By Tom Hairston
Marvel Studios has certainly accomplished many feats that had been called impossible (or at least highly unlikely) in the short time since they started building the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has only been a few years but people seem to have already forgotten what a huge achievement bringing several characters from separate movies together for a team up was. The mere fact that Thor and Iron Man are now household names is incredible to me. However, when it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy this is without a doubt their riskiest step yet, because although Iron Man may not have been a common name when his film was made, nobody outside of the comic book community has ever heard of Guardians of the Galaxy and it is so different from every film they’ve made so far that the average movie goer has no idea it’s even a Marvel film. Well, after seeing the movie I am happy to say that this was a gamble that paid off, big time.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of a very unlikely band of misfits from across the universe who are forced to come together to stop a crazed alien extremist, Ronan the Accuser, from gaining ultimate power and wiping out every planet before him. These intergalactic knuckleheads include Peter Quill, a thief who was abducted from Earth as a small boy, Gamora, an assassin and daughter of one of the greatest mass murderers in the universe, Rocket and Groot, a walking tree and talking raccoon who work as guns for hire, and Drax, a crazed space barbarian on a quest for revenge. Now you might be wondering how five characters this different could possibly come together… well, I’m not going to tell you because that would spoil the movie, but what I can tell you is that it is truly impressive. This was perhaps my biggest concern going into this movie because I thought the manner in which the Avengers team came together was great, however, there had been four movies before that to build up each character. Due to that, I had no idea how they were going to introduce all of these characters and turn them into a team in a matter of hours, but they did it with ease. The situations that drag them together are absolutely believable, the pace at which it occurs moves like clockwork, and the way that they grow closer comes across as sincere. With each step in their journey the characters go through a level of growth, each new stop brings them closer, and it all flows from one character beat to another so smoothly that it’s hard to remember the last time I saw a film accomplish this so well.
And all this teamwork pays off in the action sequences. One of my biggest complaints when it comes to a movie, show, book, etc about a team is when the “team” is just there to make the protagonist look good or get killed off early so that it all comes down to a battle between the main character and the antagonist. That is not the case in Guardians of the Galaxy as the entire team works together and each character receives equal screen time. Furthermore, the film is loaded with incredible action sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat! You can really see how every single member of the team is important to the movie and how each of their unique abilities and skills aid them in taking down their opponents. When I see something like that done well, especially to this degree, it makes me want to stand up and applaud.
This teamwork is even more impressive when you realize just how diverse the cast is. Every single character in this movie has a very dynamic personality and unique voice that their actors captured perfectly. Chris Pratt had the perfect combination of smarmy and childishness when he played Starlord, and this might be my favorite performance by Zoe Saldana, who really possessed that strong warrior spirit in her role of Gamora. And when it came to Drax, I remember the moment they announced Dave Bautista for the part and I thought, “Dave Bautista? He’s a wrestler, he doesn’t know how to act.” Well after seeing this movie, look out Dwayne Johnson, there’s another massive guy with great comedic timing out there. Even Groot had a wonderful, childlike innocence to his personality, although that was half thanks to Vin Diesel and half thanks to the CGI team. But hands down the breakout character of this movie is going to be Rocket. Now, granted the fact that being a raccoon with a laser gun already placed him in a scoring position, Bradley Cooper sent him across the goal line. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that about fifty percent of all his lines had me cracking up, and most of that is thanks to Cooper giving each of them the perfect delivery. So to all those people who exploded on the internet after he was announced as Rocket, relax, he nails it.
I’ve mostly been talking about the heroes of this movie so far, but the villains certainly deserve recognition as well. I loved their take on Ronan the Accuser, they made him legitimately creepy. I could almost sense a hint of H.R. Giger in his look and mannerisms. And I really enjoyed Nebula, she had a very cool look to her and delivered some great lines, but I wish I had seen a lot more of her. I felt like she wasn’t used as much as she could have been. Although I’m not that beat up about it, because considering who her father is, she’ll be back. But that was my only real problem with this whole film, not just Nebula being underused, but most of the villains and supporting cast. I’m a big fan of Djimon Hounsou and he’s hardly in this as Korath, and we’ve all heard about the big name actors like Glen Close, John C Riley, and Benicio Del Toro being in this movie, and indeed each of them are perfect in their respective roles, but they each have barely more than a cameo in the movie. And even though I really liked what they did with Ronan, they don’t give much backstory on him or the Kree, and as a comic book fan, sure I knew what was happening, but I do wonder what the general audience will think.
But then again, I was at the screening with a friend of mine who doesn’t read any comics, and they said that this was their favorite of the Marvel films, and as I was walking to the train after the show, another person from the screening saw us and shouted out “Hey! Wasn’t that the best one of these movies yet?”. Clearly, no matter what small problems I might have had, the overwhelming positives about this film more than make up for them. The cast is brilliant, the dialogue is some of the funniest of any movie I’ve seen this year, and it has hands down the most imaginative and vibrant settings I’ve seen in a sci-fi film in years. This isn’t just one of my favorite Marvel movies, this is going to be in my top five favorite comic book films of all time, and I can’t wait for it to come out in theaters so I can go back and see it again. I hope I see each of you there because this is a film you need to buy a ticket for.
The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer, and not Midtown Comics. Additionally, Midtown Comics makes no representations as to the accuracy of any of the information expressed herein.