Guardians of the Galaxy, 4/1/17, 5 Stars.
After my fourth viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy, I can officially say I’m hooked on a feeling that this will go down as a great classic the Library of Congress must preserve! I say that because everything clicks in this fun, hilarious adventure across the galaxy that’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but still its own thing. We start with Earth in 1989 where we meet Peter Jason Quill on the day his mother dies in a heart-wrenching opening scene that immediately makes us sympathetic to him, after which, he’s abducted by aliens in almost classic “I know a guy who knows a guy” style. Fast forward 26 years and to the other side of the universe, and we’re reunited with the boy, now a full-grown man: Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). We get to see him dance before he has to fight his way out of some abandoned building that houses a MacGuffin orb that’s related to another MacGuffin orb from another movie. After failing to sell it, Star Lord gets thrown in prison with his assailants and future friends who fight in a public space: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel). They meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and together, they escape their prison. What follows is an epic, visually stunning, fun romp across the galaxy to stop Ronan the Destroyer (Lee Pace) from carrying out Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) will and collecting the orb. While Ronan is reduced to a loudmouth villain, he makes his threat level serious. The characters who could have been reduced to two-dimensional archetypes, but thankfully aren’t, are the guardians themselves. We get hooked on Star Lord from the moment we meet him as a child to his dance sequence and all his other acts of stupidity heroism, and a bit of both. Gamora is a violent assassin who develops a conscience and we’re given a good reason why. Rocket and Groot are two oddballs who are just fun to watch interact with each other and everyone else, and we’re given good reasons for why they are the way they are. And finally, Drax is just a maniac who’s obsessed with avenging his dead family, which sounds two-dimensional, but it works into the misfit angle of the team. Each of them get their moment and you really feel for them, which may seem absurd. The visuals for Rocket and Groot especially sound absurd too, but they’re rendered so well, they feel like they belong, whether it’s seeing them alongside their live-action cohorts, or their characterization as misfits. The CGI on them and other parts of the movie are brilliant throughout. And of course, everything is there for a reason, which makes the movie go by faster. The soundtrack is also brilliant in the way they use classic rock songs that may seem unnecessary, but are fun all the same. There’s also an orchestral score in case you forgot, by Tyler Bates, who’s no John Williams, but certainly makes his own great sci-fi soundtrack. Overall Guardians of the Galaxy is a funny, kinda-clean movie that boldly goes where no Marvel movie has gone before: space, the final movie frontier. These are the voyages of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Their ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new (yet slightly familiar) movie experiences. To boldly go where no Marvel movie had gone before.