Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review
Cool songs, smooth dancing, a talking raccoon and a sentient tree. Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s coolest flick and sets itself apart from the usual superhero antics.
Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Sean Gunn & Glenn Close.
Run Time: 121 min.
US Release: 01 August 2014
UK Release: 31 July 2014
German Release: 28 August 2014
Thor might have been a daring move by Marvel Studios, since it steered the MCU into a completely different direction, adding mysteries of the galaxy, magic and godly powers to that world, yet, everyone is familiar with the god of thunder; be it from the comics or Norse mythology. With The Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel tried their boldest move to date as they adapted a graphic novel that just a handful of people heard about. Even I, who read Marvel comics as a child, never knew of these heroes before the film’s announcement.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Earthman Peter Quill (Pratt), a rebellious space pirate, is ordered to steal a mysterious orb in the far reaches of space. Ambushed by Korath (Hounsou) and hunted by the pirates’ leader (Quill’s adoptive father) Yondu Udonta (Rooker), Peter flees to Xandar to sell the orb to the highest bidder. Ronan (Pace), a Kree fanatic, sends Gamora (Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos, to kill Quill and steal the orb from Quill. While mean, bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley) and Groot (Diesel) are searching for Peter in Xandar. When a battle ensues between the three parties, they are arrested by the Nova Corps and sent to prison.
Incarcerated in a faraway station, the four sit down and meet Drax (Bautista), a serial killer seeking to avenge his family's death at the hands of Ronan. Gamora explains that the Orb contains a destructive entity - the Power Stone - that Ronan is to deliver to the mad Titan Thanos, who wants to use the stone to eradicate civilisations. The five form a plan to break out of prison and stop Ronan, before he can deliver the stone to Thanos.
Marvel managed to breathe a whiff of fresh air into the comic book genre with this adaptation, as it not only tells a different story compared to that of earth's mightiest heroes but also approaches the narrative from a different angle. A brilliant combination of Star Wars and Firefly; the plot is packed with tense action, gut-wrenching emotional sequences and of course the typical Marvel humour. The brilliant opening scene ensures the audience’s investment in the main character. Even though quite a few side-stories are interwoven into the main narrative, it is all handled with extreme care and never feels too packed, while the dialogues serve as the main source of humour without ever becoming exhausting.
This cosmic comic book blockbuster contains a minor flaw, however, concerning the plot. The background to the Kree history and culture is never truly explored; the viewer just gets informed about a peace treaty that has been set up between the planet Xandar and the Kree Empire, leading to a lack of understanding when it comes to Ronan’s motivations.
Talking about characters, Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is filled with a vast array of different and interesting creatures. While this would cause a feeling of overcrowding in other films, it works in this one as everyone serves a purpose and has chemistry with one another.
Chris Pratt is fantastic as Peter Quill/Star-Lord and serves as the emotional anchor of this story. Having suffered the tragic loss of his mother at a young age, Quill spends his adult life breaking into places around the galaxy and rebelling against order and law. He is a loveable anti-hero who, thanks to Gamora, learns that doing the good thing might not be as bad. Pratt’s chemistry with Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora, is impeccable and one really believes their unspoken attraction to one another. Saldana gives an amazing physical performance and her character has a very intriguing past.
It still comes as a total surprise that Rocket and Groot, two fully animated characters voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, manage to capture the interest of the audience so well. It proves that the characters are fleshed out well, with solid backstories and that Bradley Cooper’s voice acting is top-notch, hitting every emotional beat.
Drax the Destroyer is another well-developed lead, although he is introduced late in the plot. It is quickly revealed that his family was slaughtered by Ronan on the order of Thanos, giving the viewers an understanding of his actions. Bautista might be the largest surprise in this feature. He has a moving past, is serious, yet really funny at the same time, as his race doesn’t understand metaphorical small talk and takes everything literally. Michael Rooker also gave a fantastic rendition of Yondu, a space pirate and Peter’s adoptive father.
Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace, might have done for an interesting character but the opportunity to make him a memorable villain was wasted. The character lost his family during the Kree-Xandar war, turning him into a fanatic who refuses to heed the peace treaty, thus searching for help in Thanos to obtain his revenge. Lee Pace gave a somewhat overdramatic and cartoonish portrayal of the character.
James Gunn and cinematographer Ben Davis created one of the best-looking Marvel flicks to date! The action sequences are choreographed and captured superbly, while the panoramic shots of space itself are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The special effects department did bring their best game to the table, creating a lush and beautiful looking galaxy, full of life and wonder. The colour palette used, compliments the living and breathing setting. The only issue I found, when revisiting this comic book adaptation, is the fact that some of the effects or green-screen segments have dated slightly but it doesn’t spoil the fun.
Given that Peter is from Earth and abducted as a child in the 80s, the movie is filled with nostalgic music of that era. From the brilliant Blue Swedes to the Jackson Five, each song is picked to capture the feeling of a sequence.
Verdict: Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best Marvel flicks; in fact, in my opinion, it comes right after The Avengers in a solid second place. The narrative breathes fresh air into the typical Marvel formula, using a mix of heartrending sequences, well-choreographed action and a lot of humour. While including a lot of characters, it never feels crammed, as every single person has a place in the galaxy. The main cast is brilliant and has great chemistry with one another. The cinematography and effects are top-notch, while the colours compliment the realistic-looking settings. The only problem this movie has is that of the underdeveloped villain but I can forgive that little flaw, as the rest of the movie is fantastic! This is why Guardians of the Galaxy deserves a perfect 10 out of 10.
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