When Marvel Studios announced that it was making a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, movie executives had the same response to a guy named Peter Quill claiming that he is also known as Star-Lord.
When it also was revealed his team would include a talking tree and a bionic talking raccoon, it was predicted Marvel’s winning streak would end. It just can’t measure up to heroes we know, like Captain America and Thor. After all, they’re not exactly the Avengers. Still, the GoG are a very formidable and impressive team who become unlikely heroes a the highlight of the summer movie season.
It begins in 1988, when a young Peter sees his mom die in a hospital bed. He runs out, and is soon kidnapped by an alien ship. We late learn he was taken by Yondu (Michael Rooker), who heads the Ravagers, a group who basically plunder and steal. They also wanted to eat Peter, but Yondu stopped them.
Then, in 2014, a grown-up Peter (Chris Pratt) is in Morag, listening to a Walkman and a cassette mixtape his mom made for him. He dances to “Come and Get Your Love” while looking for an orb Yondu wants. He finds it, and is immediately found by Korath (Djimon Hounsou), who also wants the orb. Peter gets away to his ship, the Milano, and forgets he had a girl on board.
Turns out a lot of people want the orb, especially Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). He’s upset his fellow Kree signed a peace treaty with Xandar, and wants to give the orb to Thanos (James Brolin) so he can blow up the planet. He’s sent Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to get it, but it’s not certain she’ll follow orders. Thanos adopted her after he killed her parents, and modified her to become a living weapon.
When Peter tries to sell the orb at Xandar, Gamora ambushes him. Meanwhile, cyber-animal Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) also try to grab Peter for a bounty. This leads to them being sent to the Kyln, a massive prison. Gamora also becomes the target of some of the inmates because of her crimes. This includes Drax (Dave Bautista), whose family killed by Ronan. Through a lot of guile, luck and Groot’s skills, the group reluctantly decide to unite under Gamora’s real plan: sell the orb to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro), last seen at the end of Thor: The Dark World. He says the orb has an Infinity Stone, one of six stones that has massive power. That power is shown when someone tries to possess it, leading to a big showdown between Ronan and Xandar.
The story literally covers a lot of ground, but it’s still a great story about some not-so-noble aliens who learn to become heroes. As Peter points out, they all lost something, and they can get something back by challenging Ronan’s intergalactic cleansing.
Pratt is great as Peter, a guy who’s trying to get by suddenly thrust in a major situation. Slowly, he learns that caring for others is important, especially when Gamora is near death. He also develops some leadership skills, trying to keep the crew from killing each other. In a way, Peter/Star-Lord is like Captain America, a man who’d have a hard time recognizing his own planet after 26 years. Imagine someone trying to get him to trade his Walkman with an iPod.
Bautista, a pro wrestler who was also in Riddick, is pretty impressive as Drax. He’s a tough and angry guy, but he also wants justice against Ronan. There’s some pain in his anger, still feeling the loss of his family. He’s also a guy who takes things too literally.
Saldana is also good as Gamora, who’s deadly as she is beautiful. She may be seduced by the music in Peter’s Walkman, and interested in someone named Kevin Bacon, but will not fall to his “pelvic sorcery”.
The best, though, is Cooper as Rocket. Seeing that little guy with a big gun, saying the words, “Oh, yeah”, symbolizes the spirit of the movie. It’s the best voice acting performance in a long time. Diesel is also charming as Groot, who puts a lot of meaning in the only three words he knows and what he does without words.
As for the bad guys, Pace is scary as Ronan. He’s so fanatical about blowing up Xandar, not even the Kree want to get in his way. Drax finds that out, too, when the two meet in a big battle. Karen Gillan, best known for Doctor Who, is also meanacing as Nebula, Thanos’ daughter. She also has a great battle scene against Gamora. Rooker portrays Yondu as a blue Merle Dixon, his role on The Walking Dead, but he’s got a weapon that makes whistling very lethal.
Thanos also has a short scene with Ronan. Compared to his brief cameo at the end of The Avengers, Thanos’s face looks a bit bulkier, but Brolin does fine in his short role. He was supposed to be the main villain, but that was changed later in the filming. Hopefully, he’ll be making a bigger impact later in the Marvel-verse.
James Gunn, who directed the movie and co-wrote the story with Nicole Perlman, should be credited for making an exciting sci-fi movie. He starts the story and sets up the conflict very quickly, and keep the action and the quips going. It’s hard to say which is funnier: Peter’s pop culture comments or Rocket’s comments about people, especially a old guy who looks like Stan Lee.
As for the post-credit scenes, the first one involves dancing, while the other is a reminder about Marvel’s cinematic past. A lot of people at the screening I attended couldn’t believe it. Click here only if you’ve seen the movie to get more on the second scene.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the massive blockbuster that makes this summer complete. It may likely outdo Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the box office. It’s off to a great start, and we’re already assured a sequel
Finally, here’s a clip courtesy of Marvel’s YouTube channel: