FILM REVIEW: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (12A)
SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: CHRIS PRATT, ZOE SALDANA, DAVE BAUTISTA, LEE PACE, KAREN GILLAN, MICHAEL ROOKER, DJIMON HOUNSOU, JOHN C REILLY, GLENN CLOSE, BENICIO DEL TORO, VIN DIESEL (VOICE) & BRADLEY COOPER (VOICE)
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS
DIRECTOR: JAMES GUNN
“I’m hooked on a feeling” . . . and that feeling is Guardians of the Galaxy is freakin’ awesome.
From the witty script and fantastic soundtrack to the on-screen chemistry and great production values, this is undoubtedly the blockbuster – and the most pleasantly surprising film – of the summer.
Marvel can do no wrong at the moment, but when they announced the decision to expand their cinematic universe out further into the cosmos with an unknown band of second-tier comic-book characters – they turned a few heads.
But any fears they’d gone off at a risky tangent have quickly been eradicated – after a stellar $94million opening weekend Stateside – with director James Gunn deserving immense praise for concocting a sci-fi-cum-superhero actioner that has just added another large feather to Marvel’s burgeoning cap.
Gunn has devised a beautifully-rendered space opera platform for his rag-tag group of space bandits, led by human scavenger Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), a man who is still sporting his Walkman, complete with an eclectic mix of his deceased Mum’s seventies/eighties tunes, since being abducted from Earth in 1988.
He’s joined by other misfits – deadly assassin Gamora (Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana), maniacal revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (former WWE champ Dave ‘The Animal’ Bautista), powerful tree-like humanoid Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and gun-totting racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) – who reluctantly team-up to try and prevent a powerful stone from failing into the hands of the villainous Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).
This mysterious source – which links in nicely to similar artefacts prevalent in Marvel’s Avengers world by featuring The Collector (Benecio Del Toro) seen at the end of Thor: The Dark World – will give the wielder the ability to wipe out a planet in one fatal stroke.
To make matters worse Ronan – who already has two worthy henchman in the form of Nebula (Brit Doctor Who star Karen Gillan) and Korath (Gladiator’s Djimon Hounsou) – has links to Thanos, the intergalactic menace seen at the end of Avengers Assemble.
But despite all these nods to potential franchise cross-overs at a later date, Guardians of the Galaxy undoubtedly stands up as an outstanding film in its own right – and arguably has a broader demographic appeal than any of Marvel’s previous films.
It actually does better than the Avengers movie by providing the five main heroes with plenty of screen-time – which leads to the audience connecting with the characters – something which the likes of Hawkeye and Thor didn’t really get in Marvel’s 2012 blockbuster.
But the really winner here is the clever use of a soundtrack – that boasts the likes of the aforementioned Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling’, 10cc’s ‘I’m Not in Love’, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and the Jackson Five’s ‘I Want you Back’ – that will keep audiences of all ages bopping throughout the duration.
And when you throw in a witty and clever tongue-in-cheek script, to accompany the exploits of this likeable band of heroes, it all combines to mash together a quite spectacular recipe.
If you’re nit-picking the plotline and fairly predictable ‘wham-bam’ Marvel ending lacks the ingenuity of most aspects of the film, but Guardians does so much right you really can forgive the odd shortcomings in this inaugural outing.
Pratt in particular – who has just snagged the lead in the next Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic World, out next year – has great chemistry with Saldana, and the voices of Diesel and Cooper were a master-stroke.
This might ultimately be a four-star film, but as it leaves you which such a wide smile on your face, it’s going to get something that you’ll rarely see on these pages – a movie review from me that gets all five stars.
Gunn has taken aim and expertly fired the Marvel brand into another stratosphere.