The Marvel movies all have a element of whimsy to them (something sorely lacking in their Distinguish Competitions films of late.) But after Thor’s dark world and the latest Captain America, things there haven’t all been that fun.
That’s why we should all be happy the Guardians of the Galaxy has come along, to make us remember that movies, comic book movies especially, should be fun. Only the most hardcore comic fans probably has heard of the Guardians before the movie was announced as part of Marvel Studios’ second phase, and even after, they didn’t exactly explode in popularity (That will surely change, soon). Director James Gunn takes a rapid fire approach, not getting too bogged down in the backstories. His and Nicole Perlman’s script just defty weaves the exposition with the action, balanced with just right amount of character, emotion, and some of the 70’s most rockin’ tunes.
More Star Wars than Avengers, this movie will appeal to 10 year olds, or anyone who has ever been a ten year old. Chris Pratt channels Han Solo & Indiana Jones, with just enough Andy Dwyer (his character in Parks & Recreation) to keep him from being 100% dick. In the way this movies work, he meets, fights with, but eventually joins forces with the deadly assassin and all around hottie, Gamora (Zoë Saldana), A raccoon with anger issues and his best friend, a tree, the impressive CGI duo voice by Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccon) and Vin Diesel (Groot), and the extremely literal-minded maniac, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). This unlikely team of misfits has to come together to stop religious zealot Ronan, the Accuser (Lee Pace, unrecognizable from his Ned the Pie Maker from Pushing Daisies days), from wiping out the 12 billion people on Xandar, and then the rest of the galaxy, with an Infinity Gem. A macguffin of such immense destructive force, only the most powerful beings of the universe can even hold them.
Along the way there are pirates, jail breaks, bar fights, Glenn Close as the president of space, James Brolin as Thanos, a visit to the Collector (Benecio Del Toro, from tag scene of Thor, the Dark World.), and we learn the importance of Kevin Bacon, Footloose, and the power of dance.
There are times when it feels too much is going on, scenes are packed with dense background information that will only make sense to most fannish of fanboys (of which I count myself among). When a comic panel is crammed with references, and sight gags, it works, because the reader can read the page at his own pace, then go back and absorb all the visual information. When it flies by in real time, it can be a bit distracting. I was also a little disappointed with Nebula (Karen Gillan). Gillan is such a funny, charming actress, but wasn’t given much to work with, as the mad Titan’s daughter. Her presence in the story is more plot device than character, but that is a minor quibble in what is sure to be the most fun you’ll have in a movie theatre this summer.