In the midst of all the action/adventure/mayhem/stuff-blowing-up/comedy and cosmic sf craziness of Guardians of the Galaxy, what sticks with me most are at least three scenes of glorious humanity. One of these scenes opens the film, so you’ll know it immediately. The others occur in the second half of the film. When those scenes happened, the audience sat in complete - and maybe awed - silence.
You don’t go to a film like Guardians of the Galaxy for those serious moments, but they’re there nonetheless. No one laughed during them, no one snickered, no one giggled. Those scenes didn’t have to be there, but they are and they help elevate the film from just a fun time at the movies to something way beyond what I’d anticipated.
Know that the Guardians of the Galaxy - as a comic book series - has been around for a long time and that you really don’t need to know much (or anything) about it to enjoy the film. Here’s the plot in brief: Peter Quill - an adventurer/space scavenger - finds a strange orb and decides to sell it. A bounty hunter comes after Quill, knowing that Ronan the Accuser seeks the orb to use it to control the universe. Quill gets connected with a group of strange space creatures: a submachine gun-carrying raccoon, a tree-like creature, a green-skinned assassin, and a muscle-bound dude called Drax the Destroyer.
Sounds goofy, right? Well, it is. And it’s the most fun you’re likely to have at the movies this summer. Maybe even this year. Guardians of the Galaxy is a wonder of wonders - a movie that knows how to strike just the right balance between high-octane action, science fiction wonder, incredible special effects, fight scenes you can actually follow, incredibly colorful and well-written characters, two hours worth of laughs, and maybe the best, most fitting soundtrack I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Back to those three (and maybe more, depending on what moves you) scenes for a moment. Although one of them could be mistaken for an “Aw, isn’t that sweet?” scene, they’re really not. Again, when these scenes happened, no one in the theater laughed. These moments of humanity tell us that somebody thought enough about these characters to let us see some of their pain and suffering, which makes them more real. (Yes, even a gun-toting raccoon can experience pain and suffering.) It’s the same type of experience we get at least a couple of times between Dr. Henry Jones and Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s another fun, entertaining movie, but it has those scenes you just never forget.
But there’s fun here, too - lots of it, so much that you’ll want to see it again. Several days ago I thought it was premature for Marvel to announce that the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie would be released in 2016 before this current one even opened, but rest assured: this movie is worthy of a sequel.