I arrived expecting the worst only to find myself charmed by this zany homage to Harrison Ford which begins by riffing Raiders of the Lost Ark then quickly morfs into an update of the original Star Wars (now called Episode IV). With no clue how any of this mapped to the actual Marvel mythology, I just settled in & laughed my way through the ensuing mayhem.
Cast members all acquit themselves admirably. Chris Pratt proves himself totally ready to stand in the center, but for me the star of the show was Bradley Cooper who gives voice to the animated character “Rocket.” (Question: Is this name an homage to The Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon?)
Kudos to director James Gunn for managing a huge technical crew behind-the-scenes! Double that for Nicole Perlman’s giddy screenplay!! Triple that for whoever selected the songs on Peter Quill’s cassettes!!! (JLH: 4/5)
Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH
Review of Guardians of the Galaxy by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
A famous line from Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life reads, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” This quote echoed in my mind throughout the 121 enjoyable minutes of Marvel’s new blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. The timeless themes of love, loss, and friendship – whether on Planet Xandar or Bedford Falls – are more three-dimensional than the overload of special effects in so many recent blockbusters.
The comic-book adaptation by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman begins in 1988, with a little boy listening to his cassette tape labeled “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” outside his dying mother’s hospital room. While running outside to escape the pain of his mother’s death, he is abducted by a spaceship into another galaxy with only one Earthly possession in hand – his Walkman. The film picks up 26 years later, the little boy now a grown, chiseled man “Peter Quill” (Chris Pratt) walking and dancing around Planet Morag to that same, worn cassette tape.
After stealing a sphere-like orb, Quill returns to his home planet of Xandar in the hopes of getting money for it – much to the dismay of tyrannical “Ronan,” (Lee Pace) of the militaristic Planet Kree. While Quill heads towards prison for his theft, Ronan sends assassin “Gamora” (Zoe Saldana) to capture the orb, an artifact so powerful it could destroy the galaxy. When Gamora arrives on the grounds of Xandar’s Nova Corp, she attempts to steal the orb from Quill, leading to an action-packed fight between the two, with the help of “Rocket,” the comical raccoon, (Bradley Cooper) and “Groot,” (Vin Diesel) the almost non-verbal tree. All four, however, are imprisoned and agree to work together, along with “Drax,” the gruff inmate, (Dave Bautista) to escape the penitentiary and retrieve the orb – Quill and the others wanting money, Gamora wanting to keep it away from dictatorial Ronan.
Humor and heart blend with the action that propels the film forward as Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax chase the orb, take down Ronan’s subordinates, discover new worlds, and even get a lesson on Planet Earth’s 80s classic Footloose. Despite featuring an abundance of intergalactic characters, the development of the relationships between them keeps each one captivating. From Quill and his flirtation with Gamora (which she humorously perceives as his “pelvic sorcery”) to Rocket and his friendship with Groot, whose only dialogue is the repetitious phrase, “I am Groot.” The relationship between Rocket and Groot, albeit strange, is a relatable one. Only Rocket can understand the meaning behind each of Groot’s inflections of “I am Groot,” and like real life, everyone deserves a friend who understands what they’re saying when no one else can.
The film deals with familial love and loss, from the murder of both Drax’s and Gamora’s families to Quill, whose image of his dying mother burns brightly in his memory. The importance of these relationships is stressed during the climax of the movie, as Quill and company try to stop Ronan from destroying the galaxy. The entire sequence is metaphorical, illustrating that no matter what kind of obstacle enters a person’s orb, anything is possible if friends, even those coming from surprising places, are there to help them.
Each supporting role in Guardians of the Galaxy is engaging, but Peter Quill lives up to his nickname “Starlord” because of leading man Chris Pratt. For more than a decade, Pratt’s career has been almost perfectly linear. From heartthrob Bright Abbott in Everwood, to overweight goofball Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation, to serious baseball pro Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball, Chris Pratt’s versatility has made him a household name… and deservedly so.
Aside from the acting, the impressive 3D effects, and the tear-inducing plotlines, the retro music keeps the film upbeat, fun, and nostalgic. This surprisingly entertaining adaptation of a comic book that may be unfamiliar to most moviegoers is something I would recommend for even the least-likeliest person to enter a summer tent pole movie. When everybody leaves the theater smiling and dancing along to “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, I would say the $14 ticket is worth every cent.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (8/03/14)
Top Photo: Chris Pratt stars “Peter Quill” aka “Star-Lord”… oy!
Middle Photo: Lee Pace (in his Darth Vaderesque garb) co-stars as “Ronen.”
Bottom Photo: Our Heroes! From left, they are Zoe Saldana as “Gamora” (~ Princess Leah), Bradley Cooper as “Rocket” (~ C-P30), Chris Pratt as “Peter Quill” (~ Han Solo), Vin Diesel as “Groot” (~ R2-D2), & Dave Bautista as “Drax” (~ Chewbacca).
Are you missing a Luke Skywalker character? Don’t. If the match was too perfect, then the story would be same old same old.
Photo Credits: Jay Maidment © Marvel 2014
Q: Does Guardians of the Galaxy pass the Bechdel Test?
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has several brief exchanges with Nebula (Karen Gillan) which culminate in a now obligatory cat-fight-to-the-death scene.
At the beginning, they are supposedly sisters because they have both been adopted by Thanos (or whatever), but they are soon on opposite sides once Gamora allies herself with Peter while Nebula joins forces with Ronan (or whatever).
This just goes to show is how damn easy it is to pass the Bechdel Test… which should make you wonder why so few multiplex movies actually do 🙁