Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Disney
Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014 hands down. This diamond in the rough is a solid answer to director Tim Burton’s recent declaration that he wanted to see a happy superhero movie. Given, the “guardians” aren’t exactly superheroes. But at a time when the fare offered by Marvel and DC has become increasingly dark and dominated by damaged, anti-hero figures, this movie shines as the antithesis of those movies. One part action and one part fantasy it is the breath of fresh air that the superhero/comic book genre has needed for some time and could not have come at a better time. The movie’s multifaceted script lies at the center of its success. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important to its success. And last but hardly least worth noting of the movie’s success is its collective look and feel. That includes both its backdrops and its special effects. The combination of all of these elements proves exactly why Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is one of this year’s best new movies if not the year’s best new movie. One can only hope that Marvel won’t abandon everything that made this movie great when its sequel comes along in 2017. Time will tell. Until such time, audiences will agree that this movie more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new movies.
When Warner Brothers debuted its Tim Burton-helmed take on Batman in 1989, it proved to be something of an anomaly. No movie at the time or even before had taken the route taken by this movie. It was dark and brooding, just as Bob Kane had first envisioned him. It wouldn’t be until 2005’s Batman Begins that audiences would see the rebirth of the brooding superhero. Some will argue that 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, which started in 2000, would qualify in that category. But that’s only because of the inclusion of one Wolverine. That being said, Batman Begins is to thank and to blame for what has become of the superhero/comic book genre. That being said, the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy is a breath of fresh air. It is the antithesis of those movies in every sense. And that is thanks first and foremost to the movie’s multi-faceted script. The script, crafted by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, avoids every one of the trappings of the movies churned out by both Marvel and DC in recent years. One of those trappings is the brooding superhero approach used by both Marvel and DC throughout the studios’ ongoing competition. The script keeps the brooding to an extreme minimum with the extent of it being centered on Peter’s own thoughts of his mother’s death when he was a boy. The brooding on the part of Drax and Gamora on the loss of their own families at the hands of Thanos and Ronan is kept to just as much of a minimum. Because Gunn and Perlman keep the characters’ brooding in question, it allows for the movie’s related themes, jokes, and story to take center stage. The end result is a script that while hardly timeless is still one of the most entertaining to come along in a long time both within the superhero/comic book genre and within the action drama in whole.
Gunn and Perlman are more than deserving of applause because of the fact that they took the road less traveled in their script, opting to keep the story’s brooding to an extreme minimum. In comparison to the rest of the movies churned out by Marvel and DC in recent years, it really is the single most important factor of the duo’s script. It isn’t the only reason that the script works, either. The themes of family and friendship that the pair incorporated into the story are even more reason for applause. They go hand in hand with that lack of brooding. Throughout the course of the story’s script, Gunn and Perlman note the importance of family and friendship. Gunn and Perlman essentially tell audiences through their script that friends and family don’t have to be just like one another to come together. They don’t always have to completely like one another, either. They even go so far as to jokingly say through the quartet’s interactions that the least likely of friends and families can come together when one least expects it. This message is driven home in the movie’s final minutes, which won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see the movie. It is something of a cheesy moment, given. But again in comparison to the previous releases from Marvel and DC, it’s a refreshingly cheesy moment. It’s yet another aspect of the Guardians’ script that makes the movie such a success. The jokes that are tossed around throughout the movie is yet another aspect of the movie’s script that adds to its enjoyment.
The contrast of the positive themes and overall lack of brooding in the Guardians’ script is a hugely important aspect of the script that makes it a success. The jokes that are tossed around throughout the script make it even more of a joy for audiences. Whether it be the jokes added to Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon’s banter or the pop culture references used as jokes, or other jokes in general, Gunn and Perlman did an outstanding job in this area, too. The banter between Peter and Rocket is a laugh riot. Of course the acting on the part of Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper respectively doesn’t hurt that banter and its jokes, either. It’s classic back and forth that audiences haven’t seen in a very long time. There are also plenty of pop culture references used themselves as jokes, including constant references to the hit 1984 Kevin Bacon starring vehicle Footloose. And Peter’s attempt at a dance-off in order to distract Ronan at one point (again that moment won’t be revealed here) is itself a reference to Michael Jackson if one watches closely. It’s one thing to use pop culture references in a movie or TV show by themselves to get laughs. But to use them as jokes (especially as running gags) is rather smart writing. There are also plenty of stand-alone jokes that will have audiences laughing along the way, too. The jokes in question aren’t right in audiences’ faces. But they are clear enough that there’s no missing them. Again, such placement is very smart writing. It still is not the end of what makes the script’s writing the key point of success behind Guardians of the Galaxy. Last but not least worth noting in considering the strength of the Guardians’ script is the story itself.
The story behind Guardians of the Galaxy is the last element of its writing that makes it the hit that it has deservedly proven to be. The reason that the story works as well as it does is its simplicity. It seems on the surface that there is a lot involved in the story. That is because of the amount of backstabbing that goes on. But the story, at its heart, centers on one fanatical madman’s attempts to destroy an entire race of people and their home world because of his own personal beliefs. It was used in J.J. Abrams’ recent reboot of Star Trek most recently. It’s a tried and true plot that has been used any number of times before in other action movies. And even here it still manages to work in its given setting. This is especially worth noting considering the story’s extra elements—the chase for Peter Quill and the Orb, Gamora backstabbing Ronan, etc. There is a lot of extra backstory that is thrown into the mix. That extra could easily have bogged down the central story. But even with two people handling the script, that didn’t happen, amazingly enough. Because those extras don’t bog down the movie’s central plot, said plot is that much easier to grasp and follow, thus keeping viewers engaged from start to finish. That, alongside the other noted factors that went into the script, shows once and for all why the movie’s writing makes it the best new movie of 2014.
A lot of work went into the writing behind Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The painstaking efforts that were taken to make this blockbuster stand out against its competition were not for naught, either. Rather it collectively paid off and then some. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast should not be ignored as a reason for its success, either. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as much to thank for its enjoyment and success as the writing behind the movie. The constant back and forth banter between Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt makes for plenty of laughs throughout the movie. At no one point does the duo’s arguing feel forced. It feels entirely natural, which is what makes it so entertaining. Cooper’s portrayal of Rocket set against Vin Diesel’s Groot is just as funny. Both situations are classic comedy brought into the 21st century. Pro wrestler Dave Bautista’s own interactions with his cast mates on screen make for their own laughs, too as audiences will see when they watch the movie for themselves. One would be remiss to ignore Pratt’s own comic timing both by himself and set against the talents of others. Audiences will laugh uproariously at his comic timing when he distracts Ronan with his “dance off.” It’s yet another way that the cast’s acting makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a surprisingly entertaining work. Yet it still is not all that makes this movie so enjoyable, either. The movie’s look and feels make the movie even better. They collectively round out the movie’s positives and prove once and for all why any lover of action movies and the superhero/comic book genre will love this movie. Together with the cast’s acting and the movie’s overall writing, it proves once and for all why Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014.
It seems like almost every one of the movie spit out by Marvel and DC in recent years have become increasingly dark and gritty in their stories but in their look and feel, too. Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy is the polar opposite of those movies in this aspect, too. It incorporates some dark elements in terms of its look and feel, yes. But there are also rather bright, colorful backdrops used throughout the movie. And thanks to all of the comic elements incorporated into both the movie’s script and the cast’s acting, the movie’s feel is just as colorful, light, and light-hearted. It is such a welcome change of pace from all of the movies released by Marvel and DC in recent years and even harkens back to the likes of Iron Man in its own interesting way. Not only does it have that same sort of light hearted, comedic feel, but it also has that same sort of playful edge about it, too. That mix of the movie’s fun feel and its balance of light and dark backdrops is perfectly balanced from the movie’s opening flashback to its final minutes. The end result of that mix leaves audiences wanting to see more in the best way possible. With any luck, Guardians 2 will have just as much of a positive look and feel. For that matter hopefully it will have just as solid a script and acting. If it does, then it will prove the success of this movie to be far more than just a fluke.
So much work went into bringing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to life. And that work more than paid off. The movie’s multifaceted writing is its cornerstone. It incorporates themes of family and friendship that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It also avoids all of the brooding that has been a trademark of so many of Marvel and DC’s other previous releases. And the story itself is simple in every sense of the word. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the movie all the more entertaining. It will leave audiences laughing nonstop from beginning to end. The look and feel of the movie is the polar opposite of so many movies that have come before, too from Marvel and DC. Each noted element makes Guardians of the Galaxy a memorable and entertaining movie in its own right. Together, they make it the single best new movie of 2014 fluke or not.
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