Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Haddock, and more.
Directed by: James Gunn Written by: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman Based on the Comics by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Cinematography by: Ben Davis Music by: Tyler Bates
Premise: Kidnapped from Earth as a boy, a grown Peter Quill decides to scoop a big score and leave the Ravagers behind. But the price on his head and the object he's stolen brings him in contact with a cast of outcasts that will now have to cooperate with one another to escape prison. As the group find themselves in the middle of a game for an object that can destroy worlds, they must decide whether to run or stay and try to make a difference. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Though you'd not normally expect this from a SF movie, this is one of those films where there truly are no small parts - because every line or look is delivered so naturally, even when it's an awkward moment, that they make the scenes pull that much harder at the audience. Kudos.
Chris Pratt played the charming scoundrel expertly. Zoe Saldana was too fun as Gamora and kicked all sorts of booty. Dave Bautista had several lovely one liners, which he delivered beautifully. Bradley Cooper did a great job as Rocket, but he got outdone by Vin Diesel as the second half of this comedy pair. "I am Groot" was served to us in a myriad of ways - the meanings and inflections changing as the movie went on and served nicely by to us by Vin Diesel. Nice job!
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: A fabulous job on all the special effects. I am so in love with Quill's ship! The Ravagers might not be a nice bunch of guys, but they have good taste in small fighters - that sucker hovers and turns like a dream. The main Kree ship was fabulous inside and out - loved the bizarre control system. The mining colony inside the floating giant head was very cool. (Though the concept of them mining flesh and fluids from it was disturbing!) Nova had a lovely capital city. Their one man fighters were also cool, especially when you see how they're used for planetary defense.
Besides ships and cities, the special effects team did wonders with Rocket, and even more so with Groot. Groot was constantly changing, which must have given the special effects peeps fits, but he looked so utterly amazing. Thanos also looked fabulous, especially lording it over Ronan from his throne. The communications screen on the Kree ship was super unusual.
The special effects teams also did a lot of stuff with prosthetics and enhancements which came across very well. The effects of exposure to space looked really amazing, and were a different take from the norm. Oh and Yondu's flying knife? Awesome!
The ruins sequence close to the beginning was awesome on several levels - not only because of the special effects, but also from general creativity, and more besides.
3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: First they get you with an emotional scene, then a surprising one. Jump to years later and this was one of the most unusual yet fabulous introductions into a story ever! It did wonders to set the mood for the rest of the film and made something expected totally new by adding a little twist.
Corny as some of the lines were, in the right environment and said just right, they'll bring tears. I had to wiped at my eyes in several spots, so they got me 'hook, line, and sinker'. It's some of the real, life like, clunky relationships and edges between the group that somehow only served to endear them all the more.
The story progresses in the general direction you'd expect, but with some some swipes sideways, which will keep you wondering what the heck they'll get into next.
There are several themes running through the film - some more subtle than others, yet all are part of the fabric that allowed the universe to use such an unusual bunch of heroes to save the day.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of hand to hand combat, gun fights, and knife fights. Even some 'Limb Fu'. CGI stunts here and there, but they were integrated nicely together with the real physical action. Great work overall.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Space is wide and vast and the cinematographer and the special effects teams took full advantage. There were several spots were large things took up the upfront view, and these were layered on even more awesome backdrops. The film makers made full use of the IMAX capabilities for some great jaw dropping scenery.
6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The makeup teams really deserve some applause. It's hard to compete against CGI, but they definitely held their own. From the various skin tones (pink, green, blue) to the gorgeous, beveled tattoo overlay on Drax and his bright eyes, they didn't stint on quality. Ronan's off colored skin and dried goo was as captivating as his CGI enhanced purple eyes.
7) Music - Total Thumbs Up: From all the 80's music to the orchestral additions by Tyler Bates, the music and its integration to the plot shows how much attention was paid in what to play, how, and when. Every piece of music served a purpose and added a definite extra level to whatever was going on. It was even weirdly nostalgic.
Conclusion: Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, action filled SF romp across the universe. Seeing little Groot dance in the credits? Priceless. And make sure to sit through to the end for a special appearance you will never expect. Heh heh.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again)