Arriving August 1 in theaters is yet another addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy. With Guardians, Marvel Studios aims to build upon the success of prior superhero based movies, but this time with a decidedly lesser-known cast of characters. Is this band of otherworldly heroes up to the challenge?
The movie opens with a flashback to the late 1980s and a pivotal moment in the life of a young boy by the name of Peter (Chris Pratt). That time period is reinforced throughout the movie with popular songs and pop culture references from the 80s (and older) featured throughout. This will likely please moviegoers 30+ and older, but will probably not connect with a younger crowd. However, the movie has a much taller task of introducing these Guardians of the Galaxy characters to anyone not already familiar with them.
To that end, Peter eventually finds his way to a distant part of the galaxy where he has grown up to be a bandit whose latest target is an orb sought out by a number of parties including the villain Rohan. This connection brings the gang together as fellow guardians Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and Groot team up in an effort to prevent Rohan from using the orb to obliterate the peaceful planet Xandar.
In an introductory film, franchises often suffer from the trappings of needing to introduce its protagonist. Guardians of the Galaxy has several characters to introduce and thus settles with focusing on its lead hero, Peter Quill, at the expense of his alien compatriots. While the film opening focuses on Peter’s Earth origins, much of his background is left unexplored teeing up the inevitable sequel with an obvious nod appearing at the end of the film. As a result, the hijinks of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and the understated Groot (Vin Diesel) steal several scenes, often overshadowing the lead character.
The lack of character development is problematic for a film like Guardians of the Galaxy that features relatively unknown Marvel heroes and offers little beyond the standard comic book based story-line. Even its major plot line of recovering a mystical object before it endangers a planet is one that has been there, done that.
That likely won’t deter kids from wanting to see Guardians of the Galaxy, but parents should know that the movie does contain simulated violence. Additionally, the movie earns its PG-13 rating with the occasional expletive. If this type of film is deemed appropriate for your children, we would more highly recommend Captain America – The Winter Soldier, which represents the very best of this genre, in my opinion.
Those familiar with films from Marvel Studios have come to expect special end-credit scenes offering glimpses into forthcoming films in the Cinematic Universe. You will not find that with Guardians of the Galaxy and the reaction from the audience during the screening provided the most hilarious moment — albeit unintentional — of the entire film. That probably serves as a lesson for the film itself: temper your expectations.
UPDATE: Guardians of the Galaxy indeed has an end credit scene that was not shown during the screening we attended. We apologize for stating otherwise.
Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary advance screening of the film to facilitate this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own.