I’ve never read any of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic books. As a matter of fact, I’d never even heard of these guys. Star-Lord? Rocket? What? Nope. Nothing. The only thing I knew about them was that there was a wisecracking raccoon–with big guns–in their crew. Fortunately, that’s essentially all it took to pique my interest. I’m a simple girl with simple taste, I guess.
My husband, Christoph, is always down for a good action flick so he came with me to an early showing. Quickly, we got to the movies, grabbed our 3-D glasses, some water & snacks and headed to our theater. Surprisingly, it wasn’t crowded. We found ourselves some decent seats and waited for the movie to start. I had heard only good things about this one and I was growing impatient. Fortunately, just as I started to check the time on my phone, the lights dimmed.
The first person we meet on this intergalactic adventure is Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) and we meet him here on Earth, on one of the saddest days of his young life. The opening sequence brought me to tears and made me forget, for a moment, that’d I’d come to watch a comic-book action movie.
Just as the sadness became overwhelming and the tears spilled from my eyes, aliens abducted Quill and everything was as it should be once more. The next time we see Quill, he’s all grown up and going by a different name. We find Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) jamming to some tunes on the planet Morad. He looks to be scavenging for anything of value when he stumbles upon an interesting-looking sphere.
The only thing we know about this sphere is that it holds something priceless–power. Because of its value, the sphere has several suitors. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), sent by Ronan (Lee Pace), a radical leader looking to rule the world, wants the sphere for herself. A space pirate named Yandu (Michael Rooker)—and the same guy that abducted Quill as a young boy—wants the sphere too. Hell, Star-Lord only wanted the thing because someone was going to pay him handsomely if he could deliver. Makes you wonder about that sphere, doesn’t it?
Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of an unlikely group of oddballs that find their way to one another and decide to work together, instead of against eachother, despite having started out at one another’s throats. When they first meet, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) are after Star-Lord because there is a bounty on his head. Gamora pops into this scenario as Rocket and Groot attempt to capture Quill. This results in combat battle on public property, which leads to arrests.
In prison, Quill, Rocket, Groot and Gamora cross paths with Drax (Dave Bautista). He’s an enormous inmate that has a sizable bone to pick with Gamora. It seems Ronan, the guy who sent her after Quill, also murdered Drax’s family and he wants Gamora to pay for Ronan’s crime. Fortunately for her, Quill, Rocket and Groot have her back. Following this exchange, all five misfits band together to keep the mysteriously powerful sphere out of Ronan’s hands. All The Guardians of the Galaxy want is to save the world from certain annihilation.
I went into this thing wanting to love Rocket, the angry & sassy raccoon. Fortunately for me, the little guy didn’t disappoint. Bradley Cooper delivers a performance that’s instantly lovable and piercingly comical. His timing is great and his chemistry with the lead characters translates well onto the screen.
I didn’t expect to become highly invested in Groot during this movie, but that’s exactly what happened. Vin Diesel makes the most of his new catch phrase and compliments the extraordinary animation of this character quite nicely. Dave Bautista is humorously charming as Drax. Bautista’s portrayal of this well-versed inmate and subsequent defender of the Galaxy, is warm and endearing. Together, both characters add an interesting dynamic to the cast.
Zoe Saldana as Gamora is slinky, sexy, intense and alluringly abrasive. Saldana brings us a tough girl that’s as badass as they come, executing the physical aspect of the part seamlessly. She has a fluid movement about her that makes it seem as if she’s a killing machine. During the fights scenes, Saldana slices through the air like a knife and it’s cool to watch.
Chris Pratt is delightfully hilarious as Star-Lord. His lines are comprised of witty and oftentimes lowbrow one-liners and it’s sublime. He could have easily tried too hard and been insanely grating as Quill, but he skillfully managed to avoid that fate. Pratt does slapstick well, while maintaining the dramatic energy necessary to ensure that the audience connects with his character. You’ll find yourself cheering him on almost instantly and you’ll become invested in his survival after the his first wisecrack.
The most appealing facet of this film is how well it dances between its preposterous, action-oriented and comical aspects. It’s funny without being unintentionally corny and that’s pretty hard to achieve when you’re working with talking trees and green assassins.
The absurdity that ties together the story, humor, visual effects and fantastical, Sci-Fi storyline is as endearing as it is entertaining. Unfortunately, there are a couple of lulls in the story—enough that I made note to mention them here. If you’ve access to automatic-weapon-wielding raccoons for storytelling purposes, there is no excuse for that many lulls. Additionally, there are times when it feels as if director James Gunn leans too hard on action sequences to convey the story. This backfires a couple of times and that’s where the story stalls a bit.
On the positive side, the animation / computer graphics were well executed and do a fine job in transporting the mind to a futuristic land of color and movement. This, along with the witty storytelling and well-earned belly laughs, make this movie a winner. If you’re out for a good action flick and you’re looking for something left of center, check this movie out. Since you’ll be floating around in space for this one, you might want to spring for the 3-D or IMAX versions of the film. Go big or go home.
Guardians of the Galaxy – B+
B+ = Give this one a go for sure. You will most likely enjoy it and if / when it comes on cable, you will probably watch it through to the end, regardless of your starting point.