“Guardians” breathes fresh air into Marvel franchise

Winston Eng, Staff Reporter

In a universe filled with beloved crusaders such as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America, Marvel has done extremely well in transitioning these comic book heroes into 3-D blockbuster adaptations.

So well, in fact, that the idea of producing a film based on a lesser-known comic without the same previously established mass appeal seems extremely risky if not foolish. Combine this with the lead role given to an actor known for his television contributions rather than film appearances and a director known for his low-budget contributions to the independent scene, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” has all the right ingredients to spoil the success Marvel has previously created, as well as its future fan-base for soon-to-follow prospects.

Despite these risks, the combined brilliance of Director James Gunn alongside his eclectic cast of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Batista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper keeps the party going through the combination of unexpected, sincere drama and well-timed dirty jokes.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a wonderful and lovable story of a ragtag band of misfits trying to come to the realization that often what matters most is beyond their individual differences. It’s a misshapen soap opera of comic proportions and, in my opinion, has breathed fresh air into the Marvel franchise.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” follows the space bandit Peter Quill, or Star-Lord, as he likes to call himself (played by “Parks and Recreation’s” very own Pratt) who comes across a mysterious orb during one of his many adventures. Gamora (Saldana), a mysterious assassin, is sent to track down Star-Lord and take back the orb, while bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon (Cooper) and his lumbering companion of few words, Groot (Diesel), are after a recently placed bounty on Star-Lord’s head.

Eventually, all characters are captured and reluctantly agree to team up in order to break out of prison and prevent the orb from falling into the wrong hands. Along the way, they meet Drax the Destroyer, an extremely strong, literal-minded blockhead who joins their crew. After being sarcastically deemed the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” they resolve to take back the orb, set it in its rightful place, and by doing so, save the universe from utter destruction in standard superhero fashion.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” isn’t perfect by any means. Gamora and her sister Nova (played unexpectedly by “Doctor Who’s” Karen Gillan) fail to produce enough character development to show anything more than effective, badass assassins. Gunn develops just enough backstory to give each character some dimension, yet there is no doubt that each could have benefitted from being more fleshed out.

However, these discrepancies do not by any means take away from the highest highs of the film. Cooper does an awe-inspiring job with Rocket Raccoon, producing a foul-mouthed, Han Solo-eque animagus. Pratt, with his pop culture references and slick dance moves, provides a lighthearted, comical, yet troubled Peter Quill who, by far, steals the show. Moreover, the pop-heavy soundtrack is spectacular not only for its ability to appeal to younger and older generations, but also for its seamless integration within the storyline. The score is infectious and adds a humorous, boyish charm to these characters who are struggling to accept their status as roguish anti-heroes.

Overall, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is one hell of a ride, and it would be a mistake to miss an opportunity to witness the laugh-out-loud humor and serious drama that produces this very balanced and gratifying film.

Those familiar with Marvel’s other franchises (“Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America,” “The Avengers”) Sony’s “Spider-Man” or Fox’s “X-Men,” are heavily encouraged to check out “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Fans of James Gunn’s previous works such as “Slither” and “Super” will find “Guardians of the Galaxy” to continue in a similar style.