The world wasn’t exactly crying out for a big-screen adaptation of Marvel’s cultish comic series, Guardians of the Galaxy, but as the film studio begins to expand and build on its universe in different ways, an adaptation is exactly what we’ve been given.
With a deep-space setting and a story revolved around a group of misfits that include a gun-toting talking raccoon and a not so talkative tree amongst various super-human aliens, this property marks the first big risk that Marvel Studios has taken since the first Iron Man. A risk that for the most part has payed off.
It is a film of two halves but one that on a whole I think works really well. The main reasoning behind this is its own self-awareness, it’s embracement of its own absurdity. Its script is snappy and has a great deal of jokes that are actually funny compared to some of Marvel’s weaker attempts at humour in the past.
With plenty of pop culture references and a soundtrack consisting of 80’s pop juxtaposed with this strange alien world, the film has a pulpy element to it reminiscent of a Tarantino film. Seriously, had it had title cards breaking up scenes or Samuel L. Jackson quoting from the bible, this would be the closest to ‘Tarantino does sci-fi’ we may ever come to.
The real person responsible for these retro stylings however is James Gunn, a director whose arguably biggest film up to this point is the live action Scooby-Doo. Don’t this put you off; his direction here has all the glossy visuals you could want from a film of this genre, the final product feeling like his own unique vision brought to life.
Also good is the cast, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel putting in excellent work despite the latter only really having one line to say in different inflections. Chris Pratt is the real star of the show though, really surprising me with his leading man capabilities, coming across both dashing and charismatic.
I think the film does lose some of its fun and bizarre uniqueness towards the end. A quota of action, explosions and special effects needing to be filled, it does revert to the same stuff we’ve pretty much seen before in Marvel films. Whilst the action looks good, I still would have preferred a different conclusion in keeping with the quirky tone of the film.
Both brave and bold, Guardians of the Galaxy is a pulpy sci-fi spectacle with plenty of laughs, heart and thrills. I’ve seen better this year and I’ve seen worse but as far as the Marvel canon goes, this is easily the best thing they’ve made so far.
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