Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy ★★★★

Like most people I was hardly expecting much after watching the seemingly ridiculous trailer to Guardians of the Galaxy, but you actually couldn't ask for a better trailer to sell the film on what it is and at the same time blow everyone's expectations away. My problems with the series runs all the way back to the comic book nerd years. While I was never that big on the Avengers series, it's still hard to not appreciate a large chunk of their story arcs. The only Avenger I paid attention to over the years was Captain America, so my favorite arcs were when the ensemble took on more grounded enemies like HYDRA and stayed away from the science fiction-oriented stuff. Eventually it would expand out into the galaxy, and that is where the titular Guardians have in the past come into the mix (the antagonist Thanos and the Kree race for example), and I just could not get into these guys. Maybe it was never as silly as I presumed it to be, but I was one of those people who were turned off altogether merely by the presence of Rocket Raccoon. Superficially, he’s far from the kind of character a fan of such series as X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman would even come close to appreciating, and ironically he ends up stealing the show as being GotG's equivalent to Han Solo.

Over the years I never reconsidered giving them the chance they deserved, so by the time word got out that this film was being made, I couldn't help but roll my eyes with a follow up palm to the face. However, like most I was not only won over by the film in its entirety, but by the titular Guardians above all else, and it was a newfound feeling of respect and appreciation for how a comic book superhero team SHOULD be adapted. The highlight to me in this, a film that is loaded with fast-paced action scenes and epic set pieces, are the characters. Their depth and interactions with each other are what hold this film together the way such an experience should and deserve to be structured. Without that, this could easily have been just another lackluster mainstream attempt at a crowd-pleaser, but instead we got something that truly defines what a mainstream crowd-pleaser SHOULD be.

Guardians of the Galaxy is pure entertainment on an epic scale. It benefits from being the kind of movie that hardly takes itself seriously, and that’s best exemplified through the characters and dialogue, from Drax’s inability to understand colloquialisms and metaphors, Yondu having a southern dialect that makes him sound less alien and more like a Deadwood character, John C. Reilly being John C. Reilly in space, and of course Rocket the anarchy-addicted scene-stealing anthropomorphic raccoon and his Han Solo/Chewbacca-like relationship with the lovable yet tough Groot. Even Chris Pratt whom I presumed would be on the douchey side turned out to be an ideal lead and another pleasant surprise akin to Star Trek's Chris Pine.

I'm not sure as of now whether I'd go as far as calling it a masterpiece, but those in search of a genuinely fun action-packed space western with lovable characters, a strong sci-fi atmosphere, and an awesome old school 60’s-70’s hits mixtape soundtrack (that somehow works better than expected) should take the time out to give it a watch, and if you already have, go ahead and watch it again. Guardians of the Galaxy packs enough juice to flesh out an all-around solid experience from beginning to end, and it may very well be the best Marvel Comics adaptation to date.

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