We all know that Marvel have been knocking it out of the park lately. Everything they’ve put out almost has been spectacular, most recently the brilliant Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the equally fantastic X-Men Days of Futures Past. Yet, for whatever reason, when I first saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought, “Wow, this looks like it’s going to be awful. Why would Marvel do this one?” Their previous successes have been with established franchises, and the most well known popular characters. Why stray from that? That didn’t stop me from going to see the film though, of course, so as usual, regardless of what I think of it, Marvel won. That being said….
When a inter-galactic thief named Peter Quill, or ‘Starlord’ as he likes to be called, get’s caught up in a job that’s far bigger than he intended, he ends up reluctantly thrust into a quest to prevent the destruction of the galaxy. Along the way he picks up a group of equally unwilling companions of increasingly questionable morals, including an assassin, a talking raccoon, a giant tree and a brute hell bent on revenge.
As I mentioned, I had some preconceptions about this movie, although I have difficulty articulating them. I suppose that suggests that they were stupid and senseless. But at least I acknowledge that they existed. They had been tempered by a lot of rave reviews from trusted friends however, so I thought I’d give it a shot, and right after the first scene I began to suspect that my feelings were changing.
The film wastes little time getting going, and brings Chris Pratt’s boy-like humor and energy to the forefront right from the get go. His energy is contagious right from the start, and his initial heist of the orb that causes all the trouble is great fun, full of funny moments, but also some thrilling and inventive special effects. The tone that was set was that this film was going to be a lot of fun. If it did nothing else, it was going to do that. That was just the start though, and it didn’t really let up at all.
As each character enters the story, each has their own unique humor, and this keeps things interesting. The acting isn’t spectacular but it doesn’t need to be really. What I loved, also, is that they didn’t spend too much time on camera showing us these incredibly detailed and explanatory back stories as many super hero movies have to these days. These films have characters we’ve all seen, and it’s these back stories that make the films new and fresh. But here, these characters are new to the big screen, so we get just enough to understand the characters motivation, and then let the rest happen in the moment. This leaves more time for the fun, the action and the in the moment stuff. I love a good origin story, but this was kind of refreshing.
The film makers clearly saw Bradley Cooper’s lovable angry raccoon, Rocket, as their best source of humor, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint. In many ways, he is the heart of the film. It’s his character who has the most moral dilemmas and undergoes changes. But let’s not under sell how funny Vin Diesel’s ‘Groot’ was at times, (in what may have been Vin Diesel’s easiest script to learn, ever) and in what was a complete shocker to me, WWE star Bautista’s character had me in stitches. At first I feared his wooden acting would kill the film, but then I realized at his first moment of hilarious over-literalness that that was the point! Joke’s on me. He was hilarious. The weakest character was probably Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, but through no fault of her own. Just not as interesting as the others.
The special effects are brilliant, as is the action, but I won’t even bother going into that. It’s Marvel. Although, the inventive finale managed to be fresh, with some Star Wars type homages, but a lot of originality, and excitement. Plus, a great Prison Escape, and the initial scenes I already mentioned. All in all, no disappointments there.
If I have one complaint about the film, it would be with the primary villain, Ronan, played by Lee Pace. While I enjoy the new AMC show Halt and Catch Fire, I do think Lee Pace is a horrible over-actor, in almost cartoonish fashion, and unfortunately, playing a “cartoon” only made things worse. It was a little distracting how bad he was. But it is a comic book movie, set in space, so I guess this is the most acceptable place for it.
All in all, Marvel did it again. My low expectations probably helped the film in a lot of ways, but regardless, it’s still a fantastic summer movie, and the start of yet another brilliant Marvel franchise. Chris Pratt basically plays the same character he did on Parks and Rec, and it works just fine here. Combined with some hilarious supporting characters, and brilliant, fun and inventive action, we have a refreshing new toy to sink our movie loving teeth into. Hat’s off Marvel.