Marvel Studios is arguably on top of the world right now. Kids and adults alike are in love with their films — be it Thor, Iron Man or Captain America.
Given it’s recent success, you would presume that Marvel Studios would stick to the tried and tested formula. Instead, Guardian Of The Galaxy is as huge of a roll of the dice for Marvel just like its first movie. For starters, not even the nerds have an idea of who the Guardian Of The Galaxy are, let alone the general public.
So far, Phase 2 of Marvel’s films have been made sequels to films like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and an upcoming one for Avengers. “Guardians of The Galaxy” is the only new property in the line up. And what a responsibility this film has, opening up the realm of space to the universe. The man they have chosen to direct this film is James Gunn, a director whose past efforts have a clear style – work that’s full of quirky and slightly dark comedy.
What’s it all about?:
The movie revolves around Peter Quil (Chris Pratt), the self-anointed “Star-Lord”, a human abducted from Earth as a little boy. Now a bounty hunter, he manages to retrieve an orb-like artifact, which unfortunately for him, is what big bad alien Kree dude with a giant hammer Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is also after. In response, he dispatches Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Thanos’ step-daughter, to track Star-Lord down. Meanwhile, Rocket (Bradley Cooper voicing a… raccoon) and Groot (Vin Diesel as a humanoid tree who just says ‘I am Groot’) notice the massive bounty that’s been placed on Peter’s head and try to cash in on him. All of them also run into Drax the Destroyer (WWE’s Batista/Dave Bautista), a very angry guy who holds a grudge against Ronan for murdering his family. Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax: the five misfits that make up your “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
As expected, the film is visually dazzling with new species, planets and locales. A particular highlight is Knowhere, a mining space station made out of an ancient Celestial head. (Celestials are giant god-like beings of the Marvel universe.) And even though the Marvel Studios movies typically follow a style that’s well defined with a certain amount of humour, “Guardians” stands out as somewhat of an oddball within this group of entertaining but homogeneous movies. Sure, “Guardians” is remarkably funny, with plenty of easy laughs generated simply through the snarky banter between the five members, but Gunn’s directorial choices make it stand out even more. Score a Sci-fi movie with songs from the 70s? Sure. Have your leading man constantly dance and drop pop culture references from the 80s? Why not? Combine that with Gunn’s flair for action sequences that start off feeling rather casual and seemingly jump up a notch at will and GOTG sure stands out. In a way, the property’s relative obscurity actually helps, as Gunn is able to put his stamp on the movie with far fewer restrictions, which in turn, helps the movie avoid the dreaded “just another cog in the machine” feeling that has hovered over past movies like “Iron Man 2”, “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World”.
Perhaps most remarkable is the movie’s commitment to its characters. Star-Lord is just as goofy in combat as he is around the other four. Groot, the gentle giant with puppy dog eyes, is just as cheerful even when he’s quite brutally beating up space thugs. The commitment goes beyond the surface with all of them properly fleshed out and their motives clearly explained. A common thread of loss and tragedy brings them together. Despite the abundance of funny in the film, the laughs and gags never threaten to overwhelm the film’s emotional moments, which are aplenty in the film. There’s an emotional and narrative connection to be found there. Even in a story where planetary genocide comes into play, Gunn’s hopeful and earnest tone shines through, especially in his actors’ performance. That is no more apparent than in leading man Chris Pratt’s performance. TV’s Andy Dwyer channels an irresistible charm, a genuine doofus who’s impossible not to root for. Zoe Saldana can play a bad ass character like Gamora in her sleep at this point. Bautista’s ultra-linguistic delivery as Drax is one of the movie’s funniest bits while the duo of Rocket and Groot, for obvious reasons, will surely gain new fans not just for their unique designs but for their unique feisty/zen contrast.
Unpredictable, hysterical, action packed and filled with adventure and heart… what’s not to love? “Guardians of the Galaxy” is an effortlessly satisfying piece of entertainment that’ll bring out the inner kid in you. Were early proclamations of this being the next “Star Wars” correct? It doesn’t seem too far-fetched now. 2017 can’t come fast enough so I can catch up with Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot again.