Honestly, until very recently, I've not been too into the Guardians of the Galaxy. To me, the comic always looked like a somewhat run of the mill sci-fi story, and people may remember, I'm not a huge sci-fi fan. I only started reading it recently, around the time Angela joined the roster. For those that are comic fans themselves, that tells ya how little Guardians experience I actually have.
With that being said, I went into this movie with a very open mind. I had absolutely adored the trailers, but I have been burned by bad movies that have awesome trailers in the past. I was cautiously optimistic that this one would not let me down, based on Marvel's track record, but it also featured a talking tree, and a talking raccoon. So... you might understand my trepidation. However, this was one of the items on my most anticipated list for a reason, so without further bullshitting... Shall I begin?
This movie started out, in a way that reminded me of the movie "Up", No, Starlord didn't get to space by tying a bunch of balloons to his house, and floating away. Rather, it starts off with a huge downer, that leaves you feeling bad for the kid, and also goes on to give a good reason for why the character is the way he is, a no attachments sort of rogue. It's a touching scene, and honestly worried about the overall tone of the film. Anytime a movie establishes itself with a teary-eyed moment, I worry that it might end up that kind of movie.
Then, after hitting you with that sucker punch of an opening, the movie segues seamlessly into a laugh out loud moment, that serves to truly establish this movie's tone. This is NOT a serious, tension-filled thriller. Although, it can be serious, and there are tense moments. This is a comedy, framed in a sci-fi tale, and sandwiched into a universe so rich with characters, that they are practically coming out of the woodwork. This is a movie, that takes the cosmic themes hinted at in "The Avengers" and "Thor", and writes them out on the big screen, expanding an already large universe into something truly massive.
And not to mince words, after those two scenes... I was in love. This movie was incredible. IT offered up everything I could have ever hoped for in a superhero movie and more. There were laughs, and tears, and chuckles, and tension, and some outright guffaws! This is the type of movie that practically demands superlatives. I'd love to say that this movie was the greatest thing I have ever seen, but I won't. I'd love to say I've never laughed this hard in my life, but I can't. I wish I could say this was the greatest movie of all time, but I won't lie. What this movie is, is great fun.
The movie offered up a perfect casting. Considering I was leery of Bradley Cooper at first, I'm pleased to say, he was a great Rocket, and I don't think I will ever be able to read a Guardians comic ever again without hearing him doing Rocket's lines, or Vin Diesel saying "I am Groot." Thinking of the simplicity of Groot's lines, one would expect that to be the easiest voice acting role ever, but the amount of variety he brought to the role was astonishing. I do not believe, that in the entire 2 hours, he ever delivered the line the same way twice. Chris Pratt's Starlord was also stupendous. The man delivers dialog in such a snarky way, one can never tell if they want to hate him, or want to have him as your best friend. One last casting choice that had me a little worried, was Dave Bautista as Drax. I'll admit, I saw him as nothing more than a meathead wrestler, who was going to flub the whole thing. But... the man delivered. His lines were delivered in such a dead-pan manner, that one can easily see him as the humorless destroyer that he was playing, combined with his intimidating size, he was an absolutely inspired choice for the role, and he proved me wrong.
The pacing of the story is practically perfect. Action beats happen where they feel organic to the story, and there is laughter in almost every dark corner of this movie. The poppy soundtrack (which I am listening to as I type this) was a perfect counterbalance to some of the weightier moments. The fact that the soundtrack was a part of the movie rather than apart from the movie aided that. Never before have I seen a Walkman and a cassette tape used so expertly.
Also, on top of everything else, this movie offered up some awesome character teases. Laying the foundation for Nova entering the universe, introducing the alien race that will lead to a hopeful introduction of Miss Marvel, and even reintroducing a much maligned character in a surprise moment so awesome I refuse to put it here.
A final point I want to make, is that I saw this movie in iMax 3D. No, I do not believe it was shot in iMax, nor do I believe it was shot in 3D. Rather I remembered how great the 3D had looked when I saw the trailer before that cinematic abortion known as "Transformers Age of Extinction", and I wanted to experience that again. The movie did not disappoint there either. Offering up some of the cleanest 3D I have seen in a non-animated feature. The screen was alive with depth, and I can honestly say, it was perfect.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic universe, this movie is a must. It offers up so much universe-building, that I honestly believe I will have to watch it again just to begin to comprehend everything that was crammed in there.
IS IT THEATER WORTHY: Most definitely. This is a movie that begs to be seen in the theater. It isn't just a movie, it is an event. It is pure spectacle writ large on the screen, with so many details popping up all over the place, that I think it HAS to be seen on the big screen at least once. And when one considers Marvel had already greenlit a sequel before this even made it to the public, there is a lot of confidence in this title. It is confidence well-deserved.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm operating right now on about 2 hours of sleep, worked all night last night, and I honestly have not felt this good in a damned long time. The movie was a grand piece of cinematic flare that just hits like every pleasure center of the brain. Almost every moment of this film was like watching the Battle of New York from "The Avengers". It was moment after moment of pure, unbridled joy. This movie delivers, and I can't wait to see it again.
FINAL SCORE: 10 out of 10