Review – Guardians Of The Galaxy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe lives up to its name in this star-spanning space opera that puts the fun back into a genre that had disappeared up its black hole.

A genuine pleasure, Guardians Of The Galaxy should give JJ Abrams something to think about for the next installment of  that other well known space opera

A genuine pleasure, Guardians Of The Galaxy should give JJ Abrams something to think about for the next installment of that other well-known space opera

The fact that Guardians Of The Galaxy is drawing so many comparisons to Star Wars is not only a testament to the high esteem it’s being held in by so many critics, but also to the fact that it’s so refreshing to watch a film of this ilk that resolutely refuses to take itself too seriously.

Too often, sci-fi filmmakers get bogged down in blindsiding their audience with Midi-chlorians, flibbertigibbets and unnecessary solemnity at the expense of an intriguing narrative and engaging characters. Although Guardians… isn’t averse to a spot of Basil Exposition (understandable considering it’s the first in what will undoubtedly become another Marvel franchise), it does so with a light and breezy air that avoids spoon-feeding the audience.

The A Team - Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

The A Team – Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

Abducted from Earth as a young boy following the death of his mother, intergalactic thief Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, (Chris Pratt) incurs the wrath of the super-evil Ronan (Lee Pace) when he steals a mysterious orb. With Ronan’s henchmen, and women, hot on the trail of the orb, including his lieutenant Nebula (Karen Gillan), Peter forms an uneasy accord with assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically engineered racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the tree-like Groot (Vin Diesel) and warrior Drax the Destroyer (WWE star Dave Bautista).

When the extent of the orb’s power becomes clear, and Ronan’s diabolical plan reveals itself, Peter must turn his ragtag associates into a full-on fighting force to save the galaxy from destruction.

The heroic Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

The heroic Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

Marvel’s policy of trusting its multi-million dollar products to leftfield directors (Edgar Wright’s departure from 2015’s Ant Man notwithstanding) once again pays off. The edgy comic touch of James Gunn’s previous flicks Slither (2006) and Super (2010) is a perfect fit for Guardians‘ tongue-in-cheek sensibility.

The film takes great pleasure in sending up the clichés of the genre, such as the team’s slow motion walk towards the camera in which Gamora can be seen yawning. Gunn and Nicole Perlman’s meta script goes off on tangents, some funny, others less so, and concentrates on the relationships between the lead characters. This is a bunch of misfits we can believe in and the bond they gradually form is convincingly handled by the cast.

The evil Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and his loyal lieutenant Nebula (Karen Gillan) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

The evil Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and his loyal lieutenant Nebula (Karen Gillan) in Guardians Of The Galaxy

One of the more successful elements of Guardians… is its soundtrack of 70s and 80s classics, ingeniously crowbarred into the film as they form part of Peter’s beloved mix tape from his mother. Setting aside the fact that his Walkman wouldn’t probably survive 26 years and that AA batteries would likely be a little hard to come by in outer space, the music serves as a reminder that Peter, like Buck Rogers and John Carter, is a human in an alien environment and our way into this universe.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) learns more about the mysterious orb in Guardians Of The Galaxy

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) learns more about the mysterious orb in Guardians Of The Galaxy

Despite trying a bit too hard at times to be Han Solo’s slightly less cool brother, Pratt is a good fit for Peter and proves a likeable lead. Saldana may look like a character from Star Trek, but she kicks ass and is proving a formidable presence in the world of big budget sci-fi, what with the Trek and Avatar franchises already in place. Cooper’s energetic, fast-talking voice work for Rocket is nicely played, while Diesel manages to give a new meaning to each new utterance of his singular phrase “I am Groot” and even non-actor Bautista does some solid work as meathead Drax.

Elsewhere, Gillan is impressively alien as Nebula, while Gunn makes sure to give his other supporting cast members something to do, especially Michael Rooker’s blue-skinned alien Yondu and John C Reilly’s corpsman Rhomann Dey.

A genuine pleasure, Guardians Of The Galaxy should give JJ Abrams something to think about for the next installment of  that other well-known space opera.

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15 comments

  1. HSLR · August 8, 2014

    I like it a lot. It was less serious, and more “relaxed” than other Marvel movies. It seemed like a completely different comic universe, where things like the destruction of planets are taken in a comedic form..lol

    • Three Rows Back · August 9, 2014

      It’s just refreshing to have a comic book movie that isn’t too bothered about being too serious. You don’t realise how much you’ve missed that until you finally catch up with something like Guardians. Thank for the feedback.

  2. Robert · August 8, 2014

    Good review. Glad you enjoyed its irreverent nature but still paying its respect to the space operas/superhero movies of past in its own special way.

    • Three Rows Back · August 9, 2014

      Cheers Robert. I think ‘irreverent’ is about as good a word to describe GOTG as you could get.

  3. mikeyb @ screenkicker · August 8, 2014

    OK i’ll go and see it!!!

  4. CMrok93 · August 9, 2014

    It’s a great time at the movies and probably the last actual blockbuster of the summer. Good review.

    • Three Rows Back · August 9, 2014

      Yeah, I can’t think of anything else that’ll compete until Christmas arrives. Cheers Dan.

  5. ruth · August 10, 2014

    Glad you enjoyed this, Mark! I thought it was a great frivolous fun w/ a fantastic retro soundtrack! But I won’t call this a masterpiece by any means.

    • Three Rows Back · August 13, 2014

      Yeah, masterpiece isn’t a word I’d use but it’s certainly a laugh.

  6. Consumed by Film · August 11, 2014

    Great review man. I loved this. Really bought into the dynamic between the five guardians and found myself chuckling a heck of a lot. Such a breath of fresh air and, potentially, a sci-fi classic!

    Adam.

    • Three Rows Back · August 13, 2014

      It’s a laugh; far better than I thought it would be. Which is always a nice surprise! Cheers bud.

  7. Young British Female · August 14, 2014

    Great review. I really want to see this film!

  8. Tim The Film Guy · August 29, 2014

    Sorry for the late comment. I forgot to do the review and I have bookmark folder with all the reviews in.

    Anyway great review. I Loved the film. Great music and very funny 😀

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