Welcome to Marvel Phase Three. Another Free Comic Book Day, another Marvel Movie. I have to ask: Just what the whiskey tango foxtrot happened to Age of Ultron while Civil War is amaze balls. Don’t get me wrong, Age of Ultron had it’s moments, like the farmhouse which I personally loved because sometimes you need the heroes to rally and lick their wounds. Less, cave of exposition and more farmhouse.
Guardians of the Galaxy is almost the perfect summer blockbuster. It stars a ragtag group of hooligans including a talking tree and raccoon voiced by Vince Diesel and Bradley Cooper respectively. And it’s from Marvel. And it’s fun! Even if the background music by Marvel go-to composer Tyler Bates has gotten too cookie cuter for it’s own good. It begins on Earth in 1988 with young moppet Jason Quill at the hospital as his mother is dying from cancer. After a tearful goodbye he runs out and in his moment of grief is abducted by aliens. Flash forward twenty-six years to a dead world where Jason Quill now played by Chris Pratt has grown up and is now a Ravager, essentially Indiana Jones with a mask, guns and jet boots. He even has a cute code name that no one remembers, Star Lord. And Star Lord along with everyone else in the movie is after an orb. Everyone including Ronan the Accuser played by Lee Pace. The good news is Ronan has a few lackeys that are rememberable and at least gets more backstory than Thor 2’s Dark Elves. He pissed at the fact his planet signed a peace treaty with their sworn enemies and goes on a rampage. His rent-a-lackeys include Gamora played by Zoe Saldana and Nebula played by Karen Gillian. Gamora makes more of an impression since there are too many villains to focus on including Korath the Pursuer played by Djimon Hounsou. Gamora volunteers to get the gem back once Quill reaches Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. Unfortunately, Quill’s former Ravagers led by Yondu played by Michael Rooker has found out he stole the orb and issues a bounty on his head. Once on Xandar, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are introduced when they try and capture Quill. The fight scene between the four of the characters is really fun until they’re arrested and sent to jail mean Drax the destroyer where even more shenanigans happen and they bust themselves out only to find out what the orb does. Benicio del Toro reprises his role as The Collector, last seen at the end of Thor 2 where he collects all sorts of oddities, both alive and dead. After some backstory on the orbs and an explosive scene everyone finds out what’s inside the orb: It holds an Infinity Stone. The stones have been littering the Marvel Movies for years and it’s all because of Thanos, introduced at the end of The Avengers, the mad titan, now played by Josh Brolin. Thanos feels oddly small, mostly because Ronan is so big. Once Ronan figures out how to use the gem just like the Red Skull before him he gets even bigger and decides it’s time to destroy Xandar. The Nova Corps know full well what’s going on with Roanan. Nova Prime played by Glenn Close is strong enough in her scenes to not be set dressing while John C. Reilly is not exactly the Coulson of Nova Corps but close. The final battle may occur over Xandar and I swore scenes were inspired by the video game Space Invaders, the disaster porn is thankfully kept to a minimum. After Star Trek Into Darkness, Avengers and especially Man of Steel, seeing ships crash into buildings gets a yawn from me. I should point out the CGI raccoon and talking tree are 100% real. James Gunn pulled off a talking raccoon with a penchant for explosives and a talking tree that speaks three words. If that review sounds like a lot is going on is because a lot did go on. And even with all that, the characters did have their arcs. There’s a scene where Quill has to rally the group and that went a long way to show everyone was thinking for themselves until the threat of Ronan makes them rethink and band together. Many people have complained about the Marvel movies having a generic feel to them like they’re all the same. Guardians feels different. It feels like a James Gunn directed an Edgar Wright movie. Quill’s walkman and the mix tapes he has sets the tone and makes it feel less like a Marvel movie and more like a kid plucked away from Earth dropped into Star Wars with a 70’s pop soundtrack. The music and the fact most of these characters aren’t lily white really helped make an impression. Saw this in IMAX 3-D and thought it was worth the monies. And as with any Marvel Movie staying around until the end will only bring you heartache. There’s only one scene. So sezs Howard the Duck. Yer welcome.