Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Directed by: James Gunn
Running time: 121 minutes
Welcome to the Marvel Cosmic Universe! I’m relatively new to it myself, having never read a Marvel comic in my life (outside of one very random Spider-Man comic as a child), but hoo-damn am I excited to see more of it. I’m opening with this statement because, much like Argo, I feel I need to say straight away that you should be going to see Guardians of the Galaxy.
Yes it’s a science fiction adventure (which some people still think is a “lesser” genre!!!!), yes one of its principle characters is a talking cyborg raccoon, and yes Iron Man is nowhere to be seen. But if you can push past your preconceptions towards the validity of such an affair, then you will be in for one heck of a time.
So go on. Right now, to the cinema! That raccoon you were so easily going to dismiss will bring you to tears*!
For the rest of you:
Now Showing this week is Guardians of the Galaxy, the final film in Phase 2 of Marvel’s cinematic universe before Avengers: Age of Ultron opens next year. Directed by James Gunn, Guardians tells the story of five intergalactic renegades who, through a series of bumbling attempts to capture/steal from one another, are forced to work together to stop an enraged warlord from destroying the galaxy.
First up is Peter Quill (aka. Star-Lord) played by Chris Pratt, a human man who was taken from Earth as a child in the 1980s and now roams the stars as a thief. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, a green-skinned assassin who is out to betray her master, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the aforementioned enraged warlord. WWE wrestler Dave Bautista appears as Drax the Destroyer, an alien on a revenge quest against Ronan for slaughtering his family. And finally, the bounty hunting duo Rocket, the cybernetic sarcastic raccoon, and Groot, the eight-foot tall sentient tree.
I must say, what an ensemble of characters! You could never say that they are boring together. Whether Quill and Rocket are dueling their sarcastic wits, or Drax is overly applying his literal way of thinking, the Guardians are a constant stream of humour and drama. The comparisons to Firefly are certainly justified.
In fact, I would say the biggest point I would like to make about the film is the way it balances its comedy with its tragedy. The film is comedic throughout, there were few gaps between gags, but the script still maintained the drama of any given situation. You laugh, but never lose sight of the meaning during a scene. Yes, even with the talking raccoon!
The best comparison I can make is to another Marvel ensemble film: The Avengers. The way all those characters were plonked together, with often hilarious results, yet were still given room to breath and have their character moment was an excellent approach to such a project. But Avengers had five movies of context under its belt, whilst Guardians had just two hours and it pulls off this same feat. I might even go so far as to say it did this better than Avengers, as Guardians had to overcome the surface level lunacy of its characters to achieve its “moments”. But they did it, even with Rocket (in fact, Rocket’s moment was my favourite of them all).
Guardians of the Galaxy is an absolutely gorgeous film. The space battles rival their Star Wars inspirations, and the alien lifeforms littered throughout the film’s many worlds are very diverse (yet still humanoid). There certainly were a few cliches in the story arc, the biggest offender being “I’ve always lived without friends, I’d be honoured to die among them”. But the actual scripting and pacing of the film is so top notch for a big blockbuster that these cliches are negligible.
Suffice to say: Guardians is easily the best film of Marvel’s Phase 2, and I would definitely put it on par with The Avengers itself. But if they plan to bring those two movies together someday, I have no idea how they’re going to do it, especially in any way that won’t be incredibly stupid. Then again, Guardians got me to feel for some pretty wacky characters, so they have the benefit of the doubt.
Seriously, check Guardians out. As in, now.
See you next time!
*Your experience may differ.