I can remember the last time that I really had fun in the theater. It was the Summer (by movie standards) of 2004. In the span of a couple of months I saw both Anchorman and Team America: World Police, and I laughed hard enough for milk to come out of my nose even though I hadn’t been drinking any milk. Those were fun movies, so much fun I remember wanting to watch them again immediately after exiting the theaters. They were funny and action-packed, and they were clever in both writing and pacing. I have loved some movies since then, but I don’t remember replicating the movie-going feeling of that Summer. Until now.
Guardians of the Galaxy was the most fun movie I have seen in a very long time. Not only is it a fun action comedy, it’s a damn good movie. The characters are great, the actors are great (even the voice actors), the dialogue is witty and funny, and the action scenes are exciting. Everyone in the media is saying that it’s like a new Star Wars, and that Chris Pratt is the new Han Solo, and I can’t disagree. That’s how much fun this movie is; and guess what, it’s in our Galaxy and it isn’t that long, long ago.
(Minor Plot Spoilers after the break)
In case you’ve missed the lead-up to this movie, it’s about a rag-tag group of mercenaries. They’re led by Peter Quill aka Starlord (Pratt), an earthling kidnapped by space-smugglers at the age of 8. There’s also Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is an assassin and the daughter of Marvel Universe Big Baddie, Thanos (Josh Brolin), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who’s chasing after Gamora since Thanos killed his entire family. Rounding out the team are lovable experiment, and talking, anthropomorphic bad ass, Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and his buddy, talking, sentient tree Groot (Vin Diesel). If that sounds complicated, don’t worry about it, the back stories are so much less important than what happens once the gang is together.
The basic premise begins once Starlord finds and steals an orb. They eventually find out that this orb is one of the Infinity Stones (previously seen as the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers and the Aether in Thor: The Dark World) and that they’re being hunted by Thanos’ henchman, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), an angry Skree. When Ronan inevitably gets hold of the orb, the Guardians have to put aside any problems they have with one another to stop Ronan before he destroys the planet Xandar.Again, don’t worry too much about all of the comic-booky specifics, the Marvel Universe is vast and reaches across eras and universes, no one except probably Kevin Feige understands it all.
Honestly, the plot in the movie wasn’t anything new (cue John Lennon), but the movie doesn’t suffer from it at all. What’s fantastic in this movie, and what makes it so much fun, is the interplay between the characters. Chris Pratt is perfect as a swashbuckling space pirate a la Han Solo. The scene where he is attempting to hook up with Gamora and tells her the legend from his planet, “Footloose” with the “hero, Kevin Bacon” so that she’ll dance with him is pretty much priceless. Dave Bautista has no right to be as funny as he is in this movie as Drax. He’s a WRESTLER for God’s sake! Yet Bautista plays this ridiculous role with such earnestness that it makes it insanely funny. Finally, you get Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as the best friends, action duo Rocket and Groot. They give Rocket some of the best lines of the movie and his energy is undeniable; you’ve also never seen such acting conferred through a voice actor saying, “I”, “AM”, and “GROOT” over and over again.
This seems even better when you compare this movie to the super-serious, “real-world” aesthetic of other comic book movies. Don’t get me wrong; I like some of them, like The Dark Knight. Some of them though, like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises (ughh ROBBIIINNNNN!!!), The Watchmen, Sin City, and to a lesser extent, the other Marvel Studios movies, forget completely about how funny comic books are supposed to be! There are awful things and sad things in comic books, but there’s always a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor to most comic books. This is what makes them fun to read! Losing this sense of humor in some of these movies makes watching them more of a chore than a pleasure sometimes. I want most movies to make me laugh of their own merit, not make me make fun of them in order to laugh.
I didn’t do a step-by-step review of the movie, because it’s so good I don’t want to ruin a single second of it for you. Just know that the characters are the best, the writing is fantastic, and there’s just about no way that you won’t immediately want to see this movie again. When we live in a world where there’s awful news thrown in our faces every day, we shouldn’t have to always sit through entertainment that reminds us of it. There should be a place for fun and action and fantasy. They seem to be fewer and further between these days, but Guardians of the Galaxy is everything you could ask for in this regard. Go see it, immediately.