This one's a Must-see!

This one’s a Must-see!

I'm still hooked on a feeling!

I’m still hooked on a feeling!

James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy is a blessing. In an age where most sci-fi films have a shared tendency to create dark and dramatic scenarios with a generally pessimistic look at the future, this movie serves as a reminder that there was a time when the true essence of a sci-fi film was, not depressing social commentary or gloomy tales, but colorful battles, whimsical space adventures, and most importantly of all: one hell of a lovable character cast.

Lee Pace as Ronan and Karen Gillan as Nebula.

Lee Pace as Ronan and Karen Gillan, in the back, as Nebula.

Guardians of the Galaxy is that movie. The sci-fi movie that spends less time trying to be all deep and thought-provoking and more time being purely fun entertainment. Going into it, I was hoping that it would live up to its ads. I was hoping for a film that would make me smile for 2 consecutive hours without interruption. I didn’t get that. Instead, I smiled for 2 consecutive hours, plus the hours it took me to get home, praise the movie in a Facebook status, and go to bed. It is a loving tribute to the eternal classics that include Star TrekStar Wars and Firefly, as well as to the entire genre of science fiction itself. And I loved every silly, grin-inducing minute of it!

Based on the Marvel comic of the same name, thus inevitably being set in the Avengers universe, it stars Chris Pratt as a smug, orphaned, space-travelling outlaw with origins on planet Earth named Peter Quill, but he prefers to call himself Star-lord. He’s been hired to obtain a mysterious orb for his supervisor and father figure, a bandit leader named Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) but in true scoundrel fashion, Quill keeps the orb for himself instead, causing Yondu to promptly put a prize on his head. It doesn’t help that an evil alien known simply as Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace), leader of the Kree empire, seeks the very same sphere and thus sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a stone-cold assassin with an equally cold backstory, to track Quill down and retrieve the artifact for him. Gamora, however, turns out to also have plans for the orb.

Ronan has genocide in mind and hopes that he will be helped in destroying his sworn enemy, the Nova Corps of planet Xandar, if he acquires the sphere and gives it to none other than the mad titan Thanos. Yes folks, Thanos finally gets to appear in one of these films, and he’s played by Josh Brolin. Not sure if that’s the voice most would imagine Thanos having, but it’s still a welcome return from his post-credit Avengers scene.

From left to right: Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Star-lord, Groot and Drax.

From left to right: Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Star-lord, Groot and Drax.

Another party chasing after Star-lord is the weird but pricelessly funny duo of a raccoon-shaped, gun-loving badass bounty hunter named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his right-hand tree-man Groot (voiced for some reason by Vin Diesel). Running into each other on Xandar, Star-lord, Gamora, Rocket and Groot are all arrested by a Nova Corps officer played by John C. Reilly and sent to a prison where they soon befriend a humongous warrior that speaks entirely in old-fashioned English and takes everything literally, Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista). Drax has a personal history with Ronan, and it doesn’t take long until he teams up with the other four to escape from jail and set out on a science fiction adventure for the history books.

In addition to the characters I’ve mentioned, there’s still an admirable abundance of star power to go around. Glenn Close plays the supreme leader of Nova Corps and Djimon Hounsou is Korath, a cyborg soldier working for Ronan. There’s also Karen Gillan as Ronan’s genetically modified lieutenant Nebula, and of course Benicio del Toro returns from his post-credit scene in Thor: The Dark World as The Collector (Also, watch out for cameos by Lloyd Kaufman, Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie, and, well, Stan Lee.)

It’s the brilliantly written exchanges and interactions between all these wonderful different characters that provide the best and funniest scenes in the movie. The friendship between Groot and Rocket is surprisingly sweet in spite of how bizarre the team-up is, the romantic chemistry that eventually blossoms between Star-lord and Gamora worked much better than expected, and any scene where they’re all arguing is nothing short of gold. From Rocket and Star-lord’s back-and-forth banter, to Drax’s misinterpretations of everyone else’s modern expressions, to Rocket understanding everything Groot says even though all he can say is “I am Groot”; it’s all absolutely hysterical!

Even the side-characters are remarkably strong. Karen Gillan is much more entertaining here than she ever was on Doctor Who, Pace’s over-the-top seriousness was funnier than some critics give it credit for, del Toro is enjoyably hammy, and aside from Rocket & Groot, my favourite character is probably Yondu. His weapon of choice, a levitating dart that’s somehow controlled by his whistling, is one of the cooler things in the movie.

guardians of shit

In summary, Guardians of the Galaxy is a witty, thrilling and consistently entertaining sci-fi adventure with a tasteful soundtrack (need I even mention Blue Swede at this point?), deliciously colorful imagery, gorgeous sets, an unforgettable character cast, and a share of genuinely dramatic moments that work astoundingly well for what is otherwise such a chipper and fun movie experience. My only complaint is the 3D conversion, which made certain things, including Drax in the first shot we see of him, stick out from the backgrounds more so than they should.

Sometimes, however, the film might be alluding a little too much to classics like Star Wars. There’s a scene where Ronan is speaking with one of Thanos’ allies via hologram, and the character looks and sounds an awful lot like a guy most of us know as Emperor Palpatine. As I recall, the same character also appeared in The Avengers but I’m not sure if he was doing his Emperor impression in that one. Oh well, he’s dead now so it doesn’t matter. He only got three scenes in one franchise. A moment of silence for not-Palpatine.

Either way, I strongly urge all my readers to go see Guardians of the Galaxy. Oh, and please do stay for the obligatory post-credit scene at the end of this one! I won’t say what it is, but let’s just say it might have something to do with Disney’s recent purchase of Lucasfilm earning them the rights to a certain Marvel character. That might be too much info already so I’ll zip it.

5/5 whatever

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