Sunday, August 17, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a film that should not work. Its a film based on an obscure team of superheroes, directed and co-written by someone known for dark comedy and horror movies, and possesses a talking raccoon and sentient tree within its cast. The film simply reeked of failure and many feared that it would be Marvel Studios' first real flop.

However, much like its titular team of misfits and outcasts, Guardians of the Galaxy manages to defy expectations. Not only does it work, but its easily one of the best Marvel movies to date, standing up there with The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by James Gunn (Slither, Super) and co-written by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera starting a team of unlikely heroes. We have Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a scoundrel who goes by the name Star-Lord and loves 70's pop music; Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon; Groot (Vin Diesel), a sentient tree; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a deadly assassin and Thanos' adoptive daughter; and Drax the Destroyer (David Bautista), a tattooed warrior driven by revenge. 

After stealing a mysterious orb coveted by the vicious warlord Ronan (Lee Pace), Quill finds himself with a massive bounty on his head. Once he breaks free of a high-tech prison, these odd individuals are drawn together with the hopes of evading Ronan and discovering the true power of the orb. Can the Guardians manage to save the galaxy, or will they fail and spell doom for us all? 

If you've seen any of the trailers for the film, you'd most likely expect Guardians of the Galaxy to be a silly romp that focuses more on over-the-top action and humor than serious drama. However, you'd only be partially correct. While Guardians is incredibly irreverent and hilarious, the film's also packed full of heart. I never thought I would feel so much heartache for a talking raccoon and his sentient tree friend. Don't let the strange premise fool you, Guardians of the Galaxy's script is incredibly well-written film, knowing how to balance the humor with surprising emotional depth. Perlman and Gunn should really give themselves a pat on the back. They definitely deserve it.

The protagonists and the performers who portray them are great as well. It would be so easy for the titular Guardians to end up as two-dimensional stereotypes or walking punchlines. However, that great script and some seriously great performances prevent that. As the film progresses, you truly began to care about this group of misfits and want to see them succeed. While everyone does a phenomenal job, I feel like I have to praise Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel specifically. Of all the characters, Rocket and Groot would probably be the easiest to screw up. However, Cooper really does bring life to this genetically enhanced creature and Diesel manages to say and express so much with just three, simple words. Because of that, Rocket and Groot are basically the heart of this film.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how stunning the film is visually. Each scene is filled with so much color, the designs are intriguing, and the cinematography is great. I never felt board while watching this film, with almost every scene possessing something that's visually interesting. While I didn't see the film in 3D, I feel like it'd be one of the few films that would be worth the extra ticket price.

With that being said, Guardians of the Galaxy does have its flaws. While the script itself is great, the plot is a little too basic at times, leading to situations where the audience can probably figure out what's going to happen with relative ease (at least, a general idea of what's going to happen, since there are some moments within the film that I would have never guessed would happen in a million years). Secondly, the villains are somewhat lacking. While Lee Pace tries his hardest, giving a solid performance, Ronin ultimately isn't that interesting. When you compare him to villains like Loki or The Winter Soldier, that's somewhat unfortunate.

Thankfully, these blemishes do not ruin Guardians of the Galaxy. The film truly is marvelous, managing to take a concept that should have never worked and made something truly special out of it. If you have some free time, I implore you to go down to your local theater and check out this film. You will not regret it. 

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