Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel
Directed By: James Gunn
Marvel takes us outside the mainstream with the first proper “space” comic adaptation, Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris Pratt plays Starlord, an outlaw seeking a mysterious orb for a buyer on the Nova planet Xandar but things go sideways when it turns out powerful baddies (Ronan and Thanos) are also seeking the orb, for a much more sinister purpose.
Marvel have pretty much covered their heavy hitters now. Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Spidey, X-Men, Fantastic Four and collectively SHIELD have all had outings in one form or another. The current phase in Marvel’s grand plan is seeing the studio start to draw on lesser known, or at least less mainstream characters, to flesh out the universe. Guardians of the Galaxy is the first major run at this.
Right off the bat, you can tell that Marvel gave a lot more artistic license to director James Gunn and the cast here. While the story fits into the overall universe, it is a lot lighter and way funnier than any other Marvel film to date. This is a good thing because, if there’s one thing that the Marvel space titles have in common, it’s that they’re pretty heavy and not so easy to read if you’re not a hardcore comic nerd. The recent Marvel comics event, Infinity proved that with its complicated plot spanning multiple universes and nearly all of Marvel’s character spectrum. Delivering something like that to the big screen would be a disaster. Marvel had to go relaxed and informal to introduce these characters. The trade-off, however is that the characters that were introduced had to be done well because there wasn’t much in the way of a distraction if they flopped.
Luckily, the cast nailed it. Chris Pratt is charming and hilarious as Star-Lord, Saldana was just the right balance of powerful, independent, sexy and frightening and Rocket and Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively) were a legendary double act that I definitely want to see more of. Even David Bautista’s Drax was a performance far beyond the usual expectations of wrestler/actors. The weak link, unfortunately was Ronan. The character wasn’t at all memorable and sort of felt like a bit of an afterthought while Marvel struggled to find a decent antagonist without bringing out the really big guns. When I say big guns, I mean Thanos who did make an appearance, voiced by Josh Brolin, but left me feeling cheated in a “here’s what you could’ve won” kind of way. That being said, anyone who knows these characters would know that the Guardians would have stood no chance at all against Thanos. He’s an Avengers level villain capable of throwing down with The Hulk on his best day so making him the primary antagonist in this film would have made no sense really.
**Spoiler Alert – Highlight the text below to read**
There were a lot of little appearances and small references that acted as easter eggs and clues to Marvel’s grand design. References to “Infinity Stones” hint at a possible adaptation of the Infinity Gauntlet saga, perhaps serving as Avengers 3. There were also references to the Nova Corps and cosmic entities that could tie in to Fantastic Four. THe biggest for me, however was the introduction of the Kree. The way they are depicted all but confirms that the blue alien body you see linked to the TAHITI project in Agents of SHIELD is indeed of Kree origin. The fact that this race is now featured twice in Marvel’s on-screen universe definitely hints at greater involvement in the future, and most certainly in season 2 of Agents of SHIELD.
The Easter egg that got everyone talking, however is the post-credits scene featuring Howard the Duck. Yeah you read that right, Howard the fucking Duck! There are characters in any comic book universe that should never be allowed on the big or small screen. Marvel’s is definitely Howard the Duck. That’s all I’m saying of the matter.
**End of Spoilers**
Back to the movie itself. Needless to say, the visuals were absolutely epic. I watched it in 3D which if your stomach can take it, is definitely something I’d recommend. Another thing to mention is the soundtrack, which is something I don’t usually comment on in these reviews but couldn’t let pass this time. The mix of up beat 70’s and 80’s tunes matched the camp, colourful and light-hearted movie perfectly. It actually ties in to the film in a way that most soundtracks don’t as well. Star Lord carries with him an old cassette Walkman that he had on him the day he left Earth as a child. The tape(s) he has contain all the songs that become the soundtrack. It works really well and is a clever insight into the character and also provides some sneaky subliminal character development.
All in all, a really fun movie which introduces some really great characters into the Marvel universe and does so while still delivering enough substance to keep newcomers and card-carrying comic book geeks alike more than entertained.