‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ rocks!


Back in April of this year I proclaimed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to be the best Marvel film to date.

Well, that was a really short run.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is easily the most fun I’ve had in the theater this year. While I was a big comic geek growing up, I hardly knew anything about the Guardians of the Galaxy. They were always this wildcard group of characters on the fringe of the Marvel Universe, popping in from time to time in other various Marvel titles. So it was an interesting and quite honestly puzzling decision to feature this group of characters as Marvel’s next film franchise. Since I knew almost nothing about this group, I entered the film with a blank slate, ready to be at least amused, hopefully entertained. Little did I know that I’d leave the theater with a big smile on my face, high on the joy that this film brought to me.

gog1In fact, I believe that this film has the potential to be the “Star Wars” of this generation. It’s a lot lighter in tone than “Star Wars,” but that suits well with this generation of millennials who don’t really take things that seriously anyway. I know that comparing “Guardians of the Galaxy” to “Star Wars” is a bold statement and could be considered a nerd no-no, but that’s how memorable this film will always be for me.

First, the characters are so well-rounded. They’re a gang of misfits, and while we’ve all seen their character types before, the screenplay and performances really bring them to life.

Chris Pratt is the Han Solo of the bunch as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. He’s a reckless thief who initially only looks out for himself, but right from the opening scene, his haunted past is revealed and we immediately empathize with his pain. Zoe Saldana is a pro at playing strong female characters by now, but still knows how to deliver a performance that goes beyond the clichéd tough chick. Her Gamora only has one mission, to steal a cosmically powerful orb from Quill, but quickly reveals sides to her character beyond kicking butt.

Dave Bautista also does a nice job giving depth to a potentially one-dimensional character. Bautista plays Drax the Destroyer, a man who seeks revenge against Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) for murdering his family, but surprisingly delivers some of the film’s funniest and most touching moments. Then there’s the bounty hunting duo of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Rocket has a perpetual chip on his shoulder and is angry at the world, yet he’s the brains of the group and has the best one-liners in the film. I really liked how Cooper gave Rocket a unique voice, and as a result, sounded nothing like the actor’s real voice. I didn’t want to go through the entire film thinking of that guy from “The Hangover” whenever Rocket spoke. Diesel only has three words to say the entire film – “I am Groot,” but delivers each three-word sentence with just the right emotion so that you can tell what he’s saying even his words don’t tell you the story.

gog2I knew absolutely nothing about director and writer James Gunn prior to this film, but he instantly becomes a major Hollywood player with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” His ability to perfectly mix together sci-fi, drama, comedy, action and emotion is very impressive given that this is his first major studio film. But most importantly, he knows how to incorporate the fun element. Comic book movies nowadays tend to take themselves a bit seriously, but Gunn brings such a refreshingly light tone to “Guardians of the Galaxy.” He’s also quite adept at pacing and choreographing action scenes, balancing them with the right amount of suspense and emotion. There are so many scenes that stand out after the first viewing that I can’t wait to see the film again to relive those moments.

If “Guardians of the Galaxy” does have a weakness, it’s that the villain isn’t memorable. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for Marvel films as the villains tend to serve more as plot devices rather than a nemesis to the heroes. Ronan the Accuser is fine as the power hungry cosmic warlord, but nothing about his character particularly stands out.

Despite that, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a fantastic film that has already established a spot as one of the best films of the year. Now, when is that Guardians and Avengers crossover going to happen?