When Marvel Studios announced they would be making a movie about the Guardians of the Galaxy, most people laughed at the idea. They immediately wrote it off and said it would never work, but who can blame them for their initial ridicule? How do you make a movie where two of the main characters are a wise-cracking raccoon and a talking tree with a limited vocabulary, and not have it feel like a Disney cartoon? Not to mention that the lead actor was played by a man who was best known for being the chubby guy from Parks and Recreation. It was no doubt a big gamble and Marvel had a lot riding on it; but needless to say they crafted yet another hit as it was unanimously received by audiences worldwide, already guaranteed a sequel, and became the highest grossing domestic film of the year.
The story revolves around Peter Quill – played by Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, Zero Dark Thirty) – who was abducted from Earth as a child and raised in space. Quill fancies himself to be an outlaw and bears the self-appointed title of the legendary Star-Lord and is desperate to have everyone in the galaxy know who he is. When he isn’t putting the moves on alien life forms, he spends his time raiding tombs and collecting coveted artifacts. And this is where we meet Star-Lord, as he is obtaining a rare orb that will soon become the object of much desire.
Shortly after snatching the mysterious orb, Quill meets up with the rest of who will eventually become the Guardians of the Galaxy as Gamora, Rocket and Groot attempt to capture him to collect the bounty on his head. The four are then hauled off to prison where they meet Drax. This motley crew is then forced into a situation that none of them bargained for and none of them particularly want to be a part of. And this is what makes Guardians special: characters.
While the story is good, there’s not much to it; the threat of world annihilation, millions of lives at stake, and an evil overlord leading the charge. But it’s the characters that make the movie such a standout. You can’t help but fall in love with this unlikely five as they hate, then develop a mutual affection toward each other and come to understand that they have all lived their lives for themselves and you want them to succeed when they get an opportunity to do something greater. Their conversations are immensely entertaining as they deliver jabs and back handed compliments toward one another.
The characters are so great no doubt due to the amazing job by the all the actors who have an undeniable chemistry with one another. As mentioned, Chris Pratt nails it as Star-Lord. He is cocky and heroic, a true scoundrel with a heart of gold. Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) plays the vengeful assassin, Gamora and provides an appropriate counterbalance to Pratt’s Star-Lord as she is able to resist his charms that no doubt work on the lesser willed women of the galaxy.
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) provides the voice for the talking, gun-toting raccoon, Rocket. To say Rocket has a chip on his shoulder would be an understatement. He is full of quips and sarcasm, but it provides some of the biggest laughs of the movie and relieves some of the light tension. Rocket’s partner and best friend is the sentient tree, Groot, who is voiced by the Fast and Furious franchise’s, Vin Diesel. Though he is limited to the words, “I am Groot”, his character runs deep and he is a good contrast Rocket, as his personality is much more soft and gentle and he brings out the compassionate side of his furry friend.
Completing the team is Drax who is played by WWE superstar, Dave Batista. He is a very literal and straight laced character and this causes him to deliver some entertaining deadpan jokes throughout the movie. He also has a very personal reason for having such hatred toward the main villain of the film, Ronan the Accuser. Ronan is played by Lee Pace, who also starred in last year’s blockbuster The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug. Pace’s Ronan is chilling, fierce, and dedicated, and also has high interest in the mystifying orb that Quill finds.
Each character has their own standout moments throughout the film; no character is used too much or too little. Though some actors have more star power by name, in Guardians the team is the star. This, no doubt, has a lot to do with director James Gunn, who did a top notch job with the tone of the movie. It is a superhero movie, so there is plenty of action, but it is also a space adventure, and also has a comedic feel to it, due to the fact that the jokes keep coming from start to finish.
The last special thing about Guardians of the Galaxy is the soundtrack that accompanies the film. Peter Quill was taken from Earth as a child during the 80’s, so not only are all of his references and one liners based off of 80’s pop culture and movies, but he had a walkman with him when he was abducted that housed a single tape of old songs that he’s listened to over and over again. The songs work so great in the film, it’s almost as if it’s another character in and of itself. The audience gets to hear great hits like: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and Blue Swede’s remake of “Hooked on a Feeling”.
All this to say that Guardians of the Galaxy was a true summer blockbuster; entertaining from the time Star-Lord dances onto screen, until the credits roll. It is a great move to end the summer with and if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see it. It will be a fun two hours.