Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy is the first film of the 2nd phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe. The story is centered around Peter Quill, a man abducted from Earth when he was a child, and his quest to keep a magic science orb away from Ronan the Accuser. Along the way, he meets Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. Together, they form an unlikely group of superheroes named the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The humor in the script is very tight. That’s probably the strongest aspect of the film. The majority of the jokes made by the film work very well. I have a decent amount of problems with the script, but I’m glad that it was punched up enough to not become a groan-fest that many other Marvel films become.
The actors are all also very charismatic. Chris Pratt gives one of his most charming performances to date as Peter Quill. Zoe Saldana solidifies her sci-fi dominance as Gamora, Bradley Cooper does his best Joe Pesci imitation as Rocket, and Vin Diesel is lovable even while only giving a singular line as (I am) Groot. However, the real surprise is Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. Known primarily as a WWE wrestler, he kills as the overly serious brute. Despite the fact that Lee Pace’s Ronan is nothing special, the ensemble performances give the energy to make the film as fun as it is.
With a talking tree and raccoon as part of the main cast, it could have been easy to make characters who seem somewhat isolated to the rest of the group. However, the character designs were very well thought-out, and the group works very cohesively. The action in the beginning of the film is very fun and entertaining, though as the movie teeters into the 3rd act, it quickly becomes a mess of colors and explosions.
Guardians of the Galaxy is very emotionally manipulative, and not very subtle about it either. There are many detours from the fun, campy elements of the film to go to some more dramatic moments, and it’s like flipping a light switch. The score is written in a way where you are essentially told to “feel sad here”. While the soundtrack is enjoyable, filled with classic ’70s and ’80s music, the score was remarkably bland.
You can definitely feel James Gunn’s Troma roots appear in the film, but the movie still feels watered down to fit a studio format. That said, I still appreciate the risks that Marvel took in making this movie. While I don’t feel like Guardians of the Galaxy is anything revolutionary, it’s still a fun time at the movies. And the best Marvel film I’ve seen thus far. 7/10.