Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy

Look, you can see the top of Rocket's head!

Unlike most of the movie going audience, I actually knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were before it was announced they would be appearing in a major motion picture.  That being said, I was pretty ambivalent when it was first announced.  Even though I am a Marvel fanboy, the Marvel cosmic characters were never my thing.  I figured I would catch it on Netflix at some point.  Then the quirky marketing campaign started and I decided to take a chance and see it in the theaters.  I am glad I did.

Guardians of the Galaxy is less of a superhero movie and more of the kind of old-fashioned sci-fi romp that they don’t make anymore.  There is more Star Wars in its DNA than Iron Man.  Peter Quill, or Star-Lord as would prefer to be called, is part Han Solo and part Captain Kirk—at least when it comes to Kirk’s penchant for banging alien-chicks of various skin colors.

Despite being the only human in the cast, Peter Quill is not a point of view character.  By the time you see him as an adult, he has been in space since he was eight years old and is fully acclimated to the strange universe he inhabits.  That is one thing I appreciate about this movie, it is confident enough to do its world-building on screen and drop you straight into the middle of the action.  They filmmakers felt no need to put earth in peril to artificially make the audience care about what was happening.  Instead, the spent the time making you care about the characters and the universe they inhabit.

A lot of the credit for the success of this movie goes to Chris Pratt.  I have been a fan of the actor since I first became aware of him on Parks and Recreation, and his charisma and humor come through full force on the screen.  Much like I have trouble seeing anyone but Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark nowadays, I can’t imagine what this movie would be like without him in it.

This is not to undercut the other performances.  Bradley Cooper is amazing as the voice of Rocket and Vin Diesel is able to convey a surprising amount meaning in saying, “I am Groot”.  Even some of the smaller roles, like John C. Reilly’s “beleaguered cop” member of the Nova Corps and Michael Rooker’s “blueneck” portrayal of Yondu were a joy to see on screen.

Most importantly, the movie knows how to have fun.  It is not the full on comedy you might think it is from seeing the trailers, but it had plenty of laugh out loud moments.  Perhaps more surprising is that the movie was just as good as evoking pathos as it was at evoking laughter.  There are many moments where you really felt the pain of the characters in the movie, even if they were a CGI raccoon or a green skinned alien.

This is my favorite Marvel movie since the Avengers, but the impressive thing is I have been a fan of the Avengers since I was a kid and the Guardians of the Galaxy were a group I mostly knew about as a point of trivia.  The fact that I enjoyed this movie so much is an impressive feat.