I’m going to have to take a break for my amazingly slow re-watching of Doctor Who, as today I saw a film I’ve been waiting for for quite some time, and so I now have the chance to practice my review writing.
-MILD SPOILERS AHEAD-
A Marvel Studios Film, Directed by James Gunn
Released: 21st July 2014
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro
Review: Sitting down to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, I prepared myself for what could have well been the best Marvel film yet. The film was easily the biggest risk the studio has taken so far, and also the biggest detour from their usual super-hero movies.
In that sense, Guardians is an interesting piece of cinematography; it was funny, entertaining, and didn’t conform to the usual stereotypes like many films seem to do. However, regardless of what others say, Marvel’s best movie yet, this was not.
Let’s start with the storyline.
The film follows the human Peter Jason Quill, abducted at a young age, as he travels through the galaxy as a ‘Ravager’, a band of thieves lead by Michael Rooker’s Yondu. In his escapades as the ‘legendary’ Star-Lord, Quill comes into contact with the assassin Gamora, the vengeful madman Drax and the bounty-hunters Rocket and Groot. After getting past their initial difficulties, the group take a stand against the evil Ronan who seeks to wipe out all life on the planet Xandar with the use of one of the coveted Infinity Stones.
The story is fun and interesting enough, and does a good job of tying together various strands left out by other Marvel movies. The Infinity Stones are finally explained in more detail, and their actual design stays somewhat faithful to their comic-book counterparts, something which pleased a nerdy comic-fan such as myself.
However, the coherency of the story is not quite as clear as the explanations. Although I was never at a loss as to what was going on, a lot of the film felt like it was jumping around just a bit too quickly. There was a lot going on, and most of it had been slapped together rather messily. The individual scene were great, but I found the final product to be wanting.
The dialogue is another problem that I had with the film. Although for the most part, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket present amusing lines with flawless delivery, Saldana’s Gamora and Bautista’s Drax sometimes come off as a bit awkward in their speech. On one hand, I feel like this is intentional, as much of it is used to comedic effect, presenting confusion surrounding the aliens’ misunderstanding of Earth sayings. But some times, it just doesn’t work, and the actor’s come off seeming like they just aren’t putting in 100%.
I like to think Bautista can be forgiven, being a wrestler by profession, but it still doesn’t make up for a lot of things. Another example is the otherwise perfect Rocket Raccoon, who at one point rages about how the other characters have pushed him to ‘weed’ some grass. It comes out not making sense or being particularly funny, and is telling of how the script could have been looked over a couple more times.
But those are just a minor quibbles in what ends up to be a mostly great film.
The casting is phenomenal; despite Bautista’s aforementioned awkward delivery at times, his character of Drax is such that he doesn’t need an A-List actor portraying him. Rocket Raccoon and Groot instantaneously become easily two of the best characters in the film; the voices are spot on, and their CGI depiction is both fascinating and hilarious.
Likewise, the more human characters such as Pratt’s Peter Quill and Reilly’s Rhomann Dey are equally fun to watch. Pratt never misses an opportunity to tickle the audience’s funny bone, and the bigger actor’s like Reilly feel comfortable in the film, despite their odd casting as action-hero-galaxy-protectors.
My favourite thing about the film however (MORE SPOILERS), is its attention to comic book detail. The prison scene identifying each of the main characters is filled with comic-facts, such as Gamora’s status as Thanos’ adoptive daughter, Rocket’s origin and home-planet, and a shoutout to Groot’s original appearance in which he hailed from Planet X. Meanwhile, Thanos’ first speaking appearance is something worth waiting for, as Josh Brolin’s voice acting easily fits into the Mad Titan’s imposing figure. Likewise, other subtler hints are thrown in, such as when the Collector alludes to Groot’s status as some sort of royalty, or when Cosmo the Dog is found in the Collector’s museum.
However, the biggest and most obscure bit of comic book mythology to be thrown in is the post-credits Howard the Duck cameo. Honestly, it’s not worth waiting around for. At all. But it’s interesting to see such a thing being brought into the Marvel Universe.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy hits the nail on the head for being funny, entertaining, and for the most part, decently acted. It draws heavily from the comics like all the best Marvel movies, and remains probably one of the weirder, more ridiculous films I’ve seen in recent years, which honestly, isn’t a bad thing.