I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I mean, I didn’t even care who they were until around 2008. The characters have been swapped in & out since the 70’s but the team they introduce in the 2014 film written and directed by James Gunn are based pretty closely on the 2008 re-launch written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Nerdlocker Essential Reading Assignment #1 – Guardians Of The Galaxy). I haven’t been waiting for the Guardians themselves; I’ve been waiting for a kick-ass space opera; one that would likely inspire Han & Chewie. Thankfully, the team isn’t the dated characters from the 70’s but instead, we get a Cosmic A-Team thrown together to reverse engineer the genre. Guardians of the Galaxy was freaking awesome! You’re still on my list though, Flash Gordon.
The movie opens with a young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) by his mother’s deathbed. She briefly speaks of his angelic father before asking for Peter’s hand. Scared by the sight of his mother’s condition, he hesitates, and in that moment, he loses her forever. With only his walkman and the mix tape his mother made him, he runs away from the pain. Only to be abducted and taken from earth (not completely related origin wise but still a great read, Nerdlocker Essential Reading Assignment #2: Annihilation: Conquest – Start-Lord). Fast forward a bit and we learn that little Peter has become quite the space pirate under the command of the ever blue Yondu (Michael Rooker). On a mission of his own accord, Quill finds an orb of unimaginable power and is immediately met by Korath The Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) to retrieve it. Korath was sent by the Kree radical Ronan (Lee Pace) to steal the orb for his own maniacal plans which are the driving force behind the gathering of the Guardians.
When Korath fails to retrieve the orb, Ronan sends one of the ‘daughters’ of Thanos, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to finish the job. As Gamora kicks some serious ass, Groot & Rocket Raccoon (Vin Diesel & Bradley Cooper) show up to collect the bounty on Quill’s head. After a whole lot of interplanetary ruckus, the Nova Corp show up and haul them all to prison. Along the way, Gamora reveals that she was planning on betraying Ronan in order to take vengeance on Thanos for laying waste to her planet and claiming her as his daughter (Nerdlocker Essential Reading Assignment #3 – Thanos Imperative). In the slammer, they run into Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who wants to kill Gamora for her allegiance to Ronan. When everyone realizes that they have a common enemy, they begin to work towards some remnants of a strategy. Man, I love it when a plan comes together.
So now that I’ve given you the underlying plot, or parts of it anyway (there’s a lot going on in the tenth entry of the Marvel cinematic universe), I want to talk about the reasons to see this movie…in theaters…THIS weekend. I’ve already said the number one reason is because it’s truly a space opera in all the best ways. Big explosions, never-before-seen artillery, awesome aliens! Not CG aliens either; they actually use good ol’ fashion prosthetics and make-up for all the background species and save all the extravagant graphics for Groot & Rocket. Yondu, who is the only OG Guardian in the movie, steals every scene he is in with his steal Mohawk and alluring whistle.
The visuals are so absolutely Marvel-ous, it’s actually quite staggering at points. Take the scene that takes place on Knowhere, for instance. If you don’t know, Knowhere is the remains of what used to be a Celestial; to be more specific, its head. It now acts as a mining ‘planet’ for rogue aliens to inhabit when on the run from the Nova Corp. It actually looks even better than what you are imagining right now, and in a theatre, it’s HUGE! This is the definition of the movie going experience. It’s not just big planetary scenery, either. The set pieces are phenomenal in every scene. Peter Quill’s ship and its 70’s interior would likely make Han Solo drool.
The cast to play our Guardians could not have been chosen better. Dave Bautista as Drax seemed to lack depth for what his character had endured at first, but he quickly grows on you. Bautista was easily my least anticipated casting and somehow, he felt perfect 10 minutes after meeting him. Zoe Saldana plays up the sexy as Gamora in the trailers, but in the movie, she is downright terrifying. She never shows weakness or allows herself to play the damsel. She is, simply, a pivotal part of the team.
Chris Pratt plays Quill so naturally, he feels born for the role. He is the glue to the guardians that bind them together. More than anything, his story is just despairing to watch. He travels the universe listening to the same 10 songs his mom gave him on a mix tape. He regrets not reaching out to her in her last moments. He left his home behind and seemingly has no interest in returning, likely due to the pain it would bring to the surface. All of this emotion is portrayed under a thick layer of bravado and passive humor. He deflects his issues very well when it comes to others around him but the soundtrack to the movie, as well as Peter Quill’s life put everything into perspective.
Most people will say that Rocket Raccoon is their new favorite character and he likely will be for a lot of movie-goers. He’s got serious likeable attitude in this movie and Bradley Cooper doesn’t slow down for anyone. He even shows a bit of his soft side at one point and the audience swoons. But for me, Groot was the best visual aspect of the movie. Vin Diesel made sure that he was saying something very specific each time he uttered his one line and he did so with much emotion. Numerous times, I felt the rise of goosebumps and felt so silly for reacting as such from the same three words but that is a testament to his portrayal of the character.
Awesome Mix Vol. 1 was my favorite feature of the movie. You could almost call it a character of its own. Every 70’s era song chosen for the mix was perfect for the scene it was featured in. The title credit song, Come & Get Your Love by Redbone, was the absolute best way to begin the movie. It sets the tone for the entire film by showing just how serious Star-Lord is; which is not at all. He may not want to return to his home, but he certainly doesn’t want to forget it completely. The mix tape his mother gave him is his tether to humanity; it reminds him that he is still a person. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for days, which is just the mix tape from the film, and it really puts you in a good mood. It is just a fantastic companion piece to the movie, so give it a full listen.
The reason you have to see it this weekend is because James Gunn deserves your money. He also deserves the recognition. Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy is holding at 96% audience approval. To me, that screams success. Gunn has worked with some of these actors before in movies like Slither; which is highly underrated, in my opinion. He also co-wrote my favorite zombie film, Dawn of The Dead with George A. Romero. This guy has been around and worked with some incredible people. He got the chance to co-write (with freshman, Nicole Perlman) and direct this huge galaxy-spanning epic and he didn’t waste it in the slightest. My respect for his work has grown exponentially and I demand Marvel continues using him. For being the most hysterical, and riotous Marvel movie to date, I give Guardians of the Galaxy 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
Run time: 121 minutes
After Credits Scene: Yes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker
Director: James Gunn
Check out the trailer below:
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