Guardians of the Galaxy: Well-Controlled Chaos

Connor White

Saturday morning cartoons were nothing less than a religious experience in my house. Swathed in footed pajamas and spooning down mouthfuls of Captain Crunch, The Animaniacs and Justice League were as good of babysitters as any. But as the old made way for the new, they didn’t sit right. They didn’t feel the same, and I found myself looking elsewhere for that grand sense of adventure.

Imagine my delight when Guardians of the Galaxy reached in to scratch an itch I had almost forgotten existed.

Despite long being a comic book fan, I was just as unaware of the Guardians’ existence as millions of others. Marvel had taken risk after risk with turning their heroes into silver-screen stars, but Guardians was uncharted territory, with no relation to the rest of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and as a result, many expected nothing more than an expensive flop. Despite the impressive trailers and cast, I’m not ashamed to admit I had my doubts when the lights dimmed.

And apparently, in Guardians’ galaxy, the word ‘exposition’ does not exist. There’s no blaring of trumpets, no yellow text marching across a starry sky to tell us the Galactic Empire is bad and the Rebel Alliance is good. We’re thrown right into the thick of it all. Ravagers. Xandarians. The Kree Empire. ‘Take it or leave it,’ they say. ‘We’re not going to waste your time explaining any of this’.

Peter Quill. Gamora. Drax the Destroyer. Rocket. Groot. The chemistry between our five main characters is the film’s beating heart; each of them is intensely likeable in their own unique way. Bursting with personality and wisecracks, they’re each given ample time to shine, with expertly-timed humor and a surprising amount of genuine emotion. They take their antics and bounce around the galaxy like a pinball machine, and as a result, the audience never has to wait long before the next joke or action piece. From start to finish, I never checked my watch.

But this kind of ludicrous and full-throttle adventuring comes at a cost. There are times when the plot stumbles: the characters reveal their skeletons a little too quickly (and conveniently) to accommodate proper growth (especially Gamora, who is unusually trusting of others considering her violent past), and our villain suffers from little dimension apart from your clichéd power-hungry tyrant, an unfortunate staple of several Marvel films. Normally, this would keep Guardians from rising above your generic action fare, but these complaints shrivel away under the sheer amount of fun audiences have.

Guardians of the Galaxy is content to toss you in your seat like a roller coaster; it’s not pushing any boundaries, and won’t be recognized as progress for the genre. But it mitigated its risky premise through genuine enthusiasm and a warmth that I haven’t felt in years. I was a little kid again, kicking my feet and sitting wide-eyed, waiting for what came next. With a sequel already underway, we won’t have to wait long.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Chris Pratt headlines as galactic bandit Peter Quill (although he prefers the moniker Star-Lord), and within minutes his bravado and roguish charm grants as much ownership of his character as Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. He’s a Ravager, a gang of space thieves who steal from anyone and everyone, and he’s looking for his latest score: a mysterious orb with a high price tag.

Quill manages to retrieve the orb, but attracts unwanted attention in the process, and in his haste to collect his cash, places himself in the crosshairs of the rest of our main cast. Zoe Saldana portrays Gamora, an infamous assassin sent to steal the orb as Quill meets with his buyer, but before she can escape, things quickly devolve into an all-out frenzy as a pair of bounty hunters, Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), interfere with the hopes of capturing Quill himself. All four are eventually arrested by Xandarian police the Nova Corps, and sent to prison, where the fifth future member of the team, vengeful and musclebound Drax the Destroyer (WWE Wrestler Dave Bautista), is already an inmate.

These five characters initially band together through their shared interest in escaping the prison. Quill lost his only buyer for the orb when he idly let slip that Ronan the Accuser, a fanatical alien hell-bent on destroying Xandar and our film’s primary villain, is also interested in it, but Gamora offers to split the profits from her own buyer in exchange for guaranteeing her escape. Quill, Rocket, and Groot agree for the money, but Drax’s reasons for escaping remain separate: he plans to kill Ronan, and believes that Gamora will lead him straight to the genocidal Kree. Between the five of them, they tear the prison apart, and hurtle into space towards Gamora’s buyer, unaware that Ronan is hot on their trail.