UK Release Date: 31st July 2014
Runtime: 121 minutes
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan
Synopsis: A mismatched team of criminals must keep a powerful orb from the clutches of a malevolent leader and his maniacal boss.
It’s easy to forget how much of a risk Iron Man was for Marvel in 2008. He was a superhero that few people outside of the comic book world recognised, lacking the star power of someone like The Incredible Hulk or DC’s Superman and Batman. Since then, however, Robert Downey Jr’s arrogant businessman has been at the forefront of the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, six years later, Marvel has taken another risky roll of the dice with bizarre space opera Guardians of the Galaxy. Somehow, they’ve played a blinder yet again.
Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) steals a mysterious orb in the hope of selling it on the planet Xandar, but finds himself intercepted by forces loyal to Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), including assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Seeing that Quill is a valuable asset, bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) become embroiled in the chaos and each party is imprisoned. Allying with brutal warrior Drax (Dave Bautista), who detests Ronan, the unusual bunch break free of their confinement in order to protect the orb.
| “I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.”
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Marvel is that it manages to turn niche concepts into bombastic mainstream movies. Earlier this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier made a smash hit out of a political thriller and Guardians of the Galaxy has repeated that trick in the guise of a barmy sci-fi. Helmed by Super director James Gunn, it’s two hours of crackling wit, riotous action and unrestrained insanity.
Chris Pratt’s comedy background does absolute wonders for his performance in the central role. Whether he’s quipping about Kevin Bacon or delivering a rousing speech, he is every inch the identifiable everyman. He combines the likeability of Steve Rogers with the razor-sharp wit of Tony Stark. With Pratt aided by Bradley Cooper knocking the weirdness of Rocket Raccoon out of the park and professional wrestler Dave Bautista shining as Drax, Guardians of the Galaxy has to credit its cast with a lot of its success.
Gunn’s unique sensibilities also have a lot to do with the film’s appeal. His dialogue is brisk and sharp, keen to portray the huge differences between the main cast members. He even manages to turn a talking tree, voiced by Vin Diesel, into one of the most affectionate and warm film characters of the year. The clash between Gunn’s low budget origins and the glamour of Marvel makes for a really interesting tone that produces endless entertainment. Somehow, the two opposites mesh together perfectly.
| “On my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It’s called Footloose.”
And, in some ways, this is a problem. Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a quintessential Marvel movie, despite its bizarre source material and wacky concept. This could’ve been the opportunity for Marvel to make something really strange and interesting, but they instead reverted to blueprint. It does little to reduce the fun of the film, but it does feel a little bit like a missed opportunity.
Nonetheless, Guardians of the Galaxy is another home run for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which continues to be the most reliable film franchise in Hollywood. Whether it’s on Earth, in space, or wherever the hell Thor lives, Marvel always seems to strike gold.
Pop or Poop?
Combining the best aspects of the Marvel formula with some of director James Gunn’s lo-fi weirdness, Guardians of the Galaxy marks the first page in an exciting new chapter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Full of colour, jokes and innovative action, the film is a proper popcorn actioner that mixes the sweetest parts of the superhero genre with the coolest bits of sci-fi to make a really tasty concoction.
Next stop: Avengers!
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.