The enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Unknown origin. Sometimes thought to be Arabic, though there is no specific evidence as such. There is an equivalent 4th century, BC, Sanskrit formulation of the concept. The earliest recorded English version was in 1884.)
Sometimes a story is just a story, for the pure fun of it. Guardians of the Galaxy, like so many Marvel ventures, falls into that category. It is fun. I will not dive too deeply into the plot. An unlikely band of outcasts; a human male, Peter Quill, an alien female and trained (modified) assassin, Gamora, a rage filled alien male, Drax the Destoryer, a living plant, Groot, and a genetically modified and cyber-enhanced raccoon, Rocket, find themselves possessing a common goal. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
It is an outlandish comic book universe and a comic book plot ripped right out of, well, a comic book. The story starts off in 1988 with a poignant note, and then quickly jumps into the fantastic. It takes a few scenes to find its pace. There are a lot of wheels to spin up. When this unlikely team finally bands together, the movie finds its tempo and then takes off.
There is a lot of humor in this movie, with all intention. When one of your main characters is a talking raccoon, tongue in cheek is fully intended. Another key point is the music. The movie has a wonderful score of its own. But the main character, Peter Quill, keeps cassette tapes that his mother made for him – music from my time. There are few things in this universe that can reach into all of us as deeply as music.
The actors do good work. It takes a little while for Dave Bautista (Drax) to find his voice. His character is of a race of aliens that are completely literal; metaphor, understatement, or overstatement are outside of their understanding. So Mr. Bautista has a difficult job to fill, but he does find a balance overall. Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, is a plant of few words, and few lines. I don’t think any acting claims can be made, the CG folk did all the work. The same could be said for Bradley Cooper, the voice of Rocket. However, Rocket has quite a few lines, and often carries the scene. Mr. Cooper’s voice work was well done. Chris Pratt (Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and a host of others all do fine jobs.
The direction is good. I don’t know that anything could be done about the slow spin up. It is just the nature of laying out a completely new landscape. There were a few moments that felt a bit disjointed, but only in a small way. It would be hard to tell if it was the director, the editor, or the script. The visual effects are very well done, both in creating the alternate universe and in being visually captivating. The 3D work is also good.
All in all, I say it is worth the ticket, and the glasses. If you wait for Redbox or Netflix, you won’t miss much – but the laughs are better in a crowd.