“Guardians of the Galaxy” – Review by Matt Marshall

"Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014) - Movie Review - Matt Marshall - We Live Film

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is Marvel’s Bright Star

by Matt Marshall

Adding Guardians of the Galaxy to Marvel’s Phase Two lineup was a bit of an oddball choice at first. After all, Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon aren’t exactly household names like Iron Man or Captain America. The good news is, that all changes now.

Heavily inspired by Star Wars, Guardians spends little time building up its intergalactic playground at the start. Space outlaw, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt from The LEGO Movie) is sent on a mission to recover an alien orb. But it seems, he’s not the only one in the universe with an interest in this ball. There’s also a green assassin, a talking raccoon and a tree from Lord of the Rings on the hunt as well.

Guardians has no issues beating to its own drum. Visually and thematically, Guardians expands the scope of Marvel’s universe to an unexpected level of vintage charm and an out-of-this-world roller coaster vibe.

Everything that succeeds in Guardians comes as bit of a shock. As director of Slither, Super and a segment from last year’s Movie 43, James Gunn was an unlikely candidate in making Guardians work at first. He grasps the space western, closing in fast on George Lucas (70’s and 80’s Lucas that is) or Serenity’s Joss Whedon.

Guardians reaps plenty of rewards with the first being its stellar ensemble. As Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, Chris Pratt headlines the Guardians with a Han Solo-esque comedic wit and charm. Pratt’s quickly moving up the ranks, especially after stealing hearts earlier this year in The LEGO Movie. Talk about two career-changing performances in one year.

SEE ALSO: Guardians of the Galaxy – Review by Zachary Marsh

Pratt isn’t the only star here breaking out courtesy of Guardians. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel equally steal the show as bounty hunter duo, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Cooper has loads of fun voicing the gun-toting CGI raccoon. The same goes for Diesel who changes up his repetitive line “I am Groot” with precise delivery without fail. Any skeptics who think it’s impossible to be charmed by a motor-mouthed raccoon and tree will leave Guardians proved they’re dead wrong.

Zoe Saldana and WWE superstar Dave Bautista round out the Guardians as Gamora and Drax. And while they’re the two weakest links of the team, they both have their moments.

The villains of Guardians aren’t as thought out as its heroic quintet. With an overcrowded trifecta of baddies in Ronan, his sadistic lieutenant Nebula and MCU top boss Thanos, no one manages to stand out. Lee Pace from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug plays up a discount Darth Vader in Marvel’s universe. He’s nothing more than a transitional villain, especially with Thanos teased throughout Guardians.

Guardians bounces its band of misfits all over the galaxy like a pinball machine. Even at two hours, there’s plenty crammed into this debut film and not enough time to take in every detail of what the universe has to offer. With a sequel already planned for 2017, there’s already an opportunity for dedicated world-building.

Except for callbacks to post-credit scenes in The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, Guardians is on its own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But make no mistake, while the events seem remote now, there is a bigger picture ahead. We just might not get to it for another four years.

Also to note, the retro soundtrack for Guardians is as perfect as AC/DC and Black Sabbath are to Iron Man. Quill rocks out to his Walkman from the 80’s playing a gifted mix tape. Tracks like Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” and Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” give not just a sense of nostalgia, but are specifically incorporated into the plot.

The sky’s the limit for both the Marvel brand and Guardians of the Galaxy.

GRADE: A- (4.5/5)

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