Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close
I understand why Disney and Marvel Studios saw this film as a risky venture, I mean, here’s a Marvel Comic that not many people know about, you see, Guardians of the Galaxy is not a household name like say the X-Men or Spiderman. In actuality, Guardians of the Galaxy has been an on again, off again title in Marvel Comics roster for years. It would get printed, last for a run and then get cancelled. I remember when I first came into contact with the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, it was when Marvel re-launched the comic in 1990. In that version of the group, the lineup of characters were totally different, from that 1990’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy, only the character of Yondu Udonta (played by Michael Rooker) made it onto this new film. And wow, what an awesome comic book movie this was, for many reasons, all of which I will go into on this review, just to pump you up so you go see this one in theaters, where it deserves to be seen.
First issue of Guardians of the Galaxy (1990)
From this line-up, only Yondu made it to the movie
On this film we meet a group of totally disparate characters who by pure chance (or maybe destiny?) end up working together to stop a madman named Ronan from destroying an entire planet. You see, he’s one of those mad conqueror types who wants to destroy everything so he can “cure” society and start everything out in his own image. In order to achieve this, Ronan has struck a deal with one of the most powerful beings in the universe: Thanos! The deal is that Ronan finds one of the ever elusive and incredibly powerful infinity gems for Thanos, who in turn, as a gesture of gratitude,will destroy an entire planet for Ronan, so he can then take over it. Problem is that the Infinity Gem in question is in the hands of The Guardians of the Galaxy! Can Ronan and his followers take the Infinity Gem from them? And speaking of the Infinity Gems, I’m ecstatic that the Infinity Gem story line has finally begun. I mean, I read the Infinity Gauntlet (one of Marvel Comics best stories ever in my book) and it really is an epic storyline…and to see it come alive, it’s orgasmic. I mean, to see Thanos sitting on his throne being all magnanimous and evil…wow, I can’t wait for this whole storyline to explode in Avengers 3, you see, reportedly, that’s what this new batch of Marvel movies are setting us up for: Avengers 3! So yeah, be ready to have a nerdgasm in your theater seat.
If there’s one thing that James Gunn infused into this movie its fun, fun like the kind of fun you’d have watching a movie from the 80’s where characters always say everything joking around, nothing is deadly serious, unless it has to be? I love that about it! These characters are misfits, they aren’t picture perfect examples of what humans should be, they are what we are, jokers, imperfect yet with lots of soul, they are in lots of ways characters that we can identify with. I mean, can you identify with Superman? No, you can’t because he’s this perfect being, but with the Guardians, it’s like they went to high school with you or something. The film has an amazing cast, the core characters are awesome, but then you get all these other great actors filling the gaps like Benicio del Toro, Michael Rooker, John C. Reily, Glenn Close, this film is very well rounded out in terms of characters and performances.
This is easily James Gunn’s best film, and boy has James Gunn come a long way baby. I mean, the guy started his cinematic career writing the screenplay for a film called Tromeo and Juliet (1996) for Troma Films. He went on to direct two Scooby Doo films which were moderately successful, then he went on to direct Slither (2006), a sci-fi horror hybrid (and bonafide box office flop) about alien slugs that turn people into zombies, by the way, I had a blast with Slither. Yet now, here he is, directing a big budget, ultra successful comic book movie for Disney and Marvel. My how the worm has turned! Best part is how audiences have quickly embraced it, I mean, word of mouth on this film is so positive that it shot straight to the number one spot, and I don’t think it will go down soon! This movie is so fun I’ve seen it twice in one weekend!
The thing about this film is that it never stops, it’s always fun and exciting, the way big budget summer movies should be. James Gunn grew up with these big action films from the 80’s, you know, the kind that put a smile in your face, the kind that had that sense of adventure about ‘em. Guardians of the Galaxy brought to mind the fun I had with the old Star Wars movies or with the Indiana Jones films. You know, that lighthearted spirit of adventure, characters going through these incredible situations, but in the end, you know everything is going to be alright anyways? Even the films musical score will remind you of that time when studios used to put these rousing, adventurous musical scores on films, thank god they brought that back for this movie. Guardians of the Galaxy may be a cutting edge state of the art filmmaking, but it’s got some good old fashion sensibilities about it and I liked that. I mean, here’s a film that has this awesome 70’s soundtrack all through out, we get characters kicking ass and taking names as David Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ plays in the background you know what I mean? How old school is this movie, well, they actually built sets…which is something amazing. So few sci-fi films today do that, cause you know, now everything around the actor is fake. But not here! The sets are beautiful to look at, of course there’s tons of computer generated images, but there’s a nice balance here between the practical and the cgi.
Finally, this is a film tailor made for geeks, Guardians of the Galaxy is filled to the brim with lots of little inside jokes and easter eggs hidden all throughout the movie! Keep your eyes peeled for surprise cameos. Lloyd Kaufman (head of Troma Films) plays a prisoner! Howard the Duck cameos! Hell yeah, I said Howard the Duck! Rob Zombie lends his voice talents for a character. Nathan Fillion plays a giant monster. Yes my friends, this film is filled to the brim with pop cultural references, everything from Alf to Footloose (1984) gets mentioned. Visually, this movie is very rich, so you’ll want to look at every nook and cranny on this movie, there’s lots of details and colors up on screen, another asset the film has, visual richness and an amazing color palette. So yes my friends, this is the film to watch. I enjoyed it more than many other Marvel films, like say for example Thor: Dark World (2013). Here’s the thing, Guardians of the Galaxy might have been a risky film for Disney, but watching it, you wouldn’t know it because it seems they gave this film their all, they really made a good movie. They spent many millions on a series of characters that no one knew anything about and it worked like gang busters. This movie feels bigger than films like Iron Man 3 (2013) or even the X-Men movies. Guardians of the Galaxy is epic my friends, Disney/Marvel Studios have the millions to give us the kind of big bombastic movies we want to see, let’s hope they keep making them this good.
Rating: 5 out of 5