Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Guardians of the Galaxy come from the same Marvel universe as The Avengers. But it doesn’t take five solo movies to get us to the big team-up project. The idea here is that the cast is so diverse that there has to be somebody you like. And if it turns out that you like all five main characters, so much the better.
Here’s the lineup: Quill (Chris Pratt) is a human raised by alien criminals to be a master thief. The phrase “master thief” conjures up images of someone who is sneaky and subtle, but the loudmouth Quill bucks the stereotype. Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is a furry science experiment gone wrong. He’s a tech genius who loves shooting things (I’ll admit to laughing way too often at the sight of the heavily-armed raccoon) and is even more obnoxious than Quill. Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is a plant monster who skewers, strangles and crushes with his branches. He’s the sweet one of the group. Drax (Dave Bautista) is a hulking fighter bent on avenging his murdered family. He has trouble communicating and looks like he does all his talking with his fists (to which he would furiously respond that his fists do not have mouths). Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is an expert assassin raised by ultimo baddie Thanos who is trying to turn her life around. Agreeing to help save the galaxy is as good a start as any.
The members first meet while fighting each other. Quill and Gamora fight over who gets to sell an orb that can destroy planets. Rocket and Groot fight with Quill over a bounty placed on his head by his jilted former boss (Michael Rooker). They all get arrested and go to prison, where an already-incarcerated Drax wants to fight Gamora because she’s related to Thanos. The five wrongdoers reluctantly form a partnership so they can escape prison, sell the orb, get their money/revenge, and go their separate ways. The sale falls through and the orb winds up in the hands of the evil Ronan (Lee Pace), who wants to put it to use destroying peaceful planets. Our heroes decide that it’s up to them to Guard the Galaxy (for free, no less).
The driving forces of the plot are all incidental. All of these Marvel moves have a villain of the week that wants to use a weapon of the week to conquer a planet that about half the time is Earth (in this case it isn’t). The action is more interesting; it’s more crisp and creative than I’ve been seeing lately, especially when Groot is involved. But the appeal of this movie isn’t in its plot or its action, it’s in its characters, its dialogue and its humor.
In case the cheesy 70s music used in the advertising wasn’t enough of a clue, humor is a major component of this film. Chris Pratt gives Quill the same schlubby charm that he brought to “The Lego Movie” and here he dances too. Rocket is golden enough just by being a talking raccoon, and on top of that most of what he says is funny. Groot is good for physical gags and it’s fun to guess what’s going on inside his wooden head. Drax specializes in taking figures of speech literally (his head is almost as wooden as Groot’s). The only one who doesn’t pull their weight comedically is Gamora, whose funniest line feels like it was written for Drax.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has a bright future as a franchise. A sequel has already been greenlit, and I doubt we’ll only see the one. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the characters pop up in an upcoming “Avengers” movie. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these characters, though I hope that next time they go on an adventure more worthy of their offbeat nature.
Two and a Half Stars out of Five.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language. Its running time is 121 minutes.
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