Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy
Can talking raccoons win Oscars? Because Rocket Raccoon deserves an Oscar!
Everything about Marvel’s “The Guardians of the Galaxy” is awesome and despite being an obscure title in the Marvel catalog of heroes, this movie has the one major element modern day blockbusters all seem to abandon, and that element is FUN with a capital F!
In the past, Hollywood created instant classics like Indiana Jones, Back to the Future or Star Wars and audiences would get something magical and timeless. These films weren’t obsessed with leaning on the brooding, borderline depressing character traits of our beloved heroes, instead they incorporated the right blend of humor, action and suspense that made the stories they were telling accessible to almost anyone.
Director James Gunn, who also wrote the script, doesn’t shy from these tried and true attributes, but instead embraces them and The Guardians of the Galaxy are better for it.
Consider this role Chris Pratt’s welcome party to the big leagues, and he definitely doesn’t waste the opportunity. Cast as lead protagonist Peter Quill or Star-Lord, according to no one in the galaxy, Pratt plays to his comedic strengths while playing hero when the role calls for it. As the fully-grown human who was abducted from Earth as a child, Quill acts as a bridge between us earthlings and the rest of the galaxy.
Zoe Saldana, no stranger to blockbusters herself, brings it as the ass-kicking Gamora who’s fed up of being Thanos’ assassin and seeks redemption. Her interactions with Quill are funny and it’s refreshing that she isn’t shoehorned as the mandatory love interest of the movie’s lead. A scene where Quill makes a move on Gamora shows how strong she is and it also gifts us the interesting side note that though no one may care to know Quill as Star-Lord, he at least, maybe unwittingly, created another legend throughout the galaxy for his “pelvic wizardry.”
Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer is the team’s muscle, but is also hilarious for the fact that his character has no idea what a metaphor is so he takes everything literally. “Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too quick. I will catch it!”
Vin Diesel voices Groot, a living tree that can only say the words “I”, “am” and “Groot”. Poking fun at the concept entirely, Quill says, “I’m sure that wouldn’t get old quick” but instead, Vin’s inflections of the character’s speech successfully translate into the appropriate tone the reading might call for. Also, the CGI team behind Groot work wonders on how expressive they make the character’s facial features and mannerisms.
Rocket Raccoon, unsurprisingly is the film’s scene stealer and Bradley Cooper’s interpretation of what a gun-toting raccoon would sound is spot on. Dawn of the Apes received a lot of praise for its CGI and realism, but Rocket Raccoon runs circles around Caesar and his band of chimps. Rocket is also given moments of surprising depth that lets audiences know it’s not all laughs and that deep down he might be the loneliest person in the galaxy.
Another great aspect of this film is the soundtrack, which is all 70s and 80s pop songs. When Quill is abducted as a child by Yondu (Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker), all he has is a backpack full of 80s nostalgia and a Walkman containing a mix-tape of his mother’s favorite songs. The choice to sidestep contemporary music for a bagful of oldies is a great one, not only does it hint that Quill probably has no idea what an iPod is, but it also helps bring a little of the earth’s culture along for the adventure. The fact that The Five Stairsteps’ “Ohh Child” had an unwitting part in saving the galaxy alone is ridiculously hilarious to watch play out.
Guardians of the Galaxy in all its retro loving fun is a slap in the face to the movies of “now” and proves itself a game changer. The light approach to this sci-fi adventure proves that not every superhero epic has to take itself so seriously and though CGI is necessarily prominent to translate how much “in space” this story takes place, it never out shadows the actors and other human elements of the story.
Is “Guardians of the Galaxy” the best Marvel movie yet? I would dare to say yes, and because it doesn’t have the pressure of being an iron man or spider man weighing it down, it’s better for it. Being free of global notoriety really allowed this film and its characters to carve its own identity and deliver a true first impression.
By having James Gunn in the director’s chair, Marvel has given us yet another diamond in the rough director that succeeded in giving us a fresh take on how Hollywood can approach its ever-expanding superhero franchises. Watch Guardians of the Galaxy….. and then go watch it again! It’s really that good.
Children of tomorrow; Hollywood presents to you the “Star Wars” for a new generation!