Who can save us from a world of serious blockbusters?
FACT Contributor James Bentley sits down to watch the 'incredibly irreverent action comedy', Guardians of the Galaxy
4 August 2014
When The Avengers hit in 2012, its four main heroes had each had at least one movie introducing them, letting the audience know who they are, what they’re about, all that stuff. But hey, they were The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America, unless you live on the moon, you’ll already have a reasonable idea who these characters are. You might even be willing to spend a few quid and a few hours going to see their movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a comic that most fans won't have heard of. It's a very loose adaptation of a of a reasonably obscure Marvel comic series that has existed in one form or another since the 70s. As it's a much less well known title, there’s not enough goodwill there to spend five movies developing characters for the main event. After a great opening, we get a good 20 minutes of what can best be described as extreme exposition to introduce characters who haven’t had prior movies.
The great opening sequence serves to introduce one of our heroes; Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) the human abducted from Earth as a child now living as a Han Solo style lovable space-faring rogue. Alongside Quill the four other lead characters are Gamora, a green skinned alien assassin played by Zoe Saldana, Rocket, a fast talking CG racoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, Groot, a CG tree creature voiced by Vin Diesel and Drax the Destroyer, played by former world wrestling superstar Dave Batisda.
The scene is set in a beautifully realized and detailed space-opera style area of the universe populated with memorable characters and atmospheric locations. After the extreme exposition, the movie quickly settles into its pace as an incredibly irreverent action comedy that’s got more excitement, laughs and originality than anything else I’ve seen this year. The jokes are funny (they even got this grumpy middle aged writer laughing out loud more times than I can count), the action exciting and the characters all more than one note.
The cast is impressive, Karen Gillan of Dr Who fame turns in a great performance as Nebula, a blue alien warlord with a robot arm and a very evil streak. Josh Brolin dominates the screen for the two scenes he’s in the movie as Thanos, the alien warlord who was in The Avengers for 20 seconds. He shows up here simply to lay the groundwork for a larger role in movies yet to come and give a lesson in how to steal a movie in two scenes or less.
Rocket and Groot are miracles of voice work and CG animation. Even with three words to say in the entire movie, Diesel’s Groot plays a great part as a CGI tree creature. Cooper's Rocket is incredibly funny, well played and alongside Groot really shows the incredible range you can get out of CG characters with good actors.
The big surprise is Dave Batista as Drax The Destroyer. He has some excellent scenes and thanks to his characters ultra literal personality, some of the biggest laughs in the movie. Batista shows serious potential to be as successful as The Rock in making the transition from Wrestling star to movie action star. Glenn Close, John C Reilly, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou and Benitio Del Toro thicken up the cast, there are even blink and you’ll miss them voice cameos from Nathan Fillion and Rob Zombie.
For die hard fans there are plenty of referential nods to the extended Marvel comic universe. As with the other films however, you really don’t need to be a die hard fan, or have seen the other films to really enjoy this. It’s genuinely funny with some great character turns, surprises, plot twists and fun, remember that? Before the Chris Nolan Batman movies decided everything had to be serious or more recently with the 2nd installment in the reboot of Planet of the Apes getting all socio-political and serious? This isn’t that. Unlike alot of action movies out these days, this isn't dark, gritty, preachy or trying to be real; this is a really fun movie made by big kids for kids of all ages, very enjoyable and well worth your attention.
Check it out because it rocks.
Guardians of the Galaxy is now showing at Picturehouse at FACT in 2D and 3D. Tickets are available now from the Box Office, online and by phone on 0871 902 5737.