The opening of Guardians of the Galaxy is not promising. After an extremely smart and highly entertaining marketing campaign, the opening moments are overwrought and depressingly manipulative as our hero Peter Quill watches his mother on her death bed. Overcome with grief at the moment of her death, he runs out of the hospital and is promptly abducted by aliens. Leap forward twenty-six years, cue Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” and add Chris Pratt dancing across an alien planet and we’re off. This is what was promised—a high energy action adventure that never takes itself too seriously—on this front, and Guardians of the Galaxy delivers.
On paper it should never have worked, but just like its misfit heroes, screenwriters James Gunn and Nicole Perlman have created something worthwhile from random scraps. The script somehow manages to seamlessly integrate jokes about Jackson Pollock with more obscene quips (although the Jackson Pollock joke is kind of dirty). It bounces effortlessly from high octane, CGI heavy fight sequences to witty banter to genuinely touching moments as the solitary outlaws begin to trust one another and become friends. Even with a solid script in place, this is not an easy feat. Fortunately, the lovely people from the casting department were on top of their game. The cast is pitch perfect from top to bottom (well except for Karen Gillian, but they, thankfully, don’t give her Nebula much to say). Lead fearlessly by its unlikely leading man, Chris Pratt, even in the case of some truly terrible acting (David Bautista, I’m looking at you), as an ensemble, it all just clicks.
With Pratt’s role on Parks and Rec his most well known, he is the last person who comes to mind as an action star, but he pulls it off brilliantly. He oozes charisma, managing to be a loveable doofus, but also a brilliant negotiator and dashing leading man. He is made all the more attractive by the fact that he is the lone human in a group of extraordinary creatures. His band of outlaws is made up of monosyllabic he-man Drax (Bautista), deadly green assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically engineered raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and talking tree Groot (Vin Diesel). With another actor, this could have been laughable, but with Pratt, it’s an easy sell. As an added bonus, more often than not he talks his way out of bad situations, which is a nice change for the superhero genre.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect summer blockbuster and a much needed break from the dark and brooding comic book films that have become the norm since The Dark Knight Trilogy. It never loses sight of the fact that superhero films should be FUN. It captures the essence of what draws people to comics in the first place–a sense of escape and entertainment in a world where everyone can be a hero and even the strangest and most eccentric are not only accepted, but hailed as the saviours of the universe.