Am I so much of a geek that I care when actors from some of my favorite shows come together in one movie?
Yes. Still, this movie doesn’t need the help.
The consensus was that Guardians of the Galaxy, based on a comic book that most people who don’t read comics have never heard of, would be blockbuster or complete bust. Chris Pratt, the guy from “Parks and Recreation”, as a leading man action hero? Marvel going into space? A raccoon with a gun? Disaster looms.
But this is Marvel. And yes, Marvel is bound to have another huge dud sooner or later … but not this time.
Despite being known for its humor, the movie actually starts out with a tear jerking scene in which a little boy named Peter Quill sees his mother die of cancer—then, immediately after, he’s abducted by a UFO. Fast forward 26 years, and we find the adult Quill dancing—literally—into what looks like an Indiana Jones set on an alien planet.
There Quill finds a strange orb that you just know everybody’s going to want. He’s ambushed by a bad guy who also wants the orb, and from then on it’s a slam-bang series of fights and flights as just about everyone in the galaxy battles for the power that resides inside the artifact.
One of the most fun fights is also where most of the fellow guardians gather for the first time, all intent on taking the orb. Zoe Saldana’s performance as Gamora is killer—literally. But even she loses the screen when Rocket and Groot—an engineered Raccoon and a walking, talking (a little) tree—show up.
Rocket Raccoon should have been ridiculous. Instead, the sarcastic rodent, voiced by Bradley Cooper, makes everyone else step up their game just to keep up. Later we meet the last member, Drax, played by a pro wrestler—apparently wrestling really is fake, ‘cause the guy can act.
All the GotG members are damaged anti-heroes, who reluctantly decide to protect the orb from various bad guys. (Their motivation? For one thing, they do live in the galaxy, after all.) You have to pay attention as characters come and go, motivations are revealed, and wises are cracked. Luckily, paying attention is fun.
Guardians is certainly the best I’ve seen this year, and I’ve seen some pretty darned good movies. Why? It’s a good story, and funny, and naturally the special effects are amazing. I’m fairly convinced at this point that they really did find an intelligent, if mean, raccoon and a slightly less intelligent moving tree to play Rocket and Groot.
But in the end it’s the cast that makes the movie. Chris Pratt is a revelation as Quill, fighting and cracking wise with equal skill. Saldana is amazing, and we get great performances from actors such as John C. Riley and Glenn Close, among others. I take it Close thought she was slumming for this roll, but she gives it her skill and it shows.
On a note relating to my earlier comments, it was great fun seeing Michael Rooker, playing an intergalactic version of his redneck bad boy character from “The Walking Dead”, and Karen Gillan, playing someone just as tough but way more evil than her “Doctor Who” role.
Oh, two more things: First, Peter Quill’s oddly timed abduction as a child does make sense. Second, there is indeed an extra scene at the end of the credits, which I suspect will leave many younger movie goers scratching their heads.
Entertainment Value: 5 out of 4 M&M’s. My review, my rules.
Oscar Potential: 3 out of 4 M&M’s. Hollywood muckity-mucks hate SF, especially funny SF, although they don’t hesitate to take the money. Just the same, it would be a shame if Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t get nominated for something, even if it’s a technical Oscar.
Side Note: If Guardians is sold out, check out Lucy or Planes: Fire and Rescue. One is thrilling and mind blowing, the other truly fun family fare. On a personal note, whoever scripted the Planes movie took the time to research firefighting, which I appreciate.