REVIEW - Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Review

A Minus
PHIL’S GRADE

GotG is a bizarre sort of marvel film. Unlike Iron Man and Captain America the heroes aren’t exactly super recognizable or, indeed, super!

I’d be willing to bet you won’t be able to name any of the characters before seeing the film.

While previous Marvel films likely caused some sort of flashback to Saturday morning cartoons, GotG is the second cousin twice removed of the Marvel family.

Based on a niche series of comics set in space far, far away from the milky way (but still in the same ‘Avengers universe’) it follows a ragtag band of misfits, all galactic criminals with classic comic book names ranging from Drax the destroyer, to Starlord, to Groot – a giant walking and talking tree, voiced by Vin Diesel.

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The film follows these oddballs as they unite together, with great chemistry flowing between the cast. Bradley Cooper voices Rocket Raccoon, a bitter, scientifically enhanced Raccoon with hidden insecurities; Zoe Saldana (of Avatar fame) is Gamora, a green skinned assassin; Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, aka StarLord; and Lee Pace rounds out the cast as the villainous ‘Ronan the Accuser’.

A wide range of star power in the mix then, but it’s safe to say Chris Pratt is the main pull. He is superb as the film’s lead, providing wit and charm and brilliant comedic timing, likely gained from his sit-com days on Parks and Recreation. He perfectly encapsulates the film’s playful tone whilst still remaining heroic and someone to root for.

The amount of laughs the director, James Gunn, manages to get into the film is really pretty impressive. The comedic tone could easily shatter the sci-fi world the film is trying to create, and likewise the serious sci-fi moments could easily deflate any chance at humour, but Gunn manages to balance everything together to make something unique and fresh.

A fantastic soundtrack taken exclusively from the 70s and 80s helps all this along, with a stream of classic gems dusted off for the movie – they’ll be a warm reminder for some audiences and a fun unknown quirk to younger teen viewers. All the tracks are perfectly chosen and used to great effect, and again Gunn somehow works this into the story so it doesn’t spoil the legitimacy of the onscreen world.

The film isn’t perfect though. Again, as with most Marvel films, Ronan the Accuser is a bit of an empty villain. Pace does put menace and energy into his part and his booming voice certainly helps, but the character lacks a clear motivation other than wanting to destroy everything because… reasons. Also the film falls into the repeated marvel trap of massive city destruction as a finale but, to its credit, does pull out some quirks even in that to make it not as bad as other superhero movies. Ultimately though, these are all just relatively minor gripes. The film scores enough points to make it worth your time.

This is the 10th film in the Marvel universe but offers perhaps one of the few in the series that works as a stand-alone film, which no one saw coming. Sure, you’ll miss some references to the other films and won’t understand the significance of Thanos (the big purple alien) but if you shrug and just let it be a silly, SFX filled and most importantly, fun blockbuster it works. That’s thanks to Chris Pratt’s talent as a likeable lead, a solid script and an impeccable tone. The soundtrack really is pretty awesome too.

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