The phrase “this generation’s Star Wars” keeps being floated around as the build up to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy intensifies. It’s with good reason.
From the start, it’s clear Marvel Studios learned their lessons from each movie that came before it. Guardians is well polished and poised to grandstand at the box office in the midst of a summer with no standouts. Everything before it has fizzled including other superhero fare, one of which that carries the Marvel name (but not the studio, to be clear/fair).
The Avengers made an attempt to band together a group of varied heroes, some of whom were clearly the last kids picked to join the team (Hawkeye and Hulk come to mind). Guardians builds each character really well, far better than the Avengers. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket band together as lost souls who find friendship in each other. The arching theme is family and friendship but it’s buried under spot-on comedy, action and emotion that make this feel more like a theme park ride than a movie.
That concept of this feeling more like a ride comes up a lot. The action sequences are so well done, CGI and all, you feel almost want to grasp for your laser-shooting joystick. To fault earlier Marvel movies (and praise Guardians), nothing takes you out of the action. That’s a huge feat for a movie that banks on building a universe (literally) with primarily computer graphics.
Deeper than the action or CGI beauty is a great story with emotion. This movie really tugs at the heart strings at the right moments in the right way. When the movie starts getting too sentimental or cheesy, the script yanks you right back with a punchline. It’s all well orchestrated in a way that makes this epic.
And that’s where we are with comparing Guardians to Star Wars. This movie is epic. The grandiose plot peaks with a world-threatening attack that only this team can stop. The set pieces are huge, the plot is towering and the plan is an all-out, galactic-sized war. You can sit back, enjoy the action and attach yourself to the story.
There are a lot of kudos to hand out to Marvel Studios, the cast, the screenwriters and director James Gunn. The soundtrack itself is jaw-dropping with an amazing collection of 70s music that oddly fits perfectly in a movie set in space (and that deserves its own article).
So, to be clear, this movie is this generation’s Star Wars, but better.