Regular Dude Movie Reviews: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Above: Marvel's highly anticipated film Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now
Above: Marvel's highly anticipated film Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now

You have to see this movie.

Actually, you have to see this movie a couple times because when you love it the first time around, you’re going to come home, jump on the Internet and try to devour as much Guardians of the Galaxy data as possible and in the process, you’re going to learn about jokes and jabs and appearances (Hi Nathan Fillion!) you missed and want to go back and catch them on a second, third and fourth viewing.

I expected to really like this movie — I’m the guy that goes to see every comic book movie in the theatre because they’re action-packed productions made for the big screen and theatre experience, plus I have my monitor propped up to a comfortable working height with the Marvel, DC, and Vertigo Encyclopedias. Suffice it to say, I dig comic books and their adaptations, except that Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern abomination—no one liked that.

What I didn’t expect was to walk out of the theatre desperate to get back here and write this review because I had just watched the perfect comic book movie.

Yes, I said perfect.

As good as the other films that comprise the current incarnation of the Marvel Universe in “The Avengers Era” have been—and they’ve been really good—it always felt like they were trying just a little too hard. They were action movies adapted from comic books and they were a little too self-conscious and serious at times. These are characters that operate in form-fitting latex or robotic suits of armour, so there are times when the gravitas of the latest “the world is in jeopardy” situation feels overblown.

Aliens descending upon New York through an intergalatic portal bent on taking over the planet is all kinds of bad news, but let’s not forget that you’re the good guys and we all know you’re going to vanquish the Chitauri attackers and then go out for shwarma.

Guardians lands on the other end of that spectrum—it doesn’t take itself seriously and that makes for an easy, enjoyable two hours and change eating popcorn and Starburst Minis watching this off-brand collective come together to kick some ass.

And I don’t say “off-brand” as a slight either.

The fact that most movie-goers head into the film without knowing anything about Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is part of what makes Guardians so great. The first quarter of the movie isn’t a recap of the origina story you already know because most people haven’t been exposed to this group in the past, unlike, say The Hulk or Thor.

Additionally, they’re not your typical straight-laced superheroes either—Star-Lord, Rocket and Groot can all be considered mercenaries of some sort, Gamora is an assassin and the adopted daughter of Thanos, the menacing bad guy from the first post-credit scene in The Avengers, and Drax gets introduced when the rest of the group joins him in an intergalactic prison colony.

There is nothing clean cut about this group and it makes you like them even more because let’s be honest, characters with frayed edges and some moral and ethical flexibility are way more fun than drink your milk, do your duty, yes sir, no sir Captain America.

Pratt crushes as the defacto leader of the unit—a poor man’s Han Solo with more wit, sweet dance moves and pop culture references that hit home for anyone that grew up in the ’80s or ’90s. Plus he rocks a Sony walkman and listens to a mixtape his mom made of her favourite tracks, and you all know how I feel about mixtapes.

Even as a green, genetically modified assassin, Saldana is smoking hot, but where she really stands out is that she’s believable in the physical moments. Columbiana wasn’t very good at all, but it showed the former dancer was capable of performing the fight sequences herself. Personally, I don’t feel that when I watch Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in The Avengers. Maybe that’s because she’s been so good in so many non-physical roles, but that’s not the point. The point is Saldana rocks this role and leaves lots of opening for further character expansion and exploration in future appearances.

The real breakthrough here, however, is Bautista. In addition to being a comic book nerd, I’m also a long-time and current fan of professional wrestling (seriously – how am I married?) and having watched Dave Bautista the wrestler throughout his tenure in WWE, it was surprising to see him knock this performance out of the park. Talking was never really his thing in his wrestling days—he’s a massive physical specimen that could convery various emotions with scowls and stares—so to then pivot and have Drax be the dry, literal brute that provides the biggest and best laughs of the film was tremendous.

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to come away from Guardians wishing you had a wise-ass, anthropomorphic racoon sidekick. Rocket is like a pint-sized, furry frat boy that grew up to be a bounty hunter and hangs out with a dim, tree-like humanoid named Groot that only ever says three words—”I am Groot.” He’s got a quick temper, a bit of a drinking problem, and a mischievious streak that produces some quality laughs.

He also really likes shooting stuff and blowing things up, so there is that too.

When combined into an “I guess we’ve got to work together” adventure, director James Gunn (Slither) and his co-writer Nicole Perlman deliver a smash hit that lives up to the lofty review quotes that make up the advertisements and trailers for this summer’s best film.

Guardians feels as like an ensemble comedy that got dropped into a comic book universe and warmly embraces that side, as well as the requisite CGI action sequences that are standard in all these Marvel films. It’s engaging and fresh—something new in a genre that has been front-and-center for the last five or six years—and it has a killer soundtrack too. Mrs. Quill had good taste in music with songs like “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” and “Cherry Bomb”popping up throughout the movie.

I don’t ever want to give away too much of the plot or key moments of the film in these reviews—for me, they’re either going to be an endorsement of a film or a warning to save your money and wait until it comes to Netflix more than a re-hashing of what transpires. No one likes spoilers, but most of us like to know what other people think before we dip into our wallets and invest a couple hours of our time in something, and that’s what I’ll try to bring you here.

You need to see Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you even remotely liked any of the previous films set in the Marvel Universe or are looking for an entry into the world, you have to check out this movie.

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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