Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the big deal?
Guardians Of The Galaxy is a action space fantasy film released in 2014 and is the fourth film in the Phase Two of Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU), a single continuity that links each Marvel Studios production. Unlike the other MCU films so far, this is not based on the works of either Stan Lee (who still cameos) or illustrator Jack Kirby but a comic written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning. Set in deep space far from Earth, the film revolves around a loose band of mercenaries drawn into preventing a galactic catastrophe. It was a massive critical and commercial success and won praise for its humour, soundtrack, cast, direction and visual effects. It also alerted Marvel to the start of another potential franchise which prompted the release of a sequel in 2017.
What's it about?
Young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth in 1988 by space-faring pirate Yondu Udonta with only a Walkman and a tape of his late mother's favourite music. Fast forward twenty-six years and Peter now calls himself Starlord and acts as a petty thief for hire in a far-flung corner of the galaxy. After stealing a mysterious orb, he discovers that Korath - a Kree alien henchman of the villainous Ronan The Accuser - is after the orb for his master. Escaping with the orb, Peter learns that not only has Yondu put a price on his head but Ronan dispatches an assassin named Gamora after him as well.
Desperate to be rid of the orb, Peter travels to the planet Xander and tries to sell it but is ambushed by Gamora. The fight draws in a couple of strange bounty hunters - a giant walking tree called Groot and a genetically-engineered raccoon with a penchant for guns named Rocket. After all four of them are arrested, they encounter the mighty Drax who has a personal vendetta against Ronan. Soon, all of them realise that they need each other to prevent Ronan from acquiring the orb and wrecking havoc across the universe.
Personally, I'd watch the trailer below if I were you...
What's to like?
The inherent danger of releasing superhero films every six months or so is that inevitable, fatigue will set in and audiences will stay away. What Guardians Of The Galaxy does is smash apart any and all expectations one has about a Marvel film - it's genuinely hilarious, absolutely thrilling and has one of the best soundtracks heard outside of a Tarantino movie. It is a riot of fun from start to finish, offering a utterly bizarre adventure to viewers already used to seeing the incredible.
Combined with visual effects that surpass anything Marvel have ever done thus far, the film looks beautiful with vibrant colours even in deep space and helps maintain the somewhat trippy vibe. As for the cast, they are pitch perfect - Pratt is superb as Quill but Bautista is the biggest surprise in every sense. For a former wrestler, his performance in this film alone is better than anything seen by any other wrestler in movies and marks him out as someone to watch. But they are ably supported by Glenn Close and John C. Reilly, whose rapport with Peter Serafinowicz is brilliantly funny. It's rare to find a film that entertains as well as this film does - even die-hard Marvel fans will love the appearance of other characters (some of whom are extremely important going forward) while movie buffs like me will wonder if it really was Howard The Duck they saw in an MCU film! There really is something for everyone.
- Vin Diesel recorded his "I am Groot" line over 1000 times. He even recorded his lines in Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese, German and French for international releases.
- Bradley Cooper cites Joe Pesci's performance in Goodfellas as influencing his performance as Rocket.
- Stan Lee's cameo was originally going to be one of the Collector's exhibits, giving Groot the finger. Understandably, the executives at Disney made James Gunn change it.
What's not to like?
If you've absorbed everything MCU-related up to now then prepare for a shock. Guardians Of The Galaxy is completely different from anything else Marvel have done, almost as though they themselves were getting fed up of the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. The level of irreverence is shocking to viewers used to po-faced seriousness and characters we all know and love. Guardians Of The Galaxy is a lightning strike that nobody saw coming, filled with characters and worlds that are as alien to us as they seem to be to Quill.
Apart from a little more clarity from the script which felt like a couple of pages had been edited out at some point, I can't say too much more about the film. I love its unique humour, its strange and individual characters and the way it creates a believable universe by filling every bit of the screen with detail and light. Gunn has painted a glorious space-opera for everyone to enjoy and who would have a problem with that?
Should I watch it?
Even traditional Marvel fan-boys will get a kick out of this brilliant blast of imagination. Personally, this is second only to Avengers Assemble in the entire MCU so far and it's closer than Joss Whedon would care to admit. It's an absolute triumph!
Great For: people tired of the same-old shtick, Marvel die-hards, sci-fi fans
Not So Great For: lovers of traditional Marvel, people with short-term memory problems
What else should I watch?
As ridiculous a claim as it may seem, Star Wars is the only other movie I can think of which creates such a vivid picture of a galaxy far, far away and still entertains as well as it does. But Guardians Of The Galaxy is much funnier and less serious plus it has its wonderful soundtrack with the likes of the Jackson 5, David Bowie, 10CC and Rupert Holmes. Does that make it a better film, though? Hmmm...
In truth, only Avengers Assemble stands above this film in terms in sheer, unadulterated fun. The second Avengers film - Age Of Ultron- is more bloated and less fun than the original and neither of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or Hulk movies are this much fun. Possibly the worst of the bunch is the disappointing Ant-Man, primarily due to Paul Rudd's awkward performance and a lack of conviction in the character.
Peter Quill / Starlord
Drax The Destroyer
Ronan The Accuser
John C. Reilly
James Gunn & Nicole Perlman *
Release Date (UK)
31st July, 2014
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Academy Award Nominations
Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects
© 2015 Benjamin Cox