If you had no idea that Marvel had a comic book superhero team called Guardians of the Galaxy, you’re certainly going to start looking out for them now.
Because the film adaptation is simply Marvel-ous.
MINI-SPOILER MARK: Minor plot details discussed beyond this point. No major spoilers revealed.
Shortly after his mother’s death, young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by alien space pirates. Raised by the pirate leader Yondu, Peter grows up to become something of an artefact robber, going by the name ‘Star-Lord’ (although his alias and reputation fail to gain recognition). After stealing a highly coveted and powerful orb that the radical Ronan the Accuser intends to use to destroy a planet, Peter finds himself teaming up with the green-skinned Gamora (who wishes to stop Ronan), the warrior Drax the Destroyer (who seeks vengeance against Ronan), and the talking racoon Rocket and his tree-like accomplice Groot (who are only interested in the high reward that the orb fetches). The five find themselves becoming unlikely heroes and, more importantly, developing a friendship that is literally powerful.
In all honesty, the movie did not garner much confidence for success during its promotion. The need to excessively reiterate that Guardians is a Marvel film in trailers and posters only served to highlight the franchise’s obscurity in relation to Marvel’s vastly more popular The Avengers. But after watching the movie, it is safe to say that the new kids on the block proved that they should not, and will not, be overlooked.
On the surface, Guardians is a patchwork of effortless humour, a very star-studded cast, and more body paint than we’ve seen in any other recent film. But this combination surprisingly turns out to work in the film’s favour.
It must be made known that Guardians offers excessively more humour than the typical superhero flick. If the audience accepts that the movie is meant to be light-hearted, they will find themselves thoroughly entertained. Because Guardians is hilarious, and quite effortlessly so.
Guardians has so much star power that it is no wonder that the franchise has a galactic setting. At front and centre, Peter/Star-Lord is played by Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation and Everwood television fame. The actor had proven his knack for casual humour by voicing the protagonist Emmett in The Lego Movie, and has lived up to that standard with his comedic performance in Guardians. More importantly, Pratt is able to slip into a more serious and emotional tone when the movie requires it, which allows us to take his character seriously.
Zoe Saldana switches from Na’vi blue to Gamora’s green as the cool lady assassin. After already finding success in Avatar and Star Trek, Saldana is effectively solidifying her status as a resident sci-fi queen. Martial artist and WWE wrestler Dave Bautista is very likeable as the unintentionally funny but downright sincere Drax the Destroyer, and A-lister Bradley Cooper provides the voice of the deadly talking racoon Rocket who, given his breed and tiny stature, just wants to be taken seriously. Vin Diesel provides the voice and motion capture of the sweet but deadly tree-like humanoid Groot, who, despite not saying much or anything besides his name, is arguably the film’s most likeable and popular character.
No shortage of Hollywood’s most established names further empower the film with their roles in the supporting cast. While Ronan is one-dimensional and unimpressive, Lee Pace satisfies in his role as the villain. Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, and Benicio Del Toro all add to the film’s impressive roster , and while none of them have particularly stand-out performances (owing to their limited screen time and character exploration), no criticism can be hurled at them either.
As expected of most action films, Guardians falls short in its plot, which has nothing we have not seen before. There are no memorable moments or “wow” factors, and the storyline itself is as bare, shallow and overdone as a plot can be. But the movie compensates for this by soaring on the backs of its five central characters.
Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax are some of the most lovable characters you will see in cinemas this year. The audience warms up to them quickly with their timely and frequent comic relief, and cares for them through their pitiful backstories. Resultantly, the unlikely friendship formed between the five is heart-warming, and the superhero team gains no shortage of genuine supporters among the audience. As any successful franchise has taught us, the key to making a film that matters is to have main characters that the audience is attached to or emotionally invested in, and Guardians delivers on this front.
Guardians does not have the excitement, lure or impressiveness of other major superhero franchises like The Avengers, but it is undoubtedly entertaining in its own right.
By succeeding on its characters and humour alone, it will be a stretch for Guardians to impress as much with its planned sequel.
But for Guardians of the Galaxy, they have delivered. And that’s enough for now.
Rating: 4.0/5 (TALK-o-meter: “That was awesome!”)