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.
I ignored the movie during its theatrical run. I gave it one week, two at most before oblivion. I was amazed when the movie stayed on and on and on.
Then after it finally closed I never gave it another thought.
On a whim I recently decided to rent it. I figured, if it sucks as bad as I think it will, I will only be out three bucks. I was very pleasantly surprised; decent acting for a superhero flick, and incredible effects. The two scene stealers are of course Rocket and Groot, the most unlikely team ever.
I was also surprised to see old Jack Kirby characters like Ronan the Accuser and Thanos in the movie. The only thing I disliked was the casting of "Yondu". I don't dislike the actor, but for me he will be forever typecast as Merle Dixon from the Walking Dead. And this was basically Merle Dixon in blueface. Overall though, I enjoyed the movie, and even ended up buying it. Looking forward to the sequel (s)..
The story revolves around the formation of Marvel's "B Team" of heroes, or as the Honest Trailer calls them, Space Avengers. It is set in the Marvel Universe, so while superheroes exist none of the guardians have powers. The closest is Groot, who is a 7 foot plus tall tree looking thing. There is some cross-over with the other films as well. Thanos, who was last seen in the end credits to Avengers plays another background bad guy in this one, and the collector who was in Thor 2 also makes an appearance.
The story revolves around an orb which is more powerful than most know. It is in fact another infinity stone which can destroy almost anything (or anyone) who touches it. Chris Pratt's Star Lord/Peter Quill character, who ends up the leader of the group, is basically a thief hired to steal the orb. Which sets off a huge galactic chase leading to the end battle with Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace.
What makes these characters interesting is that even the good guys are not all good. And they all have very different motives. Drax is after Ronan on a mission of revenge, Gamora is an assassin for Thanos wanting to get away from him, Rocket, Groot and Quill are basically all bounty hunters in it for the money. But what separates them from everyone else is when they need to do the right thing to save each other, and stop the bad guy, they do.
Like I said in the beginning, this was totally a movie that could have bombed. Considering 2 of the main characters were totally CGI, and one was an ex-wrestler who was never known to have what passes for good acting skills even in the world of pro wrestling, it could have gone bad quickly. Luckily they wrote Drax's lines totally deadpan and made his character so monotone and serious that Bautista really did not have to do much other than be big and scary. And the animators did so well with the CGI characters, that unlike how they would have looked back at the beginning of the CGI craze, they did not look fake or out of place at all. Bradley Cooper brought great life to a wisecracking smart-a** racoon and the animators did such a great job giving Groot a personality, it ended up being Vin Diesel's best acting performance yet despite him only repeating the same line over and over.
For those who get the discs, the movie sounds and looks great on blu ray. I did not watch the 3D version, but the regular version was flawless. As far as extras go, they pretty well mirror what was on Thor 2 and Captain America 2. A couple behind the scenes and making of features, deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and short look at the making of Avengers 2.
The movie does have a Star Wars meets Marvel Universe feel to it. Or even more appropriately Spaceballs meets Marvel Universe feel. It is as much a comedy as it is an action/adventure movie, and both aspects work very well. If you are a fan of the other Marvel movies and are in any way on the fence about this one, I definitely think it is worth checking out.