A near-perfect four quadrant entertainment that is reminiscent of Galaxy Quest or even the original Episode IV Star Wars. Full of humor, 70s/80s nostalgia, action, and somewhat indestructible characters, Guardians provides a new outlet for the Marvel universe (a sequel is already announced). How this will feed into the coming May’s Phase 2 Avengers, other than the obvious concurrent timelines and some specific nods from the tags of the previous films, I can’t wait to see.
Co-writer/Director Gunn (Slither) despite being within the established Marvel box, really brought his sensibility to the film. It is borderline off-color, but never over-reaches. It is sarcastic, but in wholly believable ways. Pratt (Her, Parks and Recreation) found his way from broad humor to serious, with just enough swagger to elicit a shadow of Hans Solo. He is wholly likable but not exactly a classic good guy. And that is part of the charm of the film; these aren’t heroes. They’re good people who are trying to survive in the ways they know how or in the ways allowed to them. That they still want to do the right thing (mostly) is what makes them heroes.
In addition to Pratt, Saldana (Out of the Furnace), and her on-screen “sister” Gillan (Doctor Who), bring subtlety and some kick-ass action. Pace (The Hobbit) is practically unrecognizable in both sound and action. Cooper (American Hustle) plays a delightfully twisted piece of work as Rocket the Raccoon. Only Close (Albert Nobbs) was a little under-utilized, but she probably gets another bite at the apple down the road.
One of the most interesting aspects of this latest addition is seeing a Marvel formula that manages to combine all the elements of the outrageous and still make them seem possible. It is also pretty rocking in IMAX 3-D; this is definitely a big screen film.
If you’re already hooked on the Marvel sequence, I don’t need to convince you to go to this anyway. But if you aren’t, and just need some good escapism, this works just fine as a stand-alone action/adventure. Honestly, I can’t wait to see it again and catch all the bits I may have missed, and get to re-watch the parts that had me and the theater in riotous laughter; and yet it still had great heart to it all.