So, last night my best friend calls me up and says “let’s go see Guardians of the Galaxy” and because he’s my best friend (despite going to see Lucy with his wife and NOT me) I readily said yes, even though I had never even heard of the comic book before the movie was announced. Now, I want to get my hands on these comics. You see, as a young boy, while the rest of my friends were into sports and collecting baseball trading cards, I was into Marvel comics and Spider-Man trading cards and pretty much dreamt of one day waking up with super-powers. Yes, I was kind of a nerd, but I owned it and basically didn’t care at all. But in recent years I’ve kind of gotten away from that obsession. I grew up, got married, had kids and gave all of my super-hero memorabilia (TONS OF IT) to my younger brother. I haven’t played a video game in about five years, and I haven’t read a comic book since I was like sixteen. I’m so out of the loop. I like super-hero movies, to a degree, but the recent barrage of them has left me somewhat indifferent, especially with regards to Marvel movies. Maybe I take myself too seriously, but I like my superheroes with an edge, a darkness, and I like my superhero movies to feel grounded in something weighty. I was a huge vocal fan of what Christopher Nolan did with Batman, and I was also a huge vocal detractor to what Whedon did with The Avengers.
I didn’t hate that movie, but the hyperbolic praise made me roll my eyes.
So, walking into Guardians of the Galaxy last night, I kind of expected to find myself indifferent. It looked like fun, and the rise of Pratt has me curious, but mostly I expected Avengers redux, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to writing a scathing review that got me a ton of hate mail.
No hating here, at all!
I find it rather funny that I’m pretty much ecstatic about this movie and I read online that a lot of fans are rather cool on this, despite critics praising it to the high heavens. It never fails that I’m in the minority about things, but I have never had an issue with that.
For me, there are a few clear reasons why this film works better than the majority of superhero movies I’ve seen in recent years, making this possibly (OK, not possibly) the best superhero movie since 2008’s The Dark Knight.
And here they are.
First, the action scenes are remarkably etched out. There are so many to make mention of that this review could honestly consist of pages and pages of sequence descriptions, but I’ll refrain. Just call to mind that giant shield composed of spaceships or that whistle controlled arrow or that scene where Groot finally loses his cool and disembowels a row of baddies, and then slams them all over the place, Hulk style. Those are just a handful of scenes, and they barely scratch the surface of awesome. It doesn’t hurt that they are beautifully composed and visually remarkable. I mean, the visuals here are impeccable. From the creation of characters (like Rocket and Groot, who are seamless) to the actual composition of scenes, this is a visual feast. I mean, that scene where Groot lights up the darkness is absolutely STUNNING! Second, the story is actually super easy to follow despite being slightly complex. Marvel has an issue with shoving so many characters into their films that they become cluttered and confusing. Guardians of the Galaxy is rather straightforward in its storytelling and works really well to connect all the dots and spell things out really well, without ever feeling like it’s talking at us. It has such incredible storytelling flow.
Third, that soundtrack is just, well, incredible. You’d never think that a collection of pop hits from YEARS before the target audience was born would work amidst all the gunfire and explosions, but it does! It makes for a really neat juxtaposition of time and space and era and nostalgia, and also plays into the fourth point…the film actually has a beating heart. These characters all feel so real and exposed and by the end of the film, you are not only rooting for them, but you are joining them on their journey. You are part of their team, part of their world and they are in your heart. That whole opening scene literally had me in tears (and my best friend was wiping a few as well) and it set a precedent that the film actually made good on.
Let’s talk about that tone for a minute. My fifth point is one that is pretty much the biggest reason why I feel like this film works better than any other Marvel based film adaptation I’ve seen so far, maybe sans Spider-Man 2. The film is never corny. NEVER. One of my biggest issues with Marvel is that I haven’t seen a film yet that captured the comedic undertones without making it feel kind of silly and dumb. I know that fans went wild for The Avengers and especially The Hulk, but I found the majority of that film’s humor to be really stupid. One-liners only work if they are executed well, and those jokes just didn’t land like I would have hoped they would have. Every single joke in Guardians of the Galaxy lands right where it needs to, and they are so quotable!
And so that brings me the sixth point; this film has Chris Pratt and the others don’t. Yeah, I went there, but really, Pratt is brilliant here! He gets EVERYTHING right, from development of character to the actual handling of those jokes, and while the rest of the cast helps (Saldana’s line readings are great, Cooper is hysterically unhinged and Lee Pace’s face is EVERYTHING, especially during the whole dance off scene...“what are you doing?”), and the constant cameos of awesomeness were so fun (Glenn Close! Benecio Del Toro!), but this is Pratt’s movie and he makes sure that we know that. His physical comedy, his line readings, his facial expressions…he nails it. It doesn’t hurt that he drips charisma from every pore, and I basically walked out of the theater wishing that I could BE him. I mean, when he came rounding the corner of that spacecraft looking like The Rocketeer I knew that all of my childhood dreams have come full circle and basically become Chris Pratt.
And I want that jacket, like, NOW!
So, there you have it. Six reasons why Guardians of the Galaxy is the best superhero movie you could see this year, straight from the mouth of the guy who hasn’t seen any of the other ones, quite simply because hyperbole is something you can never escape and so, for my seventh and final reason I present to you just that; pure hyperbole.
Guardians of the Galaxy is BRILLIANT!
Continuing the hyperbole, I'm giving this an A+, so all you haters can suck it too! BOOM! And guess what, I hope this rakes in with the Oscars, even though I know it won't, but really...this should be at the top of the list for Makeup, Visual Effects and Sound categories, and if there is a God then Chris Pratt is not only getting nominated for the Comedy Globe, but he's winning the BFCA Action Actor award. I mean, it's only fair, since he won't get that Oscar nom that I think he richly deserves!