Took in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy last weekend (along with so many others). What a fun show! Marvel Studios continues to hit that action-adventure-humor sweet spot, and we would guess that while the majority of the viewing public never heard of Drax or Groot prior to this film, they’re fans now.
Because no one’s demanded it, we’re going to try a little switch on the review format here. Instead of the longer summary form, we’ll just go with the likes and dislikes, hits and misses, cheers and jeers.
- Cosmic Marvel – The intergalactic, sci-fi area of the Marvel Universe has a lot to offer. Although Stan and Jack originally created some of the aliens and creatures just to give the Fantastic Four or Avengers someone else to fight, the vastness beyond Earth has provided creators with so many opportunities to tell new stories, mix favorite elements of space opera and sci-fi, and envision new worlds. Guardians, with its mishmash of alien cultures and locales, uses this to great effect to create that fun Star Wars vibe. We’ve seen hints of Cosmic Marvel in the Avengers-themed movies (especially Thor), but this one really nails it, with references to old school creations like the Kree and Skrull war, the Celestials, and more.
- Set Design/Art Direction – Closely tied to the above, big kudos to the visual arts team. It’s incredible what they can create on screen these days. Whether it’s Starlord’s ship (orange and blue, baby!), Ronan’s Dreadnought cruiser, the prison, Knowhere (awesome!), or Xandar, the overall result is fantastic. Not just because of the vivid colors and attention to detail, but also how these environments interact with the characters without suspending the disbelief overly much.
- Chris Pratt – Starlord, man! As a big Parks and Recreation fans, we already knew about the comic timing, which Pratt applies repeatedly and expertly. He’s a great choice as that Earth-transplant every-dude. Of course Peter Quill/Starlord has so much potential as an archetypal character. With a boyhood spend on earth in the 80s, he has those frames of reference, the music, the lingo. He knows about Captain Kirk and Han Solo and is fully attempting to pull that off. Pratt’s convincing in the action scenes, and has the range for the more serious moments as well (although you could feel the clowning right around the corner). His scenes with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) were fun and Saldana also deserves a lot of credit for her performance.
- Writers/Script – The story’s pretty straightforward: Quest for treasure turns into a mission to stop the evil overlord. The characters are your typical band of misfits. But give a lot of credit to the writing team – James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning. There’s real economy in their scenes; they set up character traits quickly, and the comedic moments are plentiful without feeling forced. Drax taking everything literally, Rocket’s antics and tough-guy veneer, Groot… We also appreciate some of those smaller moments and how they worked in a few Marvel easter eggs like usual. They didn’t overdo the Starlord/Quill character arc, they didn’t force some grand epiphany upon the character. And whoever came up with the idea for that final showdown with Ronan – well that writer deserves an award.
- I thought the post-credit mini-scene (now a tradition) was a little weak and somewhat frightening in an 80’s flashback kind of way. This isn’t really a dislike, but rather an observation: the movie had just a little too much violence and a one too many crude jokes for me to bring the kids along. They’re just going to have to wait, which is too bad, because they want to see Guardians very badly.