My first thought about this film without any prior knowledge was, “How can they have a superhero movie with a talking raccoon and a walking tree? That’s so stupid!” Well, they proved me wrong or maybe they proved me right in a sense.
Guardians of the Galaxy is stupid in numerous ways, yes, but it’s the kind of dopiness that is fun, endearing, and often hilarious. It succumbs to some of the normal superhero/blockbuster cliches, but it also finds time to make fun of itself, and it benefits from that. It does not take itself too seriously and it begins with Chris Pratt aka Peter Quill aka Star Lord (not Andy Dwyer for all those Parks and Rec fans). He is an unlikely superhero, even the actor himself, and so it makes his character work all the better for this film.
After a childhood, tragedy Peter is abducted by a group of Ravagers, and thus begins his life in the far reaches of the galaxy retrieving artifacts for his employers by any means possible. He comes across a highly sought after orb, and he himself has a price on his head. That’s how he crosses paths with deadly female assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and bounty hunting partners Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Gamora was sent by a power hungry villain bent on revenge. Rocket is a highly intelligent raccoon with an attitude, and Groot is a walking tree of few words who teams with him. They all end up in prison, and it is there where they finally begin to gel as unlikely as it sounds.
The crew is joined by fellow inmate Drax, and they head out to deliver the mysterious orb to their contact. However, it falls into the hands of the enemy, and the gang must now protect Xandar from destruction. We have seen it all before, an epic space battle with ships zooming by, pyrotechnics everywhere and unexpected twists and turns. It is moments like these where it seems Guardians falls into the usual mold of explosions, image overload, and corny drama.
Quickly it finds itself again with Peter being goofy (ie. a dance off) or Rocket giving us one of his many wry comments in an extra epic moment (Well now I’m standing. Happy? We’re all standing now). It is these sorts of moments that make this film. Groot only knows three words, “I am Groot,” and yet Rocket has spent so much time with him that he understands every iteration. That’s how a summer blockbuster about a talking raccoon and a walking tree ends up working. It sidesteps some of the usual tropes, and when it does fall into one it willfully makes light of itself. We can forgive and forget because these “lovable misfits” are a barrel of laughs and they have a heart. It does not hurt that this film has an Awesome Mix for a soundtrack. At times I was not sure if I was watching a space opera or a rock opera — the music was so often the highlight. Then, when “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” started playing I was sold.