I am Groot
There are films I enjoy because they make me laugh. There are films I like because they anger me about an injustice. There are films that entertain me because they terrify me. And then there is a special class of films that I love. I love them because for a few brief moments I forget that I’m sitting in a theater watching actors on screen, and keep me invested in a child-like sense of wonder. Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest entry in this class for me.
The film is a comedic space opera filled with aliens, starships, swords, people with middle names that have the word “the”, and climactic battles that escalate throughout the two hour runtime. I could breathlessly go on like an excited 12-year-old but I’ll do my best to keep this professional…well semi-professional like you’ve come to expect from me.
We follow Chris Pratt (the shlubby guy from Parks and Recreation who’s now Chris Evans-buff) as Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord (who usually calls himself that) as he runs afoul of a psychotic terrorist for stealing a valuable orb. Said orb forces him into a brawl with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, a green skinned bad ass assassin, a talking raccoon called Rocket (played by Bradley Cooper) and a walking tree (played by Vin Diesel). Said brawl lands the four in prison with a maniacal brute called Drax the Destroyer, portrayed by wrestler Dave Bautista. Oh yes, this cast is wonderfully nutty.
As offbeat as these five characters are, they develop over the course of the movie with a healthy degree of dimension, humor, and pathos to come together not as a team but as a dysfunctional family. All five leads have undeniable chemistry between them, so much so that you forget that the story is too simple. If I’m going to criticize anything is that the story doesn’t carry the twists and turns present in Iron Man 3 or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it’s not trying to either. When you’re dealing with high concept sci-fi, it’s likely smarter to deal with a simple story to introduce a long list of characters, worlds, and assorted peculiarities.
And while I’m on the complain train, the main villain Ronan comes across at first as a generic pissed off monster, but slowly develops into an intimidating genocidal lunatic channeling Darth Vader by way of old school comics.
And don’t let anyone fool you, some people are saying this is “based” off a particular Marvel comic, but the truth is freaking nobody has read it compared to the readership of the Avengers. The reality is the filmmakers have cherry picked from 50 years of various Marvel owned cosmic comics and pieced together a witty and fun adventure film punctuated by speedy chases and epic space battles. But what holds everything together is a charming sense of fun brought together by the five leads.
Pratt’s Star-Lord plays more of the offspring between Han Solo and Mal Reynolds (who’s actor makes a cameo in this movie), a charming rogue with a heart of gold and inability to stop himself from seducing alien women. I was also floored by Bradley Cooper’s voice work as he is an actor known more for his face, but brings here a quippy, short-tempered, insecure, and surprisingly damaged thug. Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon will quickly become a fan favorite alongside his costar, Drax.
Now, Dave Bautista has all the makings of the next wrestler to make the jump to super stardom in the footsteps of the Rock, and this film will likely be considered his starting point for high profile action flicks. His Drax brings plenty of witty comedy due to his inability to understand metaphors, effectively making him a straight man for for the other male leads to bounce humor off of.
Saldana doesn’t get too many lines of dialogue, but her face conveys far more emotions than I see from other “serious” dramas, and she makes for an especially entertaining hand-to-hand combat fighter. And finally there is Groot, the talking tree voiced by Vin Diesel who only speaks three words: I am Groot. That’s it. But Diesel gets plenty of mileage out of those threw words and brings a surprising amount of heart to the flick.
While I’ve made my love of superhero films known, it’s only because we are so lucky to be living in a time that so many clever writers and directors can work with high profile actors to bring these visions to life. Not all of them are perfect, actually they can be atrocious like Amazing Spider-Man 2, but Guardians is a clear standout from the pack thanks to its premise and humor.
It’s a two hour roller coaster that made me briefly forget my age and never failed to make laugh out loud. Don’t miss it