"Guardians of the Galaxy" team are now guardians to a new Marvel franchise.
Get ready for a movie much more fun to watch than even the most recent X-Men movie, and a fantastic 70’s and 80's playlist for the last month of summer. Guess what, “Guardians of the Galaxy” was actually a pretty decent action comedy. If you didn’t previously know about the comic series from 1969 and the modernized version from 2008, the trailer about a feisty raccoon, a giant tree-man, a green Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel’s blue twin and some cocky ginger teaming up to save the galaxy looked like it could have been a total mess.
Instead, “Guardians”, directed by James Gunn, turned out to be a successful Marvel film complete with an action-packed, yet comprehensible plot, excellent and interesting character development, writing that didn’t take it self too seriously, beautiful cinematography and decent special effects. Gun, really only known for directing “Super” (2010) and writing the second "Scooby Doo" movie back in 2004 has blown everyone away, including those high-nosed critics, with this new franchise.
And I’m happy to report that earnings this weekend surpassed all expectations and became the largest August weekend in box office history, replacing its previous title-holder "The Bourne Ultimatum" from 2007. Among non-sequels, "Guardians" had the seventh best opening weekend of all-time and grossed $94.2 million.
This quirky kick-ass superhero team is more closely tied to the 2008 version of the comic series created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning including the characters Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Thanos and Ronan.
The plot is definitely easy to follow and, of special import, it sustains your interest. One blue man, Ronan, motivated to avenge his family’s death intends to annihilate a planet; one band of extraterrestrial misfits all similarly motivated, intend to haphazardly stop him. Pretty simple. Any minor plot holes were mostly glossed over by lots of cool explosions and a purple rock that galactically shatters everything it touches.
Everyone has a family to either avenge or protect, everyone’s got some score to settle, or….you’re just a tree with a three word vocabulary. Excuse me, five word vocabulary by the end of the film.
Chris Pratt, the first member of the group cast by Gunn, plays Peter Quill who runs by the nickname Star-Lord. Pratt previously played minor roles in some box office successes like “Moneyball”, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Her”, but "Guardians" is his first starring role box office smash. He proved to be a very entertaining egotistical lady’s man and leader of the pack.
Zoe Saldana plays the superheroine Gamora, the adopted daughter of the villain Thanos and the last of her species. Studios have probably figured out that audiences are going to like Saldana’s style, intensity and comedic timing no matter what she looks like on screen, be it a giant blue warrior with a tale or a green chick with white scars.
The team’s hot-headed blue twin Diesel, Drax, was played by Dave Bautista, a pro-wrestler whose previous roles consisted of the same muscle-man who fit in with the rest of the other body builders on the cast. But this time….he’s blue. The former “Riddick” supporting character made for a well-played, Hulk-like team member violently set on avenging his family’s murder, but who’s redeeming quality is his hilarious inability to understand sarcasm. He’s actually pretty loveable.
And the franchise debut wouldn’t be in the same galaxy of complete without the irreplaceable dynamic duo of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The incredibly feisty and clever digitally animated Rocket Raccoon was played by the voice of Bradley Cooper.
His bond with the tree-like humanoid Groot played by the voice of Vin Diesel (they had to stick him in there somehow with all of these shirtless impersonators around) stole the whole show.
Groot’s original debut onto the comic pages in 1960 was actually as a villainous invader abducting humans for experimentation. However, in the 2006 comic series, the tree of few words joined the Guardians team and became one of the film’s most loved scene-stealers.
You would think Diesel didn’t really have a lot to do as a voice actor since Groot literally only says, “I am Groot”, but you couldn’t be more wrong. It is in fact this line that becomes the film’s staple and has since become an attachment to the film on Twitter and Facebook, #iamgroot, #wearegroot.
Yes, it seems a little illogical that Groot can understand English and still only speak three words, pardon me, five, however, it doesn’t really matter. Rocket’s dry translation of the phrase in various situations becomes one of the film’s many highlights.
Of course, to me it seems like a fun kicker that they banded in prison. It just goes to show, you can still make life long friends in prison. Right? Anyone revisit “Orange is the New Black”, “Shawshank Redemption” and “Cool Hand Luke”?
Lee Pace does a fabulous job as the film’s major villain Ronan the Accuser, a member of the alien race Kree hell-bent on obliterating the Xandar people in order to avenge the murder of his family. Pace’s choice to go full-epic villain was definitely well-received and his lines of damnation combined with his rich self-made British accent complimented the image of blue and black.
Characters and plot aside, the soundtrack, a combination of a score by Tyler Bates and a rockin’ mix tape of 70’s and 80’s hits exponentially increased the fun. The Awesome Mix Vol. 1, given to Quill by his deceased mother, featured catchy feel-good hits like Blue Suede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”, “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone, and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop to name a few.
All in all, this is a solid film that friends are telling friends to go see. The trailer and general idea may have scared a lot of people into waiting for a recommendation, but it looks like audiences want to see more. The second Guardians is already in progress and will be released in July of 2017. I mean, they basically have to make another one after dangling a major plot teaser like the identification of Quill’s father and Awesome Mix Vol. 2 right in front of us during the last 5 minutes of the film. The second "Guardians Of The Galaxy" could practically write itself.