<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Pace, the voice of Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, Djimon Hounsou, John C Reilly, Glenn Close, the voice of Vin Diesel, Josh Brolin
The Marvel movie with unknown super heroes is here. This one was a shot in the dark for the studio that has banked on known comic book icons to rocket them to the top. But Guardians of the Galaxy may well turn out to be even more successful than The Avengers.
Originally written by Nicole Perlman with director James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy was part of Marvel’s screenwriting programme, which had writers developing ideas for the studio to consider for future films. Nicole chose the very unconventional and unknown Guardians of the Galaxy comics and their reboot to form a brand new set of characters and storyline. (Read more about that here: The Woman Behind “Guardians Of The Galaxy” On Writing An Unexpected Blockbuster via FastCompany.)
What the writer and director duo have come up with is a surprisingly refreshing science fiction film that sort of reminds us of the fun we had with sci-fi back in the days of E.T., Star Wars, Back to the Future, Space Balls, Mad Max, Flash Gordon and *batteries not included. The charm, wit and music with the unique aliens brought to life left us with some endearing memories. And while Guardians of the Galaxy may not be a classic at par with Star Wars or E.T. it is a film that gives us a glimpse of what we’ve been missing.
Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill or Star Lord as he likes to be called but often isn’t. In a scene so weird it sets the tone for the film, little Peter (Wyatt Oleff) says goodbye to his dying mother and runs out of the hospital crying only to be abducted and then ‘20 years later’ he’s on another planet listening to a song on his Sony Walkman cassette player and dancing along. Pratt makes it so cool that you fall for his character right there.
Peter, a Ravager, has been hired to steal an Orb, which he does. But very soon he realises that there’s something more to it considering super villain Thanos’s half-daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is after it under the instructions of the evil Kree Ronan (Lee Pace) who wants to use it to destroy the planet of Xandar, just because he doesn’t like them.
Of course the Infinity Stone is everyone’s object of desire but the band of bad good-guys realise that they must stop it from getting into the wrong hands and form an unlikely alliance that results in mayhem and hilarity of galactic proportions.
Across the board, Rocket the Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper and motion captured by Sean Gunn, the director’s brother who also performed the dialogue that apparently Bradley Cooper emulated for his line delivery since he liked it so much), is the film’s most likeable character. His sardonic wit and awesome ingenuity make this ‘risk’ one of the film’s biggest assets. Rocket is essentially the heart and soul of the film displaying a lot more emotional depth than the orphaned and abducted beef cake Peter Quill who is the film’s comedian and charmer.
Zoe Saldana is wonderful in the Star Trek films but as Gamora her beauty seems to have been dulled and her character is not as nuanced. The same for Drax (David Bautista) who is funny but not as convincing as the guy who wants revenge for his family’s murder at the hands of Ronan.
Then there’s the mystical Groot – half tree and half man – whose only dialogue in the film is “I am Groot” and one more line. Why the filmmakers needed Vin Diesel to voice him isn’t very evident since you can’t even make out it is the Fast & Furious actor. Maybe it’s a gimmick.
Thanos – who was revealed in The Avengers movie bonus end credit scene – doesn’t have much to do nor are his future plans revealed.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn apparently wrote the soundtrack into the script (read this interesting article 10 fun facts you didn’t know about ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’). And it’s quite a nifty one since it uses old 70s hits like ‘Hooked on a feeling’. That with the decidedly 80s style of some of the set pieces and characters gives us a good dose of nostalgia. Less focus on extraneous CGI explosions and more interesting characters, dialogue and set pieces like the giant skull floating in spice and mined for its ‘brain matter’!
Sci-fi favourite Nathan Fillion cameos but you’ll have to spot him.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun film that really doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s what’s likeable about it. The makers have pushed the envelop, borrowed a bit of what worked on the new Star Trek films in terms of technique and decided that they wouldn’t just do what they did in previous Avenger films. This is also evident in the bonus end credit scene that doesn’t give you any hint to future films or plot lines but just has a little bit of fun.