There are annoying To-Do Lists, the kind that tend to include chores you have to get done and doctor’s appointments. But then there are fun To-Do Lists, like “get to the beach one more time before the end of the summer.” At the top of my recent fun get-done list was to go see the number one movie of the summer, Marvel’s interpretation of the classic comic book Guardians of the Galaxy.
The fact that Guardians is the biggest movie of the summer added with Entertainment Weekly’s high recommendation meant that I had to get my butt to the theater (something that doesn’t happen all that often) and experience the big-budget action flick on the big screen.
The last time I loved a comic-based film was the first Iron Man. When I think about it, that actually was the only time I felt that way about one of these movies. But Guardians of the Galaxy was humorous and highly entertaining, predominantly thanks to these five words: Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.
Pratt, who completely transformed his body from his Park and Recreation character’s flab to being super fit, plays Peter Quill. Quil was abducted from Earth as a kid (seen in a quick but heartbreaking opening sequence that you definitely don’t want to miss) and is now a space “outlaw” who calls himself Star-Lord. Basically, he’s a bit of a criminal, getting paid to steal things, living outside the law. Quill’s a goofball with a weakness for sexy alien women, a knack for beating off bad guys, and getting himself out of sticky situations, thanks to his fancy space-age gadgets. His humor is dry and filled with puns and expressions, always quick with a joke. Basically, he’s an adorable charmer who puts his foot in his mouth quite often.
Saldana plays Gamora, a green-skinned alien who’s independent, fierce, and a trained assassin. I’ll spare the intricate details of the plot because A) it doesn’t matter and B) the plots always bore me in these types of movies but Gamora and Quill/Star-Lord end up teaming up, along with three other renegade types, to act together and locate an orb. The group is sort of poor man’s Avengers, except that all five are highly skilled and together make a impressive, universe-saving team.
Joining Pratt and Saldana is pro wrestler Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel as a living tree who only says one thing (“I am Groot”), and a raccoon voiced by the prestigious actor Bradley Cooper. Together, the group constantly mock each other while simultaneously learning how to work as a team instead of individuals, despite doing it begrudgingly at first.
What makes this movie different from other comic book adaptations is the feel of the film. The sarcastic, self-deprecating tone makes it fresh and unique from other movies. It’s a bit like a Jonah Hill buddy movie meets a big budget action-flick.
And Guardians is jam-packed with action. There were so many punches being thrown and guns shooting off that the actions sequences kind of all meld together. But Pratt’s incredible charisma, his fiery chemistry with sexy Saldana, and Cooper’s voice-over acting kept viewers engaged. I would watch those actors open a milk carton, especially if they did it together while bantering.
Another reason to see Guardians? – the soundtrack. When Peter was abducted into space, he had his walkman on him with a 80’s pop mixtape his mother made him. Throughout the movie, the “Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1” plays constantly, both as part of the scene (where the characters are actively listening to music) and in the background. Blue Suede’’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” The Runaway’s “Cherry Bomb,” Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”, and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” fill the theater and help fuel the story and one’s warm feelings for the flick. When Peter teaches Gamora about music by putting this headphones on her ears and making her listen to Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” I swooned in my seat. You will find yourself listening repeatedly to the album released in honor of the mix tape for days following, just as I have been. And a “Volume 2” is in the works also!
When it comes down to it, Guardians of the Galaxy is another futuristic comic book action film. But it has moments that really touch your heart, music that hits your soul, refreshing humor, and performances that elevate the whole thing.
Guardians of the Galaxy: B+