Lake Charles, LA
There has been a great deal of talk surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy ever since the day that rumors began surfacing about a film being made based on the Marvel comic. How would Marvel take this group of heroes who are relatively unknown outside of the comic book reading public and make them part of a long line of very successful films? How can a talking raccoon look and/or even fit into a live-action film? Heck, why would you want to risk casting a pro wrestler in a core role when his acting chops (at least in the ring) are limited to getting very mad or storming off in a fit of rage?
Well, Marvel took those questions and a whole bunch of others, rolled them into a big, CGI-infested wad, and threw it at the silver screen. The result? A very enjoyable, highly comical film that’s a lot better than I expected. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the best film of the year as some have said, but I will say that it’s one of Marvel’s better entries in their growing run of big screen adaptations.
For those of you unaware, the plot of this film is very basic on the surface. A ragtag group of bandits come together to put an end to a villain who is hellbent on taking over the galaxy. That sounds pretty formulaic, right? Well, digging a bit deeper we find that this group isn’t very honorable itself. It’s leader, Peter Quill, is a cocky, womanizing Earth man who prides himself on his thieving abilities and loves to go by the alias “Star Lord.” Gamora, a lethal assassin who’s gone rogue against the wishes of her father, Thanos, is wanted not just by innocent people, but by a large group of criminals as well. Then there’s Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a misfit duo of a lab-created creature that has a fondness for anything that explodes and a very big, very strong tree-like muscle of a being. Lastly we have Drax, fondly called Drax The Destroyer, who seems to be the only guy in this bunch who has at least a tad bit of honor in him. He has been imprisoned for the brutal murder and destruction of many of the main bad guy’s henchman. The reason for so much devastation? His family was brutally murdered by Ronan The Accuser and he wants to avenge their deaths.
This unlikely group of allies comes together thanks to the theft of one of the powerful Infinity Stones (which neatly ties in with all of the other Marvel cinematic releases) by Star Lord. He’s pursued by one of Ronan’s men, Korath, but manages to escape. That leads to Gamora being sent to capture him. She has plans of her own, though. Of course, Star Lord being Star Lord means that he’s also double-crossed Yondu, a thief much like Star Lord who wants the Infinity Stone as well. Yondu puts a hefty price on Star Lord’s head, and that sets into motion the meet up with Rocket and Groot. Then the Nova Corps gets involved and their involvement leads up to the full unification of the group in prison where Star Lord convinces Drax that if he helps them out, he’ll get his revenge on Ronan. The biggest problem of all, though, is that no one except for Ronan and Thanos know just how powerful this stone that everyone after really is until the gang gets the stone to The Collector, who happens to be Gamora’s contact. Once they realize just how deadly this thing is, they decide to do all they can to stop Ronan and become “guardians of the galaxy.” Oh, and just for the heck of it, Nebula, Gamora’s sister through Thanos, has a chip on her shoulder that Gamora seems to get preferential treatment and wants to prove that she’s the better daughter by either helping her daddy or joining up with Ronan to rule the galaxy.
Confused yet? Don’t be. There’s a lot going on in this film and a lot of characters doing it. Many of the characters have brief one and two scene moments whereas others are fleshed out a bit more. Marvel realized how much of a cluster this film could become, so they focused in on the core characters of Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax. This works because the characters are very engaging and have a lot of charm about them. Star Lord is played by Chris Pratt, and he nails the role. He makes brash, cocky, and egotistical look great on the screen. Zoe Saldana portrays Gamora, and does a very convincing job in the role. Her character is both a warrior and a bruised individual who has many skeletons in her closet. Bradley Cooper voices Rocket, and Rocket steals many scenes in the film with his seemingly heartless attitude and big guns. However, the seemingly simple Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) proved to be a bigger draw in my opinion, as he became the heart of the group. I enjoyed Drax as well, but I’ll get to him in another paragraph. For now, let’s go through a few other cast members.
Michael Rooker plays Yondu in the film and despite his intent on hurting Star Lord, it’s hard for him to hide the fact that he loves the cocky moron. Rooker has a considerable amount of screen time and provides a lot of the best moments in the film. Djimon Honsou is Korath, but he is never really given much of an opportunity to shine in the film. His moments are brief and relegated primarily to action scenes, but he’s still pretty good. Benicio Del Toro is sufficient as The Collector, but much like Honsou, his role is limited. I do expect bigger things from him in later films. Glenn Close is reliable as always, and her turn as Nova Prime is a fun addition to the film, as is John C. Reilly’s portrayal of Rhomann, one of the Nova Corps. There are a lot of other people in this film, but I would be eating up my blog if I commented on each and every one of them.
I will say that the biggest surprise in this film was Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. The guy was laugh-out loud funny at moments and very moving at others. Sure, playing a raging monster might not have been much of a stretch for the pro-wrestler, but his comedic timing was perfect and a real treat to see on the screen. I hope his character is fleshed out more in future films. I think Bautista has a solid acting career ahead of him if he keeps his current pace.
Of course, with such a huge cast, there are bound to be a few disappointments in the lot. The biggest disappointment was Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser. Ronan is the primary baddie in the film, so I would expect him to be at least somewhat interesting, but he comes across as a very formulaic and forgettable villain. Pace’s acting isn’t terrible. He just isn’t given much to do with the role. Much like Christopher Eccleston in Thor: The Dark World, and Guy Pearce in Iron Man 3, Pace is mainly there not to engage the viewer, but to stand as a placeholder for the “villain” while we get a deeper look at the heroes. Another letdown was the performance of Karen Gillan as Nebula. I liked Gillan in Doctor Who as Amy Pond (although she wore thin near the end of her run on that show in my opinion), but I had a hard time excepting her as the ruthless Nebula. Her role was limited, so perhaps we will get a better look at her somewhere down the line. Until then, though, she’ll be my least favorite performer in the film. Josh Brolin voiced Thanos in the film, but his appearance is so brief and forgettable that I really can’t comment on it. I’m positive he’ll get to shine in a future Marvel flick for sure.
Guardians of the Galaxy is very good. It’s not as enjoyable as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it is leaps and bounds beyond Iron Man 3. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. In fact, I think those two films mirror each other a lot, because both feature quite a bit of humor (GOTG is funnier, though), a forgettable villain, and a much more interesting ensemble of secondary and/or co-starring characters like Yondu and Loki that make you want to like them more than you should.
Definitely check out Guardians. It’s worth a trip to the theater and, as always, stay tuned after the credits for a humorous scene that may or may not hint at future Marvel films.