Is It Cool?: Excellence in Filmmaking
Guardians of the Galaxy is Han Solo meets The Breakfast Club, and it’s completely fantastic.
Before we begin, NO, the movie does not follow the story lines from the comics exactly. Some of the backstory especially has been “artistically relicensed.” But you know what? It works. It works SO well.
Peter Quill (played by the loveable Chris Pratt) is a space outlaw who becomes a reluctant hero with the help of an unexpected and diverse group of friends in this fun new film from Marvel.
I’m going to explain a bit of the story situation for those of you who are not familiar. If you aren’t in the mood for that sort of thing, feel free to skip on down about three paragraphs.
Peter (the loveable Chris Pratt) is abducted from Earth as a young child following the heartbreaking death of his mother. When we meet him again some 20 years in the future, he has gone on to become a bit of a space cowboy/scavenger. We could dress it up, but let’s just call it what it is. Peter, or Starlord as he desperately tries to get people to call him, is a space thief…but boy does he have guts and style! With his trusty cassette playing Walkman, he travels the galaxy in search of treasures to sell to the highest bidder, supposedly working for Yondu (Michael Rooker) but as you might expect, seems to spend as much time double crossing Yondu as working for him. When our story in Guardians begins, Peter is on a quest to find a mysterious Orb. Just as he has it in his possession, he is set upon by minions of Ronan (Lee Pace) who are tasked with stealing the Orb for their master. Peter gets away in the first of the film’s many wonderful action sequences. He heads to the planet Xandar to sell the Orb to The Broker but learns very quickly just how dangerous it is to have the Orb in his possession.
Gamora (the beautiful and dynamic Zoe Saldana) is the adopted daughter of Thanos. Thanos is basically the big bad guy in the story and he has made a deal with Ronan. Ronan wants to wipe out his enemies and Thanos agrees that if Ronan brings him the Orb, that Thanos will help him with the genocide. To help Ronan with his quest for the Orb, Thanos loans out two of his daughters, Gamora and Nebula. Once word reaches Ronan that Peter has the Orb and that he is headed to Xandar, he sends Gamora after the Orb with instructions not to fail.
Meanwhile, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) are an unlikely duo of bounty hunters who decide to go after Peter for the 40,000 Unit price on his head. The price, by the way, was placed on Peter by Yondu, the boss he double crossed. There’s a very entertaining and physical fight over the Orb in the middle of Xandar’s capital city so of course the cops show up and arrest them all. Escaping prison is yet another exercise in glorious fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants execution and they are aided by Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a fellow prisoner who wants to get out and take vengeance on Ronan for killing his family.
Still with me? Good. It only seems complicated. It’s really not. Basically, the Orb is a big deal and lots of people want it, though no one is exactly sure why. Then we find out why and holy cow the bad guys can NOT get their hands on the Orb!!!
Peter, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax the Destroyer must team up to race against Ronan and his army as well as Yondu and his men for possession of the Orb and the survival of an entire Galaxy. It is very much one of those “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenarios…at first. Though vastly different, this adventure brings them together in beautiful and unexpected ways while always staying true to not only the story, but to each individual character.
The story is brilliant. I won’t provide any further summary in this review because I’m anti-spoiler, but trust me. BRILLIANT. There are moments of heartbreak, moments of elation, and many moments of gut-busting hilarity. I can’t actually recall the last time I laughed out loud so often during a movie. The dialogue is witty and fun. The adventure is fast-paced and full of obstacles that we must watch the Guardians work together to overcome. They don’t always get it right, either, and they must learn from their mistakes and selfishness so that they can become a strong and capable team. Our heroes are fallible, and that makes who they are and what they accomplish so much richer in the end.
For writing and directing, I give James Gunn an A+ because the pacing, tone, and story were all extremely well done. I especially enjoyed how the film balanced moments of darkness and sadness with comedy and hope. There are two particular moments that stand out to me as heroically beautiful. I’ll attempt not to give them away, but after you’ve seen it, this will make a lot more sense: Groot’s “Firefly” moments and the linking up of the Xandarian ships. To achieve that depth of emotion and beauty in an action comic film is really quite extraordinary. I will also point out that James Gunn wrote the film along with Nicole Perlman, so yay women who kick butt in Hollywood!
As for the cast, this was true ensemble acting at its best. They played off of one another well, the chemistry was all there, and the comedic timing was exceptional as were the emotional moments.
The design of the film worked very well to underscore the story and people, the soundtrack. All hail the KING of action movie soundtracks.
What’s it Saying?: Message of the Movie
Just because you start out one way, with one specific goal, does not mean that is the course that you’re destined to stay on for the rest of your life. We all have hardships and heartache in our past, but those past hurts are no reason to destroy your or anyone else’s present and future.
Who we become is the sum of the choices we make and the friends we connect with along the way. With true friendship, you realize that your burdens are no longer yours alone and that in sharing them, they become lighter. The good deeds you can accomplish on your own pale in comparison to the heroism of a group all working for righteousness together. Basically, WE ARE GROOT.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Morality in the Movie
There is some cursing, though nothing extreme. There are also a couple of sexual innuendos. MAJOR POINTS for no sexual content and for nothing terrifying or over the top in terms of gore or gratuitous violence. That being said, this is very much a fast paced action heavy film, so keep that in mind for the little ones. I would say this movie is accessible for children as young as 8-10 but be aware of the language.
That's Right. I Said It: Reviewer Comments
I can’t wait to buy this soundtrack.
This is easily the funniest movie I’ve seen in years. Easily.
Am I really crying AGAIN in a comic movie? Seriously? What is this, the fourth time now?
Uh… Groot. I can’t even handle how much I love Groot. The flower? The firefly thingies? The root ball? OH, GROOT. When/where can I buy a dancing Groot for my desk? MUST. HAVE. IT.
Why are people leaving during the credits? Don’t they know the RULES??? Marvel movies always have a clip at the end. ALWAYS.
There are six infinity stones in the comics. Please let that mean there will be six movies like this. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.