Guardians of the Galaxy was directed by James Gunn. This is the same James Gunn who I was first introduced to as a coach for aspiring horror actresses on VH1s “Scream Queens” back in 2008. This is the same James Gunn who came into the biz in the shadow of the mighty Toxic Avenger at Troma Entertainment. The most impressive notch on his resume before this massive Marvel Studios endeavor was a screenplay writing credit for the 2004 Dawn of the Dead reboot. Marvel obviously took a chance on Mr. Gunn – and it paid off.
This film has a totally different tone to it than any of its big budget superhero genre predecessors. Using a soundtrack of late 1970s and early 80s hits as a backdrop for a futuristic intergalactic space war movie is precisely the kind of off-kilter balancing act that Gunn has successfully pulled off. Yes, this film does propel the clichéd tradition of superheroes who are initially societal outcasts(why aren’t they ever star quarterbacks?). It does stand apart however, in that the Guardians are still quite the misfits, even after their makeovers.
Having seen most of the other Marvel releases over the past few years (Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, etc) I initially incorrectly assumed GotG would not be a part of that other universe of characters and storylines. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie was actually a huge reveal that tied a lot together from the other films. It was exciting to find out we are headed straight for the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet plotline – which seems quite intriguing. Marvel did this mass character arc/storyline convergence the first time with Avengers, and I’m excited to see how everything will come together in these next chapters to come.
Chris Pratt plays the Peter Quill / Star-Lord character in a way that is well-suited for the tone of the movie. He’s the sad clown, and his character has an inner dichotomy that echoes this theme of undulating waves of wackiness crashing into walls of punishing sadness/violence. It’s hard to get the ratio just right, but Pratt got it close enough. Marvel has woven lots of tension-breaking moments of levity into their films before(“Hulk Smash”), but this movie is almost more comedy than action. Spoiler alert : Let’s keep in mind the final battle between our hero and villain(Ronan the Accuser) features a mini attempted dance-off at one point.
I left the film feeling happy. Even though it was over 2 hours in running time, it went by quickly. This signifies success in holding my attention, and a lil’ bit of icing for leaving me satisfied with the end result. Was this the best of the Marvel movies? No. That would be the first Iron Man. But, this was somewhere in the top 5. You should probably try to catch this in the theater, because the tablet experience in a few months will probably lack a little of the punch.
Overall rating : 7.7/10