Let me start by saying I was a little worried how Marvel fast tracked Guardians. From their reboot in 2008 to Nova and Rocket Raccoon appearing in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to their obvious new position as Marvel’s flagship team. Regardless, the film, directed and written by James Gunn (Scooby-Doo, Super), seems to understand everything that makes the Guardians work as a team. He gets that at their core, The Guardians — whether we’re talking about the original team from the 60’s or the new team starring in this film — has always been about a bunch of c-listers (*cough*losers*cough*) that band together to defend the cosmos. Guardians takes this basic formula and makes a very enjoyable film out of it.
Marvel has exhibited its ability to make great movies before but what really sets Guardians apart from the previous nine films can be attributed to 4 points…
1. It’s the first Marvel space adventure: Sure, we’ve seen aliens and other worlds before, (Thor, The Avengers, and Thor 2) but this is the first film where the actual setting is NOT Earth.
2. It doesn’t have the pressures of dealing with characters you know: Rant: Since the realization that these Marvel Studios films were a hit, everyone who has read the Marvel wiki, or has ever seen three episodes of the Fox X-Men cartoon is suddenly a comic fan know-it-all with their own inflated opinion of the direction of the films. End Rant.
3. It stands alone: No clever little inside jokes or dialogue that connects the film to the other films. With the exception of Thanos’ appearance and The Collector’s explanation of the Infinity Stones, that is.
4. Marvel’s got Mickey money and ain’t afraid to use it: The film has a fantastic soundtrack full of 60’s-70’s light rock, pop, and R&B which feature prominently in the film, playing a vital role in Star-Lord’s progression as a character and setting the overall mood. I imagine the clearing price of all the songs I heard throughout the film was half the film’s overall budget alone.
Apart from the music, there’s a fantastic spaceship battle in the third act of the film, complete with massive city destruction and CG chaos. In a weird way, it kinda makes you think if the space battles here look amazing, then what will the upcoming Star Wars look like?
Aside from those, the film is fun! It manages to tackle the completely ridiculous subject matter of interplanetary war and obnoxious talking animals with great humor, well-timed dialogue and, above all, personality.
Sure, there are several light at the end of the tunnel cliches, and that campy friendship power overcomes all resolution, but it’s excusable. Why? Because at the end of the day it’s a comic book movie. Unlike Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy or the tone of the second Captain America film, it never loses sight of exactly what it is. A movie based on a comic book. It’s a buddy-action film that will do fine among the other chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Maybe it’s that freedom of dealing with lesser known characters, maybe it’s the wit of the script, or maybe it’s Star-Lord’s ‘Awesome Mix, Vol. 1’ (which is also the film’s soundtrack, and I’m SURE it will sell like hotcakes — I bought a copy five minutes ago) that ensures that.
Whatever it is, it works. It works reeeaaaalllll good.
4 Arnolds out of 5
Tony is a lover and a fighter. But mostly a lover… of comics, Jack Daniels, movies, and scantily clad wimmens. Aside from winning the MVP trophy in full contact tic-tac-toe, he lives an adventurous life. Follow him on Twitter.