'Guardians of the Galaxy' is basically a perverted 'Star Wars' with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, a ninjitsu Princess Leia; Bradley Cooper as Rocket, a psychotic Han Solo; Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, a douchey Luke Skywalker; Vin Diesel as Groot, a mentally deprecated Chewbacca; Dave Bautista as Drax, a humor challenged warrior; and Michael Rooker as Yondu, a twisted Obi Wan Kenobi.
After years of serious Marvel films with a side of humor, I most looked forward to 'Guardians of the Galaxy' to subvert that formula. Although I never read the comic as a kid or its recent rehash, Marvel did a good job introducing side characters to the mainstream and ironically mocking its pre-existing formulas. The film surrounds Terran Peter Quill, an outlaw Indiana Jones in space, who ravages the wrong artifact. After connecting in prison with other rag tag individuals hired to stop him or gain the orb, they become the aforementioned guardians reluctantly battling to save the universe from the evil baddies who desire it.
While I would've cast each of these actors in the film, I wouldn't have picked them for the roles they played. Chunky Chris Pratt as the hot lead? WWF RAW Dave Bautista as the comically talented straight man? Quirky Karen Gillan as the evil female lead? Meathead Vin Diesel as the lovable Groot? Pretty boy Bradley Cooper as the mother-effing irreverent Raccoon? Heck, would I have placed Glenn Close, John C. Reilly or even 'White Collar's Sharif Atkins ANYWHERE in this film? Of course not! But, they all killed it and fit perfectly. It goes without saying Zoe Saldana rules the action genre. She did exactly what you expected her to do with killer action scenes, so no surprises there. But, day-umn Chris Pratt's biceps slapped me silly as he stepped into the leading man role.
Scotswoman Karen Gillan equally held her own in the blockbuster genre, especially against Zoe Saldana in their shared scenes. Dave Bautista really came from out of far-left field with his surprising comedic timing. Drax had unconscious jokes within jokes. After all, nothing goes over Drax's head. His reflexes are too fast *ba-dump-bump*. Only a comedic master could rock those lines which Bautista did flawlessly. PLUS, he had ridiculous chemistry with Saldana. I almost convinced myself he was Bradley Cooper until the final credits rolled. Speaking of BC, he was AMAZING as Rocket, who's a walking id with no filters. Vin Diesel admirably maintained multiple tonal, inflection variations despite repeating the same phrase as the lovable, moral Groot. Plus, this time around Benecio Del Toro fully settled into his 'Collector' role, less as a genial oddball collector, more as a creepy, bottom feeding dude who enslaves his servants.
New writers to the blockbuster genre, Nicole Perlman and James Gunn did a great job on the script. They provided a nice balance from the sad to the hilarious without forcing it. Plus, the 80s soundtrack served as its own character. The 80s opening truly set the film apart while grounding it realistically with a couple nice off angle shots reflecting present day. But, after that, James Gunn gave us the usual in action directing. However, the true star remains the cine-magical graphic design team with multiple beautiful throwaway special effects including rippling dark water CGI and sublime celestial renderings while seamlessly merging the real with the graphical. While today's kids clearly don't know how hard graphic design teams work (or how large they are), they deserve a standing hand clap from me.
Although this film kicked ass 80%, there were still off moments. Whenever the script lost its ironic overtone and shifted into standard super hero speechifying or saccharine traumatic background revelations, the film lost its authenticity and momentum. Pratt didn't give enough lost desperation when a guard stole his mother's gift.
Plus, there were a couple rough editing cuts where the entire guardian group chases a baddie down a hall, kicks the baddie's ass and then run away from the baddie together. Then, two seconds later, suddenly the good guys are separated while the baddie they took down stands in front of them. Plus, they didn't fully flesh out bad girls, Nebula and Gamora, or their conflicted relationships to each other as well as major baddies Thanos and Ranon.
Don't get me started on Nebula's two-dimensionality. There's an odd pattern where Marvel recently backtracked on its female characters. Black Widow, who appeared awesome in 'Iron Man 2' and 'Avengers,' became the pouty pretty girl requiring comforting in 'Captain America 2.' Similarly, Saldana's Gamora comes out swinging in Guardian’s first half, but devolves in the second to the girl needing help. Yes, Saldana and Pratt have great chemistry (not as hot as Saldana and Bautista), but hot enough to convince us in their believability as a couple. However, why show us a character that can kick ass then make her the damsel while maintaining the usefulness of the other male characters? Why does the ship's cockpit have enough chairs for all the male cast members but not the female one? Finally, how did a character that only had one outfit in prison suddenly have multiple outfits on a male Ravager's ship?
If you're a parent, PG-13 in 2014 is not PG-13 in 1988. Remember when damn was the hardest word you heard? Well, Pratt's character flashes the middle fingers a couple times. Also, the camera doesn't flinch from showing MULTIPLE on-screen deaths and doesn't pretend they're otherwise. So, if your kids are 12, I would tell them to wait until they're 14 to see this.
If you've watched 'Firefly,' 'Star Wars' or any recent Marvel film, you're going to love this. And, if you're a 'Star Wars' or 'Firefly' fan, you will definitely notice connections between this film and those earlier sci-fi bits. The Ravagers serve as the Rebellion\Browncoats, the Nova star-wings resemble x-wings, and the dark ship mirrors the death star (including the Ravagers' plan to take it down).
Definitely go out and see 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' Call Chris Pratt at 555-UHOT to congratulate him on his new smoking hot physique. And, consider how amazing it is when the CGI characters actually over shadow the human ones. After all, you know it's an awesome movie when the Raccoon's the best part.