*The last paragraph expresses short analysis for those who don't want to sit through the long read* “Wait. . . So there is a talking raccoon that shoots rockets?! A talking tree who only says three words?! Hahahaha!!! You're joking, right? No. . .Well, this is going to be awesome!!!”
This is what I imagine Kevin Feige, president and producer of Marvel studios, said when he heard of this property, while being high as a kite on *fill in blank stimulant of choice*.
No one knew of this property, myself included, and for good reason. It is one of the least known properties in all of Marvel lore. Like all of you I had my skepticism, even if it was incredibly short lived because I have a love for all things quirky and clever. I also can't deny my love of Star Wars and Star Trek which fed into my excitement for the film.
To get you prepped all you need know is that this film follows the ragtag adventures of an unlikely bunch of “heroes” in space who come in contact with each other from their own self obsessed ambitions. In the end, it turns out they need each other for one reason or another which in turn leads them to a threat that could potentially in the long run destroy the entire galaxy. Long story short, with continuing to be as freakin' vague as possible, they need to guard the galaxy from this threat.
Much like its incredibly fun hero compilation epic before, The Avengers, the plot is rather shallow and formulaic. This could be a huge downfall, except for how self aware the film is of this (with lines along the line of how the “macguffin” of the film, the infinity stone, feels similar to the arc of the covenant from Indiana Jones). This, along with how entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy is in the first place – yes, this film is entertaining - make it only a minor flaw at best. This non-complexity, also has its advantages. Instead of taking that time that could have been used for depth in story, we are given time to flesh out the characters. Guardians could have very easily, very easily, very easily (did I say very easily) fallen on its face from having five major character origin stories. Furthermore, if that didn't take the film out, their strong personalties could have tore it down with the potential of being incredibly over the top with the film's quirky style.
Instead, the characters are precisely the reason this film works so well. It is truly a character driven film and it shows from start finish with some of the best written dialogue of the year. This is shown in all the heroes as they are all fleshed out brilliantly in their personalities, with the exception of possibly Gamora which I will get to later.
The real star of the show as advertised is Star Lord played by the immensely likable Chris Pratt. The best I can describe the character is being a mix of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Kevin Bacon from Footloose (Star Lord's ridiculously awesome, self described role model in the film. Let's Dance!!!). Similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, Chris Pratt breathes life into his character. So much of his known personality is infused into Star Lord that they are inseparably awesome together.
Just as good, but with slightly less screen time is the tag team duo of Groot and Rocket. They are possibly the funniest and most energetic characters of the bunch and set the tone for this colorful and quirky film. Their chemistry with each other, and the rest of the group for that matter, is phenomenal. Without them, it just another space adventure. With them, this film is elevated to something special with their offbeat humor and unlikely heroics. Their chemistry is even more amazing when you realize that Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel were behind the mike in their characters interactions. Props to both of them for such amazing voice work and the team behind the visual effects for bringing these characters to life in such a beautiful and satisfying way.
The weakest of the team is probably Drax and Gamora. While neither of their characters are a flaw to the film, they have their notable weaknesses. As for Drax, Dave Bautista is not the strongest actor in the world (Though he looks like it! Oh, not that type of strong. . .). In his defense, he has humbly admitted to this, and he has a reputation for being one of the kindest and hardest working actors around which is clearly shown in his physical performance. On another plus side, what is brilliant on the film's part is how they treat his character traits. Having him take everything literally, much like the Vulcans from Star Trek, bypasses that he is not a very good actor and any wooden acting feeds into his character's persona allowing him to be both incredibly funny and likable. As for Gamora, she has shades of every badass female character ever made, making her disappointingly seem if she just got off the cookie cutter character assembly line. Her potentially rich and rewarding story arc is also barely explored, but nevertheless she has an element of awesomeness with Zoe Saldana's kick-ass nature and solid acting ability.
When it comes to characters truly not playing out well we have to turn to the main villains of the film which form the greatest flaw of the film. While Lee Pace playing Ronin the Accuser has a strong enough of a performance, his character is sadly underwritten. I can understand wanting to have a well paced film, but cutting such indispensably important character development and realization of intentions down to practically nothing is cheap and undercuts the importance of having a strong antagonist. Nebula, Ronin's sidekick, also is underwritten; but this is blessing in disguise due to her clear over acting.
Any flaw can be thrown under the bus, or spaceship, for what truly matter is how insanely enjoyable this film is. From start to finish we are set on this roller coaster ride. Guardians of the Galaxy's characters are truly fun, for lack of a better word, and enormously hilarious. The film's tone, music, color schemes are also vibrant and beautiful with top of the line CGI, and its quirky identity is readily apparent. Guardians of the Galaxy may not be the best film of the year, but it might just be the funnest.
Personal Preference: 4.5/5
How Well It Was Made: 4.25/5