Written by: Alex Westphal
As far as comic book-based movies go, there's a definite spectrum of quality that viewers have experienced over the years. Thankfully, with Disney's adoption of their many Marvel franchises, we have seen the quality of these films dramatically increase, and now begin to break into other genres. Director James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" has not only managed to break the mold and become an incredible action-comedy, it has elevated its source material in a way that few comic book-based movies have accomplished in the past (the original Iron Man, The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and Cap 2 being obvious other mentions, here).
Having a moderate level of knowledge of Guardian's source material, I was unsure how they would handle the scope of what is essentially a group of alien warlords looking to dominate the planets and sentient beings within their reach. This is a fast and aggressive expansion on what The Avengers started with its own battles with alien beings and a quick, after-credits shot of the "Mad Titan" Thanos. Presumably, Disney knew they were taking a huge risk in expanding their carefully crafted universe in this direction - and, thankfully, it has paid off.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is, simply put, one of the best comic-to-movie films I have ever seen. The jokes land, the action lands, and the characters land on point through every interaction in the film. The expanded universe that has been so carefully crafted is full of life and vibrant detail. Most importantly, this take on the expanded universe does not take itself too seriously - with enemies like Thanos, Ronan the Accuser, and the Celestials, this is a mythology that can easily become bogged down with content and expectations.
Instead, the characters and situations are delivered with heart, and the universe with irony and personality. The carefully stricken balance is maintained throughout the incredible momentum of the film, which comes to an unforgettable final set piece that true comic fans will appreciate.
I won't say more for fear of spoiling - but go see this movie. Go see it NOW, or sooner. You won't be sorry for spending the money, and you will walk away with a smile on your face. I enjoyed myself more at this movie than I have in a long time. And don't forget to stay for the end credits sequence... this one is a doozy.