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Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel studio’s biggest gambles to date, adapting one of their lesser known comic book series into a big budget space opera. But Marvel is a studio who is known for taking risks and Guardians of the Galaxy pays off, being a movie that is funnier than many of 2014’s actual comedies.
In 1988 a young Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) mother dies from cancer and a making a bad day worst he is abducted by aliens. 26 years later Quill is a treasure hunter and a thief who is hired to steal a mysterious orb from a temple on a dead planet. The orb turns out to be one of the most valuable objects in the universe and with a price being on Quill’s head he quickly becomes the target for a highly trained assassin, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), two bounty hunters (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) and a vengeful intergalactic warlord Ronan (Lee Pace).
Director and co-writer James Gunn deliver a very entertaining movie and one its winning features is the humor. The script has sharply written jokes, interactions, and some of the best banter in a movie in years. The main five actors brilliantly work off each other, whether it’s Pratt and Cooper being more overt, Saldana being the straight man and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Batista) and other aliens not understanding human metaphors. There are some visual gags to delight especially with Groot the tree creature.
The main cast handles both the comedic level and the serious moments very well. Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Drax are all well defined and their pain is exposed when needed: Quill’s lost of his mother, Gamora’s upbringing, Drax desire for revenge, making him irrational and Rocket’s suffering from the scientific experiments done to him. Even Groot’s character more gentle and caring nature is shown despite being only able to speak three words. It is an entertaining origins story and similar to The Avengers in the sense that the protagonists are spending as much tell fighting each other as well as their enemies.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a unabashedly fun and its throws in many elements from comic books and sci-fi. There is the obvious space opera and intergalactic politics that you would expect from this type of movie, there many different alien species and comic book ideas of characters having surgical and robotic enhancements to make them even more deadly. It is a gleeful experience for all fans of sci-fi, comic books, superhero movies and classic cartoons.
Gunn was influenced by Star Wars, Star Trek and Firefly/Serenity. Guardians of the Galaxy has the cheeky and confidence of the Joss Whedon TV series and Quill shares many characteristics with Mal Reynolds. Quill also shares Captain Kirk’s ability to seduce various alien women and during serious moments is the uneasy peace between two major factions. And like Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy accepts its swashbuckling parts. There is even a Doctor Who-esque idea of a illegal colony being formed in a giant alien carcass and mine for rare minerals.
The action and special effects also deliver as is usually the case from Marvel movies. Groot and Drax are massive powerhouses who use strength while Saldana is very convincing as Gamora with her martial arts skills. There are big aerial battles and more ground level fights to keep any action nut happy.
In comparison to other Marvel movies Guardians of the Galaxy is closest to Thor: The Dark World. Both movies have similar light hearted tone, having an expansive world and the villain wants an ancient device that will cause death and destruction. Eagle eyed viewers will see some references to the wider Marvel universe.
Pace is fine as the villain, he does his job of being big and imposing. As a Karen Gillan fan it is satisfying to see her as the main henchman, being a bad-ass and taking command. But Djimon Hounsou was underused in his role and it would have been appreciated to have seen more of Glenn Close and John C. Reilly.
Gunn makes an entertaining blockbuster that allows Marvel to move outside their comfort zone of Earth set films. It is a pleasing, comedic romp.
Guardians of the Galaxy has one of the most unexpected cameos in years.