I have to wonder if JJ Abrams has seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet... and, if he has, did he shit his pants at the thought of his Star Wars installment having to follow it? Because Guardians of the Galaxy is quite possibly my favorite sci-fi film since The Empire Strikes Back. It's that good.
And I just can’t quite wrap my head around that statement, because there have been some really good sci-fi films since Empire. Alien, Aliens, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Terminator 2, The Matrix, Stargate, Serenity… even the recent Star Trek remakes and cartoons like WALL-E… all great films. So how is this possible?
I think it’s a combination of two things.
First of all, it’s a fantastic film. Surprisingly awesome in almost every way. Really funny when it needs to be. Story, cast, special effects, direction, cinematography, characters, music, score... all great.
But mainly I think it’s because I’ve been living with The Marvel Universe comics for what seems like forever. There’s something about seeing The Nova Corps... Thanos... Ronan & Nebula... Drax the Destroyer... all these cosmic comic characters... each come to life on-screen in a way that has completely captivated me. Not an easy task, I assure you, but Marvel seems to be making it look easy as they keep knocking it out of the park in comic book movie after comic book movie. And, I fully admit that I was a doubter when Guardians was announced because it just seemed like such an unlikely property to make into a good film. It’s got a talking raccoon, for heavens sake! But writer/director James Gunn (along with co-writer Nicole Perlman) figured out how to make it work. Actually... no... they not only “figured it out,” they completely and totally nailed it in a movie so near perfection that I am still having trouble believing it exists...
Twenty-six years ago a young Peter Quill watches in horror as his mother dies, then runs away from the hospital in a futile attempt at escaping the trauma life has thrown at him. At which point he’s abducted by aliens. So far as openers go, it’s kind of lame, right? What are the odds? But, of course, there’s much more to it than all that… you just need to have patience to get there.
Fortunately, James Gunn makes the wait easy.
Now a grown man, Peter lives his life as a rogue thief. His time spent roaming the galaxy, breaking hearts, and trying to stay out of trouble. But trouble always seems to find him, and when he steals an artifact that some Very Powerful People are after, his life becomes a lot more complicated. Action, adventure, and hilarity ensues...
To discuss the plot is to spoil the film, and I'm just not willing to do that. This is a movie you must see on the big screen. Don't wait for DVD... see it BIG. The eye-popping visuals demand it.
I will, however, discuss the cast. Which is flawless. Chris Pratt as Star-Lord is note-perfect. He encapsulates everything you could possibly want Peter Quill to be. He headlines the movie so effortlessly that even the most unbelievable parts of the film seem anchored and believable. And it's all gravy from there. Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace... just amazing performances all the way around. And Bradley Cooper (the last person I envisioned as the voice of Rocket Raccoon) owns the role and steals every scene he's in.
If I have one quibble, it would be that the ending is over-the-top schmaltzy, predictable, and cheesy. But I don't think the film suffers too much for it, and I think Gunn explained it away in a way that kinda works.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a beautiful-looking film with a great story... and funny! It gets an easy A+ from me, which means it's time to update the score card...
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B