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At the Movies with Douglas Laman

Guardians of the Galaxy

We’ve seen a lot of amazing adventures from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the interlocking film series that includes the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers films (it also includes the singular The Incredible Hulk.) They’ve changed the face of cinema in recent years, letting terrific filmmakers tell exquisite stories in a universe that just happens to contain some other superheroes. The likes of Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, The Russo Brothers and Shane Black have created compelling movies that manage to not only co-exist together but also have unique identities. Guardians of The Galaxy is one of the best examples of this so far, as director and writer (writing credits are shared with Nicole Perlman) James Gunn takes us into a cosmic adventure that is one of the strangest big-budget adventures to emerge in ages. It’s also one of the funniest, richest, most exhilarating and emotionally powerful films in recent times.

Let me just say right off the bat this movie is just pure fun. This movie is pretty much Christmas morning for anyone who’s a fan of cinema that manages to do thrilling moments without resorting to Michael Bay-esque idiocy. You see, the film manages to create a lot of these fun moments by making sure all the characters are well-rounded and enjoyable. Seriously, I’m amazed at the particular feat that there isn’t a single dud in this group. No one in the Guardians is boring, or pointless to the story, they all get action and comedic moments that you’ll be quoting for days to come.

Peter Quill, an Earth human, is our guide to the world and we couldn’t get a better person to guide us through this world. Chris Pratt plays Quill with equal parts casualness and wonder, which lead to numerous phenomenal moments. Smartly, they make sure we care about him before they go forth into the films many amazing action scenes by giving him some items from Earth. Sometimes they’re played for laughs, but many times they really do play a big role in making certain scenes. A scene where Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Peter chit-chat could have been cliché, but the melody of Fooled Around And Fell In Love, along with some humorous dialogue, the fact that these two are actually well developed.

Before this movie came out, even a diehard Marvel fan like myself wondered how Rocket Raccoon and Groot would be accomplished in this movie. I should not have worried at all because they’ve pulled them off. Perfectly. Rocket and Groot have this good cop/bad cop sort of thing going for them that’s very entertaining to watch.

However, the best part is how Gunn and Perlman embrace the inherent ridiculousness of the duo in order to make sure their moments of action and gravitas are as terrific as possible. Don’t get me wrong, Rocket has numerous moments in combats that made me want to cheer, but my favorite part about him is how excellent the emotional moments surrounding him go. This bit involving him drunk in a bar broke my heart and demonstrated more tragedy around the character than anyone could have suspected. As for Groot, well, he can toss a punch with ease, but he’s also a lovable dude who’s easily the most friendly of the group.

So how does the dude corralling them all, director James Gunn fare? Beautifully. I’ve only seen one of Gunn’s other movies (Super, which I found odd but clever) but you can see a lot of the filmmaker in the movie. I’m especially impressed with his ability to blend some very well-known tunes to the table. There’s this incredible balance between the music and the visuals that really is awesome, and that balance extends to the way he merges more out-there material with uber-effective nuances and pathos that enrich the films wide roster of characters. See, the emotional stuff is what really makes me love the movie, since the movie is willing to depict tragedy in such a successful manner. And yet, it’s also got an overload of tremendous moments of glorious fun that’ll blow you away. The finale just blends well written characters and amazing spectacle in such a manner to make the likes of Zack Snyder weep.

There are one or two small nitpicks I have with the movie (namely how Djimon Hounsous character, Korath, is the one person in the movie that really feels extraneous, a pity given Hounsous talent) My advice to you, whoever you are reading this is to go see Guardians of The Galaxy in an IMAX 3D screen where you can take in all of its colorful visuals and its engrossing sound and music. Bringing wonder, captivating characters and astounding fun to the proceedings. Guardians of the Galaxy is a production I saw with extremely high expectations that were still shattered.

Douglas Laman is a film critic who, when not watching movies, attends Collin College, hangs out with friends and… watches movies. For more of his work and ramblings, visit his website at www.landofthenerds.blogspot.com.