********* 8 out of 10 *********
Director: James Gunn
Actors: Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana
“Star-Lord, man,” says Peter Quill in a dejected tone to his captor, as his outlaw name rings no bell. Most of us had also heard little of him, and little of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Things are about to change now. Marvel Studios’ latest adventure in bringing another set of comic book characters onto the big screen delivers something which had sort of gone missing in the superhero movie genre. The element of fun. When Christopher Nolan delivered his deeply brooding Batman in the midst of a dark Gotham City to such acclaim, it seemed as if the other superheroes too started taking themselves seriously, a bit way too much at times. The Iron Man movies did add a bit of levity with the help of the charisma that Robert Downey Jr. brought, and Joss Whedon too brightened things up with his team of Avengers, but it is now, with Guardians of the Galaxy we get to see a bunch of heroes who know how to enjoy on the field even if the universe could be blown away soon. In this Star Wars akin intergalactic adventure, we have been introduced to a delightful group of crazy heroes, ones we are unlikely to forget anytime soon.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of five different creatures, each one of them carrying his or her own personal baggage, who end up together in trying circumstances. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is the ravager who was abducted from Earth at a young age, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is the adopted daughter of Thanos who is after a mysterious orb, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is a bounty-hunter raccoon whose accomplice is the tree-like Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) is one seeking vengeance for the murder of his family. An unlikely group, eh!? A strange set of events brings the bunch together, and as a powerful entity plans to create havoc, these burdened individuals will have to learn to trust and live with each other to save the galaxy. An adventure was always on the cards!
It is difficult to think of a Marvel movie where the studio compromised on its script. If the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier blew you away with its political-thriller styled script, then Guardians of the Galaxy will make you sit back and enjoy a hilarious, action-packed and heroic adventure. This one has the kind of story we dream to be a part of as kids (and as adults too, for some!). The screenplay has been written by director James Gunn along with debutant Nicole Perlman (truly wonderful to see the number of female writers increase in the industry). With so many new characters to introduce, so many linkages to draw with the broader Avengers universe, it really would have been a tough task to fit everything in a two-hour film, but the duo has come out with a gem of a script. Each of the characters has been given a significant amount of screen time, back stories have been talked about wherever necessary, and the chemistry between the characters has been beautifully built from scratch. One of the best works in the Marvel cinematic universe so far!
Director James Gunn has done justice to the script with its perfect execution. He has gone for the brighter look, the humourous style, the adventure of a hero who saves the day and can beam about it. Right from one of the initial scenes, when Peter Quill makes his way amidst a barren and rocky terrain on a risky task, by grooving to an old pop song, the tone of the movie is set. But make no mistake, James Gunn has not dismissed off the gravity of the mission of the Guardians. Those moments are there, the ones of loss, of despair, of self-doubt, and so too are moments of heroism, of courage, of faith. And these stand out all the more in the movie, easily plucked out in an otherwise relaxed atmosphere. James Gunn has had limited movies under his belt as a director in the past, and the fact that he was handed over such a daunting task by Marvel, as has been the case with a few more directors in the past, shows once again the excellent hiring processes that Marvel has in place to pick their right man. James Gunn brings a lot of bright colours to this film, and along with wonderful song placements, a vibrant music score by Tyler Bates, and fantastic visual effects, Guardians of the Galaxy becomes a joy-ride.
Speaking of the ones in the acting department, there is very little to complain of. While the tale is more about Peter Quill, it is the group as a whole rather than any single individual that works wonders for the film. Chris Pratt has come a long way from playing the goofy and pudgy Andy in the TV series Parks and Recreation, to the well-toned though still goofy hero in Guardians of the Galaxy. The role of Peter Quill seems to have been made for Pratt who fits in it with ease, and this selfish thief with a moral compass makes for one of the most loved heroes seen in the Marvel world so far. Zoe Saldana as the green-coloured Gamora blends in superbly, with her fight scenes easily the best ones in the movie. The creation of Rocket and Groot is another testament to the ever improving space of visual effects in Hollywood, and both these characters will touch your hearts through their own ways. Bradley Cooper has a lot to say as Rocket, and makes this creature a witty chatterbox worth remembering. The professional wrestler Dave Bautista also pleasantly surprises with his admirable depiction of Drax. The movie had so many characters that they could not bring out more on the villains, as Ronan the Accuser plays a very common “I want to destroy the world” kind powerful bad guy. The appearance of Benicio del Toro as Collector is way too brief, and that was a tad disappointing (especially after he added so much excitement with his appearance in the post-credits of Thor: The Dark World), but more from him is likely to come in the future.
So the Marvel universe in cinema has grown further, not only in terms of the addition of new characters and worlds, but also in terms of the style of movies that the studio has been delivering. There is a freshness to each of the movies that Marvel has brought to the audience, and credit goes to producer and Marvel President Kevin Feige and his team for not remaining stuck with one formula. A sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy has already been announced with James Gunn to continue in his role as director. So where would their next adventure take them? Wherever it may be, I bet it’s gonna be eually exciting all the way!