Guardians of The Galaxy (2014)


Chris Pratt as Peter Quill
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax
Vin Diesel as Groot (voice)
Bradley Cooper as Rocket (voice)
Lee Pace as Ronan
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey
Glenn Close as Nova Prime
Benicio Del Toro as The Collector

Directed by
James Gunn

Length 121mins


Review and Summary

In one word.. UNBELIEVABLE!!! But I’m sure that if your looking to read about it you will want a few more. And I think I have that covered.

Guardians of the Galaxy had its start in 1969 as a release from Marvel Comics, Marvel Super Heroes #18. In this version we have a cast of characters consisting of Major Vance Astro, Martinex T’Naga, Captain Charlie-27, and Yondu Udonta to start with. Later in the course of their adventures they add in Starhawk, Aleta, and Nikki. While their adventures are in the 31st Century, they later travel back to the 20th Century and have a series of adventures, teaming up in some cases with Thor, Captain America, The Thing, and eventually The Avengers as a whole.

In the early 1990’s the Guardians came back in a self-titled comic series that lasted for 62 issues.  After that run it appeared in a 4 issue series titled Galactic Guardians. There, to end for some 18 years.

In 2008, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning formed a new team from existing and previously unrelated characters created by a variety of writers and artists. Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Quasar, Adam Warlock, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and Groot were back in a 25 issue run. It is from this inception that the 2014 movie is birthed.

In 2009, Screenwriter Nicole Perlman, began to assemble the team for the big screen adventure as she started to form the story that would become the cinematic release.  She worked on her own for 2 ½ years before James Gunn was signed on to Co-Write and Direct the film. Nicole won a prized status as one of the only females to have ever graced the title credits for a Marvel movie. She overcame the criticism of not being able to write a masculine script and has produced one of the greatest stories in recent years for a Marvel film.

The movie starts off pretty heavy, there’s no build up that shows that with power comes great responsibility that normally is seen in an origination film. Its 1988, and instead we see Peter Quill suffer the loss of his mother. For a 10 year old it’s pretty traumatic and laden with plenty of regrets. Listen carefully to his mother’s description of his “angelic” father. In the aftermath of her passing, Peter runs from the hospital and as he collapses to his knees crying, he is taken away in a shower of light.

26 years later……

A lone ship lands on what is termed and abandoned planet. As an individual leaves the ship he navigates to some ruins, once in them, we the audience get the tempo of the movie set as he turns on his Walkman and dances his way into the ruins. A’la Indiana Jones, the older Peter Quill still has his Walkman at his side and is searching for the sacred treasure on the pedestal, but with little lizards abounding vs darts. Using his gadgets he gets his artifact, just as the Kree renegades catch up to him. Better then using a boulder to escape, he uses his rocket boots to get away and exits via the Milano, Orb in his possession.

Quill heads for Xandar, the capital of the Nova Empire. Along the way we get some background overall. The Xandar and the Kree have signed a treaty to end aggression. Yondu Udonta, the head of the Ravagers, the group who by the way abducted Peter from Terra some 26 years before, is hunting quill. It turns out that Yondu and his crew abducted the young Peter and took him in as a member of the crew. That is until Peter decided to go out on his own and in turn betray Yondu.

In the meantime, Ronan, a fanatical Kree, is also after the Orb. It was his men who came across Quill and lost it to him. In an effort to gain the Orb back, and save face with the Titan Thanos, Ronan sends Gamora the assassin after quill. Now this is where it gets complicated. Turns out that Thanos has made it a practice to kidnap the daughters of his conquered enemies and transform them into his own weapons. Gamora, was captured and made into a killing machine. While her so so step sister Nebula, too was transformed as a daughter of Thanos into another killer.

So here’s where it gets complicated. While Quill has betrayed Yondu to sell the Orb himself. Gamora is also looking to betray Ronan and Thanos by taking the Orb and selling it to her buyer. Keep track now. Peter makes it to Xandar, and brings his treasure to The Broker. The Broker in turn rejects the transaction upon hearing that Ronan and his hordes are also after it.

As a side note, there is a bevy of veteran character actors sprinkled in the movie.
Christopher Fairbank plays The Broker. His roles in The Fifth Element, Doctor Who, Invasion Earth, and many other films are always a delight. Another veteran actor who is also in the cast is John C Riley. When he is on screen I can’t help but see Wreck It Ralph every time he speaks. We also get a great big serving of Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta. There is no denying that a bit of Merle Dixon seeps into Yondu here and there throughout the movie.

Its at this point that our hero’s all come together. In a rousing game of hot potato, between Gamora and Quill, we have Rocket and Groot trying to collect Quill for the bounty on his head. In the end all 4 end up being caught by the Nova guards and hauled off to the prison Kyln, a prison for the most hostile of criminals. It’s while on Kyln that the 4 begin to bound in an odd way. This is where Drax is added to the group, his soul purpose is to get his chance to kill Ronan. To get that chance they must escape first. With Rocket providing the brains, Drax and Groot the brawn, and Gamora and Quill some added items, they make good their escape, with the Orb and head for Gamora’s buyer.

Next Stop Knowhere…

Knowhere, a mining colony inhabited by criminals which happens to be the severed head of a Celestial. Now I have to admit this was one of the most awesome executions of an out of the box idea overall. Its here that Gamora’s buyer is revealed to be Taneleer Tivan, The Collector (played by Benicio Del Toro). This is one of the true joys of the Marvel Universe and its movies, the linking of movies by characters, and not always main stream ones either.

The Collector provides the background to the group on the Orb. It is a “Pandorica” like container for what are described as Infinity Stones. Basically the 6 Infinity Stones were the precursors of the universe. Only the Titans or the most powerful beings are able to handle them. Once obtained, they give the holder phenomenal powers. Therefore the reason that everyone is after it.

In quick order The Collector’s tormented assistant grabs the stone that leads to a massive explosion decimating his layer. A drunken Drax has sent a message to Ronan telling him where they are to draw him there for his revenge. All and all it’s a great setup for a battle royal. Only problem is that it doesn’t really work out for Drax, who is pretty much beaten silly by Ronan. And Gomora ends up being a frozen corpse in space after Nebula blows the ship she is trying to escape in apart, resulting in the Orb being captured by Ronan. Now that Ronan has the Orb, he fulfills his plan and betrays Thanos. Using the Orb, he takes its power to augment him and then embeds it into his staff. Making giving him the power and weapon to destroy any world he wants.

With a heroic gesture Gamora is saved by Quill, and the group coalesces into a team, including the Yondu and The Ravagers, the goal to stop Ronan and his minions from destroying Xandar. In a way it’s the classic them against us underdogs approach. Its reminiscent of the Seven Samurai (1954), The Cowboys (1972), and many other films. The sum of the misfits together is way greater than the individuals.

The plan is to use the Ravagers main ships to blind and distract Ronan’s ship, The Dark Aster, while the fighters get around and attack it. Once breached, Quill and the team go in and take Ronan down. But they need more fire power, and in a move that is sheer bravado, Quill contacts the Nova Corps and gives them the scoop, asking that they evacuate the city and also help in the attack.

The final battle is epic and is an overall masterpiece of effects work. The Nova Corps “Tholian”-like web maneuver is spectacular. The fight choreography with the Ravagers ships and the Kree fighters is amazing. It reminds me of the final battle in “Return of the Jedi” (1983). While onboard the ship Gamora dispatches Nebula, and the rest of the team makes it into the command room where Ronan has blockaded himself. Unfortunately, all their attempts to destroy Ronan are not fruitful. However, they are able to bring the Dark Aster down, causing it to crash land on Xander. But for the team to survive Groot sacrifices himself.

It ain’t over till it’s over…

As the Guardians pick themselves up and mourn the loss of Groot, Ronan rises from the wreckage untouched. Back to square one, Quill uses one of the most unique methods ever devised to distract Ronan, he sings “Oh Child” to him. This was a great move, everyone in the theater was cheering and it just brought up the energy of the film 100x’s.  With Ronan distracted, Rocket and Drax are able to get a weapon and fire on Ronan. Unfortunately it has no effect, that is until they use it again to free the embedded stone in his staff.

With the Stone free, Quill is able to grab it even though it is certain doom for him. But something really great happens. Even though the legend says only the powerful can handle it… it didn’t say more than one person couldn’t handle the power! The team joins together with Quill and achieves critical mass to control it. With this going on Ronan taunts them, calling them The Guardians of The Galaxy. It’s all they need and are able to destroy Ronan, and then contain the stone safely.

With the day saved, debt paid to Yondu and the Ravagers, and the Stone in safe keeping with Nova Prime, the team is rewarded. Their criminal records are expunged and they are given a repaired Milano. And off they go for more adventures.

Everything IS Awesome!!!

The film overall is a true gem and something that will surely become one of those movies that you can’t go past if you come across it when it comes to TV. The little things they did that made this a major success are amazing.

The characters talk to each other and interact naturally. That is so important in making a successful story that many forget it, for example “The Transformers” movies. Here they use this from start to finish. We learn a lot of things with just a few lines of dialog versus a ton of techno babble. Howard Hawkes’s movies were great for this reason, it made the characters real.

If you listened to the dialog from Peter’s mother in the beginning and then the facts that Nova Corps provides at the end, Peter is half human and half alien, or a race that no one has ever seen. Not to mention as Yondu leaves, he and his right hand man make a comment on how well it worked out that they didn’t turn him over to his father. This added so much more depth to the whole thing.

But overall the most brilliant part of the movie was the inclusion of a ton of great music from the 70’s. This was layered in as part of the background throughout the movie. This was sheer brilliance on the part of the production team. It brings about the common core belief that music is the greatest language of all. I highly recommend the soundtracks!!

When this comes out on DVD, it is a must have!!!


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