“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)



Marvel comics-based movies can be hit or miss, and generally take themselves entirely too seriously. But “Guardians” is an exception to the rule.

It starts from the writing. The script is more like one for an action-comedy than a serious sci-fi action movie. But not just a typical dumb-jokes action-comedy, the dialog is snappy and edgy. Some of the jokes are very adult as well. In one scene Zoe Saldana’s character comments on how dirty Quill’s spaceship is. After she leaves, he jokes with the rest of the crew that “if you brought a black light in it would look like a Jackson Pollock painting in here.”

Saldana plays “Gamora” – an assassin with an axe to grind. She looks great and carries the role off well. Not just the action parts, but also that of someone who always fought alone suddenly having friends and being part of a group. Chris Pratt is the main lead, “Quill” … or “Starlord” as he calls himself when captured. Hs back story is that of a kid who was kidnapped from earth by space-pirates and now is one himself. He does a great job as the snarky, over-confident – yet likable – scoundrel. He’s got kind of an early Dennis Quaid quality – very amusing to watch.

Vin Diesel is the voice of “Groot” – a tree-creature-thing. Pretty much all he says is “I Am Groot”, but he says it in different ways so it’s the tone that matters, not the words. Bradley Cooper is the voice of “Rocket,” a genetically reengineered raccoon with a penchant for explosives. Normally animated characters are a little too cutesy and can ruin a film like this, but “Rocket” has some great lines and they gave him a real personality to riff off of. Groot is also fully animated, but he’s still got personality and “charm” … somehow.

Rounding out the main cast is Dave Bautista (the ex-WWE wrestler) as “Drax.” He’s a warrior who lives for killing and vengeance, so not much of a stretch from his usual persona. Some of his dialog is a bit stiff, but when they let him be funny he’s great. He’s got an awesome dry delivery and I don’t know anyone else who could make the dialog they wrote for him work better.

So you have these 5 beings who have always fought alone now working as a team. That injects the right amount of humanity into the adventure without getting too sappy. The bad guys (and girls) are really bad. Wiping out the galaxy and all that. It’s a solid storyline that works from start to end.

The special effects are really well done and believable. They’re not overdone – this isn’t a Michael Bay film where it’s explosions from start to finish. There’s a big penultimate battle scene and some smaller skirmishes, but the rest of the action is smaller scale. All the space ships and gear looks “right” and more importantly moves right – both in space and when in an atmosphere. A lot of attention to detail here and it paid off.

Which brings me to the sixth “character” in this movie: the sound track. Just great, great music from the 70’s like “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum, “Go All the Way” by Raspberries, and “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways. Songs adults know but probably haven’t heard on the radio in years. The music adds character to the whole movie because the selections are spot on perfect, and the timing of when they’re played has great comedic timing.

If there are any complaints I have with “Guardians,” they’re minor ones. The editing is a little choppy in places – bouncing from one thing to another. And the evil characters aren’t very well developed or well-defined. They’re just sort of there doing evil without too much explanation or justification.

A sequel has already been announced with the same write/director (James Gunn) – he totally deserves to make the next one. Just a super, super job. In short: go see this movie. You won’t regret it. The humor for adults is done in a way that kids won’t get the joke, so you can bring the whole family.