UK Release: July 31st 2014
One of the most refreshing film in this whole superhero films genre is Marvel Studios ‘THE GUARDIAN’S OF THE GALAXY’ which is essentially Marvel’s monopoly, their gamble based on a little know comic book of the same name. Lead by Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, an actor who probably best known of being in comedies and TV like ‘Park and Restoration’, along with Zoe Saldana (who after ‘Avatar’, is used to the alien skin colour and more so was never the big actress I was expecting to come out from that) as assassin Gamora, former wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer and talking CG characters of Rocket Racoon (voiced perfectly by Bradley Cooper) and a talking tree, Groot (Vin Diesel) make up what is essentially a big budget B-movie, and intern continues Marvel’s attempt at doing different, and diverse film they produce every time.
Written and directed by ex-Troma man James Gunn (‘Slither’ and ‘Super’*), it still gets me why he was given a property by Marvel to adapt. What you do get though is a identity which Jon Favreau brought to ‘Iron Man’ way back in the summer of 2008, which at the time made that guy everyone favourite superhero. From the opening you can tell Gunn has been brought up on Spielberg of the 80’s and very much the original ‘Star Wars’ films as well. You have this sequence opening the film which when the credits come up reminding you that it is a Marvel film, you could have mistake this to have a ‘Amblin’ logo go up instead. With a ‘Raider of the Lost Ark’ homage with a orb (classic MacGuffin) coming out of a ancient alien tomb, which in turn gets mensioned, its clear Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is very much, Gunn idea of a pop cultured hero. You also have fighter pilots which would look the part in ‘Star Wars’ as well.
The characters themselves are easy to identify with. You understand each characters personal traits, and its clear that Gunn has a understanding of these ‘’Heroes’’ as well. I use the term ‘’Heroes’’ but they are more outlaws then anything. It’s hard to find who your favourite hero is here, a lot would go with (if yet very Disney like) Groot (Vin Diesel surprising making a lot of expression out of just saying three words of ‘’I Am Groot’’). My personal favourite is Dave Bautista’s Drax, Going into this film the internet were very much unsure how some with his background as a WWE wrestler and little acting experience would be able to carry off the role, however what you get is the film’s most pleasant surprise. What Bautista is able to perform here is comedy which is very hard to do, comedy where it doesn’t understand the ‘’figures’’ of speech, and taking things literally is a very hard thing to do, let alone write. But on a larger scale the natural interaction between the five is very impressive indeed. I also like how the humour doesn’t take away from the danger, and also the fact it is very self-aware (Rocket is constantly rearranging his crotch, when they dress in their costumes).
There is issue’s aside, while he does come off as a threat, Lee Pace’s Roman the Accuser are more or less cannon fodder, scapegoats for the heroes. Karen Gillian is also in there, however I suspecting she might be around in due course. And the usual Marvel third-act where something blows up and lands to the ground has been done so many times before in these films. The film is very world-building, connection to existing films do exist, the (now voiced by Josh Brolin), Thanos does appear, and the whole gems angle is something which is continued on from ‘Thor: The Dark World’. Some people might get a little lost with the places they move around to in the galaxy, however for new audiences you don’t need to see the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to understand what is going on here. I wouldn’t be surprised they teamed these guys up with the Avengers going forward into some sequel.
On a whole, I don’t think I’ve witnessed a summer blockbuster in the shape of a B-movie space opera before. And who would have a thought a film with a talking racoon and a talking tree would become potentially Marvel Studios best. And this isn’t because of its ‘Awesome’ soundtrack……….
*Forget the ‘Movie 43’ sequence he directed. Also Troma head Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo.