Movie Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun ride with great characters.
I’ll start my review by stating that I’m not familiar with the source material for Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve never read the comics and about the only Marvel character I really feel knowledgeable about is Captain America. Needless to say, I had no idea what to expect going into the film.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved that the movie starts out in the 80s, although it also starts out with that really emotional moment that every Disney movie has (yes, even Frozen). You know that moment, when you end up bawling your eyes out and your five minutes into the movie. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but if you’ve seen the movie and other Disney films, you’ll get it.
So it starts out tugging on those emotional heartstrings, making you think should have brought tissues. But then it fast-forwards 20 years and that little boy we once cared about is now a cocky (yet handsome) rogue of a character, who is reminiscent of Star Wars Han Solo. You know the guy: only out to serve himself, but deep down he has a heart of gold. The character is a stereotype, but in Guardians of the Galaxy it works and sets himself up as an outcast.
The rogue, however, due to some circumstances, ends up with a band of outcasts, which basically sums up the movie’s premise. It’s about a group of outsiders finding their place with other people like them. So, obviously, if you’ve been a geek your whole life, like me, you’ll relate and even possibly compare it to making friends at cons where you meet other people like you. There’s just something touching about that kind of story.
Although the movie can touch upon those moments and give you the feelz, it also is hysterical, and interestingly enough, the talking raccoon isn’t even the funniest character. Everyone (except the baddies) gets a shot at saying or doing something funny, reminding us that this whole movie is supposed to be fun, even when it’s at it’s darkest.
Yes, I said, talking raccoon. You know, at some point, that this thing is over the top, and yet it never really feels that way. Perhaps it’s the whole 80s feel of the production, with spaceships that could have come right out of The Last Starfighter. The visual effects are obviously better than what we had 20 years ago, but everything about this movie still screams 80s sci-fi. And trust me, that’s an awesome thing.
Part of what sells Guardians of the Galaxy is the cast. Chris Pratt as the rogue-ish Peter Quill isn’t afraid to look goofy occasionally, but still can be a bad-ass, all while referencing Footloose. Zoe Saldana kicks some serious butt as Gamora and I really liked that her character doesn’t get relegated to romantic partner in this one (sorry, if that’s a spoiler, but it is refreshing). She and Quill do get closer, but if you’re wanting them to hook up here, it doesn’t happen. Because that isn’t what this movie is about.
WCW’s Dave Bautista is surprisingly great as Drax. He’s such a big muscular guy, terrifying at times, but he sells the character who speaks like something out of Shakespeare. I’m not usually a fan of wrestlers turned actors (save for maybe Edge, who rocks it on Haven), but Bautista’s got some chops.
Bradley Cooper’s voice is almost unrecognizable as Rocket Raccoon, making a character that should feel ridiculous utterly awesome. This is not your usual Disney talking animal after all. There’s depth to the character that makes you forget he’s a raccoon at all.
Finally, here is something I never thought I’d say, because I am not a fan of Vin Diesel at all and have actively avoided his poorly-acted movies since he started “acting” (in quotes because I think he’s that bad), but I freaking liked his character in this movie. You know the movie is good if it makes Vin Diesel look awesome. Of course, as Groot, he has all of one line that gets said with various emotions over and over, so obviously, it was simple enough that he couldn’t screw it up.
That leads me to the animation of Rocky and Groot. The effects on those two characters are so good, so believable, that you forget that they’re not being portrayed by human actors, save in voice. Their facial expressions show such soul that it’s almost scary.
Okay, so this is a big budget movie, and there are a lot of visual effects. Isn’t it awesome to live in a day and age where you don’t even realize you’re looking at visual effects, though? I have to say, though, I was impressed that many of the aliens were live actors in wonderful makeup, that was cool.
As a Doctor Who fan, I would be remiss in not mentioning Karen Gillan. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a lot to do in this film, except yell and give orders and grunt. Here, she’s playing the anti-Amy Pond, but again, I really can’t comment on her appearance because she really only does a few things: scowl, bark orders and fight. However, she looked bad-ass as Nebula.
There are a slew of other recognizable actors thrown throughout the film, most unrecognizable thanks to prosthetics and makeup. Guys like Benicio del Toro and Lee Pace barely seem themselves, while Michael Rooker turns up looking like the Smurf version of Merle. I also loved seeing Glenn Close in a sci-fi movie, and, I will admit, I kind of want to cosplay her character.
All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun movie, the kind of movie that we used to enjoy in the 80s, but updated for today. Considering how most of this summer’s movies have been so dull, this is a delightful and fun ride that’s actually worth seeing in the theater.