A while ago, (last fall to be precise) I was listening to Stan Lee, former CEO and Chairman of Marvel Comics, being interviewed by Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist podcast and the topic of film “success” came up. Specifically, Lee was asked why he thought most of the superhero-themed films developed by Marvel prior to Iron Man (2008) were not as well received by audiences. Matter-of-factly, Lee answered, “Because they were not having fun.”
Guardians of the Galaxy proves that point perfectly.
Director James Gunn (Slither, Super) blasts Marvel’s next superhero epic far into space and delivers the best experience you will have at the movies this summer.
Mixing a collection of unlikely (and for many, unknown) characters with snarky humor, galactic set pieces and gorgeous visuals, Guardians is the film you will want to see and very quickly own.
Building on the success of the extremely successful Avengers franchise, Guardians expands the Marvel universe and looks beyond the possibilities. While the comics have always been a haven for universal exploration, the films thus far have remained (for the most part) grounded to Earth.
Starring the hilarious and charismatic Chris Pratt, the always beautiful Zoe Zaldana, the “hulking” and over-sized Dave Bautisa and featuring the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, audiences will quickly learn that this is the team we also wanted to see, but we just didn’t know it.
Set to an epic mixed tape soundtrack that will consistently bring a nostalgic smile to your face, the film follows the misadventures of scoundrel Peter Quill (Pratt) aka Star-Lord. As in most films, Quill finds/stumbles upon “something” of great value to a host of dangerous people and quickly finds himself at odds with two daughters of the evil Titan Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), an insane warlord named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the bounty hunting duo of Groot the Living Tree and Rocket Raccoon (a genetically engineered talking raccoon) and one of the most powerful objects in the Marvel Universe. Sound ridiculous? It sure is. And it is wonderful.
While the film does suffer the same issues that most original stories have (lots of exposition, time dedicated to developing/explaining characters, etc.) at one point, it becomes clear that Gunn and his co-writer Nicole Perlman just go for it and use their characters to make a unique “team” film.
Along with that, while seeing Thanos on the big screen (an all-time favorite villain of mine) made me pee a little, he mainly comes off as an incredibly stereotypical unknown evil with little depth. At the same time, while Pace as Ronan is well delivered, he too is left to be the maniacal warmonger who just wants things dead. While every hero need a heavy, they can quickly become stale. In contrast, Karen Gillian as Nebula, who is given very little, is able to make a far more interesting character out of her death-obsessed cyborg with daddy issues. The film does counteract that well, by giving the heroes a thick level of snark, and thankfully, it keeps the film from falling into the same traps audiences have seen over and over again (see Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 2, Thor 2: The Dark World).
Hilarious, surprisingly heart-warming and action-packed, Guardians is a fantastic example of solid filmmaking, exceptional casting and (most of all) clear direction. From the tone of the characters to the overall look and feel of the visuals, Gunn is in firm control of everything and he is making his kind of super hero film. Are there flaws? Like any story yes. However, Gunn seems fully aware and makes sure to empower his team to overachieve in all the other places keeping this film feeling fresh.
Peppered with eater eggs, this off-kilter adventure will have fan boys and regular movie goers squealing with delight.
Unique, fun and highly engaging, you will want to see this movie. Whether you are tired of the super hero genre films or not, Guardians delivers a quality time at the movies. Pratt has moved well past his goofy, sidekick roots and is the leading man that audiences will adore. At the same time, any film that can successfully deliver a talking raccoon (that is also a weapons specialist) and a walking tree (that can only say one or two phrases) has to be one of the coolest movie experiences of the summer. There are some parts that are definitely not for kids so parents think twice about taking the little ones. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Guardians of the Galaxy are here to save the day.
4.5 out of 5 Floating Decapitated and Decaying Celestial Heads in Deep Space