Various media outlets were skeptical Marvel could pull off a sci-fi movie that didn’t quite fit in — at least on the surface — with the Avengers-centric, individual and collective, cinematic universe. G
uardians of the Galaxy made their first onscreen appearance with a trailer accompanied by Blue Swede’s ooga-chaka chanting Hooked on a Feeling, and the response was mixed and polarized. A cast of misfits from a comic book that includes an angry genetically modified gun-toting raccoon and his best friend, a walking tree, seemed a little too far out, and isn’t that Andy from Parks and Rec?
Well, to all the true believers — as Stan Lee might say — out there, your faithfulness to the franchise has been rewarded because Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s best movie yet.
It’s a given that Marvel’s cinematic universe has been building up to an epic Infinity Gauntlet storyline that will pit the entire universe against a singular foe — the super-powered Thanos who made his first appearance in an end-credits scene for The Avenger.
Rather than rush to an inevitable battle, Marvel has paced itself by introducing the key elements to the story — the villain himself as well as the various gems that will form the Infinity Gauntlet.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), having been abducted by aliens as a child, grows up to become the self-proclaimed Star-Lord — part James Kirk, Han Solo, and a child who hasn’t outgrown the 80s. He’s actually just one of many thieves in a collective known as the Ravagers, but he’s got something immensely valuable: an orb containing a mysterious power.
When Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) realizes its true power, he takes it for himself in a bid to destroy the planet Xandar and defeat his former master, Thanos (Josh Brolin).
GotG is incredibly dense with a cast that includes at least six different factions, four villains, and a team of heroes to rival the Avengers themselves. And when it comes to comparing movies, GotG doesn’t rival The Avengers as much as it just flat-out trumps it on a technical level with a script that somehow manages to flesh out the myriad characters while keeping it fresh with self-deprecating and genre-spoofing comedic bits.
From a visual standpoint, GotG is shot beautifully, and you get the sense that the filmmakers put extra effort into creating a bigger picture with grand vistas and special effects that don’t forego the subtleties.
The creativity level is particularly evident, extending itself to create other surprises, especially as the movie ups the ante against itself towards an amazing and heartfelt finish.
Though the acting is wooden in some parts, and the first act is a bit choppy — I have to say something balanced — the movie as a whole is a lot of fun with one of the greatest soundtracks in recent history.
This one may have started out as the black sheep of the Marvel family, but right now it’s a crown jewel.