Guardians of the Galaxy is just a fun movie. It’s not Shakespeare, and it is certainly not as good as the Captain America movies or Avengers. But it’s got great characters, hilarious ancillary characters, and an incredible villain with Ronan the Accuser. And you get to see more of Thanos, the ultimate antagonist of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in this movie.
The film centers on Peter Quill, who is abducted and taken to outer space as a child immediately after his mother’s death. His father is not from Earth, and is as of a place that is yet unrevealed. James Gunn, the film’s directory said that the identity of Peter’s father will not be the same as it is in the comics — J’Son of Spartax, the King of Spartoi Empire. Peter Quill dubs himself Star-Lord, and is space outlaw a la Han Solo and Malcom Reynolds.
The rest of the Guardians team consists of Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.
Gamora is the deadliest woman in the galaxy and also an adopted daughter of Thanos. Drax is a muscle-bound thug who vows to kill the evil Ronan because Ronan killed Drax’s his wife and daughter.
And then there are the real stars of the film: Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Rocket is a creature of unknown origin, who looks just like a raccoon of Earth, except he is a walking, talking, gun-toting alien creature with an attitude. Rocket’s best friend is Groot, an alien whose species mimics those of Earth’s plant-life. Groot appears like a tree, and utters only one phrase: “I am Groot”. Rocket happens to be the only one to understand Groot, so they make perfect partners.
The main villain of this delightful film is Ronan the Accuser, a Kree Warrior who is intent on obtaining the Infinity Stone so he can prove his dominance over Thanos. He also is obsessed with destroying the planet Xandar, and thereby ending the truce between the Kree people and the Xandarians. This is important because Xandar happens to be the home base for the Nova Corps, a team of galactic cops that protect the galaxy. By Ronan’s side is Nebula. Like Gamora, Nebula is an adopted daughter of Thanos; however, she is comprised of nearly all robotic parts. Korath is another character who is also subservient to Ronan. There’s really not much to his character other than a series of funny interactions with Star-Lord.
There are several more members of the movie’s amazing ensemble. Yondu is another space outlaw, and is incredibly vicious with his whistling arrow. Yondu is the alien who abducted Peter Quill, and his original intent was to take him to Peter’s mysterious father. As for the Nova Corps, the organization’s leaders consist of Nova Prime and Rhomann Dey.
The movie begins with Star-Lord obtaining an orb that has an Infinity Stone inside of it. Comic book readers are very familiar with the Infinity Stones, which will presumably be featured in the two-part film Avengers: Infinity War. Star-Lord wants to get sell the Infinity Stone to the Collector, played by a very creepy Benicio Del Toro. Quill’s work with the Infinity Stone is the catalyst that brings together all the principal players.
The Guardians find themselves together in a Xandarian prison, from which they eventually escape. This is an important moment in the film, because it brings the team together for the first time. Adventures ensue, such as a fight with Ronan and growing tensions with the greedy Yondu. But in the finale, Star-Lord and company ultimately prevail and defeat Drax, giving the Infinity Stone to Nova Prime for safe-keeping.
There are many highlights. Chris Pratt is incredibly charismatic as Star-Lord. He brings an amazing charm to Peter while also being appropriately immature and (of course) hilarious. Gamora is played by Zoe Saldana, who is sort of a “one-note” actress. She approaches all her characters the same, whether she plays Uhura in the Star Trek movies or Neytiri in Avatar. But Gamora is a very compelling character, and any problems I have with Saldana can be overlooked.
Drax the Destroyer is played very well by former WWE wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista. He surprised me in much the same way that The Rock did years ago when he also left wrestling for acting. For such an angry character, Drax is wonderfully humorous due to his social inadequacies.
And then there’s the are the CGI members of the Guardians, Rocket and Groot. They are voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively. The actor who actually played Rocket on-screen, Sean Gunn, played Kirk on the Gilmore Girls and is also James Gunn’s brother. Sean had an on-screen role in Guardians as well, as Kraglin, Yondu’s first mate in the Ravagers. Rocket and Groot are extremely believable characters despite their unusual appearances, and this is really an example of CGI used very well. When CGI is used poorly, you can tell that the visuals are manufactured and takes the viewer out of the story-telling. Between the physical acting, CGI, and voice acting, Rocket and Groot are brought to life so they feel as realistic as a talking raccoon and tree could be.
Honestly, the only really beef with the movie is the death of Ronan. I can’t think of anything else in the movie that really bothered me. I hate when comic book villains are killed in movies – especially in movies like ones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where characters like Loki can be used as villains in multiple franchises.
All of Marvel Studios films so far have been ownable, and Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly no exception. Add to this that Marvel, who usually skimps on the special features, really loaded the Blu-Ray with incredible featurettes. In “Guide To The Galaxy With James Gunn “, the director and his eight-bit avatar lead you on a galactic adventure through the making of this epic movie, from vibrant concept art, elaborate makeup and amazing sets, to dancing baby Groot! Keep an eye out for the 8-bit Beta Ray Bill in this featurette. The deleted scenes were alright, but nothing really special. But the gag real was amazing, especially during the dance-off scene towards the end of the movie. On the gag reel, Ronan dances too! And if none of this is compelling enough to get you to buy this film, the return of the original Marvel movie “superstar” Howard the Duck will.