I have two purposes to this review of a film a full month after its initial release, those are: one, to remind all those who saw it of just how incredible it is, and two, convince anyone on this planet who has yet to see it to drop whatever they are doing, and run, not walk, to the nearest theater to see Guardians of the Galaxy.
The concept of Guardians intrigued me as soon as I heard it was to be the next major Marvel studios release. As a Marvel fan, I heard of the Guardians in their multiple iterations before but, had never known in detail about them. I think this held true for many people going into this film, especially casual viewers. A situation like this, where the viewer has little to no knowledge about the material, can go either way as they can rapidly hate the subject or grow to love it. I find it hard to believe that any viewer left the theater without having added Guardians to their list of favorite film franchises. It’s just that good.
But why is it good? What makes it so memorable? Why has it been enshrined in my list of Top Ten Movies I Have Ever Seen? I believe it can be summed up in a single sentence: A masterful blend of comedy and action. Guardians is able to convey dark themes, while at the same time keeping a light air to itself with laugh out loud humor. One moment the characters are making outlandish jokes about Footloose, and the next a key character has a true scrape with death. My favorite film of all-time, Die Hard, is one of the few other films I would say has done this better. This is an art that has been attempted countless times before, but has been rarely achieved.
Another reason that I believe the film succeeds on such a high level is that, at least for me, it came off as what could be seen as a modern day retelling of Star Wars. Of course this has been done before, but what makes Guardians unique and successful as its own film is that it does not attempt to copy or recreate the magic of Star Wars, but instead uses key parallelism to tell its own story. One of the most obvious of these parallelisms is the rag-tag group of protagonists, none of which have any wish to be working as a team initially.
These characters are another of the film’s great strengths. The primary protagonist Peter Quill, also known as “Starlord,” played by Chris Pratt, is the sole earth-born or “terran” in the group. Quill was taken from his life on earth at the age of nine to become a sort of space pirate who travels the galaxy searching for valuable treasures. Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, is the adopted daughter of Thanos, (you know who this is if you stuck around after the credits during The Avengers), who is well known throughout the galaxy as a ruthless assassin. Drax the Destroyer is an intergalactic criminal whose family was slaughtered by the film’s primary villain. Next, there’s Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, a genetically modified raccoon who lives his life as a bounty hunter with his best friend and partner Groot in tow. Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, is an anthropomorphic tree who acts as the muscle half of the bounty hunter team. Groot has a sole set of words that he can say “… exclusively in that order.” Each is fascinating on its own, but the way they come together in a melting pot of races and cultures creates powerfully memorable interactions.
A final component to the film, and the one that makes it truly unique, is its soundtrack. Guardians does have an original score which is incredible in its own right. However, where the audio of the film truly shines is the soundtrack of popular songs from the 1960s and 1970s. These songs almost take on their own character, having a full backstory in the film and being played at strategic points within the plot. Personally, I have been sufficiently addicted to the soundtrack ever since my first viewing of the film.
These are just four of the major points that stood out to me as why I love this film. I have spoken to many others who have seen the film and some shared my reasons for loving it, but they also had their own. The one commonality was that they all loved it, and I can all but guarantee that you will too, so go see it as soon as you possibly can.