In a far-flung corner of the galaxy, smuggler Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), genetically modified assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), muscle-wrapped psychopath Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista) a bounty-hunting raccoon-creature Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his best buddy/tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) join forces to save the planet Xandar from certain doom and make quite the pretty penny in doing so.
I would be accused of the grandest hypocrisy if I said I wasn’t very eager to watch/review/somehow re-watch Marvel’s latest buster of blocks Guardians of the Galaxy. That said I want to be unbiased and professional in my approach to this review, as a tempered and sophisticated perspective on film is just as important as one rife with subjectivity and- oh who the hell am I kidding? I FRICKIN’ LOVE THIS MOVIE, YOU HAMS! Come on, you don’t read my reviews for their objectivity, now do you?
Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s riskiest film to date. You thought Captain America going dark and political was a risk? How about giving the man behind Slither, Super and the short-lived web series PG Porn the keys to the Marvel-mobile. And then! And then, he cries, cast Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation to be the hunky lead, a wrestler to be one of the main emotionally-driven characters and fill out 2/5ths of the team with a CGI duo of a raccoon and a tree, because hey, let’s just make a film about a not-terribly-known area of the Marvel-verse, because risks. Ye Gods! So many risks! Too many risks? Well I can safely say it does not feel like it.
Despite everything aimed for the contrary, Guardians of the Galaxy wrestles everything together so neatly, so succinctly and in such a carefree and fun manner that you’ll find your nearest makeshift gavel and demand in your most authoritarian judge voice to have more. More, damn you, all!
Whilst the incredible scale of the world-building is sparingly and well done, the focus of the film is most certainly on the Guardians themselves which in turn sparks my new game ‘Which Guardian is your favourite?’. A game I cannot properly answer, I’ll add. Is it the glib 80s reference that is Star-Lord? Is it the constant scene-stealing adorability that is Groot? Is it occasionally-funniest-murderer-ever Drax? The hyper-intelligent and surly machine-gun-toting raccoon that is Rocket? Gamora: the woman-who-gives-no-cusses? It’s probably Groot for the time being, but that’ll change in the next hour or so.
But it’s not just the characters; the world of Guardians of the Galaxy is vibrant, colourful and full of wonder. The market bazaars of Knowhere (itself being the decapitated head of an ancient super-being), the army of smugglers led by Michael Rooker’s Yondu Udonta (with his… well… I won’t spoil it for you…) and even the planet of Xandar bring the colour, character and expansive majesty back to science fiction. Also the fact that despite all these things going on we still have time to keep our noses firmly trained on our McGuffin (An infinity stone? Continuuuuuuuity!), pepper our adventure with first-grade action sequences AND have an incredible and important soundtrack is just… how the guff did this happen?
If anything lets Guardians of the Galaxy down it’s the underplayed roles of Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser and his gaggle of henchmen. I mean the man has the universe’s most unnecessarily bad-ass spaceship and hammers people’s brains in for giggles whilst plotting the annihilation of a planet, it’s people and it’s way of life, so yeah he’s evil, but why? Everybody else in this movie gets a ‘why’, and even some kind of an arc, but not Ronan, or Karen Gillan’s Nebula or even Djimon Hounsou’s Korath. They’re the bad dudes. And bad dudes need to get themselves got. That’s them.
But that’s it. That’s the one gripe I have about Guardians of the Galaxy. Every other aspect in this film weaves together so well as to make the most fun cinematic movie experience I have undertaken this year so far. Is that too bold a claim? Maybe. If that’s the case then it’s up to some other, different film to show me how wrong I am to be so bold. Consider the gauntlet thrown, cinema. Right down on your lap. What are you going to do about it, huh? HUH?! LAP-GAUNTLET!
Yeah, s’pretty good.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Djimon Honsou, Michael Rooker,
Running Time: 121 minutes
Director: James Gunn
Release Date: 31st July 2014