Guardians of the Galaxy Review
With Blade, Spiderman, X-Men, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil (unfortunately), The Punisher, Ghost Rider, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and even bloody Ghost Rider from Marvel’s extensive back catalogue of comics all reimagined as films you’d think there weren’t any new characters left to blast on to the silver screen in a hail of explosions and implausible escapades. Luckily, just when you thought we’d be stuck with Iron Man XVIII or X-Men: The Day Before Yesterday for the foreseeable future Marvel unearthed a new intergalactic technique of sucking millions out of the economy; the little known Guardians of The Galaxy.
It may sound new, intriguing and a breath of fresh air in the stifling aura of the Marvel luminaries, and while the motley crew who compile the Guardians of The Galaxy are a likeable group of oddballs, the overall picture is enervated by the tired and predictable Blockbuster formula that seeps into a majority of Marvel’s produce.
The latest action hero in Marvel’s arsenal of handsome leads is the familiar looking but largely unknown Chris Pratt who’s taken one giant leap for mankind to play ringleader Peter Quill, or as he wants to be known, Starlord. After being mysteriously abducted from earth by an alien spaceship as a child, bizarrely only minutes after his mother dies of cancer, Quill has grown up to make a living as a scavenger in a galaxy inhabited by a plethora of freakish and fantastic extra-terrestrials. Cocksure lad Quill’s latest conquest is a mysterious orb, while he believes it to be solely worth a pretty penny, it’s much more valuable than he realises as half the galaxy pursues its mysterious powers.
The race for the infamous orb becomes increasingly convoluted when a tyrannical Kree (a race of blue blokes) named Ronan sets his sights on it to cause mass genocide. With the stakes raised, Quill is forced into an uneasy alliance of convenience with bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), the former a talking racoon and the latter a dopey tree person straight out of Lord of the Rings, hulking prisoner Drax (Dave Bautista) and glamorous assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana).
Like the starship Enterprise and Millennium Falcon before it, Guardians of The Galaxy assembles a team of loveable rouges each brining their own unique charm to the party- Quill channels Han Solo while Groot of few words echoes a vegetative Chewbacca. Star Wars’ influence runs deep in Guardians of The Galaxy; the aforementioned similarities are compounded by Ronan’s Sith imitation and the general space age setting that unquestionably owes a great deal to George Lucas’ all-encompassing vision for a sci-fi; narrative, planets, races and fictional histories included.
In an attempt to differ itself from obvious comparisons with Star Wars and its contemporary marvel efforts director James Gunn veers away the stern self-importance that has gripped superhero films and Blockbusters since Nolan’s Batman by taking a light-hearted, witty and modern approach to the narrative. Pratt’s Quill exemplifies this vision with references to one night stands, witty one liners and a treasured old tape of retro hits from 10CC, Marvin Gaye and David Bowie amongst others. Quill may be new age Han Solo but he’s often a lot less funny than he, or his scriptwriter, thinks, it’s that try hard brand of humorous banter that impresses prepubescent teenagers, back when saying fuck, shit or bollocks was actually considered risqué. In contrast to Quill’s unconvincing laughs are the supporting players who give a better account of themselves; the literal thinking Drax and banter between dynamic duo Groot and Rocket make for laughs with natural charm, even surpassing the comic genius of John C Riley who’s surprisingly restrained throughout.
In the same vein as Quill’s character, the terribly named ‘Awesome Playlist’ that he wields survives as a double edged coup for the film. The reassuringly earthly tunes anchor the film back in a time to galaxy we all know but at the same time the blasting of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ to unite the group in times of turmoil is seriously corny and undermines its merits.
Guardians of The Galaxy provides its most freewheeling enjoyment and when it romps through action sequences with a fusillade of bullets, laughs and carnage. With Blockbusters of this mould frenzied battles are expected to be joyous spectacles and they don’t disappoint here, the distinctive traits of the guardians mean they’ve got plenty of options to vary the excitement, and who doesn’t enjoy a racoon wielding a rocket launcher?
The plot itself is a predictable and trite journey, but that’s to be expected of your family summer Blockbuster making it hard to hold against it the film. Plot aside, Guardians of The Galaxy prides itself on its light hearted tone and jovial atmosphere, this Joie de vivre infectiously runs through our heroes meaning despite the naff lines and corny sentiments you can’t help but smile at the ludicrous fun of it all.
Like pitting Bruce Lee against the village drunk, to rate Guardians of The Galaxy against the greats of cinema would be a pointless exercise in battery, the film isn’t meant to be taken as cinematic purity but as a neutral, enjoyable romp through space with a bunch of wise cracking misfits and to that it succeeds. There’s little doubting the polish, execution and financial clout of Marvel’s prolific output, nevertheless there is a tiresome huff that comes with seeing their high octane brand of entertainment repeated endlessly with a different spandex clad saviour.
Ultimately a Guardians of The Galaxy is superficially different from its Blockbuster cousins, yet after being bombarded by the same stock plots, characters and action we’re driven to accept this mundane vision for contemporary mainstream cinema and thus agree to all the repetitive issues maligning the film to be the norm. After all what’s the point in dismantling a film we know defies the history of what is considered as great cinema- challenging, polarising, provocative, different- as every week it would be another verbal slaughtering of Blockbusters, a rather futile exercise, so let’s accept Guardians of The Galaxy for what it is, an entertaining Blockbuster effort that’s one of the better offerings in recent years due to its universe spanning appeal and refreshing cast, for his faults Pratt exudes the swagger to be a leading man.
Just as Guardians of The Galaxy restored some faith in Marvel they announce a sequel before the credits have even begun to roll, we’ll see if its originality holds up by film five in the series.
7/10- A Marvel Novelty…For Now