In the opening moments of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, we meet a young Peter Quill as his sick mother is dying. He sits in an almost empty hospital, angry and confused, listening to his Walkman tape player. Eventually, Peter runs out of the hospital and is brought aboard a spaceship, which then zips off to outer space.
For an initial scene of a Marvel Studios movie, it’s a very heavy emotional moment. Then, an adult Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) appears on screen during an opening credits sequence that is so brilliantly funny and joyous that after just ten minutes, “Guardians of the Galaxy” already has more heart and run an emotional gambit more powerful than all the other Marvel Studios movies combined.
It’s silly and a waste of time to debate which Marvel movie is best. However, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the first Marvel Studios movie to really take several massive risks by casting relatively unknown actors in the roles of relatively unknown characters led by a director/writer, James Gunn, more known for his dark comedic takes on horror and superhero movies.
Every risk, every shot by cinematographer Ben Davis, every single word in Gunn and Nicole Perlman’s screenplay are all worth it. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is so much fun and exciting that it is truly upsetting when it ends. When a movie makes you want to hang out with these characters for two more hours, it’s done its job.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” revolves around a mysterious and powerful Orb that everyone in the galaxy wants to get their hands on. Peter Quill is a scavenger that works for Yondu (Michael Rooker), who was hired by The Collector (Benicio del Toro) to retrieve the Orb. It’s also being pursued by Ronan (Lee Pace), a powerful being who was promised by Thanos that he would destroy his mortal enemies, the Xandarians.
Ronan sends one of his assassins, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), to retrieve the Orb from Peter, who has a price on his head all over the galaxy. Everyone meets Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a talking raccoon with a serious attitude, and Groot (Vin Diesel), a huge tree that is a gentle giant, as they attempt to capture and collect the reward on Peter.
The entire gang gets arrested and sent to a space prison, where they meet Drax (Dave Bautista), an alien whose world was destroyed by Ronan, whom Drax has sworn revenge on.
From that point on, these five space rejects form an alliance based on mutual needs and battle what seems like everyone in the universe, all set to a pre-1990s soundtrack that only adds to how surreal the entire movie is.
The action is intense and quite the spectacle. Spaceships zip around, chasing each other and firing lasers in bright color with such beauty and editing perfection that the only reason you may not be able to follow the action is because you’re laughing at the rapid-fire quips delivered by Peter Quill and Rocket.
If the action scenes are a triumph in CGI, Rocket and Groot are awe inspiring. They look like real characters alongside their human/humanoid companions. These two make Gollum look like amateur hour, that is how impressive it all really is.
The only thing better than how Rocket and Groot look on screen is how they sound. Bradley Cooper disappears in Rocket and is completely unrecognizable. There isn’t one instance that allows you to say “Oh, that’s Bradley Cooper”. There are even moments that should bring tears even from the comic book movie crowd and it’s all thanks to Cooper really giving this role, only involving his voice, his all.
The voice of Groot may be Vin Diesel’s finest performance. What makes this part even more fantastic is that he only utters one phrase the entire movie: “I am Groot”. Those of you with kids may want to get used to hearing that. Diesel says it differently each time, depending on the situation and there are few times when those three words are so moving that you may not believe it’s happening in a space opera based on comic book characters.
Dave Bautista, a sometimes WWE wrestler, also excels in his first acting role. Not only is he physically imposing with muscles exploding all over the screen, his deadpan delivery as puns and idioms zip over his head are a riot. Be sure to pay close attention to everything he says as it so low key and underplayed that much of the hilarity could be missed.
Zoe Saldana plays the tough girl role and is the straight woman to Cooper’s Rocket and Pratt’s Quill. She rarely smiles, doesn’t joke, but Saldana always seems like she wants to laugh and join in on the fun. She can’t as she knows their mission is far too serious for kidding around, but her desire for playfulness is just there on the edge, dying to get out.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is officially when Chris Pratt becomes a movie star. Never mind that he looks like he’s chiseled from stone. His charm and charisma borders on Harrison Ford as Han Solo-levels. Pratt is seemingly born to play this part and he is the funniest, most entertaining actor that you’ll see in a movie this summer, maybe for all of 2014.
Thrown in John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Nathan Fillion, and you have a cast in “Guardians of the Galaxy” that any movie should envy.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a zany movie. It’s exciting, sidesplittingly funny, and just gorgeous to watch. At some point, the bubble may burst for Marvel Studios but this is not when it will happen.
It cannot be stressed enough that moviegoers of all kinds should not miss “Guardians of the Galaxy”. This is a superhero team that everyone will love and only leaves you wanting more and more.