“Hooked on a Feeling” (Blue Swede) is exactly what James Gunn wants us to feel when watching “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The feelings that Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax “The Destroyer” (Dave Bautista), and Groot (Vin Diesel; with only five words of dialogue) provide us are what Gunn needs us to focus upon because the story that stands behind them isn’t necessarily worth mentioning. Mentioning the fact that the story of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is following a ragtag team of rebels who unite to battle against the evil Ronan “The Accuser” (Lee Price) would be pointless because that’s not Marvel’s successful recipe at work. Marvel’s praised recipe is not the stories they tell, but the characters they provide. Characters that are irresistibly enigmatic and effortlessly charming like the five we meet in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
James Gunn comes from the indie world of filmmaking. With films like “Super” (a story about a man trying to be a superhero in the real world) and “Slither” (a story about mutant monsters taking over a small town), Gunn wasn’t exactly someone of great prominence when he was chosen for “Guardians of the Galaxy” by Marvel and Disney studios. While I wouldn’t describe “Guardians of the Galaxy” as a triumph or a masterpiece, it's still a sensationally fun time that wouldn’t work without James Gunn. Though his past works weren’t exactly inspiring, “Guardians of the Galaxy” showcases his ability to make people laugh and have a good time at the cinema, which is nothing to shake a stick at.
The film plays like an eighty sci-fi epic, almost “Star Wars” esque when you look at the arrangement of its characters: Starlord (Chris Pratt) is Luke, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is Leia, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) are Han and Chewie, in which the substance to the story may be minimal, but the characters are infectious.
Starlord (Chris Pratt) is a lovable goofball of a hero whose selfishness and dimwitted moments shape him to become vulnerable but also respectable and admirable when we see him in action. What better person to cast than Chris Pratt? A lovable goofball in his own right, Pratt has shown that he can be treated legitimately as an actor, but can remain to be that silly guy that we all love. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is a fierce warrior who is seeking peace and refuge from her Titanous father Thanos (Josh Brolin). She is willing to go to any length to find this tranquility, but she, like our other characters, is desperately desiring to find friendship. (maybe more than just friendship when it comes to Starlord) Rocket (Bradley Cooper; a talking raccoon whose been experimented upon to become a weapon), Groot (Vin Diesel; a big tall tree looking character whose vocabulary unlike his power is limited), and Drax “The Destroyer” (Dave Bautista; a another warrior out for vengeance for his family who were murdered by Ronan) find themselves seeking the same friendship.
All of these characters are not only given unique traits to them, but they are given plenty enough screen time to become memorable, they even become somewhat emotionally investing at times. As for our antagonist Ronan “The Accuser” (Lee Price), screen time can become limited. He like most Marvel villains is not worth mentioning. His motives are clear, but the story behind them is absent. Universal domination is on the menu, but as to why he’s ordering it remains to be seen.
Another facet of the film that remains unclear is as to why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy” relies on the infectious awesomeness of the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, and Redbone. Don’t get me wrong, I love the music, and I understand it's relation to our main protagonist, but has anyone actually given the score a listen? Tyler Bates crafts a genuinely uplifting playlist of music that when used in a few of the film’s key moments, i.e., the team joining hands in the final battle, becomes seamlessly epic. I understand the cleverness of using some of the 60’s and 70’s greatest hits as character builders, but I would’ve liked to have seen more originality given to “Guardians of the Galaxy.” As, like most of Marvel’s movies, the originality is found in the characters, but the rest of the film’s arrangements feel like they are attempting to be augmented or absorbed by the charisma of the cast. Unlike “Iron Man” though, the performances and the writing behind these characters doesn’t assist enough in leaping the film past these hurdles of nitpicks to become something more than a warmly entertaining origin story.
I wish I could say the sequel tested these characters and gave their stories space to grow, but “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” was merely a cover for the band to play. It's not all bad though because “Guardians of the Galaxy” allowed me to fall in love with the band. They are a quick-witted, courageous, and hilarious group of assholes. (as Rocket would say) They are flawed and are given genuine moments of substance to them, like Rocket’s (Bradley Cooper) speel in the bar and Starlord’s (Chris Pratt) kinship to his mother. I just wish there was more story for these characters to take part in. A little more reasons for them to care, a snub more things for them to do, a bit more sense as to why they're doing them. I just wanted a little more.