This is probably my favorite Marvel film. Followed closely by Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Synopsis: A group of space criminals must work together to stop the fanatical villain Ronan the Accuser from destroying the galaxy. (Synopsis from IMDb)
Review: Comic book movies have come a long way in recent years. Instead of only catering to die hard comic fans, Marvel adapted their stories to appeal to a broad audience. The result is a series of blockbuster movies that manage to blend together the right amount of fantastical events and drama. For the most part, the Marvel films focus on creating the narrative arc around interpersonal relationships and building the action around these dynamics. This adds an element of believability to the otherworldly events. Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are believable characters because there is an element of relatability to their plights. This is one of the reasons why The Avengers was such a success, the character dynamics were well developed and well depicted. In August, Marvel decided to take a chance on another set of interesting heroes.
Any film that includes a bounty hunter raccoon and a talking tree is going to be interesting. While the film was in development, a lot of critics anticipated that Guardians of the Galaxy would flop. However, the movie exceeded expectations and went to be one of the most successful films all year. The film only works due to the onscreen rapport between Pratt, Saldana, Cooper, Diesel, and Bautista. If the onscreen dynamic failed, then the rest of the film would have fallen flat. However, everyone brought their A-game and infused as much life as possible into their respective characters. Even Diesel manages to make Groot’s repetitive line both hilarious and dramatic, depending upon the scene. Pratt displays his acting chops with his easy going charisma and charming portrayal of Star Lord. I am glad that Pratt is getting the chance to broaden his acting horizons; it would have been a shame if he stayed stuck in television forever. Bautista is excellent as Drax, his deadpan delivery is spot on and serves as a good foil to Pratt. Cooper does some great voice acting as Rocket Raccoon and Saldana is perfect for Gamora.
While Star Lord is the main character, all the team members are given an opportunity to embrace their own brand of heroism. They battle one another, argue, cheat, drink profusely, gamble, joke, and bond together. Of course this camaraderie is built around some fantastic action sequences. Each action scene tries to top the other, though the prison escape is probably my favorite. Cinematography wise, Guardians is one of the sharpest looking Marvel films released. Rocket Raccoon and Groot are artistically amazing. The tone and background detail complements the action perfectly. Ben Davis, the cinematographer, did a fantastic job taking a comic book world and turning it into a believable location.
Of course, Guardians also succeeds because it specializes in fun. This is a classic adventure tale wrapped up in an excellent screenplay and sharp banter. Guardians has a nearly-perfect script penned by Nicole Perlman and director James Gunn. It is a great example of lighthearted science-fiction storytelling and superb intergalactic world-building. The audience bounces from one alien world to another without suffering from whiplash. There is a running joke about Kevin Bacon that is really funny and helps set the right tone.
And the villains are deliciously over-the-top. While Ronan, Thanos, and Nebula are not the focus of the film, they definitely have their own unique viewpoints. Lee Pace does a great job with Ronan; he is both egotistical and secure in his feeling of ultimate superiority. There are a few moments where Ronan experiences feelings of self-doubt and confusion, though the scenes are incredibly brief. However, it does help to make Ronan seem a little more three dimensional. Nebula (Karen Gillan) has a much more overt and blunt personality. Her drive to become Thanos’s favorite daughter drives her actions and characterization. Josh Brolin is wasted as Thanos. He appears on screen twice and both times he berates Ronan for his continual incompetence. This is probably the most frustrating thing about Marvel films, the brief introduction of secondary characters to set up future films. Benicio del Toro is great as The Collector, he is both creepy and compelling. I hope The Collector appears up in future movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy, begins with a young boy lost in the universe. But it ends with a group of misfits coming together to overcome the evils of the Galaxy. The film is simply fun, there is no deep philosophical message or societal commentary. It is just a lighthearted comedy and is fun to watch. I highly recommend the film. Also, the soundtrack is amazing.