Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: July 21, 2014
DIRECTOR: James Gunn
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ben Davis
WRITERS: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
MUSIC: Tyler Bates
After the success of “The Winter Soldier”, it was time to give fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe something completely different. Director James Gunn confidently stepped in to provide fans with a gang of intergalactic misfits that Marvel decided to take a chance on by giving them their own movie. Thankfully, Gunn made a solid and funny space opera that entertains pretty much anyone who watches it.
In the movie, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is an Earthling that was kidnapped by aliens when he was a kid and trained to be an outlaw. Going by the name Star-Lord, Peter acquires an object that everyone seems to be after. This includes his mentor Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a Kree terrorist that wants to destroy the Xandarians, his mortal enemies.
Soon, Peter finds himself trying to outrun his enemies as he also forms an uneasy alliance with some other outlaws. This includes Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin) who was sent to retrieve the object for the Mad Titan. They then run into Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and his tree partner Groot (Vin Diesel) as well as Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a warrior who wants revenge against Ronan for killing Drax’s wife and daughter.
The action pretty much starts from the beginning of the film and it doesn’t let up as we get to know this new band of characters as the movie progresses at a breakneck speed. There is Peter’s daring escape in the opening of the film, a chase through Xandar (capital of the Nova Empire), a thrilling prison escape and other scenes as Ronan tries to get the object from the Guardians.
I love the fact that the film rarely ever slows down to give us long scenes of exposition. We learn on the run with our characters, similar to other chase films such “The Terminator”. This is a movie that needed to hit the audience hard so that they would accept this new team of mischievous criminals and it works.
The surprise of the movie is Pratt as Star-Lord. Before this, Pratt was only known for his role as the idiotic yet lovable Andy Dwyer on “Parks and Recreation”. Pratt got himself into peak physical condition and as it turns out, he is a great leading man in this ensemble. He proved he can handle the drama just as much as the comedy.
Of course, he is not alone. Saldana gives the MCU one of its true badasses with Gamora. She may seem a little cut off emotionally, but deep down she is glad that she ran into the “biggest idiots in the galaxy.” Saldana has the challenge of playing an initially emotionless Gamora that has to learn how to react socially to her new teammates and Saldana handles that balancing act almost effortlessly.
Another surprise was Bautista as the always literal Drax. Bautista is one of the rare athletes to enter the world of films and he gives a pretty great performance. Drax is a little more humorous here than his comic book counterpart, but Bautista proves to have great comedic chops.
The only real problem with the film is that once again, the MCU is plagued with an ultimately forgettable villain. Ronan is pretty much just an obstacle for our heroes and I wish we had spent just a little more time to get to know him and his intentions beyond just destroying his mortal enemies. I’m glad that the MCU wants to spend more time with its heroes, but other films such as “Thor” and the recently released “Black Panther” have proven that we can have a villain with more depth as well.
Ultimately, though, this is still one of the best films in the MCU with solid action and a good script, courtesy of director James Gunn. Four years later, the entertainment value is still as high as its ever been!