GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
By Gary Murray
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista
Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Directed by James Gunn
Running time 121 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
I’m getting a bit burnt out on all the super hero flicks that have bombarded the Cineplex over the last few years to the point that I’m getting latex fatigue. All of these costume action dramas have slowly blended into a giant blob of super-abilities and daring deeds. I’m at the point of swearing off everything that comes from the Marvel/DC universe. That said Guardians of the Galaxy is the freshest breathe that has been in the theaters in quite a long time.
The story starts in 1988 when a young Peter Quill is visiting the hospital. His mother is dying and she wants to see him one last time. She hands him a gift and leaves this mortal coil. The kid runs from the hospital and is abducted by an alien vessel. We flash-forward a few decades and Peter has taken on the moniker of Star Lord.
When we first see him, he is trying to acquire a silver orb from a distant planet. In the first of many action sequences, Star Lord battles different alien beings showing both fighting skills and clever acts of daring-do. He also has a Sony Walkman with a tape labeled ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 1’ and it is full of great 1970’s pop tunes.
The orb is wanted by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). It seems that there is some mythical power that the orb contains and it could upset the balance of power in the universe. Since Peter has the orb, there is a bounty on his head. Trained assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is dispatched by Ronan to get the orb but she may have her own agenda.
After Peter fails to get his money for the orb, he is noticed by moving plant Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and genetically changed raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). With thousands of units on Peter’s head, the two want to capture him. The giant action scene of everyone trying to catch Peter eventually ends-up with the four all being sent to prison.
That is the set-up to the beginning of the adventure. Giving away any more would just destroy the joy of having the film display on the screen. This is an old-style adventure flick very much with its tongue in its cheek. Guardians of the Galaxy never takes itself very seriously, which is a part of the charm. Yes, the film is a complete adventure and yes, it is set-up for other adventures.
Easily the two coolest characters are the GCI Rocket and Groot. Played by the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, they are secondary characters who carry every scene they are in. Rocket may be an engineered species but he is one of the most exciting characters to grace the screen in years.
Groot is just the opposite; he is a gentle spirit and an innocent in this world of thieves and marauders. Out of all our Guardians, he is the most like our beloved giant Wookie.
Chris Pratt has taken a small television role in Parks & Rec and parlayed it into a major movie career. Lately he has been in such diverse films as Zero Dark 30, Her and Moneyball. This film will surely put him on the A-list of actors. He has the swagger of Han Solo and the stunned comedy of a Marty McFly. It is a great reading of an anti-hero hero who runs by his own agenda.
Zoe Saldana has the look of a 1960s Star Trek character but the skills of a 1970s ninja flick. She is all kick-butt and laser focused on her journey, making a female character that is empowering.
James Gunn is an actor/director who has done a lot of work in television. This is his first real big feature and he hits a home run on his first at bat. Seamlessly blending comedy and action, he finds the sweet spot for an adventure film. It feels like a mixture of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars, the B-movie tenants in an A-list environment. He has found the long-lost ‘fun’ that has been missing from these films in the last few years.
For the kids, this will be their Star Wars or Flash Gordon. It is a film that will be beloved for a generation of young fans and watched over and over again. It is easy to see this film create a decade-long production of toys and video games. Under the Disney banner, they will milk the franchise dry.
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the few must-see films of the summer of 2014, a genuine classic picture that will be viewed in decades to come. Much like the classic action/adventure science fiction flicks of the 1980s, it will be considered one of the most important films of the genre.
Lastly, there is an ending tag that wasn’t shown at the press screening but has made it on different pirated fan-boy sites. It basically ties Guardians to another Marvel sci-fi concept that is definitely a bonus for all the comic fans.