I will admit that in all my geekdom growing up I’ve never been a big Guardians of the Galaxy fan; not that I had anything against it, just that my love for other comics such as Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Punisher, and Ghost Rider took precedence and, well, there’s only so much your parents will allow you to spend on comic books as a kid. Despite that the film piqued my interest and curiosity since its developmental stages, and I was very interested to see Marvel continue to expand on a film universe that they have worked to build with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and the Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy has been hyped for a very long time now, with Marvel putting a lot of backing into marketing and advertising the film. You couldn’t turn on a television or go to any other movie without a preview or commercial for it. In fact before the movie even was officially released, the powers that be announced the 2nd Guardians of the Galaxy film is already in the works, at San Diego Comic Con.
Pretty sure of ourselves, aren’t we? Seeing the movie, however, I can say with absolute honesty that it completely and entirely lived up to every bit of the hype it produced and hands down may very well be the best movie I’ve seen all year. Yes, it has even trumped the very spectacularly done “X-Men: Days of Future Past” in terms of action, characters, plot, and excitement.
To sum it up for those who aren’t keeping score: Guardians of the Galaxy picks up story arcs alluded to during and after the credits of the Avengers film, which is outer space, the aliens of the Marvel Universe, and one of Marvel’s biggest bad boys, Thanos (Thanos was the main villain of one of the largest Marvel Crossovers ever, The Infinity Gauntlet). I have to respect and admire that Marvel’s film studios are not shying away from outer space. It’s a slippery slope to involve aliens. In fact, Fox pretty much avoided aliens entirely during the X-Men franchises despite the fact Jean Grey’s Phoenix powers are largely the result of Marvel’s alien population.
The story of Guardians of the Galaxy involves Peter Quill, a young man abducted from earth at a young age, who ends up growing up into the life of a common space pirate, inadvertently finding one of the Infinity Gems (which Thanos is after because wielding all of them together means some major, God-like, unstoppable powers). This leads to Quill being pursued by Ronan the Accuser, a fanatical Kree terrorist who has struck a deal with Thanos to destroy his enemies in exchange for the gem, and Gamora, Thanos’ adopted daughter. However, Quill is already on the run from Yondu, the space pirate who kidnapped him in the first place (and is pretty pissed off about Quill going into business for himself), and for good measure Yondu has put a bounty on Quill’s head leading to Rocket Raccoon and his sidekick Groot coming to collect. Everyone gets intertwined here and chaos erupts leading us to the 2 hours of comic-book-inspired action that is Guardians of the Galaxy.
Other than the incredibly sad first five minutes (which were depressing to me for personal reasons), the movie is excitement and action pretty much the whole way through; it’s one of those films you almost pee on yourself because you don’t want to miss anything while you went to the bathroom watching, and every actor and actress performing on the film is spot on.
Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord, and plays this scoundrel of a character, a thief, a hustler, and a guy that’s had his fair share of women as well to perfection and I think Pratt’s career is only going to go up from here as he rose his stock dramatically as Quill. He’s comparable to Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man performance in the fact that you can take Quill seriously when there’s action but just enjoy his personality as a character when he’s not in the middle of a major shootout with our enemies.
Zoe Saldana, whom I admit I’ve had a bit of a celebrity-thing for since she took the role of Uhura in Star Trek, plays Gamora, the adopted assassin daughter of Thanos, and a genetically altered Kree assassin that gives what we’ve seen from Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow a run for her money. Not to mention somehow Zoe Saldana makes being a green person exceptionally hot. I think she’s going to create a new fetish with this one, especially if (more like when) some adult studio decides “Guardians of the Galaxxxy” needs to happen.
Bradley Cooper voices Rocket Raccoon (simply “Rocket” in this film), a character I’ve often despised for wasting character slots in videogames such as “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” and “Marvel Alliance.” Cooper manages to make a character I was agitated by and couldn’t take seriously into an enjoyable badass that brings a lot of the comedy, wit, and classic lines to life.
Vin Diesel voices and provides the motion capture for Groot, the tree creature partner and sidekick of Rocket, whose vocabulary consists of very little. In fact, the only thing Groot ever says is “I am Groot,” and yet it is almost completely hilarious every time he does in a Team America style “Matt Damon” sort of way. Rocket also seems to be able to understand the different tones of “I am Groot” to know what Groot is really trying to say. I dare say this is Vin Diesel’s best role with about the least amount of unique words ever spoken.
And rounding out our heroes Dave “I Want My Rematch” Bautista (Batista) is Drax the Destroyer, a maniac who wants to avenge his wife and daughter who were murdered by Ronan. To say Bautista nailed his role perfectly is an understatement. Batista brings this character to life in a big way to the point his character in the film surpasses and is superior to the persona he brings into a WWE ring. Drax has a deeper move set, better promo skills, and also manages to frighten the hell out of you just by being a pure badass. I’m not saying Batista is bad, I’m saying Batista as Drax is better and if someone wanted to do what’s best for business, bringing Batista into the WWE as Drax (with Marvel-Disney’s permission) just once might be highly amusing.
The main cast aren’t the only ones that play their parts to a tee. The supporting cast is great. We have appearances by the Nova Corps (another important faction in Marvel’s space franchises) and Josh Brolin voicing Thanos (as well as Thanos even taking the appearance of Brolin). Michael Rooker (Merle from the Walking Dead television series) also appears as Yondu, who is essentially “Space Merle.” No, really, he’s the exact same scumbag character we’ve grown to love in the Walking Dead TV series. John C. Reilley as Corpseman Dey of the Nova Corps, and Benecio Del Toro as the Collector (whom we saw briefly in the post-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World). Glenn Close portrays Nova Prime, the leader of the Nova Corps, Scottish actress Karen Gillan portrays Nebula and this might be the first time I’ve wanted to bang a bald blue chick. Lee Pace also makes an impressive Ronan, the villain of this series who has this serious Emperor from Star Wars vibe going on throughout a lot of the film (although a little more hands-on).
Aside from an impressive cast where everyone played their roles to perfection, the special effects are impressive. You need to have great visuals in a film set in space, and the ships, the gunfire, and the explosions all did not disappoint at all. Many people try to avoid paying a higher movie ticket price for IMAX 3D, but believe me when I say the visuals in this film are ones that you definitely won’t mind paying an extra couple of dollars and donning a pair of glasses for. Even the various little space creatures you see on planets manage to capture your imagination during this two hour action-fest.
The hand-to-hand combat scenes were thrilling and intense with that measure of tension as well, and if that’s not enough for you a great old school soundtrack manages to really drive it home; being a child of the 1980s myself, I’ve grown up with my parents’ favorite songs, and now thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy I’ve had Blue Swede's “Hooked on a Feeling” on loop in my brain ever since. The movie doesn’t miss a step even once. It manages to keep the plot simple and enjoyable (not too convoluted for people who aren’t huge comic book fans, or novices to the franchise), while balancing action sequences and comedic moments so that you’re hooked from start to finish. No part of the film drags on or bores the viewer, and it ends up being one hell of a thrill ride. For the 33 year old comic-and-movie fan it’s impressive but on the same token if you’re bringing the kids to see it, it’s one that will have all the characters and excitement that you’ll remember as a parent that Star Wars had growing up. This is a franchise that’s going to simply be fun to watch every time and if I have one complaint it’s that it ended because I’m probably going to have to wait a really long time to see it.
On a personal note, I’ve been feeling rough around the edges in my life as of late but this movie was the right film at the right time and I’m still riding the awesome wave of euphoria that comes with not having one single negative moment or gripe with what I watched. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films that is completely worth the price of admission, and while I never see a film in theaters more than once, I may very well break that rule just to witness it again on the big screen. Guardians is a welcome addition to Marvel’s ever-expanding universe on the silver screen and I can guarantee it’s a film you’ll have fun with, and if you don’t you are a sad, sad person and I have no desire to converse with you further. And a fair word of warning to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: you've got one tough act to follow, Michael Bay.
Oh... and this should be common knowledge for anyone with a brain that goes to see comic-book-inspired films by now to stay in the seat until the credits finish rolling for a little taste of things to come in future films!