Guardians of the Galaxy is a film that I have been looking forward to ever since the first trailer landed. I’m not overly familiar with the comic book origins of this one, but it looked like some sci-fi action with a good dose of humor to go along with it and a catchy classic rock soundtrack to boot. In short, it looked freakin’ awesome. And guess what? It’s fuckin’ awesome! Guardians has managed to be the second Marvel movie of the year to break into my top three list for the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its combination of solid world-building efforts and a hilarious script.
Peter Quill is a human who was abducted from Earth as a child. As an adult, he is a rogue and a thief who fancies himself as Star-Lord, though nobody else seems to latch on to his self-imposed codename. He steals a spherical artifact while on a job, and this attracts the attention of Ronan, a powerful alien with notions of galactic domination. Through a series of fateful meetings, Star-Lord ends up associating with four other misfits, including Gamora, a traitor from the bad guys, Drax, a revenge-minded thug, Groot, an adorably innocent tree-monster, and Rocket, a megalomaniac raccoon. Together, they must band together to stop Ronan, and blah-blah-blah, you get the picture. The plot isn’t really what ties this movie together. It’s the characters and the hilarious ways they interact with one another.
Star-Lord is a child of the 80’s and is constantly throwing references around that (obviously) nobody in this setting would understand. Drax is no-nonsense to the point where metaphors slip right by him, and takes everything said to him with the utmost literal sincerity. Groot’s vocabulary is limited to the words “I am Groot,” yet still acts as a loveably dumb sidekick that can convey a surprising range of emotions with just those three words. Rocket is a self-aggrandizing prick, but has the genius to back up his cocky wisecracks. And last, Gamora is the straight-woman, providing the on-screen reactions to the ridiculous antics on display. The interactions between these characters are the heart of the film, and it’s good to see that director James Gunn understands that. If the film had had a more complex plot, its characters would have been lost in the shuffle.
My only real issue with the film is that the first act has a problem with just dumping exposition on the audience with little contextual information. There’s one speech in particular that rattles off names and places so fast and with so little perspective that it quickly became gibberish in my ears. There’s a lot of plot points that seem shoved into this film only to provide set-up for future Marvel films. However, once the main characters are established and the main villain's evilness is shown off, the minutiae of the galactic politics becomes background noise, and the simplicity of the main storyline becomes the film’s saving grace.
And that’s pretty much all I have to say on the matter. To say any more would be to give away the jokes or to detract from the surprises delivered by the awesome set-pieces. This is one of my favorite summer blockbusters this year, and Marvel has once again proved why they are the masters of their craft.
Have a favorite Guardian? Tell who in the comments below!