As we all know, comic-book films make a helluvalot of money, but the two biggest dogs in the park, Marvel and DC, go about it in two very different ways. Whilst DC, as evidenced by last year’s ‘Man Of Steel’, go after a sombre, serious tone in their films, Marvel has now embraced a brand of far snappier, far funnier family entertainment. And it’s clearly the superior formula – Guardians Of The Galaxy is Marvel’s latest triumph and the best blockbuster of the year so far (sorry Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes).
Guardians Of The Galaxy follows the adventures of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who is abducted from Earth as a child in the late 80s by Ravagers (essentially space pirates). Years later, he has renamed himself as ‘Starlord’ (Quill is a wannabe intergalactic outlaw) and discovers a precious orb that many dangerous parties in the galaxy want to get their hands on.
Events hurl ‘Starlord’ into the company of professional assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana, an actress that after being all blue in Avatar, is now all green), Rocket (a racoon voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (a tree voiced by Vin Diesel that can only say “I am Groot”). But perhaps the most pleasant surprise is Drax, a muscleman played by WWE wrestler Dave Bautista who is innately unable to understand metaphors, a crippling condition that produces many of the film’s funniest lines: “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.”
Much like in The Avengers, the film’s strongest moments are when we see the group interact with each other, with the prison break sequence proving to be a real standout.
Now if this whole Vin Diesel as a tree malarkey is all sounding very silly (which it is) don’t worry, because the film has a real heart to it that is essential in making Guardians Of The Galaxy the marvel (sorry) that it is. For instance, the opening scene featuring Quill’s dying mother, is really quite heart breaking. All the main characters have their own issues that are packed in with the eccentricities that make them so much fun. The script, by the film’s director James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, thankfully distributes the laughs out democratically, which endears you to the entire main group rather than just one or two individuals as you might find in other films. For example, nobody is picking Captain America as their favourite Avenger now are they? And while we’re on Gunn, we all really should be taking our hats off to him. Despite being a director who many may be unfamiliar with, Gunn really has excelled here.
But not everything with Guardians Of The Galaxy is brilliant. The main villain, Ronan (Lee Pace) has got to be among the worst seen in a comic book film. He is just criminally dull. Much like his sidekick and former Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan’s Nebula. Both are barely written, forming mere sketches of villains who feel, more than anything, tacked on. Worst of all is Josh Brolin’s minute or so as Thanos, who is so bad it’s laughable. And then there is the final battle, which, as seems to be the case with ALL Marvel films, takes place in the form of an aerial battle. It’s a tired scenario that needs to stop happening.
But although these crimes would’ve grievously injured other films, it just doesn’t in this case. And that is testament to how Guardians Of The Galaxy is just a perfect summer blockbuster. Cheery, exciting and bolstering a bonkers pop-soundtrack that should seem mental but just seems so right. Superhero flicks dominate the cinema landscape, especially during summer, and nobody would blame you for growing fatigued. So thank goodness that Marvel have taken a risk here, creating something so utterly nuts that you can’t help but have a blast.
Words: Lucas Fothergill