In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” director James Gunn has crafted a classic space opera that is the definitive summer blockbuster. Equal parts high-energy and action-packed, with healthy doses of humor, pop culture references, and melancholy, this movie hits all the bases for a satisfyingly fun movie. Those in the know are now projecting an opening weekend box office take of upwards of $90-100 Million. Not too shabby.
Though the story begins on Earth with a young Peter Quill, we – and he – are soon whisked away to another galaxy. It’s here that we meet the adult Quill (Chris Pratt), aka “Star-Lord,” who makes what is probably the best character entrance of all time.
Quill is a member of the Ravagers, scavengers who find and sell items, and not always on the right side of the law. He soon becomes embroiled in a battle over a silver orb that lands him in jail with assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the genetically-engineered Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Rocket’s partner Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). It is there they meet up with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and end up grudgingly drawn into a battle to save the galaxy.
The story line grows to include villain Ronan (Lee Pace), who wants the orb at any cost, along with his borrowed sidekick Nebula (Karen Gillan), half-sister to Gamora. The battle leads to Xandar, home of Nova Corps, and we find sometimes the bad guys aren’t so bad after all.
It’s a highly-involved story, based off of a somewhat obscure set of comics, that includes worlds and scenarios not familiar to us. So why does it work so well?
- The story may take place in another galaxy, but the script skillfully winds in plenty of pop culture references familiar to us.
- The film also uses familiar pop music of the 60s and 70s to set the tone for the film, instead of relying strictly on the score by Tyler Bates.
- The cast were perfectly chosen for the roles, and seem to have as much fun playing their characters as we have watching them.
- There are playful nods to other classic sci-fi and adventure films. The initial capture of the silver orb brings to mind Raiders of the Lost Ark, while the escape from the Kyln prison invokes memories of “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
- Even though some of the characters are alien to us – literally – they still run through a gamut of emotions all too familiar. From love and loss to friendships and betrayals, we can relate to what is happening on screen, even if the backdrop is strange.
It should be noted that while “Guardians of the Galaxy” is still family-friendly, some of the humor may not be appropriate for young kids, and there are some scenes that may be a bit scary for the littler ones.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” gets my pick for movie of the year, so far. It hits all the right notes and offers a fun evening at the movies. Do yourself a favor and see it in IMAX 3D or at least 3D. The detailed attention given to the special effects makes it worth the additional cost.