Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Glenn Close
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
In 1988, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth following the death of his mother. Re-introduced to us as an adult, Quill is referring to himself as Star-Lord and stealing relics for money. However when he comes into the possession of an orb desired by the fanatical, Ronan the Accuser, Quill finds himself inadvertently teaming up with a fellow group of misfits to save the galaxy.
What makes Guardians of the Galaxy work so well, is two things. Firstly, it has great characters, the prime examples of which being the duo of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, Rocket Raccoon is a violent character with a twisted sense of humour, who encapsulates the attitude this film has. Meanwhile Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) is a tree who only says the words, ‘I Am Groot’ with him representing the film’s simultaneous cuteness and general strangeness. With great voice-work by both actors, the two characters have become instant cult favourites, and in many ways the cinematic double-act of 2014.
However the team is lead by the now Hollywood action hero and star, Chris Pratt. As a big fan of Parks & Recreation, nothing has been more fulfilling in film this year, than seeing Chris Pratt become a household name. Fresh off voicing Emmet in the wonderful, The LEGO Movie, Chris Pratt here spearheads another one of 2014’s most critically and commercially successful films. As Quill, Pratt is a relatable and likable protagonist, who as the only human character of the team, grounds and carries the film. He brings both a sense of fun and pathos to the film, wonderfully working off his co-stars. Meanwhile Zoe Saldana continues to demonstrate what a force she is, from being bathed in blue in Avatar to bathed in green here, however much make-up you use to hide who she is, you cannot hide, or cover-up, her great performances.
And you cannot forget a certain Dave Bautista making his big screen debut as Drax the Destroyer. A beautifully literal, straight-faced, and brutal character, Bautista is hilarious as Drax, bringing a lovability to a character that could have easily been quite generic. Watching these five characters, and these five performers, interact is a joy to see and I could have easily watched an entire movie of them just bickering, and formulating and executing plans. The best parts of the film are their interactions; with the film’s peak being a prison break sequence, which brings them all working together for the first time.
Aside from the characters, the other standout element of Guardians of the Galaxy, is its soundtrack. Awesome Mix Vo. 1 is undoubtedly the soundtrack of the year and perhaps one of the best soundtracks of all time. It not only contains brilliant eighties classics, however these songs are wonderfully worked into the narrative with the soundtrack actually being a genuinely emotional plot point to the film. The soundtrack shot straight to the top of the albums chart on iTunes and it is one I have been listening to non-stop since seeing the film.
Meanwhile on a technical level as you’d expect from a production of this size, there is much to be commended. However most so in regards to the make-up which wonderfully transforms actors such as Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, and Zoe Saldana. It is this element of the film, which is truly Oscar worthy. What must also be commended is this film’s sheer confidence. Co-writer and director James Gunn throws you into this universe with such vigor and such uncompromising expectation. It reminded me of the original Star Wars and how you are thrown into this world with minimal exposition and forced to acclimate to and accept its conditions.
However this is not a film without its flaws. Other than the great characters and the great soundtrack, this film is very generic. Like all Marvel films the villain is rather forgettable and uninteresting, whilst the climax is one we have seen a million times before. Furthermore great actors such as Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Glenn Close seem rather wasted on ultimately inconsequential roles. With the story nothing to write home about at the end of the day. It’s all about the characters, and all about the soundtrack.
Ultimately Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun and satisfying film, which I very much enjoyed. However its story and its antagonist are rather generic and forgettable, whilst it does seem to waste and misuse certain members of its cast.