The Bailey Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)


SYNOPSIS:
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team--the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits--Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly and enigmatic Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand--with the galaxy's fate in the balance. 
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which first appeared in comic books in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio del Toro as The Collector. 
James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige producing, and Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan Fine and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. The story is by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn, with screenplay by James Gunn. Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014. 
In addition to "Guardians of the Galaxy," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4, 2014; "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on May 1, 2015; and "Ant-Man" on July 31, 2015.

REVIEW:

Marvel Studios has established itself as a powerhouse in the market. Whether you're a comic book fan or not, the movies themselves are made at such a high level of expertise that you can't help but be a fan of at least one film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier raised the bar with it's intellectual story, espionage thriller approach, and the best hand-to-hand combat of any Marvel film to date. That really put the pressure on Guardians of the Galaxy to deliver, and it did...some of the time.

This review will NOT contain spoilers.

The movie begins in 1988, when Peter Quill was just a boy. His mother is dying in her hospital bed, and when Peter goes outside to cry, he is abducted by alien space-pirates, led by Yondu (Michael Rooker). Rooker doesn't stretch his acting muscles here, as he's only played these types of characters for as long as I can remember. Why does the alien Yondu have the same Alabama accent as Merle from The Walking Dead? I've learned not to ask these questions.

Flash forward twenty-six years, and now Quill (Chris Pratt in the perfect role for him) is all grown up, invading a rocky planet on his own while he jams out to an old mix tape from his childhood cassette player, picking up an alien rodent to use as a faux microphone. That's the kind of humor you can expect for the rest of the movie. Quill is there to steal a spherical artifact, but just as he does, he is confronted by a team of aliens called Kree, led by Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Quill tells Korath his name is Star Lord, hoping to strike fear in his enemy. Korath has never heard of him. Quill escapes Korath, gets into his spaceship, and flies to the planet Xandar, home of the Nova Corps, a militarized space expedition group, where he plans to collect his reward for the artifact.

Korath's employer is the evil Ronan the Accuser, played exceptionally well by an almost unrecognizable Lee Pace. Ronan, like every villain in every cosmos story ever, is hellbent on ruling the galaxy. He believes whatever is in the stolen artifact holds the key to being able to do so. The current ruler is the supervillain Thanos (Josh Brolin), whose not-so-handsome mug was grinning at the audience in a post-credit sequence of The Avengers. Needless to say, Ronan and Thanos don't get along too well.

It's important to note that I've never read any of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic series. All these characters, locations, alien races, everything really, was completely new to me. I imagine this will be the case for most viewers, who are just happy to put their money into the Marvel machine and be entertained for a couple hours. That being said, it's difficult to recall the names of each location and the plethora of new characters introduced, so I'll focus on the primary ones to this story, explaining it in layman's terms.

Quill's buyer on Xandar refuses to accept the spherical artifact once he knows Ronan is after it, because he doesn't want to put their planet at risk for destruction. Bitter, Quill begins to leave when he is attacked by Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a skilled alien assassin, who is not only the last of her species, but is also the adopted daughter of Thanos. You don't bring her home to mom and dad, let's put it that way. She has also been sent to retrieve this artifact for Ronan. Unbeknownst to either of them, Yondu has hired a couple bounty hunters to capture Quill for stealing the artifact. Those bounty hunters are Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a genetically-altered, talking Raccoon with a 'tude, and Groot (Vin Diesel), a humanoid tree who only utters the words, "I am Groot". Groot will be everyone's favorite character in the series, trust me. He certainly was mine.

Rocket and Groot capture both Quill and Gamora only to be captured themselves by Nova Corps. All four are thrown into the Kiln, the Nova Corps prison. There, they meet the deadly inmate Drax (Dave Bautista). Drax wants nothing more than to murder Gamora when he finds out she's working for Ronan, since Ronan murdered his wife and daughter right in front of him years ago. Gamora insists she's betraying Ronan and has no plans to return the artifact to him. There is another buyer known as The Collector (Benicio del Toro) who they must visit. They agree to see The Collector, split the huge reward, then find Ronan so Drax can exact his revenge in person.

Once the team exits the Kiln and makes their way to The Collector, it's an uphill battle for the rest of the film. What's inside the artifact is finally revealed, Gamora's betrayal is exposed to Ronan, her half sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is out to destroy her, Yorba still wants to capture and kill Quill, the list goes on. It's a lot to take in, but despite having so much information about a universe hurled at us in two hours, the main takeaway is that we really enjoy this team. We start to care about each member in a different way. Their backstories are revealed, and genuine love and friendship unfolds amongst them.

This film is a Western at heart, which I approve of. It's also presented as the most comedic of any Marvel film, which is a good and bad thing. It is funny, even if a lot of it plays to the sensibility of what kids will enjoy, but when there's so much humor, some of the more adult elements don't seem to have much weight. Ronan the Accuser would be terrifying in a different film. However, he's playing second fiddle to the comedic moments in this one. That's clearly the genre writer/director James Gunn wanted this to exist in, and it does work. I'm just curious to see how it comes into play in later films in the franchise when the Avengers and Guardians begin to cross over into each others worlds in a bigger way. I hope the films don't sacrifice true empathetic moments for humor each time. I'm willing to let it slide for this film, since it mostly exists in its own universe.

You know you're going to be entertained when you see a Marvel film, and Guardians Of The Galaxy certainly did that. I've read some reviews which call it the best of the franchise. I disagree. For sake of argument, here's how I would rank my favorite Marvel films, from best to worst.

1. The Avengers
2. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4. Thor: The Dark World
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. Iron Man 3
7. Thor
8. The Incredible Hulk
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
10. Iron Man 2

This review was written by contributor Darren Bailey, actor and founding member of Thousand Pounds Action Company. Feel free to follow his personal adventures via Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to Thousand Pounds Action Company through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Still photos from Stitch Kingdom

Comments

  1. wow...if Thor 2 is better than Guardians of Galaxy, in your list.
    Then I guess I wouldn't enjoy this movie much.

    Marvel movies, lately are being ruined by the 'too much' comedy!
    It all started with Iron Man 2, and that annoying comedy humour worked it way in all marvel movies except for Avengers and Winter Solider (also Captain America 1).

    As I can see, only the good marvel movies are the ones with less annoying jokes.

    ReplyDelete

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