2014-07-31

Guardians of the Galaxy – Grooting for it to be a Big Hit

by Yo Snyder

A few years back, DC tried to introduce the cosmic side of
their super hero universe with Green
Lantern
. There was some hope that such a star-hopping adventure with some
epic action, goofy charm, and heartfelt sincerity might be a “Star Wars” for a
new generation. Well, that didn’t really work out and Green Lantern didn’t really fill the desire for a fun new adventure
set amongst the stars. Now, Guardians of
the Galaxy
comes swaggering on to the scene and with cocky confidence
basically says, “Let me show you how it’s done.” This is Marvel’s attempt to go
cosmic, and where Green Lantern fell
flat, Guardians struts and dances and
exudes so much roguish charm that it’s impossible not to like it. It’s one of
Marvel’s most entertaining movies yet. It’s got wit and laughs, some fantastic
action, wonderful characters and some very sincere heart beating at the core of
it. In short, it has all of the elements that helped make Star Wars and Serenity (Firefly fans and brown coats are going
to love it) so enjoyable and memorable. I know that sounds like high praise,
and perhaps it is, but this rag-tag crew of space faring ne’er do wells are
certainly worthy of it.

There was a lot of talk about how this was Marvel’s riskiest
venture yet, and for it to work, a lot of things had to be done just right.
Part of that was casting. Well, no fears there, as Chris Pratt carries the film
like a seasoned pro. He’s so pitch perfect that it reminded me a bit of how I
felt Robert Downey Jr. so perfectly embodied the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Zoe Saldana is perfectly understated at Gamora, and surprisingly, Dave Bautista
is wonderfully deadpan and funny as Drax. Well, that’s the human cast, the
other thing that really needed to work well was the gun-toting, hot-tempered raccoon
that loves big guns and the walking tree that only ever says, “I am Groot.”
These are strange characters, and if we as an audience didn’t buy into them,
this whole Guardians of the Galaxy thing
wasn’t going to click. However, just like most of the other elements in this
film, they work just fine. Bradley Cooper gives Rocket Raccoon just the right
amount of pathos to go along with his bombastic personality, and the subtle
inflections of Groot’s one phrase along with his wonderfully expressive face
makes it easy to understand exactly what’s going on with him. Put a great cast
together with smart, funny writing, and that goes a long way to making a real
winner of a film.

The other element that worked really well was how believable
it was that first of all these guys would want to fight each other and then
later that they would be willing to band together and fight for each other, and
the galaxy. The Avengers had the
luxury of other movies to establish the personalities to make those same
elements work, but Guardians has to
do it all in one movie, and it does so really well. These characters are well
developed, engaging, and even endearing despite being rough around the edges.
And if I haven’t really mentioned the villains, that’s because they don’t
really play much of an important role here. This movie is really about the Guardians,
and that’s just as it ought to have been for their first film outing.

What’s interesting about this particular corner of the
Marvel universe is that none of these characters are what would traditionally
be called a hero. In fact, they’re really nothing but a bunch of common crooks,
killers and miscreants. And yet, somehow, the fate of the galaxy winds up in
their hands. When it does, they don’t shy away from doing the right thing because
of their past, but despite their less than perfect background, they seize the
opportunity and show that even the least likely people in the galaxy can prove
to be truly heroic. That’s encouraging because that’s exactly the model God is
using to quite literally save the world. He doesn’t want perfect people, he
wants you and I. He wants the imperfect, the cracked pots (2 Corinthians 4:7) to
help him share the fact that everyone in the world can be saved through Jesus
Christ (1 Corinthians 9-11). We all have imperfect pasts, and if we’re going to
wait until we “get it right” before we choose to serve God, we’ll never really
do anything heroic. But if we, like the Guardians, can set aside that past, and
in fact have it cleansed through Jesus, we can then do the most heroic thing in
the galaxy; save a life for all eternity.

I have to say, I never expected the summer of 2014 to
deliver two movies that, in my opinion, surpass The Avengers. Captain
America: The Winter Soldier
and Guardians
of the Galaxy
have done just that, and between the two, I’d say Guardians is the one that’s just more
flat-out fun. It’s Marvel’s funniest movie to date, but it still has some epic
action and touching moments. Plus, it also moves some pretty important pieces
to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe into place, which is also exciting to
see. This is definitely the “have a good time at the movies” type of experience
that just leaves you feeling good. It’s the type of ride that’s so fun you want
to turn right around and get back on again. It seems laughable now to consider
how this was going to be Marvel’s riskiest venture. From the very get-go, the
movie swaggers on to the screen and dances about to show it isn’t worried about
any of that, it just wants to have fun. Guardians
of the Galaxy
is quite simply Marvel’s best movie to date, and the must-see
film of the summer. Is it that “Star Wars experience” that so many other films
have tried but failed to capture? Well, not to loft your expectations too high,
but I’d say yes, it is. And the fact that Marvel could pull it off while DC
couldn’t is undoubtedly going to leave the latter green (lantern) with envy.

Score: 7 of 7 – I loved
this movie, and everything about it was just about perfect; from the writing to
the casting to the humor to the pacing to the length. It is PG-13, and there
are some intense action scenes, and some implied sensuality and a bit of crude
humor, so some things to keep in mind when considering taking the family.