You’re a kid, you just lost your mother, you don’t know your father, and you’re abducted from Earth. Talk about a rough start.
But, as with all superheroes, greatness is born through adversity. And Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel Studios is definitely great.
In a growing age of antiheroes, Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt) almost fits the mold. Almost.
A treasure hunter/thief of sorts, Pratt is a character you love to root for. Comical, upbeat, and just plain fun, he makes it impossible not to like him even before showing his true colors by helping those in need. That’s why, right off the bat, you find yourself pulling for him to retrieve the orb from a decrepit temple, a la Indiana Jones.
Upon securing this mysterious orb, Pratt is forced to escape with his prize while being pursued by Kree warriors (the bad guys, more on them in a minute). Even after successfully maneuvering his way back to the capital of Xandar to turn over the orb for a hefty sum, Pratt once again finds himself up against a wall.
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) was sent to regain the orb from Pratt to return to the unforgiving Kree leader, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). And, due to a slight double cross of lead Ravager Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker) by Pratt, Rooker has also set two bounty hunters after him, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). After a brief four-way foray in the city center, they find themselves all incarcerated in the high-security prison, the Kyln.
Here, after a rather unpleasant meeting, the unlikely and uneasy crew joins up with the overly literal Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) on their quest to cash in on the orb and bring an end to Ronan. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned.
As Pratt and his rag-tag crew attempt to navigate the galaxy without being captured or killed, they find themselves drawn toward a fateful end with the brutal Ronan and whatever mystery the orb holds.
Guardians is a pleasant turn on what has become a steady stream of superhero movies, taking the classic good v. evil and injecting it with fun and humor on a level that has yet to be matched by others in the genre (save, maybe, Robert Downey Jr. and Ironman). The script is at once clever and raunchy, hyperbolic and heartfelt.
Written and directed by James Gunn (Super, Scooby-Doo), Guardians is also visually stunning, in addition to supplying entertaining performances. Futuristic, despite “taking place” in 2014 if my math is correct, the far-flung settings, visuals, and costumes rely on a blend of space-age and vintage. With supporting performances from John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey and Glenn Close as Nova Prime, there isn’t a single sense that won’t be sated (as long as we’re only talking about sight and sound). In a great oversimplification, think Star Wars, but funny.
Yes, it may “just be a superhero” movie, as I’m sure some would say in an attempt to discount its quality as a film. But, in my estimation, a quality film is one that entertains and engages an audience throughout. And when stacked up against those requirements, Guardians of the Galaxy is out of this world. (Not to mention, it has some kick-ass tunes.)