Guardians of the Galaxy
2-Disc Blu-ray 3D l DVD l Instant
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Bradley Cooper
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: Dec. 9, 2014
The United States’ highest-grossing film of 2014 left moviegoers choosing some new figures to dress up as for Halloween. Peculiar and personable, the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy propose a new age of superheroes. Iron Man and crew are not the only saviors in this or any region. The multifarious beings that lead the pack in Marvel’s summer smash steer their way to a generally satisfying home release.
Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a Disney film from its first five minutes, as the protagonist suffers from his mother dying. What a tragic start. Unlike many Disney movies, though, this Marvel character is transported away from Earth to distant parts of the galaxy. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is on the run with a stolen orb, but the main element running around is our focus. After the opening scene, we are introduced to tons of random characters who do not speak clearly and whose intentions remain unclear at this point. All we know is Quill (a.k.a Star-Lord) must represent our hero, albeit misguided and perhaps another version of Han Solo. Thankfully, upon meeting the other “guardians,” including snippy Rocket the Raccoon and luggish Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Disel, respectively) and quick-witted Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the film kicks, punches and jumps into high gear!
Upon the capture of these outlaws and misfits alike, some exposition helps guide us in comprehending these characters. The escape plan from the prison provides much of the fun and excitement, as the vague villains’ missions certainly fail to add much originality – or interest, for that matter. Sarcastic Rocket always has a one-liner ready for launch and laughs, whereas Dave Bautista‘s brute Drax offers the warrior-like vibe to Quill’s silly rogue. Guardians plays like a campy farce at moments, but then shifts to a more otherworldly, abstract and dramatic feeling. This awkward balance accounts for some of Guardians’ tonal inconsistencies.
But the ’80s pop culture references, fine acting by the leads, engaging action sequences, and overall fun factor make for a zippy two hours. Backstabbing and blindsides amount to some variety in plot development, yet what makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a thrill is its ability to form an imaginative universe with well-developed characters who defy standard sci-fi fare. Quill makes for one relatable hero with undeniable flaws. He may be brash, but still has a soul. So does this film, which almost completely turned me off after 15 minutes, but managed to hold my attention and even compel me to root for Groot and fellow guardians by the final act.
This group of unlikely heroes – a phrase too commonly used that never means much – actually has an interesting purpose. What ties them together (loss of families and homes) influences their motivations and more troublesome personality traits. These also factor into their plans not working out as predicted, thus making for the chaotic amusement.
The best way to show off your television might involve popping in Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-ray. Then again, when was the last time the tube served as the primary viewing device? No matter the platform, this film sparkles more brightly than the explosions constantly marking nearly each action shot. It’s a stunning visual experience that sounds awesome, too. While some of the dialogue could be more crisp during a few scenes, most everything else is clear.
“Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn” takes a peak at the various fragments that make up the film, even if each segment could serve as a stand-alone featurette. This movie contains complexity, as James Gunn, its director, explains. Only watching the film for a few minutes suggests the project’s scale, from the background characters with unique visual appearances to the layers of detail in structural pieces. Bautista’s tattooed designs and Saldana’s green skin only scratch the surface. The documentary shows tons of footage concisely, and oddly separates each component with animation resembling 16-bit video games found in the ’80s. Certainly Gunn loving nostalgia comes through, and it works to the film’s favor. An interesting 20-minute piece, for sure, but way too brief.
“The Intergalactic Visual Effects for Guardians of the Galaxy” explores the challenges of having two completely CG characters as some of the leads. Give it up for Sean Gunn (James’ brother, perhaps best known as Kirk from Gilmore Girls) for standing in as Rocket’s physical representation before they created the animated version of the raccoon. This seven-minute piece also analyzes developing tree-like Groot and his quite human characteristics. Gunn and the other principal figures involved in Guardians breathed life into these personalities.
“Exclusive Look at Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron” teases the fanboy community even further with a few minutes of behind-the-scenes footage that may persuade them to check the “countdown calendar to May 1” more frequently.
“Deleted and Extended Scenes” has a few scenes that have either been somewhat revised for or were completely scrapped from Guardians of the Galaxy. They’re exactly what you would expect from this type of bonus feature: inconsistent and adequate.
“Gag Reel” shows the actors having fun with the intergalactic material, whether that means the script or simply the space-like environments. The content is funnier than you would think, especially the dance-off segment.
“Audio Commentary” allows James Gunn to add some perspective to the film’s creative choices, as well as the minutia. Worthwhile for the huge Marvel fans, but unnecessary for everyone else. The amount of chanting “I am Groot” in your everyday life will likely dictate if you take the time to listen to the commentary.
Bonus Features: B-
Overall Grade: B
Guardians of the Galaxy, like the movie’s central character, has its mind in many places. Likely did its writers. But Marvel’s latest epic works on many levels, perhaps most so as a brusque action-adventure that spins in more irreverent and fun directions than Peter Quill’s spacecraft. It’s a ride worth taking, all bumps considered.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.