As I sit here, anxious to tell you all about Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m still smiling from ear to ear. It’s been years since I have spent the entirety of a movie (aside from a few genuinely sad moments) in a euphoric nerd coma. Now, I know that many of my recent reviews have been on the outrageously positive side… But you need to know this– if you didn’t believe me before, you have to believe me now:
This movie is utterly fantastic.
Quick, mostly spoiler-free, plot recap: Tragically orphaned space outlaw Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals a rather non-descript orb from an abandoned planet– for no reason other than a monetary reward. What starts out as a run-of-the-mill gig quickly becomes an all-out Intergalactic War between the good, the evil and the just plain greedy.
By the time Quill faces off against assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a couple of delightfully bizarre friends named Rocket and Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel), and the broken, brutish Drax the Destroyer (MMA fighter Dave Bautista)… The orb has landed on the “most wanted” list of Quill’s former band of thieves, who are also hoping to sell it to a very generous buyer. Unfortunately for all– a big, powerful, god-like man (a character you may have all heard of) has sent a dangerous, homicidal maniac named Ronan (Lee Pace) to retrieve it as well.
Guardians will be compared heavily to Marvel’s first insanely successful ensemble film, The Avengers– and that’s okay. Fortunately, Director/Co-Writer James Gunn has succeeded in making a movie that furthers Marvel’s “hilarious band of friends” moviemaking agenda. Except this time around, the group is comprised completely of ne’er-do-wells– and they are allowed to be crass, foul-mouthed and utterly candid.
Placing a lovable (yet unproven at the box-office) actor like Pratt as GotG’s lead (Starlord) is one of the best casting ideas for a Marvel Comics-based film since Fox went with Patrick Stewart as Professor X. Pratt is equally charismatic, compelling and believable. Another set of genius casting choices: Cooper and Diesel. Cooper’s voice is definitely recognizable, but he’s adds a rougher, “mutt” accent to the mix– making Rocket more of a guerilla fighter and less of a rodent. Though Groot is a tree of few words, Diesel’s deep, bass voice resonates with tons of inflections. And while much of Groot’s magnetism comes from his voice– his adorable, completely realistic facial expressions hit the mark every time.
Rounding out the leads, Saldana ably plays the familiar role of a cold-blooded (but tender) assassin, while Bautista impresses with his monotone, yet spot on interpretation of Drax. Pace (most notable from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) and Doctor Who graduate Karen Gillan play the main villains– with Michael Rooker creating one of his most charismatic roles ever, as Pratt’s ex-thieving buddy Yondu Udonta.
The chemistry between the cast is clearly the film’s strongest point– which is impressive, considering two of the actors are 100% CGI. Who would’ve thunk it? The jokes never stop coming either… And while I wouldn’t normally characterize any Marvel movie as a comedy, you have to use the catch-all term when describing Guardians. This film is just as funny– if not more so-– than any comedy I have ever seen… But still manages to establish itself as a great comic book adaptation too. There were moments when I was wiping tears from my eyes, while also mentally high-fiving the writers for their infectious wit.
If you love comic book films– or if you need to have your faith restored in them– this movie will do just that. Two hours fly by, leaving you feeling completely satisfied with the experience. GotG revels in its own eccentricities and never takes itself too seriously– ensuring every movie fan (including all the hardcore geeks) will feel catered to. The film’s musical focus is sure to satisfy soundtrack aficionados as well– including all generations of music lovers. With classic gems ranging from the Jackson 5 to Marvin Gaye, Quill’s cherished “Awesome Mix Tape #1” is almost a major character all on its own (and even presents itself as a major plot device at the start of the film’s climax).
I never, ever give anything I review a perfect score (just a personal philosophy)… But in the heat of the moment, I could’ve easily been convinced to do so with this movie. In my Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review, I said I thought I’d found my new favorite film of 2014… But Guardians of the Galaxy may have just dethroned it (if only by an inch). For the sake of always leaving room for improvement… Here’s my score: 9.6/10 – Danielle Young