Before this past weekend, the Marvel Cinematic Universe consisted of nine feature films and an accompanying television show. For the most part, the properties have been successes, so it is understandable that for the tenth feature, the studio felt confident in using a lesser-known property.
Director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy takes us on our first foray away from the Earth (no, Fanboy, I’m not counting Asgard, nor alien invaders) and utilizing a wide and varied collection of cosmic Marvel characters from their publication history. And what a ride it is!
The first scenes give you the obligatory set-up and background of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star Lord. From there, he literally and figuratively takes control of the narrative. His easy, infectious charisma pulls together not only his allies, but also the antagonists and supporting characters, alike. Star Lord is the glue that holds this film together, and you are grateful that he does. Once the action begins, Guardians continues with a brisk, but never overwhelming pace, that delivers ever-increasing stakes until the dénouement.
Zoë Saldana, as Gamora is serviceable, but just that. Gamora is “the most dangerous woman in the universe,” but portrayed as reactionary and, at times, timid. Karen Gillan is somewhat wasted as Nebula, the character spending much of the movie sulking or impotently yelling; a disappointing, one-dimensional characterization, because we know the actress is capable of much more.
Dave Bautista’s Drax is pitch perfect, however! Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper’s voicing of Groot and Rocket, respectively, competes for which one is the audience’s favorite. Lee Pace’s Ronan is appropriately threatening. And Josh Brolin’s Thanos? Yes!!!
Just as with previous Marvel films, the audience need not be a comics scholar to find the story accessible, or be well-versed in each character’s history. But, Fanboy, if you are… wow! Try to identify every cameo, item, and mention in every scene after Star Lord. Hint: the next two named characters are Korath the Pursuer and Bereet (Bereet, people! Points to those who identify this character’s continuity-fixing prowess). The extra scene and the character included was worth the price of admission!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not in danger of being displaced as the best of the Marvel movies, just yet. As much as Guardians is enjoyable in the moment, when one takes a couple of steps back, there are plot and characterization issues that makes one imagine how awesome it could have been, if they had been addressed.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, entertaining action movie. Not too light, not too heavy, not too fast, nor too slow. It is definitely worth the viewing and whets the appetite for another installment, not only of these characters, but the series.
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Check out the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy: