The marketing campaign for Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) had huge hurdles to overcome. The general public had to be sold on a virtually unknown brand featuring an odd assortment of characters that even true comic book readers might have difficulty recognizing. The trailers could not really present what this film is by distilling it into a clip of two minutes or less. So the previews leaned more on the funny bits, and there are several funny parts, but without the context required to really deliver the solid laughs that the actual movie watching experience provides. The result is an ambivalence toward the film as you walk into the theater that is only buoyed by past positive viewing experiences of Marvel Studios properties.
There should never have been any doubts – Guardians of the Galaxy delivers the goods!
This film is a cool hybrid of tones that does what it is supposed to do very well. You don’t need any prior knowledge of the comic book franchise this is based on or any preceding Marvel Studios film. There are no real major long ass expository scenes except for one, which references/clarifies/informs what has been seen in Captain America, Thor and The Avengers but having seen those films is not necessary in order to understand what is going on in this one. This movie respects the audience, expecting viewers to pay attention and keep up.
In a role that shall be looked back upon as the one that propelled him into becoming the next movie star, Chris Pratt, of Parks and Rec and several small character roles, plays Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord. Channeling the best traits of all prior cinematic lovable rogues, Pratt infuses Star-Lord with an instant likability as he uses his head, fists, and smart mouth to get him out of as much trouble as they also get him into. Pratt is joined by Zoe Saldana as Gamora, who is finally allowed to do more in space than her turn as Star Trek‘s, Uhura, has managed thus far; Dave Bautista as Drax, and Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as Rocket Raccoon and Groot respectively.
The chemistry of this crew is established quickly, creating an emotional core that The Avengers sorely lacks. In fact, GotG is more emotional than almost every other Marvel film except Captain America: The First Avenger. Each member of this ragtag team is dealing with internal emotional issues that motivate their actions, with the totally computer generated Rocket supplying moments that will tug on the heartstrings. This is one of several nice achievements that works in the film’s favor. Even Vin Diesel proves that he can emote if he’s given no actual screen time and only three words to repeatedly recite.
The action is solid, peppered with entertaining though not mind-blowingly spectacular fight sequences. The film is more of an action-adventure than straight ahead action vehicle. The comedic moments are what will stand out more with tons of humorous dialog popping up in every nook and cranny of the movie. The line readings of Bautista’s, Drax, will particularly be recalled in a good way along with Pratt and Cooper’s smart ass banter.
The only real complaint some may have is with the villains. As with the Red Skull in Captain America and Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, you are only given enough of an understanding of the villainous characters motivations to make sense of what is driving their agendas. This movie is about the Guardians of the Galaxy, not Ronan the Accuser. That said, fans familiar with the other Marvel Studios films receive a nice in-movie treat.
Guardians of the Galaxy epitomizes what a fun, summer action blockbuster movie should be. Great characters, witty dialogue; a story that moves swiftly with entertaining set piece; cool, unobtrusive special effects – GotG scores high on all counts as Marvel Studios wins once again!