WKRP in Space
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): 9 out of 10: Set in the vast expanse of the cosmos, “Guardians of the Galaxy” follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a space adventurer and self-proclaimed “Star-Lord,” who comes into possession of a mysterious orb. After stealing the orb, he becomes the prime target of a relentless intergalactic bounty hunt. During his attempt to escape, Quill is captured and thrown into a prison where he meets a group of misfit prisoners: Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon; Groot (Vin Diesel), a sentient tree-like being; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin with a troubled past; and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who seeks vengeance for his family’s death.
The unlikely team initially comes together with the sole intention of selling the orb for a hefty profit. However, as they discover the true power and significance of the orb and the threat it poses to the universe, they must set aside their differences and band together. They form an uneasy alliance, dubbing themselves the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Together, they embark on a quest to keep the orb out of the hands of the villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who aims to use its power for destructive purposes. Along the way, the Guardians encounter various challenges, face their own personal demons, and learn the value of friendship and teamwork. The film is a mix of action, humor, heart, and a killer soundtrack, making it a unique entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Good: Let’s not mince words this is a finely crafted film perfectly cast and excellently shot. This is not just a good film for a superhero film. This is an excellent film period. Writer/ Director James Gunn even sets up the sequels brilliantly without doing the usual cliffhangers or lamp shading. A tight, emotional and more than anything else fun film.
Starting with the cast, this is Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt’s star making turn. He got himself in shape and he is perfect in this role. Much like Deadpool’s actor Ryan Reynolds, Chris Pratt owns this character so much one cannot imagine anyone else playing him. This is partially because of the writing and the actor perfectly encompassing the character.
Starring franchise roles are not always a slam dunk for Mr. Pratt. Quick name his character in the Jurassic World movies… Times up… Gray Mitchell. Okay, I am kidding. Gray Mitchell was one of Claire’s Nephews (Played by Ty Simpkins not to be confused with Claire’s brother Mitchell played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson). Max Power? Um Slab Bulkhead, Bold Bigflank, Flint Ironstag...
So Chris Pratt is not always great but he is great in Guardians of the Galaxy. You know who else is not always great? Vin Diesel. If you told me that Vin Diesel was to voice a sentient tree with only one line he repeats throughout the movie, I would not be popping the popcorn in anticipation. Bluntly, it is his best performance since Pitch Black.
The other big surprise is how good Dave Bautista is. I mean, it is not a surprise in 2023 since Dave has managed great performances in some pretty dodgy films since 2014. But in 2014, he was basically an unknown entity. He gives a brilliant performance in what could easily have been a throwaway part.
The rest of the cast from supporting players (particularly Michael Rooker) to the other two principal cast members (Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper) are also top-notch.
But is is more than a tight script, great story and great acting. The special effects still hold up perfectly ten years later. (And look better than a lot of recent DC and Marvel output). The music is a masterclass in seventies soft pop. And the movie is touching.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t afraid to go dark (Attempted rape in a prison, Mother dying of cancer,. Howard the Duck cameo) but manages to keep a light tone throughout. An entertaining film with a little bit of everything even romance (As Gamora puts it “I know who you are, Peter Quill, and I am not some starry-eyed waif here to succumb to your… your pelvic sorcery!”)
The Bad: If Guardians of the Galaxy has a weakness, it is the bad guy who is after the MacGuffin, Ronan the Accuser. The character isn’t bad per se, just very forgettable. A combination of the character design of Steppenwolf from Justice League with the charisma of Incubus from Suicide Squad. I have seen Guardians of the Galaxy a few times and on every viewing; I am surprised the character is in the film. I had completely forgotten he exists.
If I am going to nitpick, I like John C. Reilly and Glenn Close and both are fine. But for some reason their presence takes me a little out of the movie, particularly Reilly. Not a deal breaker, by any means. Guardians of the Galaxy is such a well made and excellent film you got to reach for the negatives.
In Conclusion: Guardians of the Galaxy is the way one should do any comic book property. Here is a superhero group with fewer fans than Dazzler and James Gunn turns them into household names by simply making a near perfect movie. Entertaining, funny, touching and amazing I cannot recommend Guardians of the Galaxy enough.