"Quit smiling, you idiot, you're supposed to be a professional."
To say that Iíd been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy would be a bit of an understatement. After the initial, ďWtf? Who are these guys?Ē was followed by some research and an awesome trailer, I was so totally on board. It was on of Marvelís riskiest moves outside of the first Iron Man movie. With some of their most famous properties in the hands of other studios, theyíve had to go to some pretty interesting places to use as building blocks for success. What started out as trotting Marvelís B-Team out and assembling the Avengers has given us a golden age of superhero movies. With movies that run the gamut from spy thrillers to straight-up action movies, Marvel has stretched its movie-making muscle. In their newest film, they tackle an even more challenging genre: the Comedic Space Opera. Do they succeed? Oh yes. They most certainly do.
The first few minutes of the film arenít funny, but theyíre important for laying character groundwork. Young Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff), faced with his motherís mortality, does what many kids would do: runs. Thatís how he ends up getting picked up and taken to the stars. Years later, Quill (Chris Pratt), is all grown up and robbing deserted planets while dancing to the groovy tunes on his Walkman. Yes, folks, dancing. Thatís just how this movie rolls and itís awesome. He dances us through the credits and into the familiar scene weíve all seen in the trailers: his stand-off with Korath (Djimon Hounsou) where he introduces himself as ďStar LordĒ while stealing a mysterious orb.
As Iím intending to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, Iím steering clear of any further plot reveals save for mentioning that the Guardians finally group up during an inventive escape from prison. If youíve seen the trailers, you know that Iím talking about the following group of ďa-holes:Ē Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (David Bautista), and Groot (Vin Diesel). After prison, their plan could be summarized thusly:
Step 1 Ė Keep the orb out the hands of the villainous Kree fanatic, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).
Step 2 Ė ????
Step 3 Ė Profit
Of course, the best laid plans, or even partial plans, often go slightly askew as theyíre faced with Quillís angry mentor, Yondu (Michael Roker), and Gamoraís even-angrier sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan). Their plan for profit soon becomes a race to plan for survival as they are the only things standing between Ronan and the slaughter of billions. Iím just surprised that Quill didnít request that someone never tell him the odds. Being a child of the í80s, he speaks with frequent pop culture references from his Earthen upbringing. While the audience gets the references, Quillís compatriots have no clue and itís awesome.
Speaking of Quillís upbringing, the music from Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the tape in his Walkman, is featured prominently throughout the movie, perfectly complementing the amazing score by Tyler Bates. While I had read in an interview with the filmís director, James Gunn, that the plan had always been to include Quillís music in the movie since it was such an important part of his character, it was still a pleasant surprise to hear it all used so well to enhance whatever was going on screen at the time. In an age of albums of ďmusic from and inspired byĒ movies filled with fantastic pop songs, itís great to actually hear those songs played during the movie.
I got a chance to see the movie in IMAX 3D last night, the format that Gunn says is his favorite. I canít argue with his opinion. The visuals pop in 3D (no pun intended) and you can really feel the sweeping, galactic scope of the movie. With Marvel moving off of Earth and into the rest of its universe, they could not have picked a better way to introduce audiences to all that the rest of that universe entails. From other planets to aliens and all kinds of celestial beings, Guardians shows us the big picture while telling the tale of a small group of unlikely friends and allies. Itís fun, funny, and just plain fantastic. Youíll laugh, youíll cry, youíll cry from laughing. This is the movie that the rest of this Summerís blockbusters are going to have to try and beat. Gods help them.
I loved this movie and am going to delve into some potential spoilers here in saying that I especially love how Gamora didnít end up being a love interest. When Quill puts the moves on her, she emphatically tells him that sheís not going to fall for his charm and when he tries a different, more sincere-sounding tactic later in the film, she just rolls her eyes at him. That was just awesome. See, itís fairly clear that Quill must have been personally inspired by Han Solo as heíd have grown up on Star Wars like the rest of us. His motivations are money and women. It was nice to see his slightly more altruistic side by the end of the film, though a part of me still wonders if his goal to save the universe was mostly motivated by the fact that he lives in the universe and thatís just where all of his stuff is.
Peter Quill is not a perfect hero. His team are all flawed individuals with their own issues. Well, except for maybe Groot, but Groot is special. The film isnít afraid to show their flaws while showing how they can work so well together as a team. Itís like the Avengers on a galactic scale.
In somewhat related news, I now want so much Groot merchandise. You have no idea. Heís one of my favorite things about the movie. Hands down.