by Coop Cooper
A strange chain of events lead up to the making of this film. A couple of years ago, if you had suggested that an adaptation of Marvel’s comic book “Guardians of the Galaxy” could be turned into blockbuster film that would break box office records, I would have called you crazy. However, the franchise did have a lot going for it, creating an unlikely yet instantly likable formula from which to base a “Star Wars”-like space opera. It was a huge gamble and somehow it worked.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted as a child by alien mercenaries and grows up to be the planet-hopping, swashbuckling scoundrel ‘Star-Lord’ who inadvertently steals a powerful weapon from the fanatical alien conqueror, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). While on the run, Quill is intercepted by Ronan’s second-in-command, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who has an agenda contrary to her master’s. Also hunting him are two bumbling bounty hunters: Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a genetically enhanced raccoon and his almost mute partner, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a plant being with magical powers. The four collide and get thrown into prison by the Nova Corps, the intergalactic police force, where they run afoul of the hulking warrior Drax the Destroyer (wrestler Dave Bautista) who has declared revenge on Ronan and Gamora for the death of his family. The five form a contentious truce in order to escape but soon discover they hold the key to saving the galaxy from destruction.
I know what you’re thinking… The ill-tempered, gun-toting raccoon is either the reason you really want to see this movie or avoid it at all costs. Rocket is one of the most bizarre characters in the Marvel universe, but this film is less of a kids movie than you think. It’s lighter in some respects to the other Marvel Comics films but it pushes a few limits as well. These heroes are morally ambiguous so the body count hits pretty high levels. You’ll also find a surprising amount of innuendo and borderline inappropriateness but it’s all done in good humor.
Chris Pratt easily proves himself as an A-list action/comedy star. He is about to become the most sought-after actor in Hollywood. Zoe Saldana has always irked me due to her acting style and self-induced typecasting as a sci-fi heroine, but at least she’s doing what she knows. Diesel as Groot isn’t technically in the movie and he only has one line to say (over and over) so I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank. Bradley Cooper nails Rocket’s voice, which is one of the most fun performances of the movie. Bautista’s acting is so bad that it actually works wonders for his character. He really oversells it, making himself an amusing parody of a Conan the Barbarian-type. It shouldn’t work but it does.
I was surprised at how many elements were thrown in to tie “Guardians” to the other Marvel films but I don’t think those elements were handled particularly well. Benicio Del Toro’s bizarre character The Collector, who appeared briefly at the end of “Thor 2” is completely underutilized here. So is Thanos (Josh Brolin) who is supposed to be the Arch-villain of this entire story, but gets only one short scene. I was also disappointed at how the Nova Corps was portrayed as comical bureaucrats instead of the powerful Green Lantern-like police force they are supposed to represent. The very cool character of Richard Rider (Nova) was omitted from this film entirely, plus Glenn Close and John C. Reilly got very little camera time as the leaders of the Corps. Finally, the end credit sequence revealed a baffling cameo by a Marvel comics character (a surprise) who starred in one of the biggest box office bombs from the 80’s. Bringing him back for a future “Guardians” movie would be the silliest decision Marvel has ever made.
Besides my personal gripes, “Guardians” is too much fun to ignore. It’s a surprising film but after its phenomenal numbers at the box office, it’s no surprise they will make another one and tie it in further with the other Marvel films. There is even rumors of an Avengers/Guardians crossover film in the future. Wouldn’t that be wild?
Rating: 4 out of 5