1 The Mickey Mindset: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Review

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Ryan Dosier - The Marvel Universe is filled to the brim with weird, out of this world characters. Yet, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has stayed mostly grounded in its approach, with human characters in incredible circumstances (sans Thor, of course). Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters tomorrow, takes this trend and slays it. The film stars a green alien girl, a muscled olive-skinned alien man, a walking, talking tree, and a machine gun toting raccoon... and it just might be the most perfectly executed Marvel film to date. Not since The Avengers have I left the theater feeling so completely satisfied and entertained by a superhero movie.

The phrase "superhero movie" may not be applicable to Guardians of the Galaxy, honestly, because the characters are anything but heroes--at least at the start. In fact, Peter Quill, aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is a self-described "legendary outlaw," Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is working with and related to the main bad guy, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is in a maximum security prison, and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) are mercenaries. It's watching these flawed individuals come together as a team that brings out the best in them and makes them heroes. The scenes of development for the Guardians usually involve them beating each other up or insulting one another. It's a refreshing change of pace and every scene is surprising and invigorating.Every character in the film is perfectly written and performed.

Chris Pratt is a revelation as Peter Quill, giving him the right amount of snark, humor, and character development. His performance is immensely impressive and shows that he truly has what it takes to be a movie star. He gave everything he has to this role, playing, comedy-focused, action-heavy, and emotion-driven scenes with incredible ease. By the end of the film, Pratt has disappeared into Star Lord and becomes an extremely welcome addition to the Marvel film world. Standing tall alongside Pratt is Zoe Saldana as Gamora, who is fierce, unforgiving, and stunning. Saldana takes on the role with glee and gets some of the best fight sequences, displaying some truly incredible physical prowess.

Most surprising is Dave Bautista, who gives brilliant life to Drax. Bautista has some of the funniest lines and perhaps the most meaningful storyline in the film. Drax is probably the Guardian forgotten by most people, since he was used so little in promotion for the film, but you'll walk away loving the character. You can tell that Bautista took this role seriously and he gives one of the most resonant and focused performances in the film.

Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel both provide only their voices for Rocket and Groot, respectively, but wow are they incredible. Cooper, especially, vanishes behind the volatile and hysterical Rocket Raccoon. Cooper delivers one of the finest voice acting roles I've seen outside an animated film in some time. Rocket swiftly became my favorite character in the film and high up on the list of my favorites in Marvel movies as a whole. He is a blast (literally) from start to finish. This should not be taken as a discount of Groot, however, who is a beautiful, wonderful character. Vin Diesel only gets to say "I am Groot!" throughout the film, but the various ways the writers and filmmakers found to have him say it is fantastic. Rocket and Groot are going to explode in popularity very soon. Be ready!

The film is also littered with other hugely talented actors playing smaller roles. Lee Pace is awesome and terrifying as Ronan the Accuser, the main villain. He doesn't get too much screen time, but what he does with it is impeccable. He's terrifically horrible and vicious. Benico Del Toro as The Collector, briefly seen in Thor: The Dark World returns for a slightly more substantial part here and he's still as creepy as ever. John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Peter Serafinowicz, and Michael Rooker also deserve shout outs for their fantastic work.

Visually, Guardians of the Galaxy is absolutely the most stunning Marvel film venture. Director James Gunn has set a new bar for the look of not only superhero films, but sci-fi films as well. The character and creature designs are impeccable and done practically with makeup and costumes where possible, the computer generated work on Rocket and Groot is flawless, the space scenes are amazing, and the set designs are breathtaking. The film is a tour de force of colorful, boundless visual experimentation, and it all pays off in droves.

The much-discussed soundtrack for the film is heavily populated with pop hits from the 1970s, given to Quill on a mix-tape from his mother before he was taken to space. Every time a new song came on, my face lit up with a smile, as every single song choice was perfection. The ways that Gunn uses the music to accentuate scenes added to the feeling of mischief and mayhem pervasive throughout the film. And when one song is used at the climax of the film... you might just fall out of your seat laughing so hard. It is absolutely the finest soundtrack of any Marvel film, and perhaps any superhero film yet. Credit also has to be given to Tyler Bates, who penned the fantastic score for the film. The score is dynamic when it needed to be and fun when it could be.

Basically, everything about Guardians of the Galaxy works, and works really, really well. The film is the most fun I've had at the movies all summer. James Gunn and Marvel have shown that even the most obscure comics can work as films. The scope, the characters, the visuals, and the soundtrack all come together perfectly and elevate Guardians of the Galaxy as one of the finest Marvel films, period. Marvel's winning streak is baffling at times, and never more so than it is with Guardians. Who could have foreseen this film working as well as it does? The stars aligned to bring us the most fun movie of the summer and one of the best films Marvel has delivered (and that's saying something).

5 out of 5 Awesome Mix Tapes

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