Guardians of the Galaxy is easily one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year, its marketing campaign has done everything short of placing a billboard on the moon to ensure the public know of this Marvel movie, but why is that?
Back in 2008 when Marvel Studios released their first of the Marvel Universe movies with Iron Man it was a pretty big gamble, the director Jon Favreau was known for mostly his small comedies, their lead Robert Downey Jr was suffering a career drought due to drugs and other poor choices, and outside of comic book fans not many people knew who and the hell Iron Man was. Fast forward six years and Marvel is taking another gamble with a movie based on a comic that even many comic book fans aren’t familiar with, there are no real heavy hitters in the cast, and it’s being directed by James Gunn whose biggest directorial success was Slither with a box office take of under 8 million in North America. So with a budget of $170 million dollars a lot is riding on this latest Marvel installment can James Gunn make a space action film with obscure comic characters accessible to the masses?
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was abducted from Earth when he was a child by a group of intergalactic thugs known as the Ravagers and basically spent his formative years becoming Han Solo only without the Wookie sidekick. While on a mission for the Ravager leader Yondu (Michael Rooker) to steal a mysterious orb Quill soon discovers that there are more than one interested party and that the orb may just be worth betraying Yondu for and selling it himself.
Thanos (Josh Brolin), who we got a taste of in The Avengers, wants the orb because it contains one of the Infinity Gems and he has recruited a Kree fanatic Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to retrieve it for him, and in turn Thanos will then help destroy Ronan’s enemies. Working with Ronan is one of Thano’s adoptive daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who is sent to retrieve the orb from Quill.
Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) a cyberneticaly enhanced racoon and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) a plant creature with awesome powers but limited vocabulary, are after the bounty that Yondu has put on Quill. Their free-for-all three way fight gets them all nabbed by the authorities and lands them in Space Prison. It’s there that they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a personal vendetta against Ronan for killing his wife and child. Thus are heroes are thrust together, the die is cast, and maybe, just maybe they can save the galaxy.
What follows is prison breaks, betrayals, budding friendships, space battles, startling revelations and more fun than I`ve had in a theater in quite some time. Chris Pratt brings just the right amount of humor to Peter Quill aka Star-Lord and brings much of the films laughs, but everyone gets their time in the spot-light; Groot is the perfect straight man while Rocket is his ever cynical partner and the brains of the operation, Gamora provides a complicated character who strives to not be the weapon Thanos created her to be, but it is Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer that really surprised me, who knew a WWE wrestler could give such a performance as he does in this film. Drax brings pathos and humor in equal doses throughout the film, and between him and Groot they create the heart of the Guardians.
James Gunn has managed to take a bunch of threads from the previous Marvel Studio movies (most located in credit cookies) tied them into story that has an epic scope but with characters you can relate to and love. Peter Quill being from Earth is easily the most identifiable character and is our window into this larger universe, but the rest of the gang are as equally engaging on a variety of levels. The effects work in this movie is simply stunning, that two of your major characters are totally CGI and with as much screen times as the rest of the heroes is damn impressive.
The reason The Avengers was so good was because of its fantastic cast and a talented director/writer in Joss Whedon at the helm, but the villain`s plot was generic, made little to no sense, and only worked because Tom Hiddleston as Loki was fantastic. Now in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn had to introduce all his leading characters, without the benefit of them starring in their own solo outings, introduce the Big Bad that who I’m guessing will be the big payoff when we get Avengers: Infinity War, and then he puts this all together in a rather complicated plot that never manages to lose you, and that my friends is no mean feat.
If this movie does not make bucket loads of money there is no justice in the world, and I for one can`t wait to see another outing with this group of idiosyncratic yahoos as they try to save the day. Not to mention how incredible it will be when they eventually team-up with The Avengers. Simply put, “I’m hooked on a feeling.“