Guardians of the Galaxy

If you doubt my review, ask why all audience members express complete joy after seeing this film. To quote Rod Stewart, “Every picture tells a story”, but sometimes every story tells a picture.

Guardians of the GalaxyLet me say from the outset that it is hard to imagine that you will have a more delightful time at a movie in 2014 than seeing Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, it is based on Marvel comic book characters, but that will prove to have no more meaning than refusing to see Ten Commandments (1956) because of Director Cecil B. DeMille’s use of biblical characters.

This movie is hysterically funny while embracing the emotional tragedies that have scarred all of its flawed heroes. Time after time you watch each Guardian dismiss either an ally or an enemy with a raw, pungent observation, and I guarantee you that you will hear laughter permeating the audience throughout the entire film.

If you’ve seen the previews, you know that the Guardians are a group of rogues joined together in a reluctant team. Chris Pratt is astonishingly wonderful playing Peter Quill, a freewheeling crook in space who doesn’t let moral concerns get in his way. He also carries a cassette tape with him containing songs from the 1970s that he received from his mother on Earth shortly before her death. The music permeates the film and makes you want to join Pratt early in the film as he dances to a song as he approaches a facility that he intends on burglarizing.

While the entire musical score is as meaningful as that heard in last year’s Frozen, it is merely a backdrop that adds definition to every critical moment. In addition, the performance of the actors playing the other four Guardians has to be seen to be accurately believed.

Once again Zoe Saldana proves to be a quiet gift from the cinematic gods. She never received her due for her towering performance in James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), and no actress in the history of film is better at facing a female opponent without fear. If you doubt that, then I challenged you to see the last Fast and Furious film where she saved the movie in a fight with another actress that had the appearance of a brutal ballet.

And then there were the contributions of Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista. Cooper is the voice for Rocket Raccoon, an animal that hates nearly everything including himself. He only loves Mr. Diesel’s Groot, a gigantic root whose entire vocabulary is limited to the words “I am Groot.” For those of you who question Mr. Diesel’s acting talent, let’s just say that he should have been playing a root his entire acting career.

And then there is Mr. Bautista, who plays the defiant mini-giant Drax. He brings exciting dimension to otherwise impossible characters, and you really should hunt him down in both The Man With the Iron Fists (2012) and Riddick (2013). While he is a very big man, he commands your attention for other meaningful reasons.

I have said nothing about the plot, but it is ironically secondary to the entire experience. A nasty group of demented aliens, led by a painted nemesis called Ronan (Lee Pace), seek to possess a small globe containing a device that will literally wipe out every living creature across the solar system. That includes a planet where both Glenn Close and John C. Reilly play small but important roles, and our Guardians must unite contrary to their instincts to decide the fate of the universe.

In the process, this movie becomes a statement about the meaning of friendship and family, and the Guardians are literally forced to risk their lives simply because they care about each other. It is a quiet statement that we all tend to forget, and how ironic that we should be reminded of something so important in a Marvel film.

My wife and I have just returned from a memorable adventure through the Greek Isles and a five-day stay in Istanbul. While cruising, it was easy to be reminded of the craziness that is going on in the world today.

Hamas wants to eliminate Israel as a State, and Israel responds by killing an untold number of women and children. A group of lunatics called ISIS are roaming through Syria, Iraq and parts of Lebanon, killing everyone and anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. In our country, the Republican Party’s obvious hatred of President Obama is so profound that they literally refuse to pass one meaningful piece of legislation in the past six years. In the process, thousands of immigrant children suffer and they respond with a meaningless shrug.

All of this has everything to do with Guardians of the Galaxy, as it is time to remember that we are all friends in an extended human family. Sure, we all may disagree on some matters, but anger, hostility and hatred have no functional place in the human fabric.

Those of you living in the Indianapolis area know of my old friend, Greg Garrison, who is a wonderful lawyer and a long-time conservative radio host on WIBC. He and I met in law school in 1971, and we literally have never agreed on any political subject since that time. On the other hand, no conversation has ended in anything other than laughter, also accompanied by a beverage if time permitted.

The Guardians embrace the Hammerle/Garrison human relationship, and we both would die semi-happy men if our political leaders adopted that view.