Film Review: 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
Opened: 31 July 2014
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
Director: James Gunn
Producer: Kevin Feige
Impressive set pieces – Check. Emotional core – Check. Wit – Check. Quirkiness – Check. Action – Check. In short, Guardians Of The Galaxy is every bit the summer blockbuster it was expected NOT to be. That’s right. On paper you’d be forgiven for thinking that execs at Marvel had lost their marbles for investing in a film that featured a gun toting raccoon with a chip on his shoulder (voiced with gusto by Bradley Cooper), a talking tree (Vin Diesel, who was probably paid a small fortune for dialogue that consists of a maximum of five words), and other such insanely out of the box characters. Well you’d be wrong. Guardians Of The Galaxy delivers entertainment and spectacle second perhaps only to the first Avengers film, and most of the credit lies with director James Gunn, who weaves an impressive yarn that has both explosive action and heart in abundance.
Unlike the Avengers or the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a lesser known band of heroes in the Marvel Universe, and up until the film, all I knew about them was that at some point, they were due to cross into the world of Marvel’s Avengers — something that's been touched on in the blockbusting films already, what with the subtle references to cosmic cubes and infinity gems.
Unlike most of its previous films, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy takes place almost entirely in the cosmos and revolves around a cocky space outlaw Peter Quill (Pratt), who unwittingly, ends up being the target of a bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb, as a result of which he forms an unlikely alliance with a quartet of weirdos all of whom have their own ominous motives — Rocket, a bad ass raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the mysterious Gamora (Saldana) and a powerful warrior, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). When they accidentally uncover the true power of the orb, they combine forces and form an allegiance against Ronan (Lee Pace), who's deadly intentions threaten to destroy not just them, but the entire galaxy.
I had serious doubts about Guardians Of The Galaxy. I wasn't sure how they'd blend comedic characters into the rather serious (mostly human) world of the Avengers, but I'm glad I gave it the benefit of the doubt because even though it relies on a few tested gags, it has enough ingenious plot devices and ideas that see it through, making it one of the finer, unexpected blockbusters of the summer.
Chris Pratt toplining a cast comprising of well known names, and hitherto seen mostly in smaller films and lame sidekick roles delivers his part with aplomb — giving his Peter Quill the requisite edge, attitude and rogue machismo, while the rest of the cast, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro seem to be having a blast with their rather absurd characters, which must have appeared ridiculous on paper.
Director James Gunn will definitely see his fortunes rise after Guardians as he's one of the few directors who's successfully managed to package such a big budget film with razor sharp wit, emotion, a clever screenplay and characters that don't take themselves too seriously, and not buckle under the expectation of helming a film that could have potentially been ripped apart by critics and fans of the comics alike.
His interpretation of the antagonists is perhaps where the film slightly stumbles. Given that all his characters have unconventional traits, Lee Pace's Ronan seems like a caricature and doesn't really spring any surprises. Our first glimpse of perhaps one of Marvel's most awaited villains however, is worth every penny and more and there are certainly no disappointments there.
With an engaging plot that takes a while to get into, idiotic yet eminently likeable characters, a thumping 70's soundtrack interwoven into the script and smacking of nostalgia, superb set pieces and jaw dropping special effects, I'm going with four and a half stars for Guardians Of The Galaxy. It delivers enough bang for your buck and turns out to be quite the unexpected entertainer, renewing faith in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which felt like it was beginning to lose its sheen. With this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both wowing earlier this year, I literally cannot wait for what the studio has in store for us come May 2015. Bring. It. On.