I talk a lot of smack. I’ll be the first to tell you. But I’ll also be the first to admit when I’m wrong about something.
And boy was I wrong about Guardians of the Galaxy.
First and foremost, let me say that Guardians is on par with — if not outright better than — The Avengers.
For my money, Guardians does everything right. They streamlined the best parts of the comic origins of these — let’s be honest — widely unknown comic characters and took just enough creative license to make them compelling.
And while some things — like Rocket’s backstory and Peter’s lineage — are left looking a feeling “undeveloped,” we now have seeds planted for sequels that explore these characters’ backstories a little further… And better yet, we actually care about these characters.
Even a relatively one-dimensional character like Groot — a hentai Frankenstein — won over our hearts and minds relatively quickly. By the time business really starts picking up, we are — or at least I was — genuinely invested in these characters.
Heading into the third act, I was reminded of the feelings I got watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time. The sense of adventure, the way the characters came together, the over-arching narrative and universe-building… It’s not that Guardians is the new Star Wars (though in my opinion, it could be if the sequels are handled right). It’s that Guardians effectively captured the magic of a type of movie that we haven’t had in a long time.
I’m talking Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m talking Empire Strikes Back. I’m talking Curse of the Black Pearl. In other words, storytelling, character-building, flare, and excitement to spare.
I was particularly surprised at how much I enjoyed the buildup of a greater, cosmic roster of villains. I thought Thanos was handled well, however my one knock on the movie is that he came off as a little weak. When Thanos was on screen, I wasn’t blown away. True, he was not the main villain… But there needed to be more of a sense of fear and dread attached to him.
To balance that out, I think Ronan was a spectacular choice for a villain. He was a viable threat to the team and simultaneously introduced — and pissed off — Thanos.
You’ll hear more about my thoughts on the podcast later this week… But let me leave you with this…
I was wrong about Guardians of the Galaxy. I was pleasantly surprised at not only how well it turned out, but by how much I enjoyed it. They didn’t pull off the impossible — that’s reserved for a Marvel Studios Spiderman film — but they certainly did the improbable. And as a fanboy, I could not be happier to be wrong.
Guardians of The Galaxy is Marvel’s attempt to introduce the Cosmic side of the Marvel Universe in a easy to understand format that doesn’t expand in ten different comic series (See Sliver Surfer, Adam Warlock, Captain Marvel, Inhumans, any character that goes into space for some reason).
Guardians focuses on Peter Quill /Star Lord (Played by Chris Pratt), a scavenger that finds an ancient orb that is sought after by Ronan the Accuser (Played by Lee Pace). Peter is joined by Gamora (Played by Zoe Saldana) a lethal assassin that is trying to stop Ronan, Drax the Destroyer (Played by Dave Bautista) a warrior that has sworn a vow to kill Ronan for causing the death of his family, Rocket (Played by Bradley Cooper) an engineered humanoid raccoon bounty hunter. Accompanying Rocket is Groot (Played by Vin Diesel) a humanoid tree that acts as Rocket’s brute. Together, these misfit heroes team up to take on Ronan and his army as they protect the planet Xandar from destruction.
Guardians does a fine job of condensing origins and cosmic lore of the Marvel Universe into bite size plot points that flows well with the already established movie franchises. Character backgrounds are simple to understand and the movie doesn’t dwell too long on reminding the audience why the heroes fight evil. It also rewards fans that paid attention to past movies with cameos and continuations from Thor, The Avengers, and maybe more depending on the details you can spot. I enjoyed this entry in the Marvel movies as the unlikely heroes of the movie captures the spirit of any recent Marvel hero and the story has a nice mix of comedy, action and bits of drama that flashes through the hilarious dialogue. While this movie doesn’t take much risk in terms of changing the formula of super hero movies, this is a great additional to the Marvel Universe to open up the opportunity to explore more in the cosmic setting. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a full body Galactus that isn’t an evil space cloud?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been an almost universally fantastic series of films but they have settled into a standard feel and plotting, like bite 50 of a delicious steak. Guardians of the Galaxy blows up the universe in a refreshing, action packed, fun way by introducing the cosmic side of things and all the inherent weirdness there in.
Continuing the slow build toward The Infinity Gauntlet, The Guardians are a reluctant team of heroes who must band together to stop Ronan the Accuser (an incredible Lee Pace) from getting a mysterious orb that will give Thanos (with Josh Brolin in his first turn as the Mad Titan) the power to destroy Xandar because of their, to Ronan’s eyes, heresy against Kree culture. He’s joined by Nebula, a pretty much unrecognizable and surprisingly menacing Karen Gillan, and an army of Kree fanatics. The enemies of Guardians are some of the strongest ever seen in the MCU, I would place them right behind Loki. There’s also another short but wonderfully bizarre scene with Benicio Del Toro’s Collector and his menagerie on the floating head/space colony, Knowhere. The heroes are equally as great, Chris Pratt is as wonderfully charming as Peter Quill aka Star Lord as he is in everything; whether he’s blasting his way out of a space prison or dancing to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”. He’s basically a more self-deprecating Han Solo. Bradley Cooper is excellent as Rocket, giving his voice more rasp than usual and giving Rocket some surprising and welcome depth. He could have just been the “wacky sidekick” but he has an incredibly dark origin and he’s fully fleshed out but still the funniest character in the movie. Vin Diesel, for the few words he has, manages to pull of another Iron Giantesque performance and, by the end, you absolutely love Groot, and all the Guardians. Probably the most surprising for me was how good Dave Bautista was as Drax. He was equally fun and serious and he reminded me a lot of Manu Bennett playing Crixus on Spartacus, he seems one note at first but shows tremendous depth as the story progresses.
The action of Guardians is impeccable as well. All the Guardiasn have their own unique style and it’s great to see them play off each other in the various fight scenes and shootouts. Everything about Guardians brings to mind the best parts of the original Star Wars trilogy from massive space battles to fights in shady cantinas and just the banter between the characters. As if the bar wasn’t already high, it seems impossible now that JJ Abrams will be able to top the fun and adventure of Guardians with Episode VII. Also, the music choices in the movie are at a level only reached by directors like Edgar Wright and Tarantino, each song perfectly enhances the mood of the scene, which is mainly making things even more hilarious than they already are. There are also so many 80’s references, as Star Lord is a child of the 80’s there’s visual and dialogue references to Alf, Troll dolls, Kevin Bacon and more.
For me, Guardians is only second to The Avengers as far the MCU goes and definitely my favorite movie of the year along with the other wonderful Chris Pratt leading role, The Lego Movie. It is an absolute must see.