Director: James Gunn Writer: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan Runtime: 121 min Rating: PG-13
Comic films seem to be in wholesale development as of late, with a new one being churned out every few months. There have been hits and misses, and sadly, more misses than hits. James Gunn takes a crack at Guardians of the Galaxy, and ends up creating a film that you will want to watch over and over again.
Guardians of the Galaxy follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a space pirate with a bit of a reputation. After stealing a mysterious orb, he soon finds himself being hunted by Ronan the Accuser, a villain with a deadly plan to destroy the universe. With hopes of stopping Ronan and saving the universe from oblivion, Quill creates a team of unlikely companions – Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) – known as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
First things first: this is not Star Wars. For anyone who say this reminds them of Star Wars, they were clearly not paying attention. Yes, its based in a “galaxy” and has many “flying objects”. However, Star Wars is very serious film. Also, this film does not follow the “doom and gloom” philosophy of most comic and sci-fi films these days. What Gunn has created is a truly refreshing comic book experience. Here are a bunch of not very well known characters – unless you follow the comics of course – put into a world that is outside the currently developing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, its a part of Phase 2 but its not technically following the other films in any way. It’s a standalone beast that hopes to win the hearts of many, and it does just that. The cinematography alone is jaw dropping. It’s not just all shiny shiny. The detail and complexity of the universe created to house the story is truly magnificent and the amount of effort put into the visual effects is clear translated on screen.
Gunn does give the phrase “no guts, no glory” a new definition. Guardians of the Galaxy does not follow any particular style or creative philosophy seen in comic films till this day. Sure, it has the cheesy “good triumphs over evil” story, but it brings the fun back, not just in watching a comic film, but watching a film period. The story doesn’t have obvious pivot points or obvious scenarios. It flows, continuously treating the viewer with a blend of various elements, including comedy, beautiful cinematography, and goofball randomness you often want. The soundtrack is golden. At no point do you get bored of the story, do you feel falsely hyped due to some high pitched melody, or loose interest in the characters. The soundtrack is the glue that makes it all work, and it would have broken the film if it wasn’t done right.
The one element that was the biggest surprise and the most valuable treat: the performances. When first announced, you couldn’t visualize the chemistry between the chosen talent. They have such diverse filmography’s, often focused on contrasting and opposite genres. To picture them in one film, performing side by side was quite difficult. However, ten minutes into the film, and you know you are in for a thrill ride. Not only do the various talents share great chemistry, but their bond actually helps the storyline progress and develop. Some emotional scenes are truly emotional, despite the cheesy one-liners used within them. Guardians of the Galaxy is a great example of what happens when seemingly incompatible artists come together to create a solid story, and a bunch of characters that you are just gonna love.
While comic films have existed for decades, it was 2008’s Iron Man that truly rocked the playing cards, bringing forward a totally new cinematic experience for comic fans. Then Joss Whedon joined the picture and shook things up with 2012’s The Avengers, taking the excitement to a whole new level and further refining the universe’s beloved characters. James Gunn joins their ranks in a rather different way. He has created a film that takes one step back and revisits the reason why comic book films are so attractive: they are exciting. He puts the fun back into comic films, creating something that will leave a big smile on your face, and the desire to come back and experience the rollercoaster all over again. Go see this film!