Friday, May 29, 2015
Guardians of the Galaxy
Based on the Marvel Comics by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of a space warrior from Earth who teams up with a group of misfit aliens to stop an evil lord from destroying the galaxy. Directed by James Gunn and screenplay by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, the film is the story of a formation of a group of individuals who shouldn’t work together but manage to do whatever it takes to save the universe. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventurous and fun film from James Gunn.
Set in a galaxy just billions of miles away from Earth and its solar system, the film revolve around a group of misfits who are forced to come together to battle an evil lord who is eager to retrieve a mysterious object in the hopes he can rule the galaxy. While it is a plot that is very simple, it is more about these very odd individuals who are the last group of people that should be working with each other. One of which is a thief from Earth named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who had been abducted by alien bandits on the day his mother had died when he was a kid as he would steal this artifact for money. Yet, he would be pursued by an alien warrior named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is affiliated with the dark lord Ronan (Lee Pace), who also wants the artifact to betray Ronan. Adding into the mix is a genetically-engineered raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Vin Diesel), and another alien warrior named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a grudge towards Ronan for killing his wife and daughter.
The film’s screenplay by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman not only delve into who these characters are but also their motivations as Drax and Gamora both have issues with Ronan while Rocket is just looking for a big payday as he is hiding his own sense of pain as it relates to who he is. There is an element of loss that looms over the film as it relates to the walkman that Quill often carries that features a mixtape that his mother had made for him before her passing along with an unopened present. Groot is just an innocent character only says the words “I am Groot” yet proves to be a vital asset to other four in their conflict with Ronan. The film also establishes this galaxy the people live in as there’s human beings living with aliens in other planets while a peace treaty has been made which Ronan threatens to destroy. The artifact may serve as a MacGuffin but it does hold some key importance into the motivation of the characters into saving the galaxy from being destroyed by Ronan.
Gunn’s direction is quite lavish not just into the world that is created but also in how diverse the galaxy is. Even as it isn’t afraid to be silly and comical such as an opening sequence of Quill walking into a mysterious planet while listening and dancing to a song from his walkman. It sets the tone for exactly what Gunn wants to do which does deviate from the conventions of most comic-book based superhero films. Especially as Gunn balances a lot of humor with some adventure and character-driven moments to play into the development of this band of misfits coming together. Presented with some unique wide and medium shots, Gunn does establish the sense of a group having to work together as he includes some moments that are funny. Most notably a conversation scene involving Rocket, Quill, and Gamora about a plan to escape a prison is shot in the foreground while Groot is in the background doing something with Drax watching him. It’s among these moments in the film where the humor and adventure not only manage to mix well but also play into the personality of these characters.
The action is quite intense where Gunn knows how to set up many sequences that include some dogfights involving little spaceships and moments of suspense as it plays into the discovery of this artifact that involves a mysterious man known as the Collector (Benicio del Toro). It would add into the stakes of what these characters should do as they’re facing Ronan and his army where its climax is quite vast. Notably as it manages to mix in elements of humor, suspense, action, drama, and adventure all into one. It is clear that Gunn is trying to give his audiences what they want but also have them wanting more and have a good time with it. Overall, Gunn creates a thrilling and exciting film about a group of misfits trying to save the galaxy from an evil lord.
Cinematographer Ben Davis does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its sunny and vibrant look of the Xandar planet where things are peaceful to lighting schemes for some of the scenes such as the prison and the darker planets where the villains rule. Editors Fred Raskin, Craig Wood, and Hughes Winborne do amazing work with the editing in creating unique rhythms for the humor and actions scenes while not delving into conventional fast-cutting styles. Production designer Charles Wood, with supervising art director Ray Chan, set decorator Richard Roberts, and 3D set decorator Chris “Flimsy” Howes, does brilliant work with the design of Quill‘s spaceship as well as the home of the Collector and Ronan‘s home ship to play into the personality of these characters.
Costume designer Alexandra Byrne does terrific work with the clothes from the look of Ronan and the Collector as well as the clothes of the main characters to play into their personalities. Makeup designer David White and hair designer Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou do fantastic work with the look and design of the characters including the aliens in their skin color as well as the look of Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and several others. Visual effects supervisors Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, and Paul Corbould do incredible work with the visual effects from the design of Groot and Rocket as well as some of the spaceships and the look of the galaxy itself with its different planets.
Sound designer David Acord, along with sound editors Christopher Boyes and Matthew Wood, does superb work with the sound from the sound effects that are created as well as the sense of atmosphere that occurs in some of the action scenes. The film’s music by Tyler Bates is wonderful for its bombastic orchestral score with some chilling themes to play into the drama while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates an absolutely fun soundtrack that features a lot of music from the 60s and 70s with acts like Blue Swede, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, the Raspberries, Norman Greenbaum, David Bowie, the Runaways, Rupert Holmes, Redbone, Elvin Bishop, 10cc, The Jackson 5, and Five Stairsteps that is part of the mixtape Quill’s mother made for him.
The casting by Sarah Finn and Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is phenomenal as it features small appearances from Gregg Henry as Quill’s grandfather, Sean Gunn as a first-mate of the bandit Yondu, Laura Haddock as Quill’s mother, Wyatt Oleff as the young Quill, Christopher Fairbank as an alien black markets dealer, Peter Serafinowicz as a Nova Corps officer who dislikes Quill, Melia Kreiling as an alien fling of Quill early in the film, Alexis Denisof as vizier for the dark lord known as Thanos, Ophelia Lovebond as a slave of the Collector, and Stan Lee in a cameo appearance as a ladies’ man. Other noteworthy small roles include Glenn Close as a Nova Corps leader who is trying to keep peace in the planet of Xandar, John C. Reilly as a Nova Corps officer who often arrests Quill, and Josh Brolin in a cameo appearance as the evil dark lord known as Thanos who is the adoptive father of Gamora and Nebula.
Benicio del Toro is fantastic as an eccentric man known as the Collector who likes to collect all sorts of things as is eager to have the object that Quill and the gang has. Djimon Hounsou is terrific as an ally of Ronan in Korath as a hunter who is eager to help Ronan in bringing terror. Karen Gillan is excellent as the cyborg hunter Nebula who despises Gamora as she is loyal to Ronan in the hope that she can destroy the world. Michael Rooker is superb as the bandit Yondu who is Quill’s adoptive father who has issues with Quill as he also hopes to retrieve the artifact for Thanos. Lee Pace is amazing as Ronan the Accuser as a dark lord hell-bent on destroy Xandar and the galaxy in the hope that he can rule all. Vin Diesel is brilliant as Groot as this tree-like humanoid who only says a few words but possesses an innocence that is so endearing as Diesel also brings that sensitivity into the physical performance which was done by motion-capture.
Bradley Cooper is hilarious as Rocket as this genetically-engineered raccoon with a feisty attitude and a warped sense of humor as he is more concerned with getting paid. Dave Bautista is marvelous as Drax the Destroyer as this big alien who seeks vengeance for the death of his wife and daughter as he copes with his grief and is eager to do whatever it takes to get Ronan. Zoe Saldana is sensational as Gamora as an alien assassin who is trying to retrieve the mysterious artifact in the hope that it stays away from Ronan while dealing with Quill’s persona and being affiliated with Ronan. Finally, there’s Chris Pratt in a remarkable performance as Peter Quill/Star Lord as this thief who is very off-the-wall and funny while proving to be a cunning warrior that can rally everyone and kick ass.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Armed with a great cast, a fun soundtrack, thrilling visual effects, and an engaging story about a group of misfits teaming up to save the galaxy. It’s a film that manages to bring in a lot of joy and wit as well as characters to root for while going along for the ride. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy is a tremendous film from James Gunn.
James Gunn Films: (Slither (2006 film)) - (Super (2010 film))
Marvel Phase One Films: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers (2012 film)
Marvel Phase Two Films: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Marvel Phase Three Films: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - (Thor: Ragnarok) - (Black Panther)
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