I have become a very cheap film-goer in the past five years. This summer I only saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which was fucking temendous, and Guardians of the Galaxy about which im about to gush over. i lucked out. two rather excellent films that transcend the more shallow and ridiculous elements of their genres to become not only financially successful, but great vehicles for exciting new characters.
this is one of the rarest feats that can be pulled off by a special effects-laden modern action epic. Character driven action. Especially when some of the major protagonists are motion capture cartoons.
But on with the review.
The story hardly matters, what matters is that its happening to characters we like. All that is relevant to relay is that five awesome and hilarious rogues are forced to cooperate in order to defeat some cosmic evil that will blow up the earth (Xandar, whatever.) Im not gonna name drop because the whole main cast, the guardians themselves, are all pretty damn good. Uhura can be boring at times but at least the movie shamelessly provides several money shots of her leather clad butt to justify the casting choice. keeping it real classy, Marvel. But that fits well with the raunchy tone of the humor. there is a surprising amount of bro and dick jokes inside this space opera. but its all good, if you let your kids watch transformers shuck and jive and piss on each other, you can definitely allow them to watch these character be their sad imperfect selves.
the PG-13 rating is definitely for the violence. it is crushing and heavy. but the exuberance of the action and the joyful tone of the movie keep it from becoming oppressive. Also, its all shot pretty fucking well, if anything these are some of the most satisfying space battles and chase sequences I have seen in forever. All of the action set-pieces are unique and fun enough to be experienced more than once.
the aerial/space dogfights are shot perfectly. the camera doesn't just go for
close ups of bullets striking steel, there is an actual sense of space
being taken into account here, actual choreography in the action that
demands the camera breathe rather than stifle. you wont find any of the incessant clutter of Return of the Sith's opening here.
One of the more peculiar distinctions in the movie is the special effects. Yeah it still looks like a videogame at times, but for the most part the set design retains some of the lived in grit from Jean Giraud's art and the ubiquitous spirit (not just the look) of the blade runner cityscape. i did not expect the movie to be so grimy. the only questionable choices for me were uhuras green make up and the circ de soleil bad guy who wasn't Thanos. I wish she wasn't such a flat green monotone, without dimension or subtleties in pigment. how many people do you know have uniform pigmentation on their face let alone their whole bodies? its annoying because Dave Batista's make-up work along with that Frieza looking chick is fucking spectacular. that along with other continuity flaws (no sweat/blood/spittle/dirt when the action dictates it) mar the movie slightly for me, but that's only cause I like my heroes to earn their hero title by crawling through fire as believably as possible. I nitpick.
lastly and more importantly is the chemistry between the rogues. Its magic. the joy and the laughs come from the friction between a band of characters reluctant to cooperate and so the banter writes itself. to add tot he turmoil, not only do these bastards have polarizing personalities, theyre all aliens to eachother (there is only one human/terran in the band) and thus come packed with cultural and emotional bagagge they never hesitate to unload onto each other. there is a surprising level of emotional depth, and the best bonding happens on the screen. this for me is what makes Guardians superior to the Avengers.
so! if you wanna see thrilling space battles and satisfying character driven action, go see Guardians of the Galaxy. Its a damn near perfect action movie, a pretty great science fantasy epic (a sweet homage to Heavy Metal), and its funnier that most 'comedies' out this year anyway. hurry up, go give them your money if you still haven't.
***1/2 out of ****