Guardians of the Galaxy
Score: 9 out of 10
Marvel Studios is heading to strange new worlds with Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that puts the word ‘universe’ in Cinematic Universe. This is the first truly sci-fi entry in their string of superhero movies, and although the Marvel comics have been exploring their cosmic side for more than half a century, this is much riskier territory for a film. Mainstream audiences that have no problem with a man in an iron suit might have a harder time accepting a talking tree or gun-toting raccoon, but thankfully Guardians is more than up to the challenge.
The film begins on Earth with a quick scene that sets up the film’s human hero, Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord. He’s abducted by aliens at a young age, and is raised to become a daring, star-hopping treasure hunter and outlaw. When he discovers a powerful glowing energy orb that should be familiar to Marvel fans, he’s forced to join up with four other outlaws in order to save the entire galaxy from destruction. His comrades are the same group of anti-heroes from the more recent Guardians comics: the green-skinned assassin Gamora, the muscular warrior Drax, the genetically-engineered raccoon Rocket, and the simple-minded tree-man Groot.
Marvel and writer/director James Gunn were clearly paying close attention to the original Star Wars trilogy, because all the characters, no matter how ridiculous they may seem, are presented in a realistic and relatable way. They seem like real people, even the talking tree, because they’re handled with the same kind of love and respect as the characters in any of the more down-to-earth movies. Anyone familiar with James Gunn’s past films will recognize his signature brand of humor. This is easily the most funny Marvel movie, with its zany premise giving them the freedom to have a little more fun than more serious movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The dialogue is also more snappy and witty than even Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Another thing about Guardians that deserves praise is that it has a rich and vibrant colour palette. While other studios seem willing to explore nothing but boring shades of brown, Marvel is reminding everyone that films can have a splash of colour. Go figure.
There’s only one small problem with Guardians, and it’s that the beginning of the film feels a little rushed. They had a lot of stuff to set up in a relatively short amount of time, but it felt like they could have spent another 10-15 minutes just easing us into the world and introducing everything at a more leisurely pace. The only other problem is that Vin Diesel’s performance as Groot feels a little wooden.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t the best movie of the summer, but it’s easily the most fun. If this is what Marvel and Disney are capable of, then future Star Wars movies are in good hands. That the studio was willing to make such a weird film in the first place deserves a lot of respect, and the fact that they actually made it work is doubly impressive. As always, make sure you stay through the end credits, because there’s a short stinger that features another, more infamous, Marvel character.
-Review written by Blake Siefken, follow me on Twitter!