A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The Marvel cinematic universe has taken a punt, a risk, a gamble. In this day and age where there are certain film formulas that are more or less guaranteed to generate gratuitous amounts of profit, why would a film company such as Marvel Studios decide to create something that could slide either way and potentially ruin the incredible streak Marvel has been on as of late?
“Guardians Of The Galaxy”, the latest instalment in the Marvel filmic universe is arguably the company’s most ambitious and risky production to-date.
The answer to the previously posed question is quite simple – the fact that “Guardians Of The Galaxy” is a Marvel production, released during the company’s most successful period is enough proof that these producers have their brains switched on (not to mention it’s current standing gross of $556.7million at the box office..).
Fans of superhero films (passionate or casual) all share a common attitude, and that is that they demand to be entertained. This is quite a broad statement, but it becomes difficult in this day and age primarily due to the incredibly short attention span of the common individual.
For Marvel Studios, the decision to make film after film, story after story, and collaboration after collaboration has been their best ever decision as an industry.
The profit alone is staggering from their past 10 or so instalments, and “Guardians Of The Galaxy” was simply going to add to that tally. It’s not all about the profit though, these films posses heart, density and a solid structure – something of a rarity in numerous other money-making franchises of late (e.g found footage films).
Completely changing things up, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” focuses on some lesser known characters and lesser known elements of past Marvel films; the major element being humour. “Guardians Of The Galaxy” is arguably the funniest film in the Marvel franchise. Based around a bunch of misfit losers that have the same chemistry as a bunch of metal forks jammed in a toaster, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” takes the dysfunctionality of “The Avengers” and quadruples it.
With superhero films taking a darker turn as of late following the immense success of the “Dark Knight” trilogy, it was incredibly refreshing to see what is essentially, a lighthearted comedy with some sprinkles of darkness and threat.
“Guardians Of The Galaxy” is a fantastically brave film in that it constantly takes cliches and iconographic images from various superhero successes and satirises them to death. The cast is relatively modest in terms of status (even more so with Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper part taking in speaking roles) and the characters themselves, as previously mentioned, are unknown to many audiences.
This is a bold move from Marvel, but at the same time, it is generous and commendable on their behalf.
As far as the plot is concerned, it is nothing we haven’t seen before. A mysterious object is discovered by someone who is unaware of it’s greatness and as soon as they discover how sought after it is, events and circumstances escalate immensely.
There is even a point throughout the film where the curious Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) refers to this particular object, the orb, as having a “Maltese Falcon” aura about it.
There is a major villain, Ronan, a gothic, devilish beast with menacing eyes and tar-covered dentures that is searching for a mystical orb, but for a villain, he really is lacking in many areas. Ronan is a stereotypical ‘bad guy’ villain.
Lee Pace who plays Ronan is quite a talented actor. His efforts in “Lincoln” and “The Hobbit” films were both excellent and it is clear he gives it his best shot here as well. Sadly however, when watching him galavant around, thumping out various simplistic baritone speeches, there isn’t a great sense of originality or presence about him.
Furthermore, there is a strange contrast between the attempted darkness of Ronan, and the flawless comedic escapades of the Guardians Of The Galaxy. When they are seen together, it just feels odd.
As for the central group, the ensemble is perfect. Starlord (or Peter Quill), played by Chris Pratt is fantastic. He is no stranger to comedy, and it is obvious he understands timing, delivery and the art in general. He is a superb protagonist – one of Marvel’s finest.
The supporting roles are also outstanding, particularly that of Dave Bautista, who plays Drax; a maniac that is incredibly literal and impassioned. Bautista has made the transition between WWE wrestling and Hollywood acting exceptionally well (even though they’re one in the same…).
Zoe Saldana is also strikingly good as Gamora, a green-skinned assassin with a unique backstory that adds even more tension to the group. The voiced characters of Groot (a lumbering, kind-hearted talking tree) and Rocket Racoon (a vicious, hardened result of animal/human experimentation) add sombreness, hilarity and hysteria into the mix.
Groot is limited to three words, them being “I. Am. Groot.”; it seems as if Vin Diesel’s pay check could be broken down into one million dollars per-word. Needless to say the delivery is perfect, and the character of Groot is an incredible one.
Lastly amongst the big names are John C. Reily, Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro. These three don’t have very large parts to play, but to their credit they give it their all. Being Australian, it was hard watch Benicio Del Toro’s character, ”The Collector” without thinking of musician Luke Steele from Empire of The Sun. Either way, his performance was excellent, even if it was for only 5 minutes…
This review would not be complete without making mention to the film’s soundtrack.
Without the list of numerous classics from the 70’s and 80’s accompanying the adventures of these space crusaders, the film just wouldn’t be the same. From “I Want You Back” to “Spirit In The Sky” – it has it all!
Peter Quill’s playlist from back on earth is not only a brilliant collection of tunes, it creates consistent humour amongst the remainder of the cast as they become intrigued, perplexed and confused by this strange medium.
In addition, the added pop-culture references provide another element of humour and originality to his already heavily original superhero picture.
For a film that ties in the forthcoming “Avengers” sequel (briefly), and offers Marvel fans something fresh, lighthearted and left-of-centre, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” was an incredible experience. The 3D isn’t really worth it, plus the end credits scene is a waste of time – be warned!
Fantastic performances all round and a super script make “Guardians Of The Galaxy” one of the best films of the year thus far. Funny, enthralling and immensely entertaining, the hype and anticipation paid off, and them some!