MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’

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Film: Guardians Of The Galaxy
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana,

We need to get some things out of the way before we start this review. The current cinema is completely oversaturated with superhero/comic book films. Most of them are the same; every hero is getting their own movie, all of which have relatively the same aesthetics. The worst part about this is, Marvel shows no sign of stopping, with even just recently announcing they have films planned through 2019, which is nothing short of ridiculous. These superhero and comic book adaptations have become so prevalent in pop culture that they’re even starting to take more space in the television circuit (this Fall you will have a new season of Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, The Flash, Arrow, and probably others I’m forgetting). I personally think this saturation is keeping the public from watching other really great creative cinema, but that’s a conversation for another time.

In short, I’ve become bored of comic book movies. They don’t do that much for me anymore. However, this past week, I had the pleasure of attending an advanced screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I’m happy to report that the film, while it sticks to some comic book film conventions, is both fresh and wildly entertaining.

In theory, this film should not really work, and a lot really could have gone wrong. Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of an Earthling who’s still obsessed with the ’80s, a green warrior woman who was trained to kill, a lovable giant talking tree, a snarky trigger happy raccoon, an alien created with the sole purpose to kill another human, and their dysfunctional quest to save a planet from the destructive path of a hooded, hammer-wielding sociopath. Read that sentence again, and yeah you’re right, it sounds completely absurd. However, all of these elements amalgamate into what is easily the most interesting addition to the Marvel universe. I’d argue that this film is more of a space opera than a comic book adaptation, which I think is a testament to the incredibly expansive world James Gunn brought to the screen. With a film involving all sorts of alien technology and worlds, it could have been very easily bogged down with lots of different explanations about the ins and outs of the universe, but Gunn instead decided to give you the “throw you into the pool and you’ll figure out how to swim” approach, which I think works well, because this film is more about the characters than anything else.

Balancing the character development for five separate heroes is incredibly dangerous when it comes to keeping the plot moving (see Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), but again, Gunn does this with relative ease, which is due in large part to the highly relatable characters he sourced from. As a huge fan of all the different iterations of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, Gunn did a really good job representing them on screen. I don’t know how many times throughout the movie I felt like “that sounds like something one of my friends would do if they were in this situation,” and in most cases, I was relating them to a talking tree or pissed off raccoon. It’s strange, but it works incredibly well. In addition to Gunn’s ability to humanize completely CGI creatures, Chris Pratt really takes his role as Star Lord and creates a character that is both uniquely his own and a perfect embodiment of the character fans of the comic love. I think this is going to be a game changer for Pratt’s career, as he truly proves that he can hold up a film as its leading man.

Filmmaking-wise, the film looks fantastic. The worlds look incredibly organic, and never too computer generated. There’s obviously going to be a little bit of that going on, but it’s negligible. At times, I wished they spent more time making Rocket look a bit more realistic, as his character rendering is a bit inconsistent. Maybe I’m nitpicking, I’m really not sure. The 3D didn’t really do all that much for me, but it definitely doesn’t hinder it either. As a wallet-conscious moviegoer, I’d just opt for the 2D version, but that’s just me. If you’re super into 3D, it looks way better than other post-converted 3D films that I’ve seen, so that’s a plus. The true hero of this film though is the soundtrack. Usually, I’m not a fan of real songs being the soundtrack to films, as I prefer a more cinematic score, but Gunn and his team did a perfect job of not only choosing wonderful songs, but integrating them into the story so they never felt out of place. The visuals, the sounds, and the characters all worked together as a cohesive unit, which is such a fun thing to witness happen correctly on screen.

The most exciting part about Guardians of the Galaxy, though, isn’t necessarily the film itself, but the universe it just opened up. Guardians of the Galaxy proves that introducing these otherworldly space elements into the Marvel Cinematic Universe works, and for those of you who are familiar with all of the different characters the Guardians interact with, the new possibilities are endless (please give me a Nova film). Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy was so highly entertaining, engaging, and original, I can honestly say I look forward to revisiting this world in the eventual sequel, or with other characters that I think would be really interesting to now introduce popular audiences too. Gunn, the cast, and the team behind Guardians of the Galaxy should be really proud, because they just created the best blockbuster of the Summer.

GRADE: B+

Review written by Tyler Osborne (follow him on Twitter)

Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio (www.facebook.com/tozedgeradio). I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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