Movie Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Marvel’s epic cinematic universe continues with the most obscure movie thus far in their line up of feature films. Consisting of a rag tag group of wild cards, these characters have now gone on to become a team that may very well rival The Avengers themselves, both in terms of the scale of their story, and in critical success. Here is my Movie Review of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY…
Blank Page Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Awesome Mixes
An underdog in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Guardians are by no means recognizable, even to comic book audiences. They are an obscure group of anti-heroes, gallivanting in space, whilst bickering constantly with each other. This formula, previously used with success in the fan favorite FIREFLY TV Series, (created by AVENGERS: AGE OF ULRON director Joss Whedon) works immensely well in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. The film is about these individual characters, finding a cause greater than themselves and coming together to stand for it. Despite this summary, the film is quite aware of its formulaic approach to a conventional ‘team up’ movie, and does everything it can to stay away from the clichés.
The story spends very little time on Earth, except to set up the backstory of the main character Peter Quill. A human abducted from Earth following a personal tragedy, grows up with a group of alien scavengers, to become Star-Lord, a fast talking, slick rogue for hire outlaw type, resembling very close to the ethical standards of other classical anti-heroes like Han Solo. There are many throwbacks such as these to established genres and character archetypes seen before, such as the amazing soundtrack that heralds 80’s music and pump ups the volume during hyper real action sequences, while enhancing both dramatic and comedic scenes that much more effectively. Very few films have a soundtrack that, instead of blending in with the on-screen imagery, blatantly calls attention to itself and stands out as being a character itself, complete with a sub plot of its own.
Whilst on a job to find an artifact, Star-Lord becomes embroiled in a hot mess of galactic proportions with everyone trying to get back what he stol– err, retrieved. After being imprisoned in a maximum security space prison with 3 unlikely acquaintances, and making another on the way, Star-Lord allies himself with them, seeing that they all have a similar destination and their own varying motivations. Along the way, there is hilarity, bonding, limb stealing pranks and very literal miscommunications… while trying to save the Universe from being destroyed by a dedicated mad man.
Director James Gunn is completely aware that a film with a, thus far, comic actor, a CGI Raccoon and Tree and a popular Wrestler as its main cast would be initially received with skewed perceptions and raised eyebrows. He decides to play to this reaction by having the characters be so completely off the wall, and situations that seem so out of place in a big budget Marvel Studio film, that it disarms any misgivings or apprehension one may have had about the movie or characters going into it. Despite the formulaic team up concept, the same clichéd pitfalls are avoided, and almost called out in the film by the characters themselves when things are about to get emotionally cheesy or deep. Characters point out scenes where long monologues bring them together, and provide comic breaks during potentially romantic sequences. All of this is done, while still not taking away from the genuine dramatic tension that is created by a looming antagonist, a more mysteriously ominous villain in the background and emotional outbursts from the lead characters that act as great character development.
The cast can be considered as much misfits as the characters themselves. Bradley Cooper lends his voice to Rocket who is a bounty hunting Raccoon-hybrid. His hunting partner is an oversized tree known simply as Groot, while Vin Diesel provides the one line sentence that the creature utters with more emotional range than some actors can manage with a live performance. Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, a trained assassin, spurning her masters and wishing to start a new life. Zoe Saldena’s performance of deadly yet fragile breaks the mold of the typical sexy assassin stereotype. While Drax The Destroyer, played pretty well by Wrestler David Bautista, is out for revenge, on Gamora’s masters, for murdering his entire family. Despite expecting cheesy wooden one-liners, Bautista displays a bit more versatile range, although credit must be given to the writers for writing in any possible acting shortcomings into the portrayal of the character itself. Various reasons. Emotionally unhinged individuals. One great team.
The most surprising element of the film has to be its storyline revolving around something that, until now, has only been minutely referenced, teased and shown only as Easter eggs throughout al the previous Marvel films. While the biggest of these teases culminated in the post credit scenes at the end of THE AVENGERS (My Review here) with a certain individual sneering into the camera, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY directly involves this villain in this story, and sets the stage for what will most likely be the focus of the conflict in future Marvel films. Thought to be a space-romp, GOTG ends up almost becoming a lynchpin pushing the grander Marvel Cinematic Universe forward through the adaptation of iconic comic book story lines and inclusion of legendary comic book characters, which may be limited to the scope of this film, or expand further into the Cinematic Universe. If the post credits scene of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (My Review here) usher in the era of wonder, then GOTG effectively sets up a whole other separate universe for Marvel to explore cinematically.
Despite not having a 5 solo movie build up to each of the characters, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is still able to effectively and satisfyingly include great character development for each of the characters, without being out of place or forced. While still keeping many of the characters origins vague enough to be developed upon through further sequels. While the ending and certain future set-ups were a little abrupt, over all GOTG is the first Marvel film since it’s inception that can stand on its own, introducing us to new worlds, stories and characters that go beyond the existing Cinematic Universe.