The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): All Heroes Start Somewhere

Posted: July 31, 2014 in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

GOTG_Payoff_1-Sht_v4b_LgHaving been abducted from Earth in 1988, Peter Quill has become a space pirate 26 years later. Landing on an unpopulated planet, he discovers a metallic orb in a secret chamber and barely escapes with his life when an army arrives to capture him and the orb. Landing on Xandar with hope of selling the orb to a dealer, his plan is first foiled by the dealer’s apprehension of getting involved with an object desired by the evil Ronan and then by a combination of an assassin looking to kill him and bounty hunters aiming to turn him in for a reward. The group gets sent to prison on Kiln and decide to stick together to survive the experience. Fighting for a way to escape and deliver the orb to another possible interested party for a much larger profit, the group, now including one of the prisoners aiming for a shot at Ronan, still remains unaware of the secret hidden within the orb.

Starring: Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Lee Pace (Ronan), Michael Rooker (Yondu Udonta), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Djimon Hounsou (Korath), John C. Reilly (Corpsman Dey), Glenn Close (Nova Prime), Benicio Del Toro (The Collector), Laura Haddock (Meredith Quill), Peter Serafinowicz (Denarian Saal), Christopher Fairbank (The Broker), Alexis Denisof (The Other), Josh Brolin (Thanos)

Opening up a new part of the Marvel Universe, Pratt felt like the perfect actor to portray the film’s sarcastic, yet secretly heroic lead. Along with Saldana, Cooper, Diesel, and Bautista, the group has the right blend of odd personalities to make for a more compelling team than even the Avengers. On the other side of the matchup, Pace was menacing and portrayed the desire for maximum power quite well. With only another glimpse at the overshadowing figure of Thanos (Brolin), Pace’s role was certainly satisfying. Rooker also made for an interesting anti-hero, particularly with his brash personality. It can be expected that there will be much more from Del Toro, Close, and Reilly in the future, as each actor was just support for the movement of the story.

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Considering Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers, it was surprising how well James Gunn directed this story. Relatively new to most audiences, a familiar heroic backstory followed Peter Quill. He still had family left on Earth, but his father was unknown to him and his mother passed away just before he was abducted. Immersed in a more expansive world than he could ever have known and with the guidance of Yondu, Peter attempted to carve out a piece of glory through his bounties. Not knowing the importance of the orb or the significance of his chance meeting with Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax, Peter was able to find new meaning in his life with the potential for real friends and a more altruistic purpose of battling against evil, destructive forces.

One of the best elements of this film is how self-aware and light-hearted the approach was. It is difficult to compete with well-known franchises, as fans are looking forward to more Avengers and Justice League releases over related but lesser-known heroic stories. Guardians of the Galaxy felt more organic and playful when it could have been dramatic and terrifying. Rocket’s and Peter’s sarcasm and foul behavior broken through the tension on numerous occasions. Matched up with Drax’s inability to detect that sarcasm led to playfully humorous misunderstandings.

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Each character had an inflated characteristic that seemed to define them but also a hidden gem that could be confused as a flaw. Peter was the most representative of the viewers, obviously human but also perfectly flawed. His overinflated ego was cracked just enough to allow him to see beyond it. Saldana was trained to be a weapon and possessed superior fighting skills, similar to the rage experienced through Drax, but both were able to use their experience with Peter to reach gratitude and levity in their friendships. Rocket, similarly, was filled with rage and possessed a shoot first mentality, but that rage came from a place that kept him grounded enough to not let his ego get the best of him similar to Peter. Their strange commonalities turned out to be what made them a compelling and entertaining fighting force.

When comparing the two dueling companies against each other, Marvel and DC comics have revitalized the genre of the superhero. While DC can take the darker turn with successes like The Dark Knight and Man of Steel, Marvel has seemingly edged out on topic with a broader slate of successes in both their popular and lesser known recent releases. Guardians of the Galaxy is no exception and should be praised for never taking itself too seriously but delivering a riveting story of discovery, survival, and heroism.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5


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