Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe has officially begun!
Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name (2008-present). It is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and is the tenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by James Gunn (Slither and Super), and written by Gunn and Nicole Perlman. The movie features an enormous cast, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan,Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro. The story focuses on an American pilot in the far reaches of space, who finds himself in the middle of a manhunt after he steals a mysterious orb, and must form an alliance with an unusual group of criminals.
Marvel is in their prime. This movie clearly proves to us that they are the top dog in the business, and we should all kneel and worship their reign, or flee in terror.
Although I have been a Marvel comicbook fan for a long time, I have not had the pleasure of reading any version of the Guardians literacy. My tastes have primarily been classics, like X-Men, Thor, Silver Surfer, etc. However, after seeing the movie this morning, I am increasingly interested in finding a copy and skimming through it. In truth, I had no even heard of the relatively new galactic super-team before Marvel Studios announced the project.
The team in the movie is comprised of characters that are equally quirky, funny, and even deadly as the actor portraying them. Each back story is mentioned at least once in the film, mostly focusing on Peter Quill’s (Star Lord) character, who is the main protagonist of the story. To an extent, this helps the audience not be distracted and instead focus on the humor and overall action-packed quality of the picture. Even so, they all perform well together, even when two of the main characters are completely CGI. Chris Pratt is a funny guy, and he was given a lot of elbow room to expound this jester-side in dance moves, cliche statements, and unique heroic moments. The rest of the cast derives from his performance nicely.
James Gunn was a relatively unknown motion picture director until a few years ago. Unless you are one of the few who saw his B-horror film Slither (2006), or the black superhero comedy Super (2010), you probably had no idea who he was. Obviously, I do not know much about him as a director, but he clearly helped craft the movie on enough visuals to keep our eyes on the big screen, enough action to keep us entertained, and enough laughs to keep us yearning for more.
The sets are equally as impressive as the makeup. It mixes the use of Star Wars and Star Trek features in a few clever ways, while at the same time obtaining a flavor for an original comicbook-feel that we can enjoy. The actors played with the sets, the sets held the visuals together, and the visuals took us out of this world and beyond. I marvel–no pun intended–at the level CGI has achieved today. Although I admire and respect real sets and real effects, I am left speechless at how far we have come in special effects in my lifetime, no less.
It is hard to rate this movie without thinking about where Marvel has come in just over ten years. It started with Blade movies, X-men (which I rather enjoy), an okay Fantastic Four, a bad Daredevil, and was thankfully revived with Iron Man (2008). The first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is over. The second has begun with Guardians. And although set with completely different characters and completely different scenery, the film matches Avengers in several ways, if not the iconic characters a broad audience is familiar with. Guardians decides to introduce and team-up at the same time, rather than simply “Avengers assemble!”
With an adventurous story, evenly funny characters, plenty of good family-friendly laughs, and enough action for eye candy, James Gunn returns us to the comicbook universe, aided by our love for Marvel. I hear Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is already in pre-production.
5 out of 7 stars, for the moment. I need to go see it again before it gets out of theaters. Very well done. Highly recommended.