Supermassive black a-holes
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00IXGU7XI][/pullquote] When Guardians of the Galaxy was announced on the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe slate, everyone except the most hardcore of comic book fans had to jump on the internet to find out just who they were. Based on a little known series of the same name, this transition from Earth-bound stories out into the wider galaxy was seen as the biggest gamble the fledgling studio had taken since turning Iron Man into an A-List superhero. The gamble paid off.
Having been abducted from Earth as a child following the death of his mother, ˜Star Lord’ Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself imprisoned following the theft of an ancient artefact. Alongside him are assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who was sent to kill him and mercenaries Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Together and with the help of Drax the destroyer (Dave Bautista) they hatch a plan to escape, which leads them on an inter-galactic adventure that puts them in the sights of megalomaniac Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and the Nova Corps police force.
From one of the earliest scenes, which is clearly inspired by Indiana Jones, Marvel and director James Gunn leave you in no doubt that Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be a fun-filled rollercoaster of a space opera epic. With a known TV comedian Chris Pratt in the leading role, his dance routine to Redbone’s ˜Come and Get Your Love’ sets the tone for the rest of this rip-roaring space adventure.
The rest of the soundtrack is equally as retro, with all of them coming from Star Lord’s cassette, aptly titled Awesome Mix Volume 1. This is isn’t the only ˜awesome mix’ in the film either, as the combination of anti-heroes who form the Guardians each bring their own elements of outrageous bad behaviour and laugh-inducing actions.
We are introduced to the Guardians properly in an extended prison escape scene where each of their quirky character attitudes comes into play. As with most things in the film it is as funny as it is exciting and with the deft interplay handled with aplomb by director Gunn you find yourself fully immersed in the bonkers galactic prison and subsequent space landscapes including a Mos Eisley-a-like drinking hole situated in a huge floating head.
Of all the Guardians the obvious standouts are loveable giant tree Groot and his foul-mouthed, alcoholic genetically-engineered Raccoon sidekick Rocket. Arguably the two biggest named stars voice these creations with Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper doing wonders with the material. But the standout performer here is actually former professional wrestler Dave Bautista, whose inability to understand sarcasm or turns of phrase provide endless comic moments.
The world, or in fact galaxy that Gunn creates is teeming with life and interest. We get to see The Collector (Benecio Del Toro) once again following his cameo at the end of Thor: The Dark World whose collection is overloaded with hints and nods to other Marvel characters and stories. We also finally see Thanos (Josh Brolin) in all his glory. Strangely his reveal in something of a disappointment as the CGI appears cheap and rushed.
Then there’s the common Marvel Cinematic Universe problems. Namely an underdeveloped villain and a formulaic finale. The two are inexplicably linked, with Lee Pace’s performance as Ronan the Accuser a fair attempt at maniacal bad guy, but with so much time spent with the heroes there’s little to understand about him. Then there’s the criminally underused Nebula (Karen Gillan) who threatens to steal every scene she’s in before being cut-short of a true standout performance. These elements combine in a disappointing finale where Marvel once again insist on something big crashing into a planet, while deaths of major characters are teased but never followed through on.
While this doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount of fun to be had watching Guardians of the Galaxy, they have used and abused those tropes to the point of clichÃ© now, and it is going to seriously affect future films if they keep it up. Fortunately we only ever remain a few minutes away from a quippy one-liner that brings enough laughs to distract from these problems.
James Gunn really has created something special with Guardians of the Galaxy. Taking everything that was popular about the original Star Wars films, adding extra humour and setting it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has meant he was managed what seemed impossible when it was announced. He’s created another must-see sub-franchise for Marvel that elevates the lesser known comic book characters into the realms of the A-list and shows that sometimes it’s worth a gamble.