Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy ★★★★½

Part of jvince's Top 200 Films of All Time

Part of jvince's Top Ten Films of 2014

Marvel Cinematic Universe Rankings

What's It About?: "A bunch of a-holes" band together to stop intergalactic evil from getting their hands on a powerful gem.

Who's In It?: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Glenn Close, Josh Brolin, Alexis Denisof, Gregg Henry, Ophelia Lovibond, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

The Good: First things first, this movie is absolutely fucking beautiful. The world-building is grand and spectacular—a stunningly vibrant galaxy bursting with the weird and the wonderful. Whether it's beholding the sight of thousands of Nova Corps spacecrafts forming a gigantic, net-like barricade in the sky or Groot releasing a number of bright fireflies while extending his branches to form a spherical shield, each scene is just so breathtaking, you'll be left slack-jawed in awe. But that's not to say the characters take a backseat to the visuals. You may not give a shit about these characters now, but, I'm telling you, you'll end up giving a shit about them in the end. Gunn takes a page out of Pixar's playbook, kicking things off with a young Peter Quill in a moving opening with shades of Up's famous 'Married Life' sequence. And, you know, that's the amazing thing about this film. I mean, I—and I assume most moviegoers—had never heard of the Guardians until Marvel announced the movie. So, yeah, I didn't know who Peter Quill was. I didn't grow up a Star-Lord fan. But in just those first few minutes, I immediately empathized. I had no previous attachment to this Peter Quill character, but just like that, I wanted him to succeed. I wanted the damn raccoon to succeed. I wanted the tree to succeed. If you could make people care and rave about a freaking raccoon and a freaking tree, you know you made a damn good movie. And James Gunn did just that. He made a damn good movie. He took the Marvel formula and added his own twist to it. What took The Avengers five films worth of character-building (not to mention, having an upper-hand with a much more established fan base), he managed to pull off within two hours. Gunn took an obscure property and won over a ton of new fans. (Trust me, you'll see toys and memes everywhere pretty soon.) Everyone knows it was huge gamble, but he made it work, and it worked well. With credits like Slither, Super, Movie 43, and some show called PG Porn, Gunn seemed like the unlikeliest of people to entrust such a daunting task, but I guess it was fitting that Marvel let a misfit run wild with their own universe's band of misfits. The casting also helped, because Pratt, Saldana, Cooper, Diesel, and Bautista—they're perfect. Rocket and Groot steal the show, but each character gets a chance to shine (even Michael Rooker's Yondu.) The 70s soundtrack is brilliant. 'Awesome Mix' is, indeed, an awesome mix. You got songs like 'Cherry Bomb' by The Runaways, 'O-O-H Child' by The Five Stairsteps, 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' by Marvin Gaye, 'I'm Not in Love' by 10cc, 'Spirit in the Sky' by Norman Greenbaum, 'Come and Get Your Love' by Redbone, and 'I Want You Back' by Jackson 5. You can't go wrong with the classics. Oh, and two words: BABY GROOT. Oh. My. God.

The Bad: Nebula (Karen Gillan) is, disappointingly, a very one-dimensional villain. The same can be said about Ronan, however Lee Pace's delivery and commanding presence makes up for any lack in characterization. He's certainly no Loki (then again, I doubt anyone could top Tom Hiddleston's charismatic baddie), but I'd say he's a notch above a somewhat similar Marvel antagonist, Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston in Thor 2). And as for the post-credits scene, I have to say I'm not too fond of it. I mean, I get it's a cool joke and all, but I think a more suitable stinger for the very first Guardians movie would be to establish a recognizable connection to The Avengers, like say maybe a Tony Stark cameo or even Nick Fury. Another scene with Thanos would suffice just as well. If the reaction of my audience is any indication, majority probably wouldn't even have a clue who Howard the Duck is.

How's the 3D?: Very good. Well worth paying the extra charge. Just make sure to see it at a theater with good projection.

What Did I Learn?: Chris Pratt proves he's leading-man material. Any doubts about that are quickly dispelled. Blue, green, no matter what color, Zoe Saldana will always be smoldering hot. If I plant a stick in a pot of soil, maybe, just maybe, I'll have a tiny, über-adorable, dancing tree of my own. I just watched a superhero movie starring a talking raccoon and a talking tree—and I loved every moment of it. At this point, Marvel could go ahead and make one about a talking horse or turn Thor into a woman for all I care. Take all of my money, Marvel. Take it all.

The Bottom Line: A thief, an assassin, a madman, a raccoon, and a tree. Yup, these guys are not your typical superheroes. As Quill puts it, they're "something good, something bad—a bit of both." These guys are no Avengers. They're nothing like their beloved, A-list, Earth-bound counterparts. These guys are losers, misfits, psychos, but they're lovable psychos. They're the underdogs, and you can't help but root for them. Guardians of the Galaxy is like Galaxy Quest meets Serenity with a dash of Pixar and a side of weird. Yup, it's no Avengers, alright. It's bigger and better than The Avengers. In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy is the best MCU movie to date. Highly recommended.

The Scorecard:
Direction: ★★★★½
Acting: ★★★★½
Story: ★★★★½
Editing: ★★★★½
Visuals: ★★★★★
Sound: ★★★★½
Entertainment: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★½

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