Guardians of the Galaxy: Review Awesome Mix Vol. 1 James Gunn | August 01, 2014 These are not space Avengers. The team dynamic, roster and mission is fundamentally different than the team of heroes who were teased throughout five films. These are the Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of self-proclaimed losers trying to do more good than bad in the universe, if it suits their needs. This entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is able to fit in perfectly alongside Iron Man and Thor without being burdened with continuity or Easter eggs to other properties. Fans will enjoy a standalone space epic, with a surprisingly big heart. In classic Marvel Team-up storytelling, our heroes protagonists are introduced to each other through less than ideal situations. Sometimes the greatest of friends start off as enemies. When they realize there is a greater threat to the universe than each other, and that they have similar life ambitions, they set aside their differences to protect the galaxy. The large scale heroics and gorgeous environments serve as a backdrop for a story that is truly about friendship and finding your place in the cosmos. What is a Critical Hit! I missed lines of dialogue during my first screening. Not because of low volumes, mumbling cast members or the like but because the audience couldn’t stop laughing. Me either. The subject matter is serious, and touches upon these moments with heart when necessary but the gilb demeanor of Racoon and swagger of Star Lord are carried throughout the movie. The jokes never burden the story or character moments, but are a delightful interlude during scenes. Chris Pratt turns in a career defining performance as Peter Quill (or Star Lord…to himself). He is charismatic, goofy and heroic throughout the journey. Pratt is able to hit the dramatic tones with a few glances, a rallying speech or deliver laughs with expert timing. Quill is the ‘leader’ of the Guardians and Pratt embodies this role by being a pitch-perfect front man for this excellent cast. Believe the hype, Vin Disel is able to convey a range of emotions with three words. Groot can be funny, calming or intermediating while repeating the same phrase. Serving as his translator and counterbalance is Rocket voiced by Bradley Cooper. If you never told me who did the dialogue, I wouldn’t know. Casting these stars as the voice actors, didn’t distract from the experience. Cooper captures the spirit of Rocket, a unique half-pint with the attitude of 1,000 lb kodiak bear. Rocket is able to steal the spotlight for every scene that he is in and is an instant fan-favorite. Dave Bautista, as Drax, and Zoe Saldana, as Gamora, round out the Guardians. They are the straight men of the group, unintentionally funny or creating scenarios for others to riff on. They provide a nice balance to the quips of the others but still manage to generate laughs. The film is able to strike a wonderful balance with the ensemble cast. Everyone has a quiet moment with each member of the team. Instead of feeling like a couple close friends who happen to run into acquaintances, the team instills a dynamic that feels like a family. Outside of character arcs, everyone has a moment to shine on the battlefield. These warriors are capable but never overpowered. They need each other if they are going to succeed. The galaxy is gorgeous. The metropolitan areas are filled with color and teeming with a variety of species. The black market sector is dark and dreary, and able to convey a feeling of despair. A fleet of spaceships are introduced and each maneuvers uniquely from the last. Seeing Peter pilot the Milano (the Guardian’s main base) has a completing different feel than watching Rocket in a mining craft. GotG is able to introduce and flesh out five new characters to audiences, but they still strive for more. The Nova Corps (basically space police), Ravagers (basically…Firefly) and worlds of citizens are within the film. A couple of these supporting roles bring about important narrative moments or entertaining sequences. It is easy to see them having a much larger role in future installments. What is Not Very Effective… As great as the Guardians are, and their interaction with one another, the villains are not afforded the same treatment. This is not a reflection on the performances but the subject matter. Ronin, the big bad, wants to destroy a planet. Why? I honestly can’t tell you…but he seems pretty determined to do it. His henchman follow him, but there is no real reason for them to. Outside of his lieutenants, his soldiers are just faceless pawns (literally). There are instances where the movie just drops the viewer in, and expects they will follow the narrative. This works. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case; characters monologue exposition to bring viewers up to speed. I can practically see the narration balloons or old comic introductions in the script. A scene kind of plays out like this, “Hey, Cyclops, also known as Scott Summers. Its great that you use your optic blasts and lead the X-Men to protect a world that hates and fears you. I hope one day that mutants will stop Magneto and bring about equality for all.” This is a personal gripe and I could easily see others feeling the exact opposite, but the soundtrack overpowered some scenes. There is a strong narrative reason for the music selected and its importance to Peter. The usage of sound is directed extremely well; but when implemented it is easily the loudest (from a volume standpoint) and obnoxious moments. There are a few scenes where the flow stops so we can watch a character listen to music. In a movie filled with entertaining dialogue, this is an odd choice. Status Summary Guardians of the Galaxy is the funniest and most visually impressive Marvel movie to date. The cast creates a believable relationship with one another and play off each other’s strengths. The villains serve as plot devices; good looking powerful plot devices, but nothing else. This is a great first entry into the series and I can’t see what this team does next. If you prefer dramas or movies grounded in reality, then this isn’t a galaxy you should visit. If you like a ragtag team of sarcastic misfits, determined to save the universe then these Guardians are worth your time. Score: 9.0 /10 + Funniest Film of 2014 + High Production Value + Ensemble Cast + Balances Humor with Character Arcs – Empty Villains Level Up, Friends!