director: James Gunn
writers: James Gunn & Nicole Perlman
starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista
genre: Action | Comics | Sci-Fi
released: August 1, 2014 (U.S.), August 7, 2014 (Australia), August 28, 2014 (Germany), September 4, 2014 (Greece)
"Marvel" has entered the space age and everyone has eaten it up like there was nothing to it. And how could they not when "Marvel's" first cosmic outing has an incredible sense of humor, fantastic effects, creative artistry and design. As well as well-rounded and unlikely likable characters that are so different, but so similar at the same time.
In space a young abducted Earth boy Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has turned into a smuggling outlaw ala Han Solo. On one of his big smuggling scores he comes upon a cosmic ball that happens to be wanted by all in the galaxy.
His possession of it will lead to the meeting and eventual coming together of some the most unlikely characters in the galaxy. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) the "weapon" daughter of the impervious villain Thanos, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) hell bent on killing Ronan the Accuser for murdering his family, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) the gun wielding Raccoon and Groot (Vin Diesel) who is a 3 word tall tree.
Together they will find a common cause to protect the Galaxy from Ronan the Accuser and the puppet master of all Thanos. Before they get their hands on the globe and the treasure or curse it holds inside of it.
The "Marvel" formula is so refined at this point, that it’s difficult to imagine when it’s going to falter. Kevin Feige who's the head at Marvel Studios has guided all the film projects with one cohesive vision, structure and style. While still implementing a little bit of charm here and there when the right director comes along. This has worked perfectly till now. With Marvel films dominating the box office too many times over, plus having more films than expected with critical approval.
Notable examples of this are "the Avengers", "Cap 2" and the recently released "Guardians". All of which while substantially profitable and entertaining, haven't reached a point of particular perfection. Marvel's formula might be just right to entertain and satisfy audiences in a popcorn fashion. However they have yet to break the barrier of their own making or reach a more serious cinematic tone and comic book style storytelling such as "The Dark Knight" managed to do.
"Guardians" remains consciously in the playground of playing it safe while still be wholly entertaining and original in its own right. Additionally its characters are unusually likable and different than what we are used to expect from your run of the mill superheroes. Moreover the fact that the origin of each of them is emotionally griping and included in the film. Enhances them as characters and their internal bonding within the group.
When I mention a "Marvel" film playing it safe, it is specifically referred to the point of them not having tried to kill off a good guy yet or messing it up completely (Thor 2), while also not employing controversial or edgy storylines and character decisions in their films. Which was exactly what put "The Dark Knight" on the map. Having a tight script, incredible arcs for many of its characters, while also having tough and ethical decisions that needed to made, as well as great filmmaking in general and the always needed good old cinematic luck. Like having Heath Ledger be the shark from "Jaws".
I'm not saying it’s not satisfactory for a film to be just casually enjoyable and nothing more. But after seeing Guardians I wasn't left with that special feeling of having lived an incredible action extravaganza as I felt with "the Avengers" or a deep emotional connection and roller-coaster of terror and humanity as in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes".
Nonetheless, my complaints with Guardians reside mainly with the fact that I just wanted a bit more out of the production. I know sometimes that's difficult to ask, but I can always hope. However a true complaint towards the film is how its story is set into motion. In the comics the formation of the team happens very gradually as there is an over decade of history to each of the characters and with many events that preceded the formation of the team.
Here the mysterious globe that everyone is fixated on is what brings them together and you might say a bit too fast. Because the film feels like its rushing to get you to the prison sequence. Doling out information as quickly as possible and then coming up with an unnecessary action scene in my opinion so to get the ball rolling. If you think about it. Marvel knew after the prison sequence the film is dynamite and I absolutely agree. But up until that point. We have Peter Quill screen time with his origin as a boy and smuggling duties as a man. Then immediately finding no time for pause so we can get to the prison. Felt rushed and it is minor, but noticeable.
Another problem, which is a recurring one for the Marvel movies is the lack of a fully developed villain. And although Ronan is far better than the Dark Elf lead villain in "Thor 2", who was way too monotone for his own good. Ronan is just left to look balsy and maniacal. Leavings his real motives and emotions unknown. This even more problematic when you know how how great and rich Ronan is as a character from the source material. Its a shame in a way how he was treated. However once you've payed attention to what has happened to almost every Marvel film villain, it's expected. On the positive side he has two evil sidekicks Nebula and Korath who are fine with their minimal duties in the film. Their job is to look menacing, cool and have a weighted presence on screen, which they do and counts for something.
Enjoying the hell out of this film won't be a problem for anyone out there. The jokes are well written and hilariously layered out in the film. All the actors fit into their fictional roles perfectly and sell the stupid side of being a part of a superhero team. Finally the action is enough to be considered entertaining, but I wouldn't go as far to say that it's at the same level with "the Avengers" or that it has any mind blowing or groundbreaking action sequence to it. Overall its a great comedic team up film. Easy for comic book outsiders and a treat for the old faithful.