Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautisia, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace
Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, (based on the comic book) Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Running Time: 121 mins
Release date: 31st July 2014
Marvel’s newest entry in the blockbuster stakes, Guardians Of The Galaxy, could have gone either way. It could have been a shambolic mess or the biggest fun you’d have in a cinema for ages. By the reaction of the packed press screening at the Odeon Leicester Square, any film that receives not one but two ovations just proves that not only is this one of the most entertaining films this year but the best thing Marvel have produced so far.
Peter Quill, on the night of his mother’s death, was stolen by space pirate, Yondu Udonta, when he was a boy. 20 years later, Quill, now known as Starlord, is a bandit and thief who desperately wants a reputation. He has been hired to steal an orb, not knowing that inside this object is a power source that, once handled, makes the holder a super force. Out to retrieve it is Gamora, a female assassin working for Ronan, a man bent on ruling the universe. Into the mix comes a genetically modified raccoon called Rocket and his bodyguard, a giant tree named Groot and a big bruising psychopath, Dax, seeking revenge for the death of his family. Somehow, the five of them are the only ones to save the universe from Ronan.
It would have been so easy for director and co-writer James Gunn, who made the incredibly underrated, Slither, to just produce another Marvel superhero film. Guardians Of The Galaxy, however, are not your average superhero comic. In fact, they are not super and sometimes they are hardly heroes either, so it was important for Gunn to get the tone right. Thank goodness he does.
Starting off with a bit of a misstep for the right reasons, the introduction to Peter is spot-on. A surprisingly touching scene that has the young boy waiting to see his dying mother in a hospital, while he plays his 10cc’s I’m Not In Love on his beloved Walkman. The film shifts up a gear once we move forward 20 odd years and we get to meet Peter as a man, stealing the orb. Then the tone for the rest of the film is set. This is going to be an entertaining roller coaster ride.
It is relentlessly funny. In fact, I would put my neck out to say this is the comedy of the year. But wait, i hear you cry. It’s a Marvel film! Yes, it is and there are still minor elements from that universe popping up here and there but Gunn has given us a treat on a tray. The humour runs through the whole film, stemming from the beautifully defined characters who bicker and banter throughout as they try to get along.
Their exploits around the galaxy are brimming with jaw-dropping special effects, including a battle scene very reminiscent to Star Wars. The effects don’t get in the way of the film, instead they enhance the story, as wafer thin as it is. Normally story would be important but here, you are having so much fun, you tend to forget there is one. What also makes this so much fun is the soundtrack. Based around Peter Quill’s Walkman tape, made by his mother, the film is brimming with songs that balance the line between cheese and classic and even manages to make Rupert Holmes’ The Pina Colada Song cool again.
The cast is terrific. Chris Pratt, known for role as the hapless Andy in Parks And Recreations, has made the jump from TV to film star with ease. Having bulked out, he still has that dorkish charm that he created for the comedy series. We know he can handle comedy but he’s just as effective with the action scenes. Zoe Saldana has proved herself handy with a gun and a kick or two and she gets plenty of opportunity to show off her skills once more as the assassin, Gamora. Even painted green, she still looks hotter than hot. WWE wrestler Dave Bautisia is perfect as the hulking brute, Dax, who doesn’t understand irony or sarcasm and takes everything literally.
To get Rocket Raccoon right, the film needed a voice that was slightly tough yet slightly street-wise and so they turned to Bradley Cooper and he does an excellent job, with the right amount of bite to each line, his banter with Quill brings out some hilarious quips. For me, however, the star turn comes from Vin Diesel as Groot. Wait, did I just say Vin Diesel? Yep, in his best performance to date, Mr Diesel voices the giant tree like creature and has created a character everyone will fall in love with, all with one single line…I am Groot!
If there are downsides, the villain, Ronan, played by Lee Pace, isn’t villainous enough and doesn’t rank up there with the best bad guys, although Karen Gillan, completely unrecognizable as cyborg Nebula, is very impressive but not given enough screen time. The dialogue at some points are mumbled by the cast that you sometimes miss what they are saying. These are very picky points to say the least.
Guardians Of The Galaxy is the cinematic equivalent of a good party because it is one massive party. Everything seems right in the universe and when critics clap, you know you’ve hit the perfect note. This is one of those films that will demand repeat viewings and will probably go down as a cult classic.This is what cinema should be all about. Having a great time and I certainly had that. The most fun you can have with your clothes on.