Looking back, there seems to be a running theme with Marvel Cinematic Universe films and my reviews: that everyone after the last is the best. I hate to play favorites, but it’s my review so here it goes. Guardians of the Galaxy is far and away the greatest MCU film since Iron Man. When GotG was first announced, it was a bold but eventual move from Kevin Fiege. With the recently outlined plans for Marvel to go until 2019 it was evident that Marvel Studios would touch on lesser-known IPs, but to start with Guardians was a risk – a blockbuster comic book film with a walking tree and a talking raccoon. But as of writing this, Guardians is number one in theaters after 3 weeks. Those numbers don’t lie.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens on a young Peter Quill – an earthborn human with a dying mother. After his mother’s death an alien ship collects rattled Quill and we’re off into the galaxy 26 years later. Self-titled Starlord Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) bounty hunts for Yondu (Michael Rooker), the leader of the Ravagers, a band of outlaw mercenaries responsible for Quill’s kidnapping and upbringing. Peter is on the search for the Orb, an object of intrigue and great reward for Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). After beating Yondu to the reward, Quill attempts to sell it on Xandar, the Nova Corps home planet. (Side note; in the comics the Nova Corps is the greatest military force in the universe. I’m hoping we see more of them in upcoming Avengers sequels.) On Xandar, Quill runs into Ronan’s ally and Thano’s daughter Gamora, Rocket and Groot.
Ronan is working with supervillain Thanos (Josh Brolin) to obtain the orb that contains an infinity stone. It’s no surprise by now, after Phase One that this all culminates to Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, containing six infinity stones. So far in the MCU we’ve seen 3 infinity stones, the Tesseract in Cap and Avengers, the Aether in Thor 2 and the unnamed yet most-likely power stone in GotG. Once all six stones are collected, the wearer is granted omniscience and god-like powers. You can all see where this is going for Avengers 3, but I digress.
After being taken prisoner by the Nova Corps, Quill, Rocket, Groot and Gamora are sent to the space prison, the Kyln, where they meet up with Drax the Destroyer. (Dave Bautista) Drax is on a revenge mission to kill Ronan and Thanos for the death of his family. Realizing that the orb isn’t a bounty and recovering it from Ronan means the safety of the Galaxy, they now have one thing in common: being the –ahem- Guardians of the Galaxy.
The real show stopper of GotG for me personally was Rocket and Groot. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is a genetically modified and enhanced being with superior intellect and weapon training, while his partner-in-crime and three-word speaking friend Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is a walking, somewhat talking tree. I haven’t seen this great of a partnership since Chewy and Han Solo. Starlord may have the pain of his mother, Gamora, her hate of her father and Drax the anguish of his family’s death – it’s Rocket and Groot who hold the emotion card in this film. Groot for all of his lines in GotG, “I Am Groot” in different inflections has the positivity and friendliness of a caring plant. In a very brief yet powerful scene, a drunk Rocket pours his heart after being called a “rodent” or an animal after scientists performed procedure after procedure on his helpless alien form. And in a film-spoiling scene, Rocket and Groot share a bond of friendship that had me in tears. It’s moments like that I love to find in these movies. But for all his wise cracks and smart ass remarks, I know that down the road in Avengers 3 we will have a scene between Rocket and Tony Stark that should play out something like this hopefully:
Being the film-score buff that I am, I was discussing with a friend the different scores that the MCU has used throughout its films. A lot have been throwaways in my opinion, from Thor, to most of Captain America, hell even the Avengers. It hasn’t held the weight it should have or been as fun as Ramin Djawadi’s Driving With The Top Down from the first Iron Man. But Tyler Bates’ anti-heroic theme for GotG nails it on the head for me, holding weight where it needs to and plays with the film where it’s lighthearted.
Guardians of the Galaxy does a lot of things great; it sets up Thanos more for us and the future Avengers films, but most importantly it gives us a fantastic sci-fi film that exceeds many expectations. Guardians was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had at the movies. MCU films have always carried gravitas and seriousness with laughs sprinkled here and there, while GotG is practically a comedy with its character relationships. This is one film you won’t want to miss.
Guardians of the Galaxy does a lot of things great, sets up Thanos more for us, sets up future Avengers films but most importantly it gives us a fantastic sci-fi film that exceeds many expectations.