Film Review – Guardians of the Galaxy

Originally spawned by Marvel Comics and recreated by Writer and Director James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t just another Marvel movie, it packs a powerful punch in every category imaginable with an end result that is easily the best film I’ve seen this year.

After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team known as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to save the world.

I myself am hypercritical when it comes to Marvel films nowadays. Unfortunately Marvel has rested on their laurels with many recent releases, so while excited for GotG, I went in with dampened expectations. It didn’t take long for my personal thoughts to be erased and rewritten.

THE GOOD
Guardians of the Galaxy is easily Marvel’s most unique and entertaining film to date. Wrapped in 80’s pop music, I am amazed Marvel let this film be made as it stands. It’s uniqueness sets a tone throughout the film and one of it’s strongest points is its dedication to itself. GotG isn’t trying to be any “other” film and you start to admire that as quickly as your brain can realize it. This is a unique adventure with unique characters and a consistent, singular voice. All rare elements in todays big budget films.

So absent are the ponderousness and world-stabilizing dreariness of so many comic-book movies that for long stretches, Guardians plays like a parody of the genre. But in banishing self-seriousness, it harbors a reverence for the joys of fantasy and reality. Fantasy in a sense of what you’re actually seeing (space, aliens, talking raccoon comes to mind) but reality in the heart breaking understory of Chris Pratt’s mother’s death and the continual theme of redemption. You see, GotG’s ability to combine worlds is it’s real weapon. Worlds of dark and light, funny and sad, reality or fiction. They are so seamlessly wound that they are inseparably experienced. That’s what makes a fantastic, magical journey that guardians makes good on the moment it begins.

Most attempts to relive your youthful cinematic enthusiasm almost always fail miserably (just ask anyone who hitched that particular pony to the Star Wars prequels or the latest Muppet movies), but Guardians of the Galaxy really does invoke that feeling of being a wide-eyed ten-year old falling in love with movies for the first time.

THE VERDICT
The ultimate, bottom line reason this film works is simple. GotG locks us into familiar, classic movie archetypes. Pratt plays a combination of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Zoey Saldana plays a lethal Princess Leia. Bradley Cooper breathes life into a computer-generated raccoon to be another form of Han Solo. Both Groot and Drax serve as our Chewbaccas. All familiar, all hold a special place in movie lovers hearts but not to redundant so the experience is cheapened. To be heightened for this generation’s movie goers.

2014 has been a rough time at the movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy delivers what many of the other films have been lacking: a intensely good time with great characters, punchy dialogue, fantastic action sequences and a lot of heart and humor. There have been few must-see films of the 2014 summer season, but “Guardians of the Galaxy” is definitely one. Easily the best film I have seen all year.

Guardians of the Galaxy – 9.7/10

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