I have to admit, the movie I was most excited about this summer was Guardians of the Galaxy. Why? Well, I had never heard of the comics, I don’t even read comic books. I didn’t know much about the characters or setting, just what I saw in the trailers… and what did I see there? Humor, action, space opera, heroes, villains, and people stuck in between.
Guardians of the Galaxy delivered all of that, in spades. It managed to turn a sarcastic, vicious character into an object of pity with a couple seconds out of a scene, without the use of words. Characterization of the group was excellent, with each figure being a mix of both comedy, tragedy, scum, and reluctant hero, all rolled up into individual pieces that stood strong and alone. Rocket is phenomenal, with some of the best lines in the movie, yet far from being just a comedic element. Drax the Destroyer is at once both a juggernaut but also Shakespearean. Vin Diesel may only ever say three words as Groot, but he manages to put subtle emphasis into it… and Groot comes across as both very alien and a character we can empathize with at the same time. Peter Quill is brilliant: a humorous rogue with dreams of success at odds with his own larcenous heart and his past he can’t quite escape. What’s not to like?
It’s serious space opera, with epic landscapes, space ships, travel between worlds, alien races galore, and conflict with nothing less than the fate of billions at stake. The movie makes excellent use of dramatic tension and comedic elements, blending both to the point that you almost feel whip-lashed… yet they work so seamlessly together that you can laugh even at the tightest moments of drama and still be on the edge of your seat. I’d love to go into more detail, but in consideration of those who haven’t seen it yet, I’ll leave off.
All that said, the movie does have a few faults, minor though they are. Gamorra is probably the weakest characterized of the heroes, not due to any fault of Zoe Saldana, but more because her character gets sidelined a bit. The villains, while dark, don’t get enough screen time to really establish themselves, in particular, Ronin the Accuser is a nasty, scary sort, but we just get told he’s a fanatic and have to just roll with that. Nebula is awesome, with some of the best lines in the movie, particularly between her and Gamorra. I would argue that Nebula has more of a developed character than Gamorra.
Still, these are minor things. This is the first movie I’ve seen in years that I want to go back in theaters not just for a second screening, but also a third. Guardians managed to take first place for my movies this year… and I would be very surprised if anything can knock it off that pedestal.