A small scale game changer. So this is about a band of rogues that are forced to team up to take down a genocidal maniac by the name of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), and you know it has got to be bad if we are leaving the fate of the galaxy up to a bunch of criminals. This is Marvel at the top of their game. 2014 was a brilliant year for them between this and The Winter Soldier (I still go back and forth for which is my favorite), and you’re going to be hard pressed to find somebody who doesn’t like this movie. Even people who don’t fancy themselves a fan of comic book movies, they still like these Guardians. Why? Because it is that much of a raucous good time.
I don’t even think Marvel expected this big of a success for these ne’er-do-wells.
Now this was the biggest risk that Marvel has taken so far, even more than Thor, and on paper, you can see where this could have gone so wrong. It is space opera, so almost every character is coated in some sort of florescent color. On top of that, there’s a talking homicidal raccoon, a walking tree that only says “I am Groot”, and a very quirky director in James Gunn. Well, this is a dictionary definition of a high risk high reward situation, and it ends up being one of the most memorable movies in Marvel’s entire library. Everybody is good in this, but the thing that stands out the most for me is the punch up writing. It is laugh out loud funny, and even when these characters are not in the middle of some crazy sci-fi action and just sitting around together talking, it is still wildly entertaining because of the dialogue and the jabs that these characters are given to deliver. Even Dave Bautista of MMA fame turns in a good performance; you can tell he took acting classes so his deadpan punch lines land, and he has the terrific physicality for the character of Drax the Destroyer.
It can’t be denied that the combination of Rocket Raccoon and Groot steal the show, though.
As standout as the comedy is in this, I can’t go without saying how brilliant the soundtrack is to this as well. The majority of the songs featured in this found a way into my wedding reception playlist, so I will always hold this movie in a special place for that alone. My critiques for this are so small that I classify them as nitpicks, like a somewhat unmemorable villain and the fact that the ending to this falls back on the template where everything blows up in the sky. Guardians of the Galaxy is groovy and has the highest rewatchability factor of any of the movies in the Marvel lineup; you know that you’re going to have a good time watching it, so you will catch yourself becoming entranced with it if it happens to be on.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.