Guardians Of The Galaxy
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From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.
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While the plot of GUARDIANS is a comic book staple-ragtag group of misfits must band together to keep an all powerful McGuffian (an orb containing an Infinity jewel) from falling into the hands of a super villain-it is the cast and the characters, more than anything, that make GUARDIANS not just another big screen comic book epic. Chris Pratt, best known from TV's PARKS AND RECREATION, is Peter Quill, or as he would like to be called, Star Lord, the self appointed leader of the group. Quill was kidnapped from Earth as a child twenty years before and has been making a living as a member of the crew of bounty hunters. Zoe Saldana is Gamora, the green skinned assassin and adopted daughter of the death loving tyrant, Thanos, who switches loyalties early on in the story. Dave Bautista is Drax the Destroyer, a tattooed behemoth with a literal way of thinking, out to get get revenge on the killers of his wife and daughter. Pratt gives a star making performance as Quill, who might best be described as Han Solo's even sneakier younger brother; Saldana is all seductive charm, while Bautista's deadpan line readings perfectly define his badass character.
But the real scene stealers are two CGI creations: Rocket, a gun slinging, smart mouthed raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot, a walking tree, whose single line (repeated with inflection) "I am Groot" is done by Vin Diesel. A non kid's movie with a talking rodent and animated vegetation shouldn't work, but it does, as Rocket and Groot take on anyone, friend or foe, who think they're nothing more than comic relief. When it is time for action, these two really come through.
I am a decades long reader of Marvel comics and love the way GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY allows the cinematic Marvel Universe to go cosmic: the Kree and the Xandarians; the blue skinned Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace, out to lay waste to the Kree; the Nova Corp, headed by Glenn Close; Thanos himself, back from THE AVENGERS and portrayed by Josh Brolin; Benicio Del Toro is The Collector, recently of the latest Thor movie; the Infinity jewels, the decapitated head of a Celestial, and plenty more.
Then there is a great soundtrack of '70's oldies, courtesy of Quill's dying mother, who made up mixed tapes of her favorite tunes for him to play on his Walkman (he had it with him when he was kidnapped. Got to love a movie that features Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love," and Blue Suede's "Hooked on a Feeling;" for anyone keeping track, the latter was also heard in RESERVOIR DOGS.
Michael Rooker's Yondu,the leader of the bounty hunters, is really just Merle Dixon in blue face. As for the end credits scene, let's just say that the one of the greatest cinema atrocities of the '80's gets a reprieve with a little help from Seth Green.
But the greatest thing about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is the spirit of fun and high adventure it brings back to the summer blockbuster, not to mention some terrific dialogue-"A super hero named Kevin Bacon..." THE DARK KNIGHT, MAN OF STEEL, THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN,the X-MEN movies, along with a lot of other remakes and reboots have been pretty heavy with the themes of revenge, redemption, persecution, and guilt. They'd strayed so far from the simple giddy fun of STAR WARS and RAIDERS that we didn't know how badly we'd missed it; this was the first movie I'd seen in years where the audience applauded as end credits rolled. All praise to director James Gunn and screenwriter, Nicole Perlman for getting it right and never letting things slip into camp or parody.
This movie is a must have on Blu-Ray, with it's detailed creation of alien worlds and seamless special effects, especially with Rocket and Groot. It absolutely cries out for a director's and cast commentary.
A lot of fans will argue that a lot of other secondary groups in the Marvel Universe should have gotten their own movie before the GUARDIANS, how about X-Factor, X-Force, Thunderbolts, Runaways and Young Avengers? I hope all of them get their chance at cinema glory one day, and if they do, they can thank GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.