Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy

4

(Team of) A-Holes Assemble!

 

When it comes to taking risks, there’s arguably no ballsier studio than Marvel currently working in Hollywood. Yet while recovering addicts, Shakespearean directors and super-powered Norse Gods are all pretty sizeable blockbuster bets, their latest movie adventure makes those audacious gambles look positively sensible.

So what do you get when you mix a gun-toting raccoon, an alien tree warrior, a WWE wrestler, a ‘chubby comic relief’ sitcom star and a super-team obscure enough to give even the nerdiest of comic book fans pause for thought? As if that combination wasn’t perplexing enough, what happens when you then lay that surreal cinematic concoction in the creative hands of the man who wrote Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed and directed part of Movie 43? Bafflingly, the answer is a weird, wonderful and wildly surprising sci-fi that if not the year’s best blockbuster, could at least end up being 2014’s most fun.

While undoubtedly heralded as part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (and the penultimate movie in the studio’s Phase 2 schedule), Guardians Of The Galaxy is far from beholden to the ever-intermingling movies that came before it. After a short earth-bound prelude focusing on protagonist Peter Quill’s childhood tragedy, a subsequent alien abduction and time-jump 26 years in the future soon flings audiences to the farthest flung corners of the galaxy, and a world away from Super Soldiers or government agencies​ with preposterous acronym​s.

A now adult Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) goes by the name Star-Lord, and spends his days looting, thieving and rapscallion-ing his way around the galaxy. When a seemingly standard scavenge for a mysterious orb goes awry, he soon finds himself with a kaleidoscopically bizarre array of bad-asses on his tail. Not only is the orb housing a treasure of world-destroying power, but it’s a heist that’s placed Star-Lord as Public Enemy No.1 on the list of one of space’s biggest of Bads, the nefarious Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who sends right-hand assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to track Quill down.

Super-powered scuffles inevitably ensue, and it’s not long before Quill finds himself incarcerated in a high security prison, and a host of uneasy alliances alongside Gamora, an alien tree called Groot (Vin Diesel), a sarcastic hyper-aggressive genetically modified raccoon called Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and a vengeful maniac named Drax (Dave Bautista) whose sole mission is to avenge his murdered family.

While Avengers Assemble had the tricky task of weaving together three separate franchises into one coherent uber-team, at least audiences had been exposed to 490 minutes of set-up. James Gunn, who wrote and directed ​GOTG, was lumped with the unenviable challenge of assembling his gang of lovingly nicknamed ‘A-Holes’ whilst simultaneously furnishing them with depth enough to root for. A series of succinct albeit skimmed-over personal tragedies soon paint the Guardians as an eminently damaged team, and one worth cheering for as much individually as collectively.

Chris Pratt signals his ascension to the leading man big leagues with a performance as comedic as it is charismatic, while Zoe Saldana’s predictably solid as the team’s femme fatale, but it’s others who truly charm. Bradley Cooper steals the show as Rocket, delivering enough cynicism, emotional complexity and comic​-book cool to make a talking raccoon far more than the one note visual gag it could have been. Meanwhile, Dave Bautista surpasses his WWE and direct-to-video background with a performance as concerned with fragility as finger-breaking, and Vin Diesel’s nuanced readings of the same three words over and again (“I AM GROOT”) prove it was far from a simple stunt casting.

It’s a tone that pinballs wildly between heartfelt emotion and utterly mad sci-fi weirdness, and one near perfectly straddled in no short thanks to Gunn, whose creative fingerprints mark GOTG out as a blockbuster that’s always keen to surprise. The soundtrack is as brilliant as it is eclectic, the cinematography and design as dirty as it is pretty, while the through-current of subversive humour undercuts expectations at every turn, and propels the plot through its sporadic pacing problems. That Marvel actually sanctioned a phenomenally blue gag about a Jackson Pollock painting and some salubrious ejaculatory shenanigans into a mainstream sci-fi is not only insane, but it should be applauded.

Admittedly, with so many brand new characters, and an expansive cosmos to establish, there are a few things that get lost in the madcap mix. Some motivations are never truly explained (Ronan the Accuser’s mission statement is pretty much ‘Hit things with hammer, take over the world’), some characters are underserved (more of Karen Gillan’s sassy and psychotic Nebula, please), and some of the action feels rushed, but these are all things that can be tackled in the inevitable and now hugely anticipated sequel.

As indebted to Serenity as it is Star Wars and Avengers Assemble, GOTG reboots the space opera in the most surprising, entertaining and emotionally satisfying of ways. It’s your move, Episode VII.

Verdict:

Mad, marvellous and all kinds of sci-fi magical, Guardians Of The Galaxy is Marvel’s riskiest but most surprising success yet.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • CaptainCrazy

      Jul 24th 2014, 21:31

      Marvel must be super confident to allow screenings for review this early. I'm sold. I'm Burt Macklin you sonovab***h.

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    • YTWhitemanson

      Jul 25th 2014, 10:26

      Jackson Pollack? Really? It's p*****k, man, read wikipedia, don't just watch s****y marvel films.

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    • YTWhitemanson

      Jul 25th 2014, 10:27

      p*****k.

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    • YTWhitemanson

      Jul 25th 2014, 10:29

      PzzzOzzzLzzzLzzzOzzzCzzzKzzz is a forbidden word? s**t, I must be in some strange universe

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    • CaptainCrazy

      Jul 25th 2014, 13:07

      Bit too much caffeine in your coffee perhaps?

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    • SiMan

      Jul 25th 2014, 13:24

      Loved these books so looking forward to the film - are Marvel planning a wider Cosmic Universe though? Will we see a Nova spin-off? Star-Jammers?

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    • DAO999

      Jul 25th 2014, 18:19

      Can't wit!

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    • DravenCage

      Jul 26th 2014, 16:26

      @ YTWhitemanson - They're not watching sh*tty Marvel films as none of the MCU films have been sh*t. You might not like them, but if the only thing you can complain about is the spelling of an artist very few will have heard of, then you are either ridiculously petty or related to the man.

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    • matthewbrady

      Aug 3rd 2014, 0:11

      4

      Rocket Racc**n: "Oh... yeah". Okay this has to be Marvels funniest movie yet. The visuals effect's in the film looked amazing and the movie made me laugh a lot. Rocket Racc**n is the best character in this movie, he was so awesome and Bradley Cooper did a great job voice the bad-a*s racc**n, and the soundtrack in the movie was not only good but so amazing to listen. But they are some problems in the movie like the start I thought dragged a little bit and the villain in the movie I thought was weak just like Thor the dark world villain.

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    • Chufferstud

      Aug 6th 2014, 7:40

      3

      There may be spoilers in my review, so please stop reading if you don't want to know... This is either a brilliant 3 star movie or an average 4 star one. The humour was spot on with Rocket stealing all the good one liners. It had great action scenes, but they were very repetitive and after a while became boring, especially at Nowhere. The film suffered from very poor villains. Ronan was just so boring and was not menacing at all. Poor Karen Gillan was either given a rubbish script or her acting ability is not as great as Dr Who suggested. She mainly stomped around like a bored kid, but the studio must have been impressed as her story is left open for a return. I left feeling that I had seen a fun film and would like to watch again on DVD, it certainly didn't have me rushing to buy another ticket like The Avengers did. I'll end on a positive though! I thought Drax was the best character, as you don't expect Bautista to give that sort of performance. Like Groot at the end of the film, the seed has been sewn and I look forward to the sequel where we can do away with the introductions and enjoy a greater adventure. Oh and the music is spot on, actually gives the film great emotion! Maybe I'm being mean with 3 stars? Just an opinion of course.

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    • apo1978

      Aug 7th 2014, 10:45

      4

      Great fun, but no Avengers beater. Here's my review..... With the Avengers all nicely assembled, we generally know what to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe – or “MCU” as it’s known in GeekSpeak. Then they throw this at us. Take a pinch of Star Wars (the good bits), a dash of Serenity (the funny bits) mix-up and serve on a bed of crazy. This is definitely Marvel’s most riskiest move so far, as we follow a rag-tag group of space-scum across the galaxy, or “A-holes” as they’re referred to. With a Han Solo type rogue, a green alien woman, a tattooed muscle freak, a walking tree and a racc**n wielding a gun bigger than himself – it was hard to imagine how these would fit in the same universe as the Avengers. After the credits roll, it still is – but you won’t care as you’d have had too much fun!

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    • jaykays hat

      Aug 18th 2014, 12:41

      Best film of the year so far for me, good fun, good action, good special effects, good soundtrack and a good cast, can't ask for much more than that.

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    • stephen40

      Aug 26th 2014, 13:57

      5

      Yes it was a seriously massive risk to turn Marvels anti-hero brigade into a major motion picture event but sometimes risks can seriously pay off....and here`s a prime example of what happens when it does pay off. What James Gunn has come up with is not just the best marvel comic book adaptation so far but has also raised the bar for all comic book adaptations to come....plus lets face it....seeing Zoe Saldana playing a green skinned alien(and playing it with true panache)and watching Rocket and Groot taking on the bad guys is well worth it anyway. A huge sucess and a real masterpiece.Joss Whedon and his Avengers cast never saw this coming.

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