The superhero genre has become so dark and self-serious, not to mention over-saturated, that it’s rapidly becoming a parody of itself. Guardians of the Galaxy seems aware of this and succeeds as a largely character and script-driven experience. Hardly any of the story is original, right down to the MacGuffin that everyone in the universe is after, but it’s populated with likable characters with winning personalities. The space action, while impressive, you have all seen before. The offbeat, quirky nature of the entire movie is what puts it over-the-top and makes it feel progressive in comparison to the competition.
Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, a pilot/thief who was abducted into this crazy galaxy as a child. At the beginning of the film he steals an orb. You know it must be powerful because everyone in the galaxy covets it, particularly the evil Ronan (Lee Pace). Now the target of a manhunt ordered by Ronan, Peter assembles a ragtag team to protect the orb and all the innocent beings of the universe. There’s the no-nonsense Gamora (Saldana), the muscle, Drax (Bautista), the wiseass raccoon, Rocket (voiced by Cooper), and the steady, matter-of-fact Groot (voiced by Diesel).
Writer/director James Gunn piles on the action, stunts, effects, sight gags, and puns as if there’s no tomorrow. Guardians of the Galaxy has energy to burn, and Gunn has packed the film to the gills with visual feasts. His script, co-written by Nicole Perlman, is the real masterstroke. Rarely has a film pulled off such abrupt tone changes and just flat-out weirdness with the gusto of this one. The whole movie is wrapped in a layer of positivity and playfulness, and it works.
Pratt is a star in the making and a large reason as to why Guardians of the Galaxy works as well as it does. He brings his trademark clueless/lovable dude demeanor to every scene, but is confident when the story calls for it. It’s Bradley Cooper, as Rocket Raccoon, who steals the movie. Handed the best dialogue and most fascinating character, Cooper brings Rocket to life with some incredible voice work. The supporting characters are fantastic, led by Dave Bautista as the muscle-bound, yet sensitive, Drax.
Guardians of the Galaxy breathes new life into an otherwise stale story thanks to a great script and Gunn’s crafty direction. It’s a real crowd-pleaser that leaves the door wide open for future entries. Superhero fatigue set in some time ago, but re-uniting down the line with this cast of characters would not be a bad thing.
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Length: 121 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.
Theatrical Release: August 1, 2014
Directed by: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn & Nicole Perlman. Based upon the comic book by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning.
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel (voice), Bradley Cooper (voice)