Guardians of the Galaxy — MOVIE REVIEW


Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper (voice), Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel (voice), and Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Andy Dwyer, a tree, a raccoon, a professional wrestler, and Zoe Saldana in green skin instead of blue: these are the guardians that we are supposed to love and follow for two hours. But the real question is “does it work?” Yes. Yes it does. This may not be the best Marvel film I have seen, but it is definitely up there.

It is hard to rank these Marvel films because some of them are completely serious movies and some are just plain fun. This movie definitely has its’ share of dramatic moments along with the funny, but they really are just there to have a good time. The Avengers was awesome and serious with a few comedic moments. Captain America:The Winter Soldier is the best Marvel movie I have seen yet. That one is a serious movie with a couple light moments. Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun and funny movie with a few serious moments. So there definitely is a difference there. But that doesn’t stop Guardians of the Galaxy from being one of the three best Marvel films I’ve seen.

Now let’s talk about these main characters. This has to be the most unlikely pairing of individuals in a Marvel movie…ever. But it works. The main five consist of roles played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista (aka Blue-Tista or Boo-Tista), Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel. You see those actors and you think to yourself “how the hell does that work?” I do not know but when watching the movie, their chemistry with each other is top notch. These characters are a seriously dysfunctional superhero family that I would gladly pay money to see in a second, third, and fourth film.

Chris Pratt plays a ravager, which means he pretty much steals stuff for people who will pay him handsomely for it. He kind of compares to a Han Solo kind of character. He is selfish but deep down he cares for other people.That kind of thing. Plus, he has the dramatic and comedic chops to hone in a performance like this one. It took me a whole five seconds to forget his role on Parks and Recreation. Zoe Saldana plays a badass warrior/assassin who is the kind-of-but-not-really daughter of the mad titan Thanos (played in a brief appearance by the perfect Josh Brolin). She is tough chick who doesn’t take shit from anybody, but she also has a heart. Dave Bautista plays a big dude who wants revenge for his wife and daughter’s murder. Bradley Cooper voices a sarcastic raccoon who was experimented on and turned out to be a raccoon (that was the explanation they gave). And Vin Diesel says a whole 5 words as a walking tree who protects Bradley Cooper’s raccoon uttering the same phrase over and over again (I am Groot). This definitely is an unlikely and strange band of heroes, but it comes together perfectly. At the end of the movie, I kept going back and forth between which character really stole the movie. But the honest answer is that they all did.

Chris Pratt brought his comedic style with him and works wonders with this character. He stole scenes left and right. But then you have Zoe Saldana who still manages to be extremely attractive with green skin. Sorry James Cameron, but green is WAY better than blue. She plays this character who is betraying her “father” because she actually cares about people. She may not have that many lines that are meant to be funny, but her screen presence is still there. Dave Bautista manages to steal scenes from both of these characters, which was a surprise enough. I went in thinking “oh boy another wrestler trying to act” and I thought he was going to be a mess. But he wasn’t. He was hilarious and had just enough comic relief without being way over the top. Batista, quit wrestling. You were never that good at it, and if you keep doing roles like this, acting could work out just fine for you. He doesn’t really sell the emotion behind his character the greatest, but he makes up for it with his one-liners.

Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel provide voice over work here and they are spectacular. Rocket the Raccoon is hilarious. He is constantly dropping hilarious lines and Cooper’s voice makes it all that much better. And Diesel really does only have to say 5 words the whole movie, but in the facial expressions and the tone in which Diesel says the line each time really makes Groot a lovable character. The point is that all of these actors steal scenes from all these other actors. It is a real treat to see. And the characters are fleshed out rather well. They are all selfish at the beginning, but you get some good development in there.

The movie starts with a younger version of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill character in a hospital. His mother is dying. She is bald, so cancer is assumed. It starts on a really depressing and sad note but it transitions soon after that to Peter as an adult as he tries to steal this artifact that will result in a rather large payday. He has his headphones from when he was younger, laced with 70s-80s tunes that really set the tone for the movie. When you first see him before the “Guardians of the Galaxy” title logo pops up on the screen, you will know what kind of movie this is going to be. Watching him sing and dance to some Redbone tune-age is classic.

This is far from a perfect film though. It suffers from having a rather weak villain character, played here by Lee Pace. Showing us Brolin’s perfect voice as Thanos may have been a mistake as we all know he is the true villain. But Ronan (Pace) is pretty much just there. You know he is just a pawn in Thanos’ bigger game so that feels like a bit of a letdown. He could have been a better villain if they gave him more to do. He has maybe one good moment in the entire movie, where Pace’s awesome voice comes out, but other than that, he was very average. Another weakness in my opinion is the character of Nebula, played by my favorite Dr. Who companion Karen Gillan. She looks cool and even sounds cool, but she isn’t fleshed out…at all. Where Zoe Saldana’s Gamora character has motivations and they are shown, GIllan’s Nebula is just shown being badass. That isn’t enough. They needed to do more with her in order to make her an actual interesting character. Nothing wrong with Gillan’s performance, but there just needed to be a lot more to her.

And, oh yeah, the set up is VERY familiar. This isn’t a complaint yet, Marvel. But I feel like a couple films down the road, it will be. It seems like the plot line of every Marvel movie follows the same formula. Introduce this item that is cool and interesting then have everyone chase it around for half the movie.Then the item does its’ light show CGI thing, the villains get a hold of it, then the heroes have to stop them. Every damn time. Okay, not every time, but it happens enough where it can be an issue if more movies use the same formula.

So what is the actual story? Pretty much Peter Quill (Pratt) steals an orb, that the bad guy, Ronan (Pace) wants. And by Ronan, that means Thanos (Brolin). So Ronan sends Gamora (Saldana) to retrieve the orb from him, but she has a plan of her own. Meanwhile, Rocket the Raccoon (Cooper) and his bodyguard Groot (Diesel) see that bringing Quill in as a bounty could pay them loads of money. So pretty much its everyone against Quill, which leads to an awesome and hilarious scene between the four of them using cool gadgets to escape and capture other people. But no one is successful as all of them end up in a space prison called The Kyln. This is where they all meet Drax the Destroyer (Bautista) who is hellbent on getting revenge for his family. And that means killing the family of Thanos or Ronan, which means Gamora right off the bat. And from there on, it is awesome shenanigans that ensue.

Benicio del Toro shows up as The Collector again, and he is useful for explaining just what the hell is so important about that orb. It is all sci-fi…ish and complicated, but its easy to follow for the most part. Pretty much, the orb can give a badass villain some awesome power. One of best parts of the movie however is Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his team of “ravagers.” Plus he has a weapon that is completely badass and everyone should want it. His rapport with Pratt is well done as well.

All of these main characters get fleshed out and that is what is great about this movie. Not only the comedy, but the amount of heart at the bottom of it. And as Quill says, they all have lost stuff; and that is kind of what binds these unlikely characters together. Quill has some mother-issues and blames himself for what happened. He also misses Earth…and Kevin Bacon (it’ll make sense if you’ve seen the film). Drax wants revenge for his family. Rocket is still pissed about the experimentation that created him,and hates how people see him. Gamora isn’t the real daughter of Thanos, but someone he took from a battle. Someone he tortured and turned into a weapon. They all have baggage they need to fix, deep down. Except Groot. Groot is awesome.

I can’t really say enough about the acting. Pratt shows he can play the hero of a big budget film. He is genuinely funny and heroic in away that doesn’t seem forced. And there is more to him than just a ravager and him realizing that is one of the good parts of the film. Saldana does solid here, but she never really disappoints. As I said, I was shocked by how hilarious Bautista was. Bradley Cooper really brings the raccoon to life. He gets pissed easily, and you see how vulnerable he/it is. And Groot is just amazing. The CGI is breathtaking. The animation is some of the best I’ve seen. It is hard to explain but he just looks awesome. And outside of that, Groot is probably the best character here. It is hard to believe he says just 5 words, because as the movie goes on, he shows a lot of heart and emotion. And Vin Diesel only had to say that same phrase, but it was still different every time he said it. Different tones.

The CGI and the entire film looks amazing. Only five minutes of the entire movie takes place on Earth, so you are seeing completely made-up worlds and environments. The ships look so real, and when a bunch of ships “link-up,” it is some of the best animation I have seen in a while. I usually don’t get blown away by visuals, because Avatar was such a letdown, story-wise. But the visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy blew me away. The soundtrack was also extremely good. The songs were obviously from the 70s and 80s, and that kind of set the tone for the entire movie. But the instrumental score was damn good as well. Especially the music towards the end of the film. It really makes the scenes that much better.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast to watch, a fun ride that I’d be glad to experience again. I definitely want more films with this group of characters. My mom hated the movie with every fiber of her being, so did one of my good friends. But me, and everyone else I talk to absolutely love this film. Maybe its just not for older people? Who knows. But I enjoyed the crap out of it, and I will be thinking of Chris Pratt whenever I hear “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps from now on.

Cast:

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Bradley Cooper as Rocket the Raccoon
Vin Diesel as Groot
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey
Benicio del Toro as The Collector
Glenn Close as Nova Prime

WHAT I LIKED:

+: The group of scene stealers. Pratt, Diesel, Cooper, Saldana, and Bautista all excelled in their scenes; mainly the comedic ones. They were constantly upstaging each other and stealing scenes. It was a blast to see.

+: A hilarious movie with a lot of serious elements. The serious elements hit just the right amount of serious. Not too much, not too little. This film has a lot of heart.

+: The soundtrack. Some great oldies hits that will be in your head for days after seeing the film. It really helps set the tone for the film and each song is entertaining when it appears in the film. The score was also very intense, especially towards the end.

+: The visuals were breathtaking. The whole atmosphere of space and everything was perfect. And that is before I mention the visual masterpiece that is Groot and Rocket. They both look immensely real and some of the animations from Groot are some of the best animations I’ve seen.

+: Josh Brolin as Thanos. I want more.

+: The end-credits scene was kinda weird, but it still made me laugh my ass off.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

-: Followed the same plot line as most Marvel movies (see above). Not a huge deal because they executed it very effectively, but we are going to get annoyed with the same idea in every movie.

-: Nebula needed to be more fleshed out. She was interesting and I loved Karen Gillan in the role. There just needed to be a lot more there with the character. She did some cool stuff, but it wasn’t enough for me.

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