Reviewed by TJ Jones
To give you a frame of reference for this review, let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I’m a child of the Silver Age of Comics generation. I have a great love of the art form and a great deal of knowledge of comic books. Not only of the Silver Age, but of the Golden and Bronze Ages as well. So, it means something for ME to say, “This is the BEST comic book based movie since ‘The Avengers.” Let me repeat that, partly because it’s true and partly because I love saying it. “This is the BEST comic book based movie since ‘The Avengers.”
But what about you out there who don’t know the Guardians of the Galaxy or Marvel Comics? What about the movie-goer who has never in there life picked-up a comic book of any sort? (I’ve heard rumors such people DO exist!) To those people, I can honestly say, if you have no comic book knowledge what-so-ever, “GO SEE THIS MOVIE!” It is a grand action/adventure space opera on a par with the best the Star Trek and/or Star Wars franchises has EVER offered!!!
No small number of people questioned doing a Guardians movie this soon in the Marvel movie line-up. In all honesty, as much as I love these guys, there are properties that are much better known and have much bigger built-in fan bases. But, it was a huge gamble that ended up paying off big-time! Top opening weekend box office has lead to work already started on a sequel.
Now, to the movie itself. We open on Earth in 1988. Eleven-year-old Peter Quill’s mother is on her death bed with Peter at her side. After she passes in anguish, Peter runs from the hospital to almost immediately be abducted by aliens. (And you thought you’ve had some rough days!) Jump to 26 years later and many light years away. (With any and all apologies to George Lucas for the familiar sound of that last sentence.) Peter is with a band of scavengers, thieves who plunder for hire. (The aliens who abducted him from Earth.) Peter steals an artifact called “the orb” and decides to sell it himself rather than take it back to the scavengers. His ticket to a new life of his own, or so he hopes. But, it’s not that simple. (Let’s face it, it never is!) The orb is also sought by Kree warrior, Ronan the Accuser. In this movie, the main muscle of Thanos; mad, death-loving, alien, would-be God. (AKA: big purple smiley guy at the end of “The Avengers”.)
Along the way, Quill, (AKA: Starlord), encounters, fights with, and ultimately becomes leader of a motley and very diverse crew. Rocket, a genetically engineered Earth raccoon; Groot, a large humanoid plant life form; Drax, a revenge driven alien muscle man who lost his family to one of Ronan’s many conquests; and, by no means lest, Gamora, living weapon/assassin and one of two “adopted daughters” of the aforementioned Thanos.
Now, for those of you who do know comics, think back to the togetherness problems of the earliest days of the Fantastic Four. Compared to the forging of this team, the FF had the proverbial cake walk. But, they do band together once the orb is revealed to be a just a container for one of the Infinity Stones! (Da-Da-Daaaaaaaa………) An all powerful gem that can obliterate all life just by it’s touch. This holds true for a being or an entire planet.
Chris Pratt seems to truly be enjoying himself as Starlord. As much, if not more than, we the audience are enjoying his romp as a man-child anti-hero. At the start of our story, this fellow is anything but hero material. Robbing for fun and profit and enjoying the comforts of any and all attractive alien females he encounters along the way. A galactic Don Juan, a true charmer if ever there was one.
But, Zoe Saldana as Gamora is every bit his match. She will not fall easily for his charms and this is a new experience for Peter. Ms Saldana continues to do nothing but impress as she continues to rack up sci-fi/fantasy roles. “Avatar”, ”Star Trek” and now “Guardians of the Galaxy”. At this rate, she may end up becoming the poster girl/heartthrob of all young sci-fi fan boys.
Of special interest to Whovians, Karen Gillan plays Thanos’ other “daughter”, Nebula. Every bit the living weapon that her sister is, and perfectly willing to kill her to advance in rack to favorite in the eyes of “Daddy”. Karen holds her own here. Both with Gamora’s fighting skills and with Zoe Saldana’s acting ability. Nebula is about as far removed from Amy Pond as you can get. Tough, cold-hearted and utterly ruthless. If anyone out there had any shed of doubt about Karen’s acting ability, this role offers proof positive and serves as the final nail in the coffin. Here’s hoping the powers-that-be have the good sense to bring her back in the next installment.
As for the rest of the cast, Dave Bautista is a hate-driven engine of destruction. This rightly has earned him the moniker “Drax the Destroyer”. Bradley Cooper provides the voice for Rocket, a deeply troubled and bitter creature. He’s been taken apart and put back together so many times, he’s near mad with anguish. And lastly, Vin Diesel gives voice to Groot. He doesn’t say much, but he always gets the message across.
Once again, I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. There is not one moment that doesn’t ring true. From fight scenes to personality clashes to love scenes. “Guardians of the Galaxy” has it all and does it all in top notch style. Five stars out of Five.