So I finally got to see Guardians of the Galaxy this past weekend and once again, Marvel Studios has hit another home run, this time with a comic book property that even comic book readers were not that familiar with. But a winning combination of well rounded characters, generous amounts of humor and buttloads of let's blow shit up action made this movie a most enjoyable experience. My own experiences with Marvel's modern take on the Guardians of the Galaxy are quite limited but I had no trouble picking up who's who and what's what.
Following the Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark template for character growth, what drives Guardians is the hodge-podge of damaged characters who come together at cross purposes, then as the movie progresses, these ragtag adventures develop individually and as a team. It sounds like PBS Kids stuff but it plays out realistically. Well, as realistically as a story set against a backdrop of interstellar conflict can be.
Yes, Rocket steals the show; our little furry alien is brought to life by some excellent CGI and a very strong voice performance from Bradley Cooper. But Chris Pratt as Peter Quill..er, excuse me, Star Lord...holds down the core of the movie. Peter is abducted from Earth as a small child. Many years later, Peter may be an adult but he's not quite grown up, stuck in a state of arrested development as he flits about the stars from scam to con to heist. But then a mission to retrieve a mysterious orb in exchange for incredible riches turns serious; in fits and starts, Peter comes to realize there's something more at stake than his own personal gain.
The real surprise is Groot. What are you going to do with a warrior tree who can only say "I am Groot!" over and over? It turns out, plenty! Groot is a constant source of humor and action with clever uses of his plant based powers. If DC can get its movie making shit together like Marvel, a really well done Swamp Thing movie can be done if Groot is any indication.
One of the things that gets a lot of attention in Guardians of the Galaxy is the music. The tunes that Star Lord plays on his 1980's Walkman are a fun distraction which prompts a lot of humor but it's amazing how well they inform the story. The very first song we hear is 10 CC's "I'm Not In Love" being listened to by a young Peter Quill while sitting in a hospital waiting room, his mother near death. Peter is in denial about his mother's illness and is also trying to deny his own feelings.
As much as I enjoyed the story, there were some things that I have a few concerns about.
- We're getting this hard sell about Thanos being the big bad but instead the heavy lifting of evil goes to Ronan the Accuser. I think there may have been some confusion about exactly what was Thanos in all this. Everyone speaks of him in hushed and fearful tones but we see Ronan basically talk shit to Thanos and nothing happens. We needed to see more of Thanos being an actual bad guy or we needed to have less of him.
- Zoe Saldana is great in everything, including her turn as Gamora. But it was a bit distressing that once our characters are in the space prison, Drax has to come to her rescue when the lynch mob comes. Yeah, it establishes Drax's role in this little intergalactic gang but it's a disappointing bit with Gamora.
- As a Doctor Who fan, I was really excited to see Karen Gillan's turn as Nebula. Sadly, there's not a lot there. Whether a fault of writing, directing or acting, Nebula remains a bit of a cypher. Heck, I was slow to realize that Nebula is a cyborg.
But these concerns are fairly minor and do little to undermine my enjoyment of the film. Marvel has another winner with Guardians of the Galaxy and I can't wait to see where Star Lord and his space hopping pals wind up next.
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You