“All heroes start somewhere.”
Co-written by director James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy, this epic space adventure continues Marvel Studios hit streak with a uniquely entertaining film about an unlikely group who become heroes against the villain Ronin.
Based the comic book series that began in 1969, Guardians of the Galaxy has a great tone, entertaining story, constant comic gems, expert casting choices, and an epic story that required several editors for a high quality refinement worthy of the other Marvel Studios films.
Audiences quickly will get “hooked on a feeling” because this movie succeeds with an instantly iconic look and design. The impressive visions are realized by strong art direction, special effects, and cinematography from Ben Davis (Kick-Ass, Seven Psychopaths, Layer Cake, Avengers: Age of Ultron).
Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), played by Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie, TV’s Parks and Recreation) represents the only seemingly human character in this unlikely team. His physical skills and comic timing provide perpetual entertainment after a stark beginning origin sequence.
“I don’t learn. It’s one of my issues,” he says but eventually finds something heroic inside himself that audiences knew all along. His tenaciousness helps him push through most situations where others would almost instantly yield.
Peter draws from a gold mine of references that only he (and the audience) understands. His entertaining explanations enhance the effective dialogue even more. These memorable references include Ranger Rick, The Giving Tree book, and even artist Jackson Pollack – definitely the raunchiest of the references, but thankfully goes over the heads of most younger audiences.
Peter also has great convincing abilities, especially during a key “crossroads” sequence inside a prison. He does not hesitate to ask the impossible, which roots from his true courage not recklessness.
Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek Into Darkness) is the adopted daughter of tyrannical “Titan” being, Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.
This warrior/assassin never begs even when she becomes a target herself. Her dangerous associations equal her skills while her true motives reveal her heroic core. “I’m not a starry eyed waif,” she says to Peter.
Drax, played by former pro wrestler Dave Bautista (Man With the Iron Fists) forms a hilariously blunt wordplay delivery amid his vengeful quest to get back at the main villain Ronan who killed his family.
This “walking thesaurus” has no interest in money, but plenty of anger and rage – a lethal combination for anyone who crosses his path, but an empty emotional core that sorely needs filling.
The remaining team members are the wonderfully endearing Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious, Riddick) and wise-cracking, but brilliantly strategic Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook).
This tree creature and genetically-engineered raccoon highlight the family/relational ties (or lack thereof) that distinguish the characters. Filmmakers incorporate the pre-existing bonds of Groot and Rocket into the group as they all experience positive outcomes after some poignant moments. “I did not ask to get made,” says Rocket. These moments progress the character development so audiences can fully believe their actions and the resulting resolutions.
The surprisingly strong supporting cast bolsters the main cast even more. Lee Pace (The Hobbit film series) plays the villain Ronan well, but Michael Rooker (Cliffhanger) and Karen Gillan (TV’s Doctor Who)leave lasting impressions as Yondu and Nebula.
Yondu has a unique history in the originating comic book series while providing an important plotline connection with Peter’s origins. Gillan’s physicality and screen presence elevates this supporting role to a high level. Both actors never let their attention-getting appearances envelope their performances…Gillan even shaved her head for the role.
Remaining supporting characters include Djimon Hounsou as Korath, John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph) as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, and Laura Haddock (DaVinci’s Demons) as Meredith Quill. Yes, Stan Lee has a cameo (non-speaking).
Special effects highlights include an initiating foot chase, the “infinity stone” discovery, and an amazing chase sequence with pod spaceships that leads to one of two extraordinary situations that exemplify how effects stretch common boundaries into genuine “wow” moments in the sci-fi genre.
The musical score and song soundtrack has a high functionality beyond enhancing the film. These classic 1970s songs are now forever connected to this film and give the film its character, especially Peter.
Sound engineers make a strong association quickly with amazing sound as Peter listens to his “Awesome tape mix Vol. 1”. The sound crew really establishes the tone as he jams to “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone while exploring a planet as the movie titles appear above him in a wide landscape shot for one of the most memorable visual snapshots.
Other songs include “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, “O-O-H Child” by the Five Stairsteps, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell…let your imagination run wild as you consider how each song is used.
Tyler Bates (300, Watchmen) handles the musical score while filmmakers create rich material that will eventually serve them well in the upcoming sequel (planned for 2017). They even drop hints to audiences (e.g. Peter’s dad, marks on Rocket’s back, etc.) for even more character development. They create a comprehensive and fully entertaining experience that any audience can enjoy.
Keen eyes will be rewarded throughout the film and the ending credits. The first ending credit sequence warms the heart to the already likable characters while the second ending credit sequence does not give audiences any insight into the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film.
Highly recommended (***1/2) and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler