Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Directed by James Gunn. With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker and Dave Bautista.
The sheer entertainment value of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy will come as no surprise to any fans of the writer/director’s previous two films, Slither and Super. That said, in terms of scale, this is in a whole other ballpark, or perhaps more aptly, other universe entirely.
Adapted and co-written from the comic book source by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians is a gloriously outlandish feast of fun that sidelines the intricacy of plot complexity in favour of irreverent wit, inventive visuals and a rare cross demographic appeal that makes any of the decent Marvel offerings look decidedly stuffy in comparison. The basic plot revolves around Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a Han Solo/Mal Reynolds in the making, who leads an incongruous group of criminals, forced together to save the universe, to a 1960’s/70’s soundtrack.
Not only is it a tremendous amount of straight up fun, Guardians also takes the time to mock movie convention, with enough disarming gags and one-liners to soften the most hardened superhero cynic. This is comic book films done the right way, remembering the heart of these things is to be as entertaining as possible, while remaining smart and accessible to anyone who fancies joining in.
If the film has any flaws, then perhaps the screen gets a little too busy, during some of the aerial combat sequences, and as mentioned, the plot feels far less important than it ought to. But, these are mere gripes amid a film that scores highly for being a bold and imaginative step into the unknown, and all the more rewarding for it.
What’s more, the film makes a star of lead actor, Chris Pratt, whose loose comedic ability and easy charm, will no doubt sell lesser films by simply having his name on the poster. Some have called Guardians this generation’s Star Wars, and while that might be a little premature, it does share that same sense of pure escapist fun that George Lucas harnessed so brilliantly.
It’s impressive and encouraging that a studio would take such a gamble on a film as daring as this, by a director whose previous work has been mostly confined to cult corners of appreciation. It’s a gamble that has paid off in spades. Not only has James Gunn triumphantly established a much broader canvas for subsequent Marvel adventures, he has exceeded expectations to develop perhaps the most thrillingly exciting strand of the entire canon. 4.5/5