Guardians of the Galaxy made me feel like a kid again in the best way possible. I’ve been anticipating this one ever since I first saw the trailer and instantly fell in love with its tone, visuals, and most importantly, characters. And now that I’ve finally seen it, I can say with one-hundred percent confidence that it absolutely lived up to my expectations, and maybe even surpassed them.
We all know that superhero movies are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, with some of them still proving the genre has a lot of life left in it, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and others falling flat on their faces under the pressure put upon them by Hollywood. Guardians of the Galaxy definitely falls in the former category, as it’s a bold, weird, and downright hilarious movie that brilliantly expands Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in a very big way.
However, I actually have trouble even classifying Guardians as a superhero movie at all. Yes, it does exist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it would make sense to put it in the same category of films such as Iron Man, Thor, and The Avengers. But yet, Guardians is very much its own thing, and labeling it under any single genre seems like a disservice to all of the many things the film manages to do so right.
The film starts off by introducing us to the film’s main star, Peter Quill, who is mysteriously abducted by an alien spaceship and dragged into the cosmic universe while still a young boy. After living among the stars for twenty-six years, Peter has grown up to become a cocky mercenary who explores the galaxy in his beloved spaceship the Milano, where he frequently and excellently gets into all kinds of trouble.
But when he tries to steal an ancient orb from an abandoned planet, he quickly finds himself the target of almost every ambitious soul in the galaxy, as the seemingly innocent orb is actually a powerful and dangerous artifact that can imbue anyone who possesses it with the power to destroy entire worlds. What follows is an exciting, nostalgic, and hysterical action romp that had my entire theater laughing at every step of the way.
While the plot hits some very familiar moments and themes, it’s all part of the movie’s charm, as this isn’t a film about jaw-dropping plot twists, but rather about a crazy group of characters and their ever-developing relationships. Even though the cast is absurd, and includes a wide range of diverse and increasingly strange individuals, it somehow manages to all come together in the end to create a genuinely fun and engaging story.
It’s a lot to take in, to be sure, and I can tell you right now that this movie might not be for everyone, especially for those who are expecting or hoping for a deeper, more thought-provoking flick. But for anyone who grew up loving classic films from the seventies and eighties, like myself, then Guardians of the Galaxy will feel like a nostalgic-fueled adventure that will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.
This is a movie bursting with charm and sincerity, and even though there are an endless stream of jokes and one-liners, there’s still some truly compelling character drama here as well, and the movie’s hidden weapon is just how touching it can be when it wants to. I was consistently surprised by just how genuine the characters felt, and it added an extra layer of depth to the story that made it all the easier to get invested in.
While the characters might all start out as bitter rivals, by the end you will absolutely buy them as a team, and watching as their friendships grow and evolve, both individually and as a group, is the movie’s most believable and important feature. It may feel a bit rushed at times, as some characters go some pretty drastic changes, but when they’re this much fun to watch, it’s only a minor distraction.
As great as the writing is, however, it’s the cast that make this movie what it is. Chris Pratt proves yet again that he is a force to be reckoned with, as he absolutely nails the role of Peter Quill, giving yet another fantastic performance this year that shows just how capable of an actor and leading man he really is. Peter Quill is one of the most immediately likable protagonists I’ve seen all year, and his lovable, roguish charm basically steals the entire show.
What’s really impressive though, is that the likability and relatability of the cast doesn’t stop with Quill. Rocket Raccoon and his partner Groot are some of the real standouts here, and it’s amazing how a sarcastic raccoon and a talking tree can feel so alive and bursting with energy; a testament once again to just how well done the character development is, and how much fun Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel can be when given the right material.
And as someone who’s never really been a big fan of Zoe Saldana, I was surprised by just how much I liked her character here. Sure, Gamora might not be a breakout performance for Saldana, but she imbues the role with so much heart and charm that I found myself enjoying her a lot more than I expected to. The same can be said for Dave Bautista’s Drax as well, who actually ends up having some of the funniest moments of the movie with his purposefully stone-faced persona and line delivery.
The only disappointment I have with the cast is in regards to the villains, who are certainly menacing and fun to watch, but lack any convincing motivations, and it’s unfortunate that the only depth we’re teased with is seemingly pushed to the sidelines. But once again, Guardians of the Galaxy is a film all about its main cast, and even though the villains and plot may seem slightly underdeveloped, it’s all done in the favor of furthering the focus on the lovably quirky main characters.
And if that wasn’t enough, the movie also comes packed with a perfect soundtrack that is loaded full of classic, memorable hits that only make the inherent nostalgia of the film that much more potent. It blends together with each and every scene wonderfully, and plays a huge part in making the film’s best moments as fun as they are.
Director James Gunn absolutely knocked it out of the park with Guardians of the Galaxy, and his refreshingly zany writing and outstanding work behind the camera help make this movie stand out as one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had at my local theater all summer. It might not have the gravitas or depth of some of Marvel’s other movies, but it’s certainly one of their most enjoyable, and I cannot wait to see where it might go in the future.