Marvel has released their last cinematic offering for the year and true to form, they’ve finished strong yet again with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The film brings forth a rag tag group of criminals who overcome their personal flaws to find that even those who are downtrodden can rise to any occasion. From thieves, thugs, murderers, and psychos, Marvel crafts an expanded cinematic universe that is ripe for the picking to any fan, but also accessible and full of heart for the average movie goer. Had the Guardians themselves not been molded out of culpable characters, the lack of true villain motivation would hold the film back from being successful and entertaining, however the numerous miscreants who populate the film at any given time ensure we don’t dwell on that downfall for too long. I can’t claim this to be the best Marvel film, but it sure does rank in the top 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy hits the ground running, giving us only the backstory of how Peter Quill got into space. It immediately jumps into what many people have called the macguffin of the film, or the item that will eventually bring all the character’s paths together. This quick pace works to the advantage of the movie, rather than giving us the backstories for all five Guardians. This still allows us to experience arcs for each character, while also maintaining some mystery as to the dispositions everyone brings to the table. Our heroes are the reason the movie succeeds, especially with how each one brings a defining characteristic to the team. Rocket will of course be the standout character, seeing as a raccoon isn’t normally a favored animal. His wit, humor, and cynicism all play together nicely to craft a new staple of Marvel’s universe. Star-Lord will also be remembered for all of the humor Chris Pratt brings to the role, capitalizing on the fast paced jokes that are sprinkled throughout the script.
This can’t be said for everyone who appears in the film, as the reason this film doesn’t receive a perfect score is due to villain issues. These tend to plague some of the more recent Marvel films, such as Thor: The Dark World, which gave us bland, generic antagonists without a clear reason for their actions. As a comic book reader, I brought my cosmic Marvel knowledge into the film and found myself disappointed with Ronan and the lack of the Kree culture. We see only 2 Kree acknowledged as such throughout the film, which diminishes the relationship between them and the Xandarians/Nova Corps. Ronan appears fairly quickly and without reason in the film and makes some pretty rash, unexplained decisions as the movie went on, leading to an ending that didn’t have the impact it could have. The same goes for Korath, the man who hasn’t heard of Star-Lord early on in the film and trailers, appearing only to provide a small roadblock later in the movie.
The story is one that stays true through the end, although sometimes it feels we started in the middle of a large one. The mysterious orb that Star-Lord steals at the beginning stays with our characters throughout the film till the end, providing a solid foundation for all characters to come in and out of play. This same story takes us through space to different worlds where the Guardians often find more trouble than happiness, but the varied environments keep everything fresh and exciting. The 2 hour movie will be over before you realize it, leaving you wish that the already announced sequel was less than 3 years away.
I can’t leave out one of the standout parts of the film, which is its use of fantastical use of songs from the soundtrack, aptly titled Awesome Mix Vol 1. From the moment the film starts, it becomes apparent that the songs chosen for this movie were no accident. The playlist of 70s songs gives us ample variety and James Gunn uses it to the greatest effect possible. This is one of the best uses of diegetic music to date, and within the first 5 minutes of Star-Lord’s presence, you’ll understand why. As the movie continues and even through the credits, the soundtrack lingers, making us long for Awesome Mix Vol 2 more than we ever realized.
At the end of the day, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was a risk for Marvel, seeing as its not a traditional origin movie, nor superhero film. Our characters exist in the universe when it opens, having gone through their own personal journeys before starting another one within the movie. Our “heroes” aren’t really heroes in the normal sense either, they have rap sheets miles long and still aren’t perfect at the end of the day, but they accept their flaws and work for the overall good in the galaxy. The overall film is very much the same way, something that shouldn’t work but has enough charm, personality, and energy to make anyone root for it in the end. We’re firm believers that the Guardians brings another great effort from Marvel and definitely deserves the praise it has been getting.
Guardians of the Galaxy – 4.5/5 Star-Lords – Don’t Miss It!
Note: Seen on 7/31 in Digital “IMAX” 3D – not a true IMAX size