Marvel Studios newest superhero team-up movie is about to hit theaters, and Guardians of the Galaxy may be the strangest movie yet in their series of comic book adaptations. The movie is about a band of misfits forming a bond while trying to save the galaxy, and may well be one of the funniest and most heartfelt films from Marvel.
The movie starts out in the 1980s, where we find a young Peter Quill listening to his Walkman in a hospital. His mother is about to lose her battle with cancer. He goes in to say goodbye, but afraid of seeing her sick, he can't hold her hand. He runs out of the hospital sad and scared, when a bright light suddenly shines on him. We then see a massive spaceship that picks up Quill and whisks him off the planet for a life of space adventures.
From there, the film jumps ahead to an adult Quill, who feels like an amalgam of Indiana Jones and Malcom "Mal" Reynolds from Firefly. We are also introduced to a slew of other misfit heroes, including Rocket (an anthropomorphic raccoon) Groot (a sentient tree creature who can only say "I am Groot"), Gamora (a space assassin responsible for numerous atrocities) and Drax the Destroyer, a pale green skilled beast covered in red tattoos. Our heroes are not friends at first but end up becoming a reluctant team when they realize the galaxy is in jeopardy from Ronan the Accuser, an alien with serious beef against the planet of Xandor. He is also working for someone even more dangerous, the monstrous titan Thanos, who moviegoers got a glimpse of in the post-credit scene of The Avengers (voiced by Josh Brolin).
The cast of heroes in this movie work amazingly well. Chris Pratt plays Star-Lord (Peter Quill) and has the perfect combination of cockiness and humor. He pulls off a performance that's sure to help lead to A list status. Zoe Saldana's Gamora also feels like a strong character throughout the film. She makes the chemistry between Gamora and Star-Lord feel genuine. Dave Bautista plays Drax, and is a huge surprise. There was doubt going in considering this may be the biggest movie role the actor/wrestler has had, but he pulls it off wonderfully. In fact, Drax may have some of the most humorous lines in the movie.
Then of course, there's Rocket and Groot, two huge standouts. Rocket is voiced by Bradley Cooper, who does an excellent job bringing this sad, angry little creature to life. He makes you feel empathy for Rocket. You may think the character seems like a joke, which couldn't be further from the truth. You really do feel for him and the torture he's been through. Vin Diesel as Groot is another huge surprise in this space odyssey. With only three words of dialogue throughout the film, he manages to make us truly love Groot and his huge heart.
The villains, unfortunately do not get the same focus as our heroes, and this is the one part of the film that makes it suffer a bit. Lee Pace's Ronan the Accuser is a dreadful enough presence, but the audience really doesn't get past his one-note bad guy presence. It would have been nice to have been able to see where he is coming from a bit more. We learn Ronan (a Kree alien) wants revenge for past crimes against his race by the people of Xandor, but that's about it. His top assassin Nebula, played by Doctor Who's Karen Gillan, is also very one note and feels more like a plot device.
The story is also very similar to the rest of the Marvel Studios films. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the plot generally follows the same setup – our heroes have to get a special orb before the villain unleashes its power, bringing destruction upon the universe.
Despite the familiar Marvel setup, this may be one of the best films from the studio yet. It has definitely been an excellent year for the company considering the outstanding quality of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and now this. While it may seem like another Marvel adventure, this also very much feels like a James Gunn Movie. Gunn's direction has helped make this movie about the characters. While we may feel a little shorted in the villain department, the heroes in this movie all get their time to shine. Much like The Avengers, all of the heroes in this movie stand out. It is easy to fall in love with all of them.
Overall, this is a movie that should be seen. Sure, it's another superhero flick with over the top special effects that don't pay much attention to the laws of physics, but it is so easy to relate to these strange characters. If you didn't enjoy films like the original Star Wars trilogy or the first three Indiana Jones movie, this may not be your cup of tea. However, if you like having a great time while also experiencing a sci-fi adventure with heart, this movie is for you. It has been touted as a huge risk for Marvel, but it was definitely worth it and will likely pay off.
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