Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead and Lisa Sue
The man, this being director James Gunn, started his film with young Peter Quill listening to his Walkman with 10cc playing 'I'm not in Love'.  I told my colleague 'I love this movie already'.  That song was on the first album I brought as a 7 year old, K-Tel Music Express.  You kids wouldn't know about K-Tel, but this was a greatest hits outfit that found a way to stuff like Twenty Songs on a single LP.  That's not easy to do.  My favorite song from that album?  Sky High by Jigsaw.  I loved that album.  Loved it so much I sold it five years later at a garage sale for a quarter.  But enough of that as we are here to weigh in on the latest Marvel Studios film Destined to be Blockbuster, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' which has a lot to live up to, if the first thirty seconds and 10cc is any indication.  And why did they call themselves 10cc?  You're gonna have to look that up on your own.

Anyway, in the year of 1988 young Peter is completely distraught because his cancer stricken mother has come to the end of her line and like any poor child who has just lost his mother, he runs out of the hospital grief stricken.  What is a little uncommon about this particular event is the U.F.O that scoops up the distraught little boy and takes him away.  That simply doesn't happen every day.

Fast forward a few decades where we meet an adult Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a planet raiding fortune hunter and on this particular day, Peter… or Star Lord as he likes to be called… has found a rather harmless looking orb.  Harmless it may be, but everybody wants it.   First Peter is attacked by some minions of the evil Lord Ronan (Lee Pace), failing that Ronan dispatches one of the whacked out daughters of Lord Thanos, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to get the orb from Peter.  The other daughter of Thanos, Nebula (Karen Gillan) seemed to be the more obvious, more insane choice, but that's not how the story goes.  Also looking for Peter and this orb for a healthy bounty are a couple of bounty hunters in the genetically enhanced hyper Racoon known as Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and his right hand… man I guess… Groot the tree creature (Vin Diesel). 
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All of this fails as well, getting these four thrown in a SuperMax space prison where they eventually meet the modestly named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who at first wants to completely murder Gamora for her crimes against humanity, but that smooth talking Peter talks him out of it, and a tenuous alliance of five extremely suspect individuals is formed. 

The plan is to get this orb, get paid, and get out of town.  But this orb is really bad news, or at least it is in the wrong hands.  Lord Ronan is the wrong hand if there were wrong hands, and now the mission, as it were, it to save the universe since Ronan would surely see it destroyed.  Can a thief, an assassin, a moody talking rat, a monosyllabic talking tree, and musclebound idiot make this happen?  Probably, but it's all about the ride.

Between the two of us, my colleague Lisa and I recently ranked our Marvel Studios film, her going with The Avengers at the top, and me choosing Captain America 2, with no. 2 on both lists being a reversal of both of those, with both of us placing Guardians of the Galaxy at no. 4.  That's pretty high considering there's not a legitimately bad movie on the entire list.  The truth of the matter is I couldn't conceive of a scenario where I wouldn't enjoy this movie as it had too much working for it even from the planning stages.  The director is James Gunn, who made Slither and Super, and I loved both of those movies.  I read the comic as kid, and was semi-hoping, with the introduction of the Kree and Xandar home worlds, that Captain Mar-Vell, A Man called Nova, and Carol Danvers might not be far behind.  I was raised by the music chosen and the star is a regular on my 2nd favorite TV show of all time.  With all of that going for it, I'm happy to say that 'Guardians of the Galaxy' did not disappoint, not even a little bit.

Of course the action is great, it is a big movie with a narrative that features an end game that is no less the destruction of the very universe so it has some weight to it, there are space battles, alien worlds, intrigue, genuine humor and the movie rarely slows down for one to catch their breath… which is probably a good thing because one probably doesn't want to dwell on certain things too long… but all of that aside, what made 'Guardians' work for me was the realistic way that five individuals, who have no business being together, were gradually assembled to create a legitimate team.  A family even.  'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a buddy road trip that along the way, these buddies have to somehow save the universe. 

An action movie with an emphasis on community, a modern film supported with music from a forty year old K-Tel album, a movie that features a talking tree that said three words that I'm sure Vin Diesel was very paid well for, and Marvel studios still without their main properties, those being Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, making films with their 2nd tier properties that still outperform and out entertain those that are in possession of their main properties… put another one in the win column.
Lisa's Take… Andy Dwyer Grows Up.

If you haven't guessed from Chris's review, we are like prime core audience for Guardians. We've watched enough to make a list ranking the marvel movies (well, almost all for me), so clearly we were going to be front and center for this. Chris says from the opening music he knew this was going to be awesome- I would argue from the trailer's use of 'Hooked on a Feeling' (don't let the Ally McBeal's dancing baby spoil the song) you knew you were in for something great- it's in the song, I'm high on believing. Believing that Marvel can't go wrong.  Believing that what this world needs is another rag tag bunch of aliens who find their softer side and save the universe.  And believing that Chris Pratt deserves to be a leading man- Burt Macklin, eat your heart out. The crime of why Chris Pratt isn't more appreciated has stopped, the world is seeing the awesomeness that 'Parks and Rec' fans have known for years. If you haven't seen Parks and Rec, please stop. Don't continue reading this review, don't watch Guardians. Immediately start watching Parks and Rec, and soak up the philosophy of Ron Swanson. Bathe in the sheer energy and life force that is Leslie Knope. And laugh at the goofiness that is Andy Dwyer, lead singer of Mouse Rat who's available solo for kid parties.

Watching this movie, it occurs to me it is like shopping for clothes, we gravitate towards things similar to what we already have. If we like plaid, we tend to gravitate to that. And that is what Guardians is like, it is like that shirt you buy, that you really really like, but is kinda similar to the other 10 shirts you already have. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, comfort and familiarity is good. But what was it about the movie that kept making me think this is so familiar? Chris elaborated on the movie's great sound track, for me the songs were familiar but it was something else that gave me this sense of deja vu. And really, the director kind of puts it all right out there, from the beginning sequence. It is eerily familiar, our hero trying to take an object from a pedestal that is booby trapped. All that was missing is one giant boulder and snakes- the plane was waiting (technically he is the plane, so there's that).  What Indy taught us,  is that it is best to try and estimate the weight of the said object to trick the booby trap, however such details are inconsequential to Peter Quill. And Peter Quill isn't trying to bring priceless artifacts to a museum for all to enjoy. He's a Ravager, trying to get the highest price on whatever item people are seeking. And in this unknown shiny orb, he's hit the motherload.

This scoundrel like behavior from Peter is more akin to another Harrison Ford character, stop me when this sounds familiar. In a galaxy far, far away our hero earns his keep by stealing and outrunning the authorities. His main priority is looking out for himself. And he's cocky and conceited enough to name himself Star Lord. Peter was able to talk his way out of several sticky situations, something that Han would be proud of, and something Andy Dwyer would never have been able to lie his way through.  All Peter was missing was the big walking carpet - there's more than a little Han Solo to Peter. Which is great, 'cause guess what this Parks and Rec, Marvel Universe watching, reviewer is also a fan of? Yes, that movie. So in the Venn diagram of things I like - this movie is finding lots of intersections that are tailored made to be liked and feel recognizable.

If Peter is Han, does it make Gamora Princess Leia? She too has been raised by an adoptive family, in this particular case though she was trained to be a killer, and diplomacy isn't really her angle. Still she is the only female surrounded by idiots, so she'll be Leia. And poor Zoe, painted blue in Avatar, and green in this. Someone tell directors, she's fine in her own skin! Groot and Rocket are the R2D2 and C3PO of the group, inseparable. Rocket is the talker, although he is more adept, coordinated, and trigger happy than C3PO, so perhaps not the best match up. That leaves Drax, which he isn't really Luke material. By default, Peter gets the leadership role of Luke, but Drax's family was tragically killed leaving him wanting revenge, something Luke knows something about. Perhaps Drax is a better Chewy, a heavy enforcer, although really everyone but Peter is an enforcer.  And Peter is more Luke, what with the developing father issues.

Now that the rag tag group of rebels has been formed, do they have what it takes to go up against the mighty forces of Ronan- a shoe in for the Darth Vader casting, he's even got the similar head gear (if not asthmatic breathing) Which leaves Thanos, the master pulling the puppet strings like the Emperor . The rag tag team gets beaten up, pummeled into space, and brought to the brink of death to keep the orb from falling to Ronan or Thanos. But don't ever tell them the odds - and off they go to save the world that has done nothing but take from them. So with upmost love and care, I've elaborately laid out how this movie feels familiar, and like all the Marvel Universe movies before it, good wins out. Was that ever in doubt? Stay tune for the second installment- where we find out Star Lord's father…Every movie wishes it could be this recognizable to its audience, with, ironically the least known Marvel comic book heroes.
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