Setting the pace - You would have to be living under a rock to not see what Marvel has been doing the past six years. Within those 2,190 days, Marvel has unleashed its brand on Hollywood like we have never seen before with 10 films spanning two phases within their self-dubbed Marvel Cinematic Universe. What started as a good idea to merge all the characters together in one universe has turned into a great idea thanks to films like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” that remind us what going to the movies is all about.
What’s it about? The story starts sometime in the late eighties when a young Peter Quill gets abducted by what appears to be an alien spacecraft outside the hospital where he just witnessed the passing of his mother to cancer. Turns out space pirates took Peter that night, essentially adopting him as their own. Fast-forward to present day and we find an older Peter Quill or better known as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) taking an ancient artifact from an unknown planet in hopes of selling it on the black market. But, after stealing it, he is met by the Kree who were sent by Ronan (Lee Pace) to retrieve the same sphere-artifact. A fight ensues and Peter manages to escape back to Xandar where he is intercepted by Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who also was sent by Ronan. The two engage before eventually being arrested by the Nova corps authorities who also take in bounty hunters Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). While sitting in jail, Gamora revealed she was not intent of bringing the artifact back to Ronan, instead wanting to sell it to like the rest of them. It was then, these four outlaws formed an unlikely alliance that would carry them through a series of unlikely events leading to a powerful conclusion that might have you laughing and crying.
Who was in it? Usually a film like doesn’t require an A-list cast, but surprisingly we nearly had one with the likes of Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana leading the charge. And what was so cool is how easy it was to watch them interact with each other, despite how different their characters were. Especially when you figure for Diesel and Cooper, their voice was doing all the work. Maybe that’s because of the script though, which was better than expected given this was an entirely new universe we have not seen from Marvel yet. Or maybe it’s because director James Gunn knew exactly the kind of talent he needed to pull off this unprecedented film. Either way it worked as you couldn’t get enough of this cast led by Chris Pratt, who showed that his talent goes far beyond his limited resume. What a performance for a guy some probably have never seen in a leading role, but will quickly become a fan of after watching him in this film. Call it a hunch, but if he follows up what he did here again in 2017 with “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” I expect this role to be the one people remember him for. As for the rest of this cast, I couldn’t get enough of Rocket (played by Diesel) and Groot (played by Cooper), who each stole the show in more than one scene. As for Zoe Saldana, she held her own against some tough opposition, but proved her worth with the hope we will see even more from her in the next one. And the same could probably be said for Dave Bautista, who played Drax, a role that kind of grew on you the longer you watched.
Second to Gunn – I doubt many people knew what to expect with “Guardians of the Galaxy” given it pretty much came from nowhere, which is quite different than what we have grown accustomed to from this Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know I didn’t, which is why I give writer/director James Gunn a lot of credit. He took the script developed by Nicole Perlman and turned it on its head to create a film that had just the right amount of action and humor. The balance was ideal for the kind of film it was, one that truly takes you back to that feeling you had when you first saw “Star Wars,” only this was funnier. Nothing was overdone and if anything was a bit understated at times, thanks to a good mix of CGI and practical effects. That said, quite a bit was put into this standalone Marvel film, which according to Gunn during an interview with IGN “features an enormous amount of smaller and minor characters from the Marvel Universe, adding that he felt the film had the most characters overall than any Marvel Studios film to date.” That’s a big statement, but one I completely agree with considering I want to see it again for all the things I missed.
Bottom Line - Going into these movies with a clean slate has always proved to work quite well for me and this is yet another example of that. Not having looked into one aspect of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” I had no clue what to expect, but wound up getting entertained to the fullest making it an easy pick for anyone hoping for something fun at the movies.
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