There are redefining moments that reshape the landscape of movie history. Star Wars, The Matrix and more recently The Dark Knight changed the way movies were made after their respective releases. Most recently The Dark Knight, took the superhero genre into a whole new stratosphere where dark origin stories became a wave that seemed unwavering often turning otherwise mediocre films into more watchable endeavors and impacting the overall quality of this segment of the industry. But as with any fad, despite the greatness of its origin, it has a tendency to be overused and the essence forgotten. This has left us with some movies that are dark in nature but with little purpose to carry the heavier tones and with a lack of that levity that makes movie-going not just an arduous and tense three-hour journey into an unknown world. Luckily Marvel’s all-new movie franchise installment takes us back to an era more defined by the sheer interplay of joy and adventure seen in movies like Star Wars and even Indiana Jones that were able to meld together just enough story in the fun theatrics that made theater goers smile, wonder and dream. So grab your vintage Sony® Walkman, let the Awesome Volume Mix roar that rock ‘n’ roll and welcome to interstellar space.
The Guardians of the Galaxy, a band of space misfits, each with their own unique path of heroism to tell didn’t just meet the expectations of a Marvel movie. They are Marvel. While this movie doesn’t reach the heights of what I believe to be the first Marvel film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it creates a whole new set of worlds and characters that could easily stand on their own if Marvel chose not to go The Avengers route. Guardians of the Galaxy is that compelling with its storyline, that breathtaking with its visuals and that entertaining with its distinct flair for nearly non-stop comedy from the opening moments to the final credits (though don’t expect your usual teaser at the very end of them as has become the norm). It’s an adventure that you can’t miss. It begins with Peter Quill, masterfully delivered to the big screen by actor Chris Pratt, who brings every nuance to the character of the man that by the end will have grown into the larger than life bravado that can only be known as, Star-Lord.
Peter Quill’s troubled youth leads him to be the brazen profiteering treasure seeker that will inevitably unite him with the rest of the Guardians. We see Peter track down his latest potential prize in the form of a mystical orb. But once the orb’s importance is truly illuminated it will force Star Lord to team up with the unlikely ragtag group of Gamora and Drax played by Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista and the coolest space pillagers you will ever meet, Rocket and Groot, voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. We’ll begin with the latter two, because outside of the film’s protagonist otherwise known as Star-Lord, they are going to be the instant household names and favorites, if the little kid I overheard whilst walking out of the theater repeatedly telling his mom, “I am Groot,” is any indicator.
We’ve come a long way from the trial and error known as Star Wars‘ Jar Jar Binks, because not only are the computer generated characters totally believable and absurdly real (especially in the case of Rocket) despite their obvious digital origins, their performances both visually and through the voice acting becomes a critical part of the overall narrative, comedy and action of the movie. Rocket is a sharp, quick-witted raccoon that is used to being the smartest one at the table despite his diminutive appearance. That juxtaposition of his larger than life persona and animal like stature is what delivers totally on the promise that fans of Marvel were hoping for when they got their first glimpses of the film’s incarnation of the comic book hero. His comrade Groot is a tree like mammoth that grows into every situation that he encounters and surely into your hearts despite his comically brief dialogue.
There is little levity to the character of Gamora, the only survivor of her alien race. She is a warrior in every sense of the word. Drax on the other hand is the brute. But even his character shows development during the course of the movie and while Dave Bautista’s performance isn’t exemplary, the former WWE Superstar fits in surprisingly well into his role. Together the five make for quite the team in space, cramming more action and fun in just over two hours than what other movies fail to fit into three.
For every bit of how great this movie is for its action adventure sci-fi comedy prowess its visual beauty delivers in spades as one of the most stunning pictures Marvel has released to date. Every planet, environment, feels distinct and almost without exception are simply breathtaking and foreign in the way that great sci-fi movies of the past, most notably, Star Wars truly deliver. This is a movie that begs you to enjoy its unique joyride in 3D and Dolby Atmos if you can find a theater nearby with the duo. But however you decide to enjoy the movie you can be sure that this summer blockbuster is definitely as amazing as its retro soundtrack. Marvel has managed to fulfill the difficult task of branching out into new territory with a comforting ease. Bringing homages to the past as it vaults through the vast oceans of future space and into a unique tone for a film that can only be, Guardians of the Galaxy.