Ever since it was announced back in 2012, everyone pretty much knew it would be Marvel Studios’ biggest gamble. A space-faring adventure with a cast that includes a talking raccoon and a walking tree with a vocabulary limited to three words was a hard sell in an age of established properties making the leap to movie theaters. As of this writing, Guardians of the Galaxy has a sequel set for a 2017 release, and people who’ve seen it are listening to Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1 on loop.
The man in charge of bringing this odd bunch of heroes to big screen is James Gunn, of Slither and Super fame. Gunn, along with screenwriting partner Nicole Perlman, have crafted not only the funniest, but oddly enough, one of the most relatable and grounded entries in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t let the cosmic setting fool you – as vast as the setting may be, it’s still a story of a bunch of misfits who under normal circumstances shouldn’t be together… with an added dose of snark and a great soundtrack.
GOTG’s cast is one of the best things it has going for it, despite a couple of odd bits here and there, which sometimes could be traced back to a few flaws in the script. Chris Pratt injects just the right amount of action hero believability into Peter Quill/Star-Lord and slathers it with a generous helping of goofball charm. Zoe Saldana is once again back in ass kicking form as Gamora, who is also more or less the voice of reason of the group. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel’s vocal talents breathe life into Rocket and Groot, respectively. It wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if these two became audience favorites down the line. However, the real revelation here is Dave Bautista’s turn as the always-literal Drax The Destroyer, whose awkwardness and surprising comedic timing provide us with some of the movie’s more gut-bustingly funny moments.
The villains are a bit of a weak link here in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, we get a good look at Josh Brolin’s Thanos, but the main antagonist of this little tale is Ronan The Accuser, a fanatic bent on meting out his own brand of “justice” as played by Lee Pace. He’s an imposing presence here, but doesn’t really come off as compelling as we wanted him to be. Karen Gillan’s Nebula, though definitely a welcome sight in every scene she’s in, isn’t given much to do. Here’s to hoping she gets a little more love in the sequel.
The whole movie’s plot is fairly familiar space opera stuff involving all-powerful mcguffins, interplanetary war, and such, which is in turn twisted into something fresh and funny in Gunn’s deft handling of the material. It’s the dialog and interactions between the main cast that’ll end up being the main draw here. If you happen to be someone with an affinity for stuff like Firefly, Borderlands, and Futurama, you’ll find yourself perfectly at home here.
It could also be argued that one of GOTG’s best achievement is making decades-old pop songs cool again. It’s not that they ever went out of style to begin with, but it warms my heart to know that old favorites like “Come and Get Your Love” and “I Want You Back” are used to provide an familiar aural backdrop to all the kooky sci-fi stuff happening right in front of us.
Go see Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the most fun you’ll have in the cinema during all this dreary weather we’ve been getting lately. Hell, if you’ve already seen it before reading this, go see it again… preferably with your own ragtag group of a-holes for added effect.
Written by Billy