Marvel takes us to the stars with this 10th installment of their Cinematic Universe - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It's a colorful space romp where reluctant heroes come together to save millions of lives against evil forces. El Camino from our Podcast predicted it would be this generation's Star Wars. I wouldn't go that far, but you could consider this a Star Wars Jr. with 5 Han Solos, no slave Leia, and The Force whittled down to a purple gemstone.
For the adult audience, it was predicable but entertaining. For a younger generation it should be even more enjoyable. But it may not be as memorable as other great space adventures. It was lush with aliens, spaceships and dark villains, but underneath it was a little 2 dimensional. One reason is because the main villain Ronan wasn't really the main villain. Just like Loki in the Avengers, Ronan played by Lee Pace, answered to another. That took some of the malevolence away from his characterization. Where Loki was established as a major threat in the first Thor film, we didn't have that background setup for Ronan. His monologue and motivations were somewhat glossed over, though we understood where his pain and zealous acts of violence came from. This is not to say that Pace didn't give a genuinely good performance as The Accuser. Au contraire, he was menacing. It's just that your heroes are only as good as your villains. Truthfully, he's probably the same in the comics so I can only criticize so far.
And speaking of the heroes, I did like Chris Pratt as Peter Quill a.k.a Star Lord. His casting was probably spot on. I say that only because I'm not up on the newer versions of the GotG comics and don't know Star Lord like that. But just coming from his performance, Pratt as Quill was entertaining and carried the film well as the protagonist. Zoe was also decent as Gamora. Though we've seen her reach more emotional depth in films like Avatar, there were some scenes where Saldana had good chemistry with the rest of the cast. Even Batiste was much better here than in his previous projects and delivered some great tongue-in-cheek comedic lines. Groot and Rocket Raccoon were most certainly the heart of the film. Especially when Bradley Cooper emotes through his voice performance the inner pain that Rocket feels from his tortured origins. I liked the casting of Hounsou, Gillian and Reilly. And watching Rooker as Yondu Udanta was as fun as watching Merle Dixon from Walking Dead if he were painted blue and running a spaceship full of pirates.
Directors like James Gunn have an eye for mixing action and levity. It was perfect for this film, especially with Chris Pratt as the lead. The other aspect that set it apart from most other space adventures is the classic music in the form of Quill's Mixtape. It's a signature sound that I think will help specialize any future GotG films and the MCU franchise as a whole where the Guardians are included.
Though it's not quite apparent, the film did introduce or expound on several key elements from Marvel Comics into the Avengers movie story arcs that I was exited in seeing -
- The Kree - A race and empire that span the galaxy. This also connects with Agents Of Shield
- The Nova Core - a space police force. It's also where a character Nova comes from.
- The Immortals in the form of The Collector
- And the story of the soul-gems and how they figure into the cosmic tapestry.
The good thing about the movie is there's so much landscape, or rather space-scape, presented that the stories could be boundless. Especially if our motley crew don't focus on some giant story arc like an infinity-gem and do some smuggling or inter-stellar bank heists in the future.
For us that stay informed of what Marvel is up to with their Avengers Phases, this is a piece to the puzzle that leads up to a possible story in Phase three. But the uninitiated into the Avengers cannon might look at the characters from Guardian as great but not that relevant. On the other hand, Marvel has given us another group of heroes that we can cheer for and I'm sure the next film will have more character and story texture. With the predicted success of Guardians who knows what will come next - Inhumans, Young Avengers, Marvel Knights... there are several to choose from.
I'm just waiting for Marvel and Fox to get off their little studio butts and give us the Kree-Skrull War that we deserve. You can't have the Kree without having the Skrull. Hopefully there are some young and nerdy executive producers from each studio that are having midnight pillow-talk conversations about how awesome it would be to have a collaboration between Marvel and Fox for a giant galactic war with the Avengers, Guardians and the Fantastic Four all teaming up. Throw in the X-Men also with their recent success. Yes the film would cost $500 million to make, but it would probably make $2 Billion globally if done right. Maybe a two parter would be better.
Anyway, if you're a fan of the Marvel films you will certainly like Guardians of the Galaxy. You don't have to know them from the comics. But if you do you should be satisfied with the Quill and the others brought to life. Geek Soul Brother gives GotG 4 out of 5 Cosmic Afros.
BONUS PODCAST REVIEW: Here is the review of Guardians with my co-hosts - The Five Deadly Venoms and yours truly. We break down what we liked and didn't like about the film. @Illumeenous gave it such a low score that she was about to get thrown off the show.
GEEK SOUL BROTHER and the 5 NERDY VENOMS podcast airs 10pm eastern on Tuesdays for News and Movie and TV reviews on talkshoe.com. Search for Geek Soul Brother in iTunes and subscribe to get up-to-date downloads of each episode. And keep up with future episodes by subscribing on Talkshoe, or give us a 'like' on Facebook and get updates when a new show is scheduled.