[Review] ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is Out of This World!

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Guardians of the Galaxy is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years. Somehow director James Gunn brings his Troma sensibilities and creates a cinematic experience that rivals A New Hope. Which may sound insane, but I mean it. This high praise is warranted. Gunn pulls out all the stops and makes something more compelling than either Star Trek reboot, and all of the Star Wars prequels combined. This is the best Marvel movie to date, and a new standard of quality for the summer blockbuster.

-Spoiler free-

For a film that seemed like Marvel’s biggest risk yet, the finished product is staggering. This is a tightly crafted piece of cinema that seamlessly transitions between moments of heartbreak, levity, and action. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.

The film follows Peter Quill AKA Star Lord (Chris Pratt) a young rogue who travels the galaxy flipping treasure to the highest bidder. When Star Lord comes into possession of a mysterious orb, he’s placed directly in the sights of Ronin The Accuser (Lee Pace) a genocidal alien maniac who will stop at nothing to get the orb.

Ronin has legions of Kree aliens at his command. He’s power hungry and on personal journey of destruction. Luckily Star Lord amasses a nice team of his own to fight back against the warlord working for Thanos.

Watching Star Lord come together with a talking raccoon, Rocket (Bradley Cooper), A walking tree, Groot (Vin Diesel), a deadly assassin, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and a alien maniac, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Batista), is half the fun of the film. The team dynamics are rough and inspire a ton of comedy. But much like “The Avengers” the team is a well-oiled machine by the end of the two hours.

The story spans planets, introduces a wealth of alien species, and quickly gets tied up in intergalactic politics, but never feels overwhelming. Somehow James Gunn balances each of these delicate points and never slows the pacing. It’s an incredible feat made to look easy. There is emotional depth that isn’t apparent when you watch the trailers. Each character has a very clear arc and finds time to resolve their issues in fantastic ways. This is a story about losers, people who have nobody and find something in each other that they never thought they’d have again.

Visually the film is an absolute spectacle. Deep space has never looked so good. No really. Remember what you wanted the Star Wars prequels to look like? Well this film’s got it in spades. The backdrops of deep space are colorful and engaging. You see the vibrant world in the backgrounds of the scenes and the every piece of this world is unique. Most of the imagery echoes past science fiction films, but it never feels like a tribute to the films that inspired it because the cinematography is clean, well communicated, and makes some fantastic visual gags.

It feels strange to call this film a genuine masterpiece, but it really is. There is a certain confident magic to the execution that makes “Guardians of the Galaxy” the best Marvel movie to date. The script is incredibly tight and features fantastic dialogue. You’ll laugh until your jaw hurts. You’ll feel pangs in your heart when you understand the significance of the 80’s pop songs. You’ll jump out of your seat with some of the action set pieces near the end, and hell you’ll probably be ready to see it all again.

I can only compare the experience to the first time I sat down as a child to take in Star Wars. There is something about a band of misfits who save the day against all odds. Everyone is a force of antagonism here, and the ride couldn’t be more exhilarating. This is the type of film we’ll still love thirty years in the future and the type of excellence JJ Abrams has to strive for when he releases Star Wars VII, although I doubt he’ll touch this.

The film did have some minor nuisances. Ronin The Accuser is often a villain of circumstance in the comics. Sometimes an ally as much as a villain, but the film makes no effort to humanize him. In fact he’s so far removed from anything that there is no real reason to understand his motivation other than the sheer will to destroy and conquer. He’s pretty one-dimensional but still manages to steal the scenes he’s in out of sheer intensity. It’s a shame though because he could have been so much more had he been given more depth.

While Gamora feels like a weak link in the team. She could have had the strongest story. She’s the “daughter” of Thanos and really owes a lot of her development to her complicated history with the mad titan. Yet, a lot of it feels glossed over here, she’s a badass fighter, but doesn’t really get any time to develop her character. I’m on the fence about a scene mid way though the movie with her, and still don’t find it a convincing change for the character.

Everyone else is incredible. Chris Pratt was born to be a leading man. He owns the film as Star Lord. He’s got so much charisma and heart while still being able to snap back to a scumbag at any given moment. Dave Batista actually blew me away with his subtle performance. Drax’s early lines are all hilarious and his character motivation amounts too much more than a fighting brute. He’s an absolute standout among much more seasoned actors. Bradley Cooper does a fantastic job as the voice of Rocket, and Groot has a lot more heart than you’d expect for a tree that can only say it’s name.

This is so much more than a comic book movie. It’s a return to form for the space opera. It’s a smart and stylish blockbuster that tells a great story with a cast of relatively small actors leading the charge. It proves that blockbuster and tentpole films don’t have to be hollow experiences. In fact it proves that we should demand more as audiences.  Guardians of the Galaxy is the best summer movie in years, the best Marvel movie ever, and an instant classic.

Get to the cinema and see it now.

Official Score

  • Polsdofer

    The only reason i’m going to see this is because it’s tied into the Avengers. The talking tree and the raccoon throw me off.

    • RawBeard

      I was like you but seriously you forget about all that and they become awesome

      • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

        ^ This

      • Polsdofer

        Yeah you’re right i watched it and didn’t care anymore.

    • Nicolas Caiveau

      I would have seen it just for them even if it wasn’t tied to the Avengers^^

    • Charlie Kelly

      Why don’t you read the source material first… that will explain why the tree and the raccoon is in that team, ffs.

      • Polsdofer

        Well i don’t have to read jack if i don’t want to and i didn’t mind them after i watched the movie, also why so butthurt?

  • http://doomas10 doomas10

    Grout and Rocket were awesome but the character development in some parts was kinda lame. Many characters feel like satellites. While not a bad movie – it contains some fantastic make up and production design values, I thought the story of a one dimensional guy – in a similar fashion to Thor’s 2 Malekith was a bit disappointing. Looking forward for the Avengers 2 though!

    • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

      Man, I loved Thor: The Dark World but Malekith was indeed very poorly developed. He seemed like an afterthought. I don’t know what the deal is lately with comic book movies and their villains. Loki is awesome but since the Avengers they haven’t had a really good villain in the movies (Malekith, Aldrich Killian and the bullshit fake Mandarin twist and as awesome as Captain America 2 was the Winter Soldier wasn’t even the real villain but instead another suit calling all the shots as the face of the big bad, Hydra). It’s not exclusive to Marvel, though. As much as I like Michael Shannon Zod in Man Of Steel wasn’t the badass I thought he’d be and Bane in TDKR was ruined by a lame voice and a reveal similar but not quite as shitty as the one in Iron Man 3. Then you’ve got the forgettable villains in both Amazing Spider Man movies. After awesome characters like Loki and Ledger’s Joker and even Kevin Bacon, who was a cool villain in X-Men: First Class I thought we’d be getting some seriously great villains in future comic book movies but so far, no good. Hopefully Ultron will be awesome and I’m stoked for Apocalypse in the next X-Men movie (because I loved Days Of Future Past).

      • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

        And Thanos with Josh Brolin behind him will be a true menace. Although we’ll be waiting years for him to finally kick some ass something tells me it’ll be worth the wait.

        • http://doomas10 doomas10

          Brolin seems to be born to play Thanos but that CGI monstrocity in GOTG ruined it for me totally. :(

          • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

            What!? I thought he looked fantastic! Plus we didn’t get a really good look at him.

          • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

            I second that. Totally underwhelmed by Thanos. I hope they do some serious work on him before he enters the picture as the ultimate villain in Avengers 3.

      • J Jett

        K. Lee Adams, i adore Michael Shannon but IMO Antje Traue stole the show (antagonist-wise) as Faora-Ul.

        • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

          Totally agree! She rocked it. I was wishing she had been the lead villain in the movie. She came across much better than Zod for me.

      • magicjaguar

        I think Ronan is a fantastic villain in Guardians. His reveal was like seeing Darth Vader come out of his pod for the first time in A New Hope. I have to say that I’m a bit bummed that he “died.” Hopefully he is just conferencing with Lady Death.

        • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

          I definitely think Ronin was a much cooler villain than some of the more recent ones in other Marvel movies. He was quite menacing, which I really appreciated. Plus he looked awesome. Lee Pace did a good job playing the character. And I, too, hope he somehow makes his way back into a future movie. He’s too cool to be in only one movie.

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            My problem was with him that he did not had anything cool to show off. We know nothing of his powers or their limit. Why he was so imposing? He was mostly standing! Shame because yes, he was cool, looked menacing and Lee Pace was amazing. But no proper fight with him? Or at least some interaction?

          • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

            True. I had that same issue with Thor: The Dark World. What is it with these anticlimactic fights in superhero movies? I want to walk away like “Damn, that was a badass fight!”, not “Oh, that’s it?”.

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            Exactly. MOS gave some truly spectacular fights but so far the only fight I liked in Marvel films was the one in Thor: the dark world. It had a few hits here and there but so far, the MArvel films – with the exception of Captain America the Winter Soldier- have almost underwhelming fights with the villains – yes even the Avengers :(

          • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

            With The Avengers I thought the battle with the Chitauri was awesome but the fight with Loki? There basically was none. The Hulk slammed his ass into the ground a few times and he was out of the fight. As funny as that scene was it was unfortunate that the main villain was as involved in the battle as I wish he’d been.

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            Yep – I consider a fight when it is one on one. The battle at the end of the Avengers was spectacular but the whole Loki smashing – yes funny as hell – but at least give him something to do before he gets badly pwned. Like almost defeating Thor and the rest of the team due to his overwhelming army and mystical skills. Oh well, I still love that film but they need to update their game me thinks!

          • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

            Exactly. Someone else gets it! Here’s hoping the battle with Ultron is one of epic proportions!

          • http://doomas10 doomas10

            yep…and I guess Whedon is not going to put a joke like Ultron needs to simply be unplugged! (showing off someone unplugging him!)

          • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

            Ha! That would be hilarious! They go through the most epic battle ever only to find out all they had to do to defeat Ultron was remove the Energizer batteries from his back.

  • Charlie Kelly

    I am Groot

    • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

      WE ARE GROOT

  • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

    Saw it tonight. Loved it. Rocket totally stole the show. He was funny and badass, a perfect combination. Aside from some minor complaints (Ronin looked cool but wasn’t a very interesting villain and Dave Batista was more wooden than Groot) I had an awesome time. Everyone should check it out.

    • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

      Oh dude. I couldn’t disagree more about Batista. He stole the show for me. I couldn’t believe how much fun he was. His lines were incredible and he had fantastic comedic timing.

      • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

        I respect that. His performance just didn’t work for me for most of the movie. He did have some killer lines. Who knows, maybe on the second viewing I’ll see something I didn’t the first time around.

    • magicjaguar

      Batista’s wooden performance was purposeful and necessary for the character. It was warranted.

      • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

        If it was wooden intentionally then he did a good job. It just didn’t land for me like it did for others. But i’m not trying to hate, just pointing out one of the very few things that didn’t work for me in an otherwise awesome movie. Plus, he’s certainly not the worst wrestler turned actor I’ve ever seen.

  • Spike0037

    Star-Lord is the new HAN SOLO

    • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

      AGREED!

  • ThunderDragoon

    This has as much hype as The Avengers, and I didn’t like that movie. I’ll definitely wait for the hype train to stop and catch this on DVD.

    • http://zacbthompson.tumblr.com Zac Thompson

      This film is nothing like The Avengers. Really a different entity altogether. Give it a shot. You’ll regret not catching it on the big screen.

    • Spike0037

      then your missing out, Dave Batista was great, Vin Diesel really made Groot an amazing character, and Cooper knocked it out of the park, and Chris Pratt like I said made Star-Lord this gens Han-Solo

    • Full Frontal Squashing

      Stop being a ninnie! Go see it, you wet noodle

  • Ress EZ

    A new generation of directors is making it big in Hollywood. Who would have thought summer blockbuster movies were directed by Troma writer and Buffy creator. I can’t wait to see Trevorrow and Cornish achieve the same!

  • BryBryTheNiceGuy

    YES! This film blew me away and is now my favourite Marvel film! It was breathtakingly brilliant and one of the best Sci-Fi films I’ve ever seen in my life. The lead characters were all developed and interesting, which each of the five members having a great story arc. Seriously the whole cast owned…but this movie belonged to Chris Pratt. I know he’ll rock in Jurassic World!

    My only flaws are with the villains. Ronan was interesting and awesome, but I felt he was one-dimensional. And Nebula rocked, but she was too underused for my liking. I needed more of her…but overall I agree with the 5/5 rating. To me the movie is a masterpiece!

  • magicjaguar

    This film was incredible and achieved everything that I wanted from it (plus a little extra). The soundtrack was spot on, the practical make-up effects were stunning and some of the best of this generation of film, the acting was solid, and (like all good sci-fi) there was even a hint at political allegory (think Israel/Hamas conflict/incursion). I’d go so far as to say that it’s on par with Star Wars in terms of grand and vibrant world-building.

  • http://roosterillusionreviews.com SciFridays

    I do not know how this movie is getting so much in the way of overwhelming positive reviews – it was a good time, a funny time, yes, but not nearly so perfect as it’s being lauded, and believe me, I wanted to love it.

  • Full Frontal Squashing

    Great film. Perfect Summer movie. Go see it in a packed theater. Took my three kids and we all loved it, and that usually does not happen. We are all going again this weekend to see it. “I am Groot!”

  • Evan3

    THis movie has been talked up a lot. I wonder how it can possibly live up to the hype. Then again, Dark Knight lived up to it. Also, I understand the slugs from Slither make a cameo appearance. Awesome!!!!