Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy ★★★★★

"Why would you want to save the galaxy?"

"Because I'm one of the idiots who lives in it!" - Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt
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Back when Marvel kicked in Phase 1 of its cinematic universe, we all knew who Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America were. All these films were destined to be hits to some degree. But...the Guardians of the Galaxy? Who are these a-holes? If you're like me and never read comics, you may be asking the same question. Seriously, a gun-totting raccoon? A walking tree? David Bautista? WTF?

If box office numbers are any indication, the risk paid off tremendously. The film wastes little time in plunging the audience into the deep end of the most outlandish and far-out reaches of the Marvel universe. From the desolate ruins of an abandoned planet to the thriving heart of an interstellar civilization, this space-faring adventure cuts across colorful nebulae and imaginative worlds, the likes of which have only ever been topped by the Star Wars universe. The film has no shortage of action, as characters fight with their fists, knives, and futuristic guns against an onslaught of bad guys. There is a huge all-out battle in the end, with thousands of space ships filling up the screen. In between the exciting parts, the film moves fast and fluidly with plenty of spot-on comedy, and just enough drama to give the characters a little more depth.

The story covers pretty basic ground, using the same old type of Macguffin that Avengers and Thor: The Dark World used. The villain of this film is a pretty flat, one-dimensional fellow who's best remembered for his presence, and little more. What makes this film stand out will be the protagonists. Peter Quill (the self-proclaimed "Star-Lord") has charm, but thanks to the film's opening scene, he provides an emotional anchor we can all latch onto. Drax is a warrior driven by vengeance, but is so blunt that he can't comprehend metaphors, and hilarity ensues. Gamora is a fierce fighter as well with an allure of her own. Rocket is a hard-drinking gun-happy raccoon with attitude. Groot is a walking tree, who can kick some butt, but also provides some of the most lovable moments. This whole gang is very much in the same vein of space outlaws as in Firefly or The Cowboy Bebop; each character provides enough emotional investment and attention so that they stand out and become heroes we can root for, no matter how bizarre or unlikely this union seems. The film is also loaded with a plethora of side characters, who all stand out in their own ways, to the point where I wished they could have had more to them (especially Thanos, who's obviously going to be a major player somewhere down the line; Nebula, who I thought was cooler than anything; the Collector, who's not given that much to do here; and Yondu, who clearly shares a history with Quill, but it's hard to tell where his loyalty is). Through the character interactions, the whole team emerges as a dysfunctional crew that stands up to tyranny in their own rebellious way, and their evolution from bickering individuals to literal Guardians of the Galaxy is quite the fun trip.

This film is crafted with solid and precise photography and editing. Acting is top-notch; you'd probably never expect much from this cast, but everybody does their best to make the characters stand out. Chris Pratt is not too shabby as the main hero; I enjoyed watching Zoe Saldana; Dave Bautista's performance is surprisingly solid; voices by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel get the job done well. Everybody else contributes admirably. Writing is pretty good. This production spares no expense on the outlandish and imaginative sets, props, costumes, and special effects. Music is decent.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most well-rounded blockbusters since Marvel's own Avengers. It balances action, comedy, and storytelling very well. It defies all the odds and presents this obscure group of misfits as a thrilling new franchise for the masses..

5/5 (Entertainment: Perfect | Content: Very Good | Film: Very Good)

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