Film Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
It's difficult to make a good serious space adventure movie. Even more difficult is making a funny space adventure movie, one that still manages to make you care about the drama when it's done being funny. Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun sci-fi adventure film that brings diverse alien characters together into one quirky team of misfits. It's like Star Trek, but instead of the good guys being the establishment (lawful), these good guys are runaway criminals (chaotic). The movie feels similar to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl in that it uses comedic wit to humanize its characters and mock the established order they find themselves confronting.
In Peter Quill's past, he was abducted by an alien ship right after his mother died of cancer. She left him a present, but he didn't open it.
Flash forward to the present, where Quill steals some kind of coveted Orb and fights off aliens, getting away with it. Ronan, the alien with a sinister reputation who was tasked with getting the Orb for Thanos, admits his failure to Thanos. Thanos' "favorite" daughter Gamora is sent to retrieve it. At the same time, bounty hunters Rocket Raccoon and Groot attack Quill when they see that there is a large bounty on his head. Everyone is arrested.
In jail, the group learn about each other. Groot, Quill, Rocket, and Gamora agree eventually to split up the profits from selling the Orb four ways after breaking out together. But while breaking out, they get a fifth tag-along team member - Drax the Destroyer. This guy doesn't want money, just a chance to get revenge on Thanos for his wife and daughter.
When they get to the buyer for the Orb, they find out that it contains the Infinity Stone, a powerful object that can destroy planets.
In the ensuing fight for this Orb, they manage to kill Ronan, but Groot almost dies himself. He is reborn as a new baby version of himself. Peter learns he's only half human, but it's not known what species his father was. It was his half non-human genes they speculate allowed him to touch the Infinity Stone without being harmed.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Studios, Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
James Gunn & Nicole Perlman; Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, & Bradley Cooper
Henry Braham Ben Davis
2 hours 1 minute
CinemaCon Award for Breakthrough Performer of the Year - Chris Pratt; Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble; Hollywood Film Award, Hollywood Blockbuster Award; Critics Choice Movie Awards for Best Action Movie & Best Makeup - David White; Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer - Karen Gillan; Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards for Best Contemporary Make-Up in Feature Length Motion Picture, & Best Special Make-Up Effects in Feature Length Motion Picture; Phoenix Film Critics Society for Top 10 Films of the Year; Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film; Saturn Awards for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor - Chris Pratt, Best Makeup - David White and Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou; Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Guardians of the Galaxy is at its heart, a movie about outcasts and misfits teaming up, becoming stronger together than any of them could be alone. They're as a team an interesting contrast to The Avengers, who represent heroic role models, ideals. These guys are less idealistic and more grounded in gritty, pragmatic reality. Gamora is the daughter of a genocidal tyrant, Thanos. Rocket Racoon is an escaped genetic experiment. Peter Quill is a lonely human traversing multiple alien worlds that are strange to him. Drax the Destroyer lost his wife and child to Thanos and is now out for revenge. And Groot is a tree-like alien who cannot verbally communicate, other than repeatedly saying 'I am Groot'. All of these characters are interesting and memorable because they're tragic, broken, or complicated in some way. In superhero movies, usually 'broken and complicated' don't sell as many tickets as 'awesome', but I find that the best comic books have characters that are internally conflicted.
The most interesting internal conflict is with Gamora. She's conflicted between her loyalty to Thanos and her inner pull towards what she knows is right. This conflict reaches a climax in Infinity Wars.
The movie brims with energetic humor, but it's also not all comedy - it delivers some very powerful serious emotional experiences as well. As I stated above, my closest direct comparison I can think of is Pirates of the Caribbean because it's similarly a swashbuckling adventure with witty back-and-forth, just set in space.
Rating for 'Guardians of the Galaxy': 8/10
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© 2019 Rachael Lefler