I’m a huge fan of science fiction and have been for as long as I can remember. I cut my teeth on the original Star Wars movies, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and countless dozens of other classic movies of days gone by, yet… as time went on, something happened to these films.
They began to take themselves WAY too seriously.
Darkness took over. The bright vistas of shining cities in the outer galaxy were replaced by rust, decay and rain.
This is not an overall complaint, mind you… I still love science fiction, but modern day sci-fi is way too full of itself and obsessed with realism. Granted, sometimes that works but for the most part, I don’t want to see something realistic… I want to escape realism and see something fun!
Movies like Transformers, the newer Star Trek movies, and even the Star Wars prequels have lost that resolute self-awareness that they are really, at their core, playing out premises that are crazy.
Come on, Neo… you’re running around inside of a computer program that gives you kung-fu skills! Have fun with it!
Optimus Prime… you’re a fifty foot robot that turns into a truck. That’s insane! Why are you treating it like it’s the most serious thing since cancer?
Harry Potter… you go to a school for wizards. Why are you always crying!?
It seems like no one has fun anymore and it’s for bucking this trend that Guardians of the Galaxy is an instant classic. It has fun, it knows it’s ridiculous, and it does not give a damn. This is the movie that brings the joy back into science fiction and other studios better make note (looking at you and your “no jokes” policy, DC).
I’m sure you know the story. Chris Pratt is Peter Quill — Starlord as he likes to be called — kidnapped from Earth as a boy, he’s a member of a band of intergalactic bounty hunters who betrays his adopted dad, Yondu (played with epic vigor by Michael Rooker) for a big score.
Unfortunately, this big score is wanted by someone else… Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) who sends an operative named Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to retrieve it.
Quill, in the meantime, is a wanted man himself which brings him to the attention of a talking raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his bodyguard, a living tree named Groot voiced by Vin Diesel.
Everything is literally as wonderfully insane as it sounds.
Guardians of the Galaxy manages to do several things that most comic book movies have proven incompetent to do. For one thing, as I said, this movie is loads of fun. Secondly, it manages to tell an origin story that doesn’t feel like an origin story.
Folks, you know…. I hate origin stories. This one is the best I have seen in a long time partially because of the obscurity of the characters, but mostly because it was done so gosh-darn well. When the Guardians are finally assembled at the end and blasted off into space for what I hope are more equally entertaining adventures, I didn’t feel like I was cheated like I was with Green Lantern or the Spider-Man reboot, I felt like I was given an appropriate first chapter. I was satisfied… but left wanting more.
I loved these characters. Chris Pratt shines like a supernova in this movie. This guy is going places… he’s funny, he’s believable, he’s not a stereotypical leading man, and he’s a lot of fun to watch. Peter Quill is a Han Solo type of guy… someone I would enjoy being around despite the criminal record.
Zoe Saldana is amazing as ever and, with Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek, and Avatar under her belt, is quickly rising in the ranks to become Queen of the Nerds. I welcome our new Mistress and pledge to do anything to please her.
Can I just talk about David Bautista? First of all, David… if you’re reading this, I talked a lot of crap about you. A former wrestler in a comic book movie? Obviously, you were going to suck and drag it all down because… well, you’re a wrestler and that’s what your ilk does.
Mr. Bautista, I come to you with my hat in my hand, and formally apologize. You were not only acceptable as Drax the Destroyer, but you surpassed all expectations, were a perfect fit with the rest of the ensemble and delivered to us a character that was not only threatening, but also nicely balanced with a sense of gentleness, honor and loneliness.
Between David Bautista and Evan Peters as Quicksilver, I really need to shut up with by preconceptions because obviously, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.
But there it is… I’m eating crow yet again and it tastes great.
Groot and Rocket, despite being CGI creations, are just as real as any of the other characters in the movie. Groot is a sweetheart always helpful and strong when they needed him to be. When someone shot at him or treating him badly, I actually got angry. How dare they!?
Rocket, fast talking and cynical, is another favorite of mine. I loved this little guy. A source of great amusement one minute with one-liners and self-aware observations about standing in circles, to a tortured soul the next. I believed every bit of it and I’m struggling to think of an equal in a virtual actor since Gollum.
There is not a single character in this movie I didn’t like… even the bad guys in some form or another were appealing from Ronan’s single-minded quasi-religious quest to Karen Gillian’s Nova, deadly and depraved, hating what she is.
I’ve also said before that Michael Rooker absolutely kills it as Yondu.
My dear sweet readers, I loved this movie so much. Thus far it’s my favorite film of 2014 and I would even go so far as to say it’s the best Marvel movie yet. This was a risk to do such a big budget movie based on such obscure characters, but it is a risk that has paid off in a huge way.
Guardians of the Galaxy has brought the fun back to science fiction in a way I haven’t seen since the original Star Wars. I’m serious. This charismatic, emotionally charged and wondrous creation has not only raised the bar for movies that follow, but has also set a new standard. It is bright, it is inviting, at times magical and heartbreaking and it doesn’t insult you or go unnecessarily dark on you so that it can be “mature.”
I usually hate it when movies are derivative of something successful that came before, but if sci-fi wants to borrow the good things from Guardians of the Galaxy for future projects, I am all for it. It can only make the genre better.