Guardians of the Galaxy @ Fantasia

One of the best Marvel films to date
One of the best Marvel films to date

What a perfect name for a director of action/comic book superhero films to have.  James Gunn (Movie 43, Slither) doesn’t have a huge amount of films he has directed, but with his latest, Guardians of the Galaxy, he has shown a deft touch with films of this genre.


Admittedly I have grown a little weary of all the Marvel/superhero films that Hollywood seems to be spewing out lately.  How many are we supposed to watch before they become as formulaic as rom-coms?  Battle fatigue set in which led to me not seeing the latest X-Men, Thor or Avengers films.  The genre had pretty much lost me.  My interest level was upped when I saw that Guardians of the Galaxy was part of the Fantasia film festival.  Fantasia has brought in big films previously like Final Destination 5, Curse of Chucky, The World’s End, and ParaNorman.  But I think that Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the biggest.  How did it fit in I wondered?  Curiousity got the best of me and I took in a screening.


Space scavenger Star-Lord (as he prefers to be known) has landed on a planet on a job.  He searches through a very dark and dangerous cave when he comes across what he has been looking for.  After some close calls he has in his possession a mysterious metal orb.


Once Peter Quill (Chris Pratt – Her, Moneyball) has the orb nothing but trouble follows him around.  Everyone wants to get their hands on this unremarkable looking item.  After double crossing his boss Yondu (Michael Rooker – from television’s The Walking Dead) and trying to sell the orb himself, Quill ends up in jail and finds himself forming out of necessity a ragtag team consisting of a warrior tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel – Saving Private Ryan, Fast & Furious 6), a green killing machine named Gamora (Zoe Saldana – Avatar, Star Trek: Into Darkness), a racoon who can build anything out of spare parts named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook, The Hangover), and a heavily tattooed man mountain named Drax (Dave Bautista – Riddick, The Man with the Iron Fists).


Much to their own chagrin these five characters end up trying to save the galaxy from being destroyed by the evil and powerful Ronan (Lee Pace – Lincoln, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), who is ironically being helped by Gamora’s sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan – from television’s Doctor Who) and working for her father, Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin – No Country For Old Men, The Goonies).


I am very glad I cast my doubts aside and went to see this film as it was more fun than I had had in a long time watching a film.  It is not your typical superhero film in that it is tons more cheeky and left of center.  There is a catchy feeling that runs through every moment of this film.  You always feel like you are on the edge of some serious action or another odd moment while watching.  It keeps you entertained and involved.


A big part of the enjoyment involved comes out of the great music in the film.  Filled with quirky songs from the 1970s like Redbones’ “Come and Get Your Love” and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” will have you boogieing in your seat while singing along.


Besides the above mentioned cast members the film also enjoys the presence of acting talent like Glen Close (from television’s Damages), John C. Reilly (Chicago, Step Brothers), Benicio Del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects), and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond).  Not bad for a film based on a Marvel comic.  But there is one actor who comes out of it as the real winner.  Chris Pratt is having an excellent year.  He is in two of the more entertaining films so far this year – Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie.  Pratt has evolved from being primarily known as Anna Faris’s husband (eek!) and a guy who has a supporting role in television comedy Parks and Recreation to a guy who can lead a film.  He plays well off his other castmates and shows he know how to make it look like he can kick serious butt.  Should have a good career in front of him in this genre of film.


All through the film I kept wondering if this was going to end up being this generation’s Star Wars.  Now, I know that is almost blasphemy to utter those words, but it does have a comparable mix of humour, sci-fi style action, cool weapons, over the top baddies, and cool special effects.  Think about it before you dismiss it outright.  It has already made oodles of money at the box office over its first weekend.  And they have already green-lighted a second film, so it seems like unless they royally mess things up they are going to have a series.  While there will probably never be another film that replicates the success or exudes the influence of Star Wars this might be this generation’s version of the sci-fi hit.


You don’t need to know anything about the Marvel source material to enjoy this film thoroughly.  Director and co-writer James Gunn has made sure of that.  He doesn’t take things too seriously and yet he takes them seriously enough.