By now you know what to expect from Marvel, and after the slew of their superhero films you know what their strengths and weaknesses are. With something as far out as Guardians of the Galaxy, they have here the ideal opportunity to demonstrate what they’re really about as a film studio, because this sort of represents the quintessential Marvel film. The tone and the mood is all-round light and fun with a talented cast just having a great time of it.
A space adventure set in the cosmos as Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the focus of a bounty hunt after retrieving a mysterious orb on a remote planet. Unbeknownst to him is that the orb is said to be coveted by a nefarious villain who goes by the name of Ronan. After the group of misfit bounty hunters, made up of the likes of Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamorra (Zoey Saldana) and later Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), realise the true and massive potential of the orb – and the potential danger it poses if it falls into Ronan’s hands, they must rally together to form an unlikely team to quell the threat to the Galaxy.
Fans of Marvel films will have a blast, but actually, anyone looking for mindless entertainment in a fun action comedy will. This will hit that spot.
The Bottom Line
Earlier this year we saw Marvel’s ‘serious’ side with ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’, and though they’ve shown some cracks in the building of their Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are of course some things they tend to do very well. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is just the film to showcase their strengths because this film’s concept is out there on the other side of normal.
That being said it comes as a bit ironic, strangely, that it doesn’t actually present anything new; for instance the charismatic protagonist with a nostalgic side, from his retro taste in music and clothing, to pop-culture references, its all been seen many a time. If anything it just reaffirms the notion that this device doesn’t seem to get old. The main issue was always trying to fit a talking animal (and humanoid plant ‘Groot’ – voiced by Vin Diesel) into the current MCU to one day share the screen with Ironman and Captain America et al.
With that, the true strength of GoTG is in the writing and dialogue. From the get go we’re dropped into this wild and fun adventure with a host of quirky characters.
Chris Pratt does a sterling job as we expected, drawing you in with his effortless charm, and he’s soon complimented by what would become his trusted but madcap sidekicks. Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is, as claimed, the heart of this film with his endearing cynicism a constant – his makes for the most intriguing and disturbing of origin stories, but at no point does GoTG dwell on the serious and darker elements, as every time things threaten to get too emotional we’re massaged back on track to see the funny side. An early ‘weakness’ is that it does take a little while for the ensemble cast/characters to develop that natural chemistry, so the first third of the film doesn’t quite feel organic (perhaps a tad forced), but once they find their groove, the fun really starts. Needless to say the sequel will feel more natural as everyone will no doubt slip into the swing of things a lot quicker. However, in the meanwhile, each character has a moment to shine or a cool line with even some notable sideshows; special mention to the always magnetic Michael Rooker as Yondu.
If you’ve read my piece on Why Superhero films are overrated, then you’re aware of my stance with regards to villains. Marvel consistently sells themselves short in this department, and has done so again here as Ronan the Accuser (played by the talented Lee Pace) and Nebula (Karen Gillan of ‘Dr Who’ fame) are reduced to caricatures, fleshed out about as much as the paper from the comics they came from. The actors do their very best to lend intrigue and grandstanding to the affair, but the film does lack (as with most Marvel films) a genuine and distinct sense of true menace.
All seriousness aside though, this is still a fun romp that you’ll probably want to watch again, and then buy the DVD later – it’s an unashamedly comedic blockbuster that fits into the Marvel roster like a glove as it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
So, does this film live up to the astronomical hype that came with the build up? Let’s be honest, most were just curious to see this ‘experiment’ take shape. In short, it just about delivers, just, without being anything special whilst overtly favouring the cool, fluffy and fun side of things – so they just about did the job without doing any heavy lifting. It’s clear to me though that this pretty much reflected the tone of the comics.