Posted July 24, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Guardians Of The Galaxy Review


Marvel’s tenth picture is the launch of almost an entirely new universe. Yes GOTG goes way out there into the universe, introduces five main characters and a colourful supporting cast (literally! there is a whole rainbow’s worth of skin tones in this movie).

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted from Earth in the 1980s as a young child. Years later he is a scavenger going by the not-so-well known name of Starlord. He happens upon a relic that some of the “biggest bads” in the Universe want to get their mitts on. Not least of these is Thanos (Glimpsed at the end of Avengers Assemble and seen in all his full glory here). But subordinate to him is the power hungry Ronan (Lee Pace) who serves as the main antagonist.

Into the mix comes a whole host of interested parties – which initially culminates in Quill being arrested alongside Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a tree called Groot (Vin Diesl) and a talking Racoon (Bradley Cooper). Once in the slammer they form an uneasy alliance with Drax (Dave Bautista), escape and set about selling their new found treasure only to discover the danger it represents to the universe.

Writer and director James Gunn may not have much room to manoeuvre his adult sensibilities here in the Marvel universe but what he has pulled off is nothing short of astonishing. This is perhaps one of the biggest casts in any Marvel movie – each with a name to boot. The expanse of the universe and the design involved is simply staggering to have to fit into a 2 hour movie. So we approach this film with no lack of awe on the director’s part. Gunn has come locked and loaded.

The main cast of five find a very easy chemistry and each character has their moments to shine. Quill is a very likable yet familiar rogue. Groot is the easiest to be fond of with his simple intonation (not to mention limited vocabulary). Rocket Racoon steals entire scenes with his Baby Herman-esque bad attitude to everything around him. As Drax, Bautista in places has trouble registering his voice to be heard, but some of his moments in the film are among the funniest and most bad ass. And Saldana seems to have found a role that allows her to be quick witted and physical in ways that she is limited from in her other Sci-fi franchise.

That’s just the main five. Look around at the rest of the cast and you’ll find nothing but joy from the likes of Josh Brolin (entering the fray as Thanos), Benicio Del Toro (in a cameo extending his appearance from The Dark World post credits scene), Glen Close as Nova Prime has a classy entrance and let’s not forget the magnificent Michael Rooker as Yondu (the guy responsible for Quills abduction).  To think that Rooker almost didn’t have the time to take the role is unthinkable. Being good buddies with the director has seen him well taken care of. He eats up the screen, has some terrific dialogue and one of the film’s most interesting weapons which you get to see the full effect of later in the film.

So with all the going right – why does the film feel like it’s just a cog in the wheel at times? We’re pretty sure that with the presence of infinity stones and Thanos that they are laying carpet for that march to come (Avengers 3 perhaps?). This is a fairly open and closed adventure in which the team are gathered. There certainly isn’t anything routine about this adventure. The comedy is born of the characters themselves (Not forced down your throat as in The Dark World). And yet Guardians lacks the daring that some of the other films brought. Captain America: The Winter Soldier elevated the game this year. Guardians seems content to just have fun playing games.

Lee Pace looks grand as the evil Ronan – but his character (much like that of Malekith in The Dark World) isn’t given enough screen time to be given a decent background. Instead he is given a routine bad guy introduction – killing someone random to show us he is bad, and then just pontificating and barking orders about getting hold of the object that he desires (Pace did similar and better work with less screen time in the second Hobbit film). He is also barely given any screen time to face off against our heroes dramatically. Despite the off punch he’s still a bit of a cipher.

As for the big guy himself, Thanos is deliberately being kept at a distance it feels, but it doesn’t help that when his position of power is threatened he literally does nothing about it.

In the end we get another sky-bound CGI mash-up between the forces of good and evil – culminating in our hero’s triumph; despite the obliteration of a large portion of a city. Collateral damage of the Star Trek Into Darkness/ Man Of Steel sort hasn’t gone out of fashion it seems.

In the end you get a character happy, very funny space adventure with plenty of bang for your buck. But where it will settle in time among the pre-exisitng movies is likely to show the film’s true colours. It will give the Thor Franchise a run for its money – but ultimately the sequel needs to delve deeper.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst