In Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Writer/Director James Gunn manages to bring to the screen a truly original story and world in a long time. Guardians is the story of space junk collector, known as a ravager, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) searching for a mysterious orb worth “space-millions.” Quill is the lone human in space after being kidnapped by aliens as a child.
Along the way, Quill meets rivals-soon-to-be-teammates: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), adopted daughter of powerful space-tyrant Thanos; Drax (WWE’s Dave Bautista), a warrior consumed emotional over his wife and daughter’s death at the hand of the film’s villain, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace); Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a Frankenstein-inspired space raccoon and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a tree-like alien.
Unbeknownst to Quill, the org contains an infinity gem, which with a single touch can drain the life out any organic object from a person, alien or entire planet. The gem is sought after by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a powerful religious zealous from the planet Kree and his hired henchwomen, Nebula (Karen Gillan), who is also the adopted daughter of Thanos. Marvel Comics has dedicated volumes of the issues to the power and legend of the Infinity Gems.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the universe, Quill is also being hunted down by a fellow ravager and Quill’s mentor, Rondo (Michael Rooker). Rondo wants Quill dead or at least captured, because Quill went after the orb on his own and plans to sell and keep the profits for himself.
Finally, there is the Nova Corps, which like S.H.I.E.L.D. on , is set up to be the galaxy’s space-police on the planet Xander. Nova Corps is headed by Nova Prime (Glenn Close), Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) and Sacrifice Nova Corpsman (Max Wrottesley). It is the Novacorp that early in the film, captures the individual members of the Guardians, brings them together in prison where this unlikely team is formed and become the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Other supporting characters should also be noted, like Ronan foot soldier, Korath (Djimon Hounsou), the Collector (Benicio Del Toro) prospective buyer of the orb, and of course no Marvel movie would be complete without Stan Lee.
That’s a lot of description, which admittedly, can be confusing for an audience unfamiliar with the Guardians of the Galaxy, especially as it is quickly. Not sure if filmmakers do this on purpose, but repeated viewing is almost necessary to understand the details of the story.
Do not let the large scale story, characters, worlds and planets, deter you from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy. It is almost as if the myriad of facts and details take a backseat to the actual characters on screen. Every person and character is a well-defined person with clear conflicts and goals to justify their inclusion in the movie. The facts and descriptions established in the movie are less to move forward the plot, but more to define each character clearly. Gunn should be commended for bringing simple clarity to a large scale movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy manages to be one of the most original movies of the year in terms of story, plot, characters and world-building. A lot of this is due in part by the foundation of the original Marvel comics. Gunn should get an Academy Award nomination for Movie Adaptation, because he clearly adapted a part of the Marvel Comics Universe created over the decades and brought it to life on screen. He ties together villains Thanos and Ronan, brings in the Nova corps, and pays homage to the original Guardians by bringing in Rondo and let’s not spoil the final end-credits scene. If it wasn’t for the existing world that Marvel had already created in the comics, Guardians of the Galaxy could not have been as good as it was. Where a lot of science fiction movies go wrong is created a world and universe that is structurally weak story-wise.
The heart of the movie is the Guardians themselves. As Peter Quill, Chris Pratt’s humor, heart and charismatic arrogance make him the perfect and flawed leader of the team. Zoe Saldana’s beauty and athleticism, as Gamora, is tempered by the alienation her character feels as the daughter of a ruthless tyrant. Dave Bautista shows that professional wrestlers know how to act. He brings pain, tragedy and fearlessness to his warrior character. Then there’s Rocket and Groot, the two CGI characters voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Rocket is the comic relief and the most self-aware character in the movie. Groot is a powerful fighter with a heart and loyalty that makes you fall in love with him instantly. The character is able to communicate volumes in his only line of the movie, “I am Groot.”
Guardians of the Galaxy ranks high on the list of the best Marvel Studios. Marvel made the right decision to open their cinematic universe to the universe itself. Guardians is an original story that is humorous, suspenseful and all-round a fun adventure in the style of the adventure films of old. It is definitely worth seeing in the theaters and more than once.