First and foremost is Chris Pratt as Peter Quill or Star-Lord as he prefers to be called. He’s a roguish, opportunist who just exudes swagger. Indiana Jones or Han Solo would consider him one of their own. He’s in good company. Zoe Saldana is the sexy Gamora, an assassin, the last of her Zehoberi race. She is a quick witted match for the womanizing Star-Lord. Great shades of Princess Leia! Of humanoid appearance, she sparks believable chemistry with Star-Lord even though she is a green skinned alien. Drax the Destroyer is a tremendously muscled thing not dissimilar to the Hulk. In spite of his brutish looks and psychopathic personality, he masks a remarkably sensitive backstory of pain. Ronan the Accuser killed his family and now he seeks to avenger their death. Gamora has ties to Ronan that will prove to be quite useful.

Computer animated creations can be a mixed bag. Jar Jar Binks anyone? However here the technology has been used with fascinating vitality. Rocket (voice by Bradley Cooper) is a genetically engineered raccoon that has been given sentient intelligence. A completely realistic CGI creation, he is nonetheless one of the most engaging all the characters, his rather chaotic, trigger happy temperament notwithstanding. One cannot acknowledge Rocket without also mentioning Groot, a tree creature voiced by Vin Diesel. The two of them are bounty hunters that work in tandem. The imposing guy speaks only three words: “I am Groot.” Despite his limited vocabulary, Rocket and Groot understand one another perfectly which gives rise to some very humorous conversations. Groot is an innocent that exudes more heart than all of the other entities put together.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the spiritual sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy we dreamed about. Action packed, well written and most of all fun! This is a space epic where the unexpected happens. Gamora and Star-Lord romantically bond over Elvin Bishop‘s easy listening classic “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”. A baby tree boogies down to “ABC” by The Jackson 5. Glenn Close sports a hair-don’t that looks like a triple dollop of cake frosting. Director James Gunn has never helmed a production this huge.  His highest profile box office success heretofore was as the screenwriter for the live-action Scooby-Doo in 2002. He pulls out all the stops here.  Superhero movies never get Oscar consideration for costume design but Alexandra Byrne’s work needs be recognized. I truly hope she will garner a nomination. Even during battles scenes, the frightened citizens in the background had creative wardrobe details that I haven’t seen since the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier’s work in The Fifth Element. The jaw-dropping manifestation of this universe is a marvel of modern technology, fashion, and special effects. The art direction never ceases to amaze in a world where outstanding visually impressive displays have become commonplace. And let’s not forget that soundtrack, a brilliant blend of early 70s light rock classics that actually exist to cement the deep emotional bond the main protagonist had with his mother. It’s a stunning presentation full of pathos, love, joy and humor. Sorry Transformers: Age of Extinction, but in the words of a pop hit on this soundtrack, I’m hooked on a feeling. I’m high on believing that Guardians of the Galaxy is the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for.

07-31-14

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28 Responses to “Guardians of the Galaxy”

  1. Very Nice review Mark. Not sure I will invest the requisite amount of dead presidents on paper to see this, but your review certainly makes a compelling argument.

    • I’d check it out. The buzz sounds like it will become the #1 film of the summer and possibly of the whole year.

      Sometimes it’s good to see a film that has captured the zeitgeist. I did that with the Twilight series. It didn’t make me a fan but at least I could be a part of the discussion. 🙂

  2. An excellent review. Haha her hair did kinda look like a scoop of vanilla ice cream lol. I can’t fault this movie for it’s A-list cast, that’s for sure. It is pinned down by some seriously good performances from a wide range of performers.

    I’m wondering now what a second viewing (and one that’s earlier in the day) might do to me. On the other hand, this isn’t the first time I got super controversial. I believe I gave out only a middling score to The Winter Soldier. . .and subsequently lost some friends. . .lol

  3. A bit too campy for my taste, but still a very fun film. The visuals and soundtrack were great and I just loved Rocket and Groot.

  4. Ahah so you’re like the rest of the critics who are fawning over this. It’s enjoyable enough but I don’t know if I’ll remember it as well as other movies of the Summer.

    • Just giving credit where credit is due. Sorry you didn’t love it.

      Incidentally if you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did that’s fine but no need to negate my opinion “like the rest of the critics who are fawning over this.”

    • Just because you didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of us, Ruth, is no reason to label our praise as “fawning”. It’s your prerogative to disagree but you shouldn’t put others down for their opinion.

  5. I love seeing movies in IMAX and 3d. I love it even more when the movie is great. I didn’t know anything about this comic book creation, so I wasn’t sure I’d get it. Oh I got it alright. A fun and exciting time. The characters were all individually great. Also an A+ for the music. 5 stars

  6. martin250 Says:

    good review Mark,

    “Guardians of the Galaxy is the spiritual sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy we dreamed about”.

    I haven’t given it too much thought but Star Wars is probably my favorite movie.

    i am a bit saddened by some of the comments above. It almost seems that because a movie is Campy/not serious, that it cannot deserve a 5 star rating. Can’t help but feel they are missing out on the value of Fun.

    Am going back to what i had mentioned in your Man of Steel review. It Might be due to the difference between viewer generation:

    The older viewers who had seen the old star wars movies at the theater, would look forward to a film like Guardians of the Galaxy.

    and

    the younger viewers who tend to prefer a serious or apocalyptic movie-i refer to them as the Dark Knight generation. Only a movie like the Dark Knight can get 5 stars from them.

    But, as they say and in the end, to each his own.

    • Yes I completely agree with you. A movie can be silly with such joy and heart that it earns 5 stars. Star Wars was just such a movie. Guardians of the Galaxy is another.

      Your assessment that taste for this style is a generational one is perhaps accurate. But I hope that younger viewers can still see the value in something that is just goofy, albeit very well written, fun.

  7. I absolutely loved this movie and loved it so much that I even bought the soundtrack during my shift at work the next day. However, I cannot bring myself to give a perfect five for one reason…what the hell happened to the villains?

    I never understood why Nebula did anything she did or never felt threatened by Ronan in anyway. Kind of wish they were treated a bit better but eh…only docking half a point for that. EVERYTHING ELSE is perfection. I understand why some aspects had to be rushed because Gunn has so much of this world that he needed to show off…

  8. For this one, I’m just going to have to say, thanks but no thanks. I enjoyed your review, but I’ve really been trying to ignore all the acclaim. I’m convinced that if this is anything like it’s been advertised, it’s probably total garbage.

    >

    • I suppose you can go through life ignoring highly acclaimed films that people love: The Dark Knight, Avatar, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games. You miss out on a lot of really good films though.

  9. Good review.
    GotG is fun & refreshing and its well-deserved success vindicates th view that audiences don’t want to watch the same monotonous formulaic sequels over & over again.
    You might be interested to read this:
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/life-and-crimes-of-rocket-raccoon/
    Cheers!

  10. Sorry for the late comment. I forgot to do the review and I have bookmark folder with all the reviews in.

    Anyway great review. I Loved the film. Great music and very funny 😀

  11. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy enough that I saw it twice in theaters (a rare occurrence). I agree that none of these characters seem like they should associate with one another, and that’s part of this movie’s unexpected charm. The main characters are selfish jerks, but they’re jerks with incredible chemistry. Visually the film is an impressive spectacle, the soundtrack is fantastic, and the characters are fun to watch. What more could you ask for in a super hero movie? Glad you seemed to like it as much as I did.

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