Monday, August 4, 2014

[Review] Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is yet another addition to the Marvel movie cannon, blasting off as the summer begins to wind down. It seems to be the underdog; the lesser known story of the bunch (I had no idea these characters existed). In a change of pace, there's an immediately zany and upbeat tone that even unleashes some B-movie antics and tongue-in-cheek camp. The soundtrack features an awesome mix of 70's classics that really pop against the interstellar, futuristic setting. The songs even hold a bit of weight within the narrative, but I won't spoil that. Guardians is a downright fun time, and it's ecstatic to be here. It also reminds us how wonderful blockbusters can be if all of the great elements are lovingly planted.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord (depending on whom you ask), is a bachelor and space scavenger who was beamed into the skies when he was a young kid. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a genetically mutated assassin at a crossroads. Rocket (Bradley Cooper) is a talking raccoon--the result of a biological experiment, and this scoundrel has a chip on his shoulder. His partner in crime is Groot (Vin Diesel), a clumsy tree with tricks up his branches.

These rogues start out as enemies when they engage in a wild scrap over a mysterious silver orb that everyone wants their hands on. The misfits eventually get tossed into jail and end up forming a comradery amid lockdown. They also meet Drax (Dave Bautista), a muscular, overly literal, hothead who's on a vengeance plot against the story's main villain, Ronan (Lee Pace). Ronan is intimidating, but not all that compelling. However, this doesn't really strike as a glaring fault within the established setting. Anyway, after banding together and performing the most elaborate escape from a space prison ever seen on film, The Guardians of the Galaxy (that's what they call themselves) embark on a mission involving the powerful orb--with hopes to either cash it in or save the universe.

Guardians displays more visual splendor than any other Marvel film, especially since the entire thing takes place in the cosmos. The spunky production design, including the creative make-up and costumes often recall Star Wars and Star Trek, and there's an abundance of nifty gadgets on board. The film flaunts the usual big colorful action sequences and it's probably the most CGI heavy of all, but this particular entry stands out from other Marvel cinematic adventures because it's easily the funniest and most heartfelt. Stuffed with hilarious banter, gags ("I am Groot!"), and slapstick, the film provokes laughs at nearly every turn. The script isn't against taking a few odd detours specifically for the sake of humor.

The welcomed sentimentality materializes from Star-Lord's backstory with his mother, as well as the dynamic relationships within the group of Guardians. Part of the hype and allure of The Avengers is the fact that it's an ensemble of iconic characters all together on screen (at the same damn time), but those larger-than-life superheroes don't really possess the endearing chemistry of these rag-tags. I mean, there's a raccoon and a tree stump here, and they generate significantly more affinity and intrigue. The story delivers some unexpected bursts of emotion and surprising scenes of beauty--an attribute that rarely occurs in past Marvel movies.

I am Groot. (Guardians of the Galaxy renders itself as a memorable standalone piece within the Marvel universe. You're not just going to rush on to the next installment--you'll want to rush back to the beginning of this one.)



  1. I rushed out and bought the Awesome Mix soundtrack yesterday and haven't stopped listening to it since :) Great review Zach, I'm certainly tempted to watch this one again before it leaves cinemas :)

  2. Nice!

    I'm considering seeing it again as well. So good.

  3. Great review! I liked what you said about the group chemistry. Each of the characters is so dynamic and different, and their backgrounds so at-the-forefront without needing a trillion flashbacks and heartstring-tugging music. Concise, concise. Loved this movie!

  4. Great review. We definitely agree on this one.