Thursday, August 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Continuing on with the Marvel Comics movie universe, and really going out ungrounded with a story that doesn’t take place on Earth (well…most of it anyway), it was announced—a couple of years ago—that one of the chapters in the cinematic cosmos they’ve established would be a film calledGuardians of the Galaxy

When discussed, it was said that the story would move towards the otherworldly part of the Marvel properties, introducing more of the heroes and baddies of the cosmos.  Even though I’m quite familiar with most of the titles of the Marvel comic books, this was one I hadn’t heard of before.  So, being the inquisitive beast that I am, I wiki’d and searched for all the info I could on the subject matter and found some interesting tidbits on the comic book title and characters within.  Of course, I had thought it was strange and sort of a weird choice to bring into the ongoing chronicles of heroics, but I was willing to give it a shot.

As I had read some of the background of the group of intergalactic heroes, as well as the characters themselves, one thing caught my eye and that was the character of Rocket—a walking and talking Raccoon.
Now, as I read more and more of the upcoming film, the subject of Rocket came up quite a bit and it was confirmed that the character was definitely going to be featured in the film.  I had thought to myself that there was no way that they can include a talking raccoon believably without making the film look cartoonish and laughable.  But, finally, there was a blurb that I had read, an interview with Joss Whedon shortly after the announcement that James Gunn would be directing Guardians of the Galaxy that made me trust the film to be good.  It was asked of him on what he thought about the inclusion of Rocket and if he thought it would work.  He responded (of course, I’m paraphrasing here) that he had trouble with it at first, but when it was announced that James Gunn would be the director, he knew that it would work, that Gunn would make it work.

So, time went by, a few other Marvel movies came and went, then finally a teaser trailer popped up Guardians of the Galaxy.  It was quirky and funny, showing us Chris Pratt as the lead character of
for Peter Quill, otherwise known as Star Lord (by him anyway), ending with him, and the rest of the gang, in a prison line up, complete with Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” playing as the trailer concludes.  After seeing that, and the subsequent trailers, I was raring to see this film.

The day arrived—August 1st of 2014—and I went to the local movie house, paid for my ticket, sat down comfortably four rows back from the screen and right in the middle, waiting for the film to start.

After a pretty somber opening, the story begins with Peter Quill—self-proclaimed as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)—finding a mysterious orb to take back with him to the planet of Xandar so that he can sell it to a collector.  But the villain, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), wants the orb and leads a manhunt to go after Quill.  However, Quill ends up in prison and ends up banding with four others—Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)—so that they can escape and take the orb to another buyer.  The ensemble of misfits take the orb to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and discover the orb is too dangerous for anyone to have and decide the best thing is to get it to the Nova Headquarters to be protected and safe.  But with Ronan the Accuser still after them, they discover they’re going to have to work together and fight to bring the orb to safety.


I don’t know any other way to describe a film of this level without using that word…wow.   My synopsis doesn’t do the movie justice, for there’s way too much going on throughout the film that helps the story along.  It’s not overbearing or convoluted in anyway, but to try and write down certain aspects that lead to everything else would take forever and give too much away.  Just trust me that Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the most entertaining and fun entry in the whole Cinematic Marvel Universe.

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill is sort of like an apologetic version of Han Solo, but just as tough as he’s able to get out of tough situations and goes up against the best of them.  Pratt has great comedic timing when needed and has the heroic looks to get the girl (even if she’s green in color) and save the day.  The first time we see him as he lands on some abandoned planet and goes into a lip-syncing dance, grabbing and kicking around those alien rats, was hilarious.  Pratt’s interactions with his adversaries and fellow defenders throughout the film put a smile on my face each and every time.

Saldana did well playing Gamora, but with all the other standouts in the film, her performance was a little overshadowed.  However, she had great chemistry with Pratt, even though you still felt that Captain Kirk and green alien chick vibe when they were together.  She kicked ass when needed and, oddly enough, looks pretty hot as some green humanoid  alien girl.

Dave Bautista as Drax was a bit amazing for me.  For one, I was surprised that the filmmakers gave a
wrestler an important part in a film such as this, and two, he did an awesome job portraying the character.  Usually, when some sports star takes a role in a movie, you definitely see how inexperienced they are and it takes you out of the movie.  Here, you really believed he was some powerful anthropological alien with a heart of gold.

The amazing CGI rendering of Groot was superb, looking remarkable at times when the character had to grow its limbs to reach things or sprout extra appendages for certain scenes.  Having Vin Diesel voice the character—even though the only words uttered by the tree creature is “I am Groot”—was probably the best casting choice in this film.  I really can’t picture any other actor out there that would fit the character like he does.  I read that he recorded that sentence in many different languages so that the film would use his voice no matter what country the film plays in.

Finally, Rocket the Raccoon, as well as Bradley Cooper voicing him, was the highlight of the film.  That little temperamental raccoon absolutely stole the show and you found yourself wanting even more of him as the movie went on.  I had my reservations when they had announced Cooper was going to voice the little character, thinking that someone else should’ve gotten the gig (I personally liked the idea of Jim Carrey putting his spin on Rocket when it was rumored they were going to offer him the job), but my misgivings were abated when I first heard the furry mercenary giving his hilarious opinions to Groot on all the people walking around them in their first scene.

Everyone else rounded out the cast nicely, all fitting together in this big quirky comic book outing.  It’s definitely what you see when you watch this, with all the colorful and crazy characters featured, it’s a wonder this film had received the green light to be made.  Even I, after viewing this big fun movie, would probably scoff at it if it were brought to me on paper.  But Marvel Studios definitely knew what they were doing and undoubtedly trusted the directing genius of James Gunn.  It goes to show, when you go into a theater packed with kids and they keep their mouths shut for the whole duration of the movie that Marvel Studios, once again, delivered a top notch comic book film. 

Overall, the film is a standalone, so prior knowledge of the Marvel movies, insofar, is not needed to watch this.  Is it tied to the other movies?  Yes, but it doesn’t confuse you or have any mention of what happened in the Iron man,Thor, or Captain America movies.  Up-to-date viewers will see the ties—especially seeing the main baddie, Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), that we glimpsed in the post-credits scene after The Avengers ended—so it’s fun for us regulars who’ve been watching all the movie chapters as they’ve been released.  But as a whole, it’s fun for the whole family (there is some bad language—but no F-bombs) and kids will be captivated all the way through…I know I was.  The film is available in standard viewing and 3D, but I think the 3D would just get in the way—I saw it in a standard setting, loved it, and didn’t have a raging headache when I left the theater.

So, my final “bit” on Guardians of the Galaxy?

From start to finish, you can’t take your eyes off the screen.  I felt myself go through an array of emotions as the film went on, sentiments I never would’ve thought I’d experience with a quirky film like this one.  With the sad beginning to Peter Quill’s beginning, to the camaraderie you feel as you witness the team getting together and getting along, all the funny quips and one-liners, to even a scene where you see Rocket the Raccoon showing his true emotions for his friend…this film, surprisingly, has it all.  I’m eager to see what’s coming next and what they have in store for the future.  This Marvel train is going full throttle and I don’t think we’ll see it stopping—let alone slowing down—any time soon.  Do not miss this movie!

As a side “bit,” Marvel keeps the tradition going, with an after-credits scene that brings back an oddity in the Marvel Comics world of characters.  It’s pretty funny and worth the wait throughout the glut of credits, so stay in your seat for a funny little cameo.

Thanks for reading and see you at the movies.

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