As Marvel continues to expand it’s Cinematic Universe (and rake in cash) they’re beginning to dig deeper into their comic book vault for characters they can make as profitable and popular as Iron Man or Thor.
In the next few years we will see Ant-Man and Doctor Strange films, both not as well know to casual moviegoers as Spider-Man or Batman. Guardians Of The Galaxy is another uncanny choice for a big budget summer blockbuster, with unknown source material, an untested lead, two CG characters and an unrecognizable Zoe Saldana. The film is also directed by James Gunn, who, up to this point, has only worked on low budget nichè films with varying degrees of indie success. Basically…. This is Marvel’s biggest risk since the original Iron Man, and not only do they make these characters palpable for the mainstream, they’ve created one of the finest Marvel movies yet.
Guardians revolves around Peter Quill aka Star Lord, a boy born on earth, abducted by aliens, and raised in a galaxy far different from ours. He gets his hands on a mysterious orb that sets the movie’s plot in motion. As you can see, the story is pretty thin. The orb is the reason everything happens here and that idea is a bit weak, but it ultimately reveals it’s significance within the Marvel Universe. Because of all the parties chasing this orb we get a grand tour of the galaxy and the oddballs that inhabit it. This is one of the best parts on the movie. All of these aliens and planets are so well realized with a perfect balance of practical and CG effects. The make up, sets and costume design are imaginative and capture the oddity of the movie perfectly. Scenes are so bright and colorful and have such a charm and style no other Marvel movie has. It also has a great 80s soundtrack to lace some of it’s fun action scenes.
The characters that are forced together have great chemistry, and their personalities are developed through their interactions and interplay. Peter Quill, played by the charming, Chris Pratt gives a perfect amount of humor and pathos and it’s great to see him lead a blockbuster. Gumora, played by Zoe Saldana, is equal parts assassin and vulnerable. Drax The Destroyer is an alien seeking revenge and Dave Bautista is surprisingly hilarious. Groot is a giant humanoid tree with only three words in his vocabulary. “I. Am. Groot,” becomes a great catchphrase by the end of the movie. He also gives the film much of it’s heart. Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, almost steals the show as the wise-cracking, genetically modified hacker raccoon. These weirdos are smashed together as selfish a-holes with their own motivations, but eventually form a cohesive team, willing to die to save the galaxy. Although that transition from jerk to hero happens a bit to quick it’s a fun arc to see play out.
The movie suffers from weak villains like most Marvel movies seem to do in Phase 2. Ronan The Accuser seems interesting and is well played by Lee Pace, but is simply a bad guy doing bad things. Yondu and Nebula are both well played, but again, underdeveloped. Thanos makes a lackluster appearance, but we all know he’s the final boss at the end of this billion dollar tunnel.
This movie is great summer fun. It has heart, humor and solid action. It’s the funniest movie I’ve seen all summer and gave me a feeling of adventure and exploration that may only compare to the first time the world watched Star Wars. This ranks among the best Marvel movies and kudos to James Gunn for creating the quirkiest superhero movie I’ve ever seen.