Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy
is easily Marvel Studios' riskiest venture to date. Everyone says the company took a chance on the first Iron Man film, which featured a non-mutant/wall crawling protagonist and whose star was best remembered for stints in jail at the time, but Guardians was a gamble of gargantuan proportions. Say what you will about the popularity of Iron Man (or Thor or Cap) pre-MCU, there's no denying that the Avengers' roster is far more recognizable to the average person than the C-tier characters in Guardians. The fact that Marvel transformed this, The Bad News Bears/Little Giants of super hero squads into such an awesome sci-fi film is astounding.

This is technically a super hero, "comic book," movie, but Guardians of the Galaxy feels akin to a light hearted Star Wars, more western/space opera than sermonizing caped crusaders. The film follows a bunch of scruffy looking thieves, bounty hunters, assassins ( nerf herders?) and a giant tree /Wookie, who reluctantly band together in order to stop an intergalactic zealot called Ronan The Accuser, from acquiring an infinity stone and using it to ethnic cleanse an entire planet. At first, Lonestar is only in it for the space bucks but overtime, he slowly starts to care for Princess Vespa and the rest of the gang. By the time they join forces with Star Command and engage Zurg's TIE fighters in an epic aerial dog fight on Naboo, they've become a fully functional and kick ass team.

Yes, it's all a hodgepodge of older sci-fi themes and plot devices Frankenstein-ed together...who cares. From the moment the movie's insane 1970's pop rock soundtrack kicks in, you know you're in for one wild, and thoroughly entertaining ride. Guardians of the Galaxy has so much irreverent humor and face peeling action sequences it will leave even the most ardent popcorn junkie in awe. Aside from the infinity stone connection and an appearance from a certain mega evil villain, Guardians has nothing to do with the rest of the MCU films. What it does have however, is a talking raccoon brandishing a machine gun and a shit ton of laughs. Honestly, I feel like this is the best action-comedy since Rush Hour. There's explosions and CGI critters doing all sorts of fantastical stuff, but there's also copious amounts of lolz and yuk yuk moments that had me rolling in my seat. Most of the laughs are shared by Chris Pratt's dopey Star Lord and Bradley Cooper's rambunctious Rocket Raccoon. They're like Abott & Costello in space. WWE superstar turned actor, Batista, and current Na'vi & USS Enterprise crew member Zoe Saldana both deliver some unexpected laughs ["pelvic wizardry" has now entered the pop culture lexicon] while Vin Diesel's Swamp-Thing with a heart of gold character Groot turns in one of the most touching performances of the entire movie....and he's a talking CGI tree that says about three words.

Sound ridiculous? It is...but it's damn entertaining. The sweeping score (plus 70's pop rock), Rocket's lifelike CGI, the costumes and wide array of bright, trippy colors onscreen, the entire cast's great performances and superb dialogue, not to mention all the geeky Marvel Comics references thrown in for fanboys [NOTE: never in a million years did I think anyone other than fellow dorks would learn about The Kree Empire, the Nova Corps. or fucking Celestials...but here they are in the number one movie in the country. Excuse me while my brain explodes], director James Gunn has crafted one of Marvel's best films and puts on a veritable masterclass in summer action/blockbuster filmmaking. I simply can't recommend Guardians of the Galaxy enough.