Sometimes films transcend their time and become iconic. Each generation since the introduction of film seems to have that one, maybe two movies that define a generation. The 80’s gave us Back to the Future and Ghostbusters for instance. Kids to this day celebrate this phenomenon still making references to going 88 miles per hour or responding with Ghostbusters when asked “who you gonna call?”.
After a long absence, I think that this generation finally has their phenomenon film. Guardians of the Galaxy from director James Gunn (Slither) is Marvel Studios’s first foray into a relatively obscure comic franchise and into the expanded cosmos of the galaxy. The story is about Peter Quill, a human and general scoundrel type who finds himself in deeper trouble than he’s used to when he steals an object from an abandoned planet. He ultimately faces off with his boss, an assassin, a mad man bent on destroying worlds, a couple of thug bounty hunters all while trying to score a profit. His misadventures finally land him caught in prison where he teams up with former foes turned allies and decides to take a stand and do the right thing for once. It sounds complicated but Gunn doesn’t let the movie get weighed down with heavy back story and even crazier sub plots. Instead, it’s a highly entertaining and fun ride through space with awesome (albeit unlikely) heroes to root for.
Guardians’ best attributes seem to come from Gunn’s love of good action adventure movies. You see notes of Star Wars with the characterization and plot, and the humor of Ghostbusters or maybe even The Fifth Element but it’s the heart and emotion that draw you in and never let go. You’re able to get a basic understanding of where the character is coming from and why you should care about them without having to stop the progression so we can do a flashback sequence and so on and so forth. Instead, we get a lot of the background and details while on the run. The action plays out kind of like Quill’s all important “Awesome Mix Vol 1” cassette because you basically hit play and sit back and let it all play itself out. From the moment Peter nabs the precious object, the action and pace is never relenting and doesn’t seem to stop or even slow down. In the end though, you don’t miss as much as you think because Guardians doesn’t worry so much about the “how” as much as it does the “why”. It’s just incredibly good storytelling. The cast all around does an amazing job with their parts from Chris Pratt’s breakout role of Peter Quill, to a perfect assassin Zoe Saldana as Gamora, even Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer ends up having perfect scene stealing moments throughout the film. Vin Diesel though with Groot defines how to do a CGI character who only says 3 words and never once sound like he was just phoning it in. He nails it with every “I am Groot”.
The visuals are stunning and the best we’ve seen out of Marvel yet. Groot and Rocket arguably steal the show whenever they are on screen but Gunn again finds a way to keep the non CGI characters relevant. But again, where Guardians of the Galaxy succeeds is telling a good story with good characters …..who just happen to be half way across the galaxy on a spaceship or in a space prison sometimes. You can also come into this movie pretty cold from a continuity standpoint in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You won’t really need to know what’s happened in Thor, Iron Man, or even the Avengers honestly. While sharing a universe with them, the Guardians actions don’t seem to directly involve S.H.E.I.L.D for instance, or Captain America in any way. Of course as the train comes to a stop in the station so to speak and the Guardians’ credits are rolling you’re gonna want your new favorite heroes to join up with the Avengers. The two teams seemed destined to face the bad guys side by side at some point.
I honestly have very little to criticize here. The movie is just so solid and entertaining and I quite mean it when I say that this lives up to the hype. I will say that the 3D is horribly done (as per the usual with Marvel movies basically) and not worth the extra effort there although for the space scenes and big battle scenes I might be convinced to give IMAX a try. I would have liked a little better use of Karen Gillan’s Nebula throughout the film. I LOVED Lee Pace’s Ronan though. Otherwise, this will be one of those films you probably see two or three times in the theater. Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be a huge success for Gunn and Marvel and I can’t wait for their return.
Guardians of the Galaxy scores a rare 10 out of 10 for me. It has everything a good sci-fi action adventure movie needs. Humor, fast paced action, great characters and of course Groot.
I’d say this is probably and ages 10 and up kind of thing. There are just a couple of spats of some language and of course some intense violence parts but overall, it’s a great film to introduce to kids around 10 or so.
Below is the trailer for the film in case you missed the Internet in the past couple of weeks:
Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now.