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In order to hook up with The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and collect on their cosmic find’s elephantine worth, our heroes must travel to a world settled within a dead super being’s head. Long abandoned and mined for its expensive vein of mental materials, this cranial domain is an amazing visual accomplishment. It also indicates how far outside the box this movie dwells. We see several aspects of the former skull, and there’s even a massive chase scene that utilizes various aspects to heighten the action. In a film filled with unusual landscapes and vista, this brainpan world is one of the weirdest, and best.
Sure, Tony Stark can quip away as his metallic armored fate is being sealed, and even the evil Loki can lob a joke or two at his Avenger antagonist’s direction. But Guardians of the Galaxy is a legitimate comedy, with Gunn and his co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman injecting as much wit and screwball sentiments into their otherwise standard space operatics as they can. Between Rocket Raccoon’s constant putdowns, Drax’s mindful misunderstandings (his race takes everything literally) and Peter Quill’s clueless hubris, there’s enough punchlines here to placate a dozen standard comedy writers. Between laughing and dropping, you jaw gets a major league workout in this movie.
One of the most electrifying moments in this film centers around one of those typical “suit up” moments, a sequence where our unlikely band of heroes get together and prepare for battle. In this case, while plotting what to do next, we get a scintillating music montage set to the ‘70s proto-punk classic “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways. It’s just one of dozens of memorable moments, thanks to a mixtape made for Peter by his dying mother and this old fashioned cassette provides a soundtrack backdrop loaded with Me Decade classics, including The Raspberries “Go All the Way”, 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love”, and Blue Swede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling”.
It takes a unique perspective to bring a movie like this together, and all kudos go to James Gunn for turning an unlikely Phase 2 Marvel Property into a major league Summer movie player. From his early days at Troma (where he wrote the script for Tromeo and Juliet) to his breakout via Zach Synder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, he’s been right on the fringes of legitimate superstardom for years now. Finally, after the one-two punch of Slither and Super, Gunn got his chance here and Marvel’s faith in him is well rewarded indeed. This is a statement movie, with our auteur announcing his arrival on the scene.
Finally, is there is going to be a breakout character from this film—and there’s always one—let us nominate this diminutive dynamo with a sour ass attitude. Rocket carries a massive chip on his genetically enhanced shoulders, screaming both about the constant lack of respect and the overwhelming tragedy of his existence (“I DIDN’T ASK TO BE LIKE THIS!” he shouts at one point). Like a furry Howard the Duck, he is both curmudgeon and cavalier, quick with a joke and even faster on the draw. Get ready to see every film geek young and old with a Rocket action figure on their work desk. He’s endemic of the entire Guardians of the Galaxy vibe.