The newest film to be churned out by the Marvel/Disney machine is Guardians of the Galaxy, a film adaption of one of the lesser known Marvel comic series of the same name. Guardians of the Galaxy is a Star Wars-esque space adventure about a group of intergalactic misfits who band together to, well, guard the galaxy from a religious radical named Ronan (played with terrifying gravitas by Lee Pace). This motley crew of “guardians” includes the roguish yet charming Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation fame); mercenary and general bad-ass Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana); Drax (Dave Bautista), a muscle-bound ex-prisoner with a deeply personal vendetta against Ronan; Rockett (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a genetically modified bounty-hunting raccoon with a penchant for explosions; and, Groot (voiced by Vin Deisel), a massive tree whose limited tree vocabulary only allows him to repeatedly state his name (“I am Groot”).
The plot of the film is relatively straight forward. Peter Quill is a Hans Solo/Indiana Jones-esque treasure hunter who unwittingly stumbles across a weapon of mass destruction known as an infinity stone, which has the power to wipe out entire civilizations in one shot. Gamora (who was hired out to Ronan as his lackey by her malevolent adopted “father” Thanos) is tired of being used as a weapon of evil, so she decides to sell the stone and purchase her freedom. In the midst of Gamora stealing the stone from Quill, the two of them are set upon by Rockett and Groot, a bounty-hunting odd couple who end up being arrested and taken to prison alongside Quill and Gamora. While in prison, they meet Drax , who, with the promise that he will be able to use Gamora to get a shot at killing Ronan, rounds the group out to five. What starts out as a group of misfits banding together to make a profit ends up as a group of unwitting heroes; they realize that Ronan’s eventual possession of the infinity stone means death for a whole lot of people. All of them realize that they must rise above their origins or moral ambiguousness in order to save the people group that Ronan is targeting with his genocidal fervor.
Now, on paper, the idea of this film sounds fairly stupid: a cheerful womanizer, a green-skinned Xena Warrior Princess, a raccoon, a beefy ex-con who doesn’t understand metaphors, and an Ent…in space! Yet, somehow — brought to life with the clever screenplay by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn — it works. These five dorks end up becoming best friends while they unite to save their galaxy from certain peril, and this movie becomes everything you didn’t know you wanted.
Guardians was incredible in that it took a relatively unknown cast and a relatively unknown story, yet it managed to make a killing at the box office. What was equally interesting to note was that there really wasn’t any romance in this film. Romance is hinted at between Gamora and Quill (proving that it doesn’t matter what you do to Zoe Saldana; she will still be beautiful), but they never even kiss. If anything, the relationship that has the most heart and depth in the whole movie is the friendship between Rockett and Groot — who are, again, a talking raccoon and a tree that only says the words “I am Groot.” Truly amazing.
Overall, the film was solid and engaging. It had clever and funny dialogue with the perfect combination of drama and comic relief (there’s a running gag about Footloose that is straight up genius). The movie has a lot of heart and is ultimately about the importance of friendship and family and, of course, about the triumph of good over evil. It’s the perfect summer movie: fast-paced, hilarious, exciting, and heartfelt — a wonderful story to lose yourself in for a solid two hours. Whether you bring the whole family or a date, just go see it. It’ll be worth it if only to see grown men crying over a walking tree voiced by Vin Deisel.