Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed by: James Gunn
Screenplay by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Running time: 121 minutes
Based on: Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (graphic novel)
After being abducted by aliens as a child, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has become an interstellar adventurer and rogue, travelling the galaxy with nothing but his starship and collection of pop music. He locates an ancient sphere with intent to sell it, but finds that possessing it makes him a target of religious fanatic Ronan (Lee Pace). Running from new enemies and old debts, he must band together with a rag-tag group of scoundrels and mercenaries to stop a threat like the galaxy has never before seen.
Guardians of the Galaxy has succeeded in bringing high-budget space opera back to the big screen, and more than a full year before Star Wars VII! As an avid fan of the comic series this was based on, I was really excited, and am now happy to report that I was not disappointed. The movie is everything a space adventure should be: colorful, energetic, creative, fun, epic, visually stunning… The writing, while unlikely to surprise anyone familiar with the tropes of blockbuster action, is crisp and funny, successfully playing up the more humorous elements of the film. The characters, though not incredibly deep, are interesting and unique, especially in comparison to other entries in the genre (looking at you, Riddick). The art is fantastic, with beautiful CGI landscapes and battles.
Mind you, as an adaptation, Guardians of the Galaxy is nearly a total failure. The few characters that remain from the original team have been heavily changed, either in backstory (Rocket Raccoon), personality (Starlord and Gamorra), or both (Drax and Groot). The two main alien races bare almost no resemblance to their comic counterparts, and neither do the film’s key locations. In fact, the main mcguffin, the mysterious sphere, never even appeared in the series proper. If these changes are not the sort you can overlook, I would advise you to avoid this one.
From a non-adaptation standpoint, there is one big problem. Ronan, our main antagonist, is terribly bland. He has next to no personality, barely a sense of real motivations, and ultimately, just isn’t in the movie very much. The lack of a good central antagonist prevents me from giving this film full marks.
To end on a positive note, the soundtrack is great, integrating both orchestral pieces and pop music surprisingly well.
Overall: It’s not MY Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s probably the most fun you’ll get out of a summer blockbuster.