Hey gang, Valkor here. And we gotta give major props to the folks at Marvel Entertainment, who’ve taken their comic book properties to the next level, showing the fans that the cinematic verse works well on the big screen as well as it does on paper. They’ve taken some huge risk, but the pay off and the fan reception has been enormous. One of their biggest risks – Guardians of the Galaxy, was presumed to be a failure given that it’s an unknown property. And given that it’s part of the Marvel Phase Two of films, yet takes place completely away from all the action on earth, could it succeed? The answer, we now know, is a resounding YES! The fans have fallen in love with the Guardians and the box office numbers show it. But I wanna toss my hat into the ring as well. If you haven't seen the film yet, you might wanna go elsewhere as this review is set with major spoilers.
Guardians puts the focus on Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), who was abducted by aliens as a child, currently living his life as something of a thief, stealing precious items and selling them off to whomever has deep pockets. When we first see adult Quill, he’s stealing an orb that to him may seem like nothing but a paycheck, but to a lot of people – especially a Warlord named Ronan - it’s something very important. Ronan sends his top mercenary Gamora (Zoe Saldana), also known as the daughter of Thanos, to fetch the orb. The two lock horns, but also get mixed in with a couple of bounty hunters – the anthropomorphic Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his sidekick muscle, who happens to be a walking tree, Groot (Vin Diesel). These two are after Quill because of the pricey bounty on his head put out by his father figure Yondu (Michael Rooker). After all four are arrested and tossed into an intergalactic prison, they meet up with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). Together, they escape the prison in an attempt to sell the orb to a man known simply as “The Collector” (Benicio Del Toro), who tells them why the orb is so important – it contains an infinity gem, sought after mainly by Thanos (who gets a brief cameo in the film played by Josh Brolin). The Guardians are tracked down by Ronan, who is able to get a hold of the orb and plans on using its power to destroy the planet Xander, and then again on Thanos.
But the Guardians band together – literally, using the power of the infinity gem along with some secret power inside of Quill that enables him to maintain a longer hold of the gem without being obliterated, to stop Ronan and save the planet Xandar. What happens from then on, who knows, but the Guardians will be ready for whatever the universe throws against them.
But you don’t just watch Guardians of the Galaxy for the story as there are tons of Easter eggs, pop culture references and cameos strewn throughout the film. The opening scene with Quill trying to steal the orb is very reminiscent of Indian Jones opening sequence from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Quill does a Michael Jackson dance, Howard the fucking Duck makes an amazing post credit appearance, there’s reference to Beta Ray Bill when Quill stumbles across a horseman skull, Stan Lee makes his appearance and of course the Infinity Gems are referenced. And there’s tons more than that, so I’m definitely grabbing the Blu-Ray upon release.
Finally I have to give a nod to the soundtrack, which I didn’t think would work; the first trailer had “Hooked on a Feeling” as a backdrop and to me, given the fantasy/space element of the film, it didn’t feel right. I loved the trailer, but it was still weird. But put in context with the film, the 70s/80s soundtrack works perfectly. Songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “I Want You Back”, “Come and Get Your Love”, and even ‘The Pina Colada Song”, fits in beautifully with the overall film.
Prior to the film’s announcement, I had already read the 2008 comic series up to the Thanos Imperative, which I really enjoyed. But when the film was announced, I was surprised as were many, because it just seems so “out of left field” and I didn’t think it would work. But as the pieces started coming together, it all started to make sense. And when the film was released, I was ready on day one. My thoughts about the Guardians are the same when it came to the first Iron Man film – its perfection in a film! Marvel along with James Gunn’s direction and everyone who had a hand in the film’s creation, gets everything right about the comic series and its zany characters who inhabit it, though some cuts were made, they’re forgiven since the final product is so amazing. The story is spot on and very well balanced, giving Quill his focus yet keeping things well even so we learn more about the other players without being bogged down with too much story/backstory. I love the team dynamic and how not one member shines more than another, though let’s admit it – Rocket owns, right? The action is incredible and there’s just enough to keep you invested and not too much that it becomes boring. The pacing is beautiful as there is an excellent balance between the action and story that the entire process flows so smoothly, making that two hour run time feel shorter than it is, yet you won’t feel at all cheated. The acting deserves a huge nod, though I have my qualms with one cast member (saving that for the bad); however I respect the casting choices made and I think everyone deserves top accolades for their performances. Most notably would be Bradley Cooper (The Hangover 3) as Rocket; I was expecting a voice with a much higher pitch, but I’ll be damned if Cooper doesn’t nail it! He is Rocket and will make you believe in a walking, talking, gun-toting raccoon who likes to collect human prosthetics for the lulz.
My favorite character from the Guardian of the Galaxy books is Gamora – she’s sexy, playful, yet very deadly. And while I love Zoe Saldana, I feel the role should have been given to someone… bustier. And her character could have been more “playful” as she is in the books (at least in the 2008 series). This is just a minor, personal gripe and I’m completely satisfied how the character turned out in the end, but thinking about what might have been though…
If you have haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet, do yourself a favor and get out now to watch it on the big screen. It’s everything a Marvel film should be and then some; it’s an explosive, action-packed yet emotional ride that will leave you wanting more. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give the film a perfect 5.