Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


Marvel Studios has been on a roll since 2008’s Iron Man.  Their top grossing film is 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers at $1.5 billion. 2008’s The Incredible Hulk is their lowest grossing film that brought in a meager $263 million – a box office haul that would cause most studios to celebrate.

Despite Marvel swimming laps through piles of money like Scrooge McDuck, they’ve taken a bit of a gamble with their 10th feature film – Guardians of the Galaxy.

As a product, Guardians of the Galaxy is a gamble. It’s a product that’s based on a comic full of characters most moviegoers aren’t familiar with. The film’s leading man isn’t the typical Hollywood leading man, two of the film’s supporting characters are CGI, and 90% of the story takes place in space.

Guardians’ combines all those elements to make a 2 hour joyride that’s a more enjoyable space drama than Star Wars Episodes I-III combined.

Director James Gunn (Slither, Super) does an outstanding job telling the story of Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), a human living as a smuggler in space, who becomes the subject of a manhunt after stealing a mysterious orb from a desolate planet.

An evil Kree radical named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) wants to retrieve the orb for his boss, Thanos (Josh Brolin), so he sends his assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to capture the orb. Before Gamora can get to the orb from Quill, she’s interrupted by a genetically modified raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and tree like humanoid named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) who are attempting to capture Quill and cash in his bounty.

Quill, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot are sent to a prison where they team up with Drax the Destroyer (WWE’s Dave Bautista) who helps them escape and keep the orb out of Ronan’s hands.

And that’s just the beginning of the space journey.

For those not familiar with the Guardian’s characters, the film does a wonderful job breaking down necessary information through dialogue. Two good examples are the prison line-up scene where each Guardian’s name and history is explained, and the Guardians meeting with an eccentric man known as The Collector (Benicio del Toro) – who fans will recognize from the post credit scene in Thor: The Dark World – who explains exactly what’s in the orb, it’s power, and how it ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Later in the film, the characters talk about their experiences which allows the film to give even more insight into who they are and their motivations.

Guardians is easily the best looking of the Marvel Studios films. The film looks beautiful from start to finish.  The galactic world they’ve created looks like nothing we’ve seen in a superhero movie before. and is hopefully a set up for what should be a space heavy Avengers 3. The CGI in the action sequences look top notch with an array of colors and explosions everywhere during those scenes. The CGI and actors mesh so seamlessly together it’s easy to forget some of these characters are computer generated.  This is a great space intro for what should be a very space heavy Avengers 3.

The best of the computer generated characters is Rocket. He’s a feisty little guy who embodies everything about the Napoleon complex – carries big gun, loud mouth, and a little crazy.  Rocket serves as the film’s comic relief but is also its most lovable character. Rocket has some of the film’s best scenes including a bar fight/escape from Knowhwere.

One of the other great CGI heavy characters comes with our first full look at The Mad Titan aka Thanos sitting on his throne in The Sanctuary. He’s the baddest galactic goon since Darth Vader. I can’t wait to see how they use him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Chris Pratt portrayal of Quill proves he can be a leading man. Pratt’s humor, comedic timing, and boyish good looks are perfect for Quill who’s a mix of Han Solo and Captain Kirk with a dash of Captain Jack Harkness. Zoe Saldana and Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan (Nebula) play a pair of badass sister assassins. Saldana has a history of playing in action films (see: Colombiana, The Losers, Star Trek) but I was impressed how Gillan was able pull off her fight scenes.

The biggest surprise in the film is how fun it is. Its a lot of fun. Guardians is an enjoyable time at the theaters and sometimes that’s all you need. James Gunn adds the right amount of humor in the film to keep the story light even when the stakes are high. He even makes Dave Batista a loveable character

Guardians of the Galaxy may not be as epic as Marvel’s The Avengers or as the action drama Captain America 2: The Winter Solider was, but it’s easily the most entertaining Marvel Studio’s film. It’s a great balance of comedy and action, yet still gives enough gems to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward.

Grade: A-

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