This review is over a month overdue. I am bailed out, though, by the fact that movie I am review has become the highest grossing film of the year, has the hottest soundtrack of the year and is STILL the Number One movie at the box office this weekend, six weeks after its release. That’s a pretty rare feat.
The movie is, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy and it’s a gas.
However, initially, I really thought Marvel Films had made its first mistake with this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy and, if I am not the target audience, no one is. I eat up comic book movies (and merchandise) with an over-sized spoon. I knew who the Guardians were before they became the subject of a film.
But I saw the early images, heard about the storyline and dismissed both as pretty silly. A talking raccoon? A walking tree? Vin Diesel?
I tried to resist the entire thing.
Then the first preview hit with Spirit in the Sky thumping in the background and Chris Pratt pleading “I’m Star-Lord, man,” in the foreground and I found myself smiling, my feet pounding in time with the music and I thought, “maybe this won’t be terrible.”
Yet I was still very sure that Guardians was not going to be big. In fact, I was pretty sure that it was going to be a bridge too far for Marvel – their first comic book flop.
But the marketing continued and the thing got in my head.
Later in the summer, The Cinnamon Girl and I attended a free, 15 minute preview of the movie. And it was great. And I got excited for the film.
Now, six weeks after the film opened, it’s the highest grossing movie of the year.
I’ve seen it three times. I’m hoping to see it in theater again before it concludes its run.
It’s unlike any other comic book movie I’ve ever seen.
It has more in common with Ghostbusters than The Avengers. It is far more Romancing the Stone than Iron Man 3. It is an action comedy that simply makes no missteps. Every choice director James Gunn makes works. From casting Chris Pratt to assembling a truly remarkable soundtrack (a soundtrack so good it doesn’t even include Spirit in the Sky), from giving Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper voice roles to creating visuals that are quite original, Gunn’s Guardians fires on all cylinders.
The self-named Guardians are a collection of miscreants thrown together by the type of circumstances that only movies can generate. Forced together in a quest against impossible odds, Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Drax and Groot… blah, blah, blah… does it really matter?
No. It absolutely doesn’t.
Guardians of the Galaxy works because it has heart. The characters, to varying degrees, endear themselves to the audience because they are sympathetic, three-dimensional and relatable. The performances are strong top-to-bottom. The movie plays in two acts, the first half a classic jail break caper, the second a race-against-time culminating in a deus ex machine that is completely forgivable in light of the overall proceedings.
I loved the characters. I loved the sweetness. I loved the music. I loved the movie.
I guess Marvel Films gets the benefit of the doubt from here on out. Until they screw up (will it be Ant-Man? Dr. Strange?), bite off more than they can chew or simply make a bad movie, I will line up for their movies on opening night.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY RECEIVES FIVE DANCING GROOTS OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE.