“Guardians of the Galaxy” is directed by James Gunn and it stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel as the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group that is essentially them misfit version of the Avengers. This movie is basically the origin story of how they came to be as they join together for the first time so that they can protect a mystical orb from the villain, Ronan, and his master, Thanos.
I remember all of the build up leading to the release of this movie. The first trailer premiered on Jimmy Kimmel’s show and we were shown stuff like a talking tree paired up with a talking raccoon while the trailer played to “Hooked on a Feeling”. It certainly looked like a bizarre movie and some people were quite apprehensive about seeing this movie. Marvel had handled some of the more straightforward material like Captain America and the Hulk, but the Guardians of the Galaxy seemed a bit too different, even for Marvel. I had my questions about whether this type of group was a right fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and upon seeing it, I became instantly convinced that Marvel could pull off any material so long as the right crew is behind it.
Starting off this movie almost immediately is a scene that basically gives the tone of the film. Star-Lord lands on a planet to collect the McGuffin that is the orb and along his way, he’s dancing to “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone. That right there is all you need to know about this movie’s tone and it’s also a show of how well James Gunn implements the soundtrack of classic songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Not only is the soundtrack as a whole something that really sets the tone and brings a scene to life, but it also serves as a nice little character niche for Peter Quill/Star-Lord. His music is a big part of who he was when he was growing up on Earth around the time of his mother’s death and it still remains a piece of him that he uses for multiple reasons. Whether it be just to have some fun or mask some emotional pain, the movie’s soundtrack works in more ways than one.
As for the actual characters, they have some of the best synergy and camaraderie in the entire MCU. Star-Lord is more or less the galaxy’s version of Tony Stark, being a crass and conceited hothead who’s forced into working with other characters of varying backgrounds, the two highlights being Rocket Raccoon and Groot. They have a relationship similar to that of Han Solo and Chewbacca, but imagine a slightly more naive Chewbacca paired up with an impatient Han Solo who can only tolerate Chewie for so long. They’re relationship is not only very funny, but you can also see that neither can really live without the other. They’re true partners and you genuinely feel their friendship throughout the movie, both Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel doing great work, even if the latter is relegated to only three words.
Dave Bautista also does a good job as Drax, an alien being who has his own tragic backstory surrounding the film’s villain. Every character in this movie has their own backstory of sorts and Drax’s works in making him a very likable and sympathetic characters despite his rough demeanor, and Bautista’s performance also gels with who the character is. Drax is ultimately one of those strong but dumb characters and I personally feel that Bautista’s slightly stilted line delivery works in his advantage.
Gamora is also another alien who gets roped up with the others and her past helps in expanding the MCU. As it turns out, she’s the adopted daughter of Thanos and it goes without saying that she shares a bit of a strained relationship with him, as well as her adoptive sister, Nebula. You feel why Gamora is willing to risk everything by joining a ragtag group to protect the orb from Thanos and that comes from getting a good look at Thanos in this movie, his first official appearance in the Universe.
And not only are we shown a small glimpse of the threat that is Thanos, but we get more information on what he’s after, the Infinity Stones. In a scene featuring Benicio del Toro as the Collector, it’s revealed that the orb contains an Infinity Stone and there’s a brief explanation of the Stones being items of great power, power that can only be wielded by beings of equal power. There’s a fairly obvious implication of what can happen when the Stones are brought together and this was a scene that may be seen as unnecessary universe-building by some, but looking back on it and seeing how it serves as proper set up for “Infinity War”, the scene is actually quite interesting to watch.
As for the film’s main villain, Ronan the Accuser, I personally think he’s the one weak link in this movie, but on that note, he’s still a perfectly serviceable villain. As far as his motivation, he basically wants the orb for power and destruction and yadda yadda, same old MCU villain shtick. But I at least give him some credit for actually having a presence and making the attempt at doing something. For one thing, you have to admire him for trying to overthrow Thanos of all people. It obviously doesn’t work, but he’s clearly a villain who sets out to rule and get things done, and it’s ironically him and his connection to certain characters that winds up bringing together the Guardians of the Galaxy.
But where this works seamlessly is in its ability to be its own thing, a fun adventure full of great characters, fun action, and some legitimately laugh-out-loud moments, but it also works as something of an homage to classic sci-fi serials and adventures. I’ve heard people say that this movie is the essential mix of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” and I actually agree with that statement. There’s a solid mix of the fun space rollick that lies within those respective franchises, but there’s also the drama and emotional weight that isn’t undercut by any of the more fun and over-the-top elements. I mean, this movie’s climax is Star-Lord challenging Ronan to a dance-off and I’m not even lying when I say that that scene manages to contain both humor and emotional depth.
In the end, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of the best MCU installments in my opinion. For what it sets out to do, it manages to bring the Guardians together in a way that’s funny, entertaining, emotional, and free-spirited and none of it feels out of place or forced. This is the comic book movie that a lot of other comic book movies have failed at being, one that strikes the right tone and delivers an adventure full of memorable characters and a story that also properly sets up an established universe.
Rating: Better Than Sex!!