Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Remember when Guardians of the Galaxy was deemed a risk back in the day? With the MCU now getting into the swing of things, a group of misfits consisting of a abducted man, the adopted daughter of big bad Thanos, a thug with a vendetta, a talking raccoon and a walking tree that says three words sounded like a hot mess ready to tank Marvel. To top it off, it was being director by the man who made Slither and Super, an odd choice to some.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Guardians was a huge hit upon release, and many’s favourite of the universe so far. It’s not hard to see why. Incredibly warm, funny, filled with heart and soul, it is probably in the Top Five the studio has released.
After the death of his mother, Peter Quill (Pratt) is abducted by Yondu (Rooker) and grows up in space. After coming into possession of an orb containing an unknown item, he runs into others with similar goals: Gamora (Saldana), Rocket (Cooper), Groot (Diesel), and, later on, Drax (Bautista). Dysfunctional family created, they come to realise that they need to band together in order to save the galaxy from the evil Ronan The Accuser (Pace).
The reason this rag-tag group works so well is down to Gunn’s script, which is an incredibly smart and funny piece of work. It is an origin story, for sure, which can be tricky waters to ride, but because it is a group origin, rather than a solo one, we only really need them to meet to really get the movie going, something which happens pretty early on.
There is an easy chemistry between this cast, just as there is with The Avengers, although this lot might be more sarcastic, with a slightly rougher edge. Pratt is perfect casting for the quick-witted protagonist, whilst Saldana manages to convey vulnerability just underneath Gamora’s surface. But it’s Bradley Cooper as Rocket who really shines, completely unrecognisable as the talking raccoon. This may be down to him getting all the best lines, but you truly forget that Rocket is not actually there, nothing on set except for Sean Gunn in a mo-cap suit.
As funny as it is, there are moments of real heartbreak. It is perfectly balanced though, moments of hilarity following some genuinely moving dialogue, for example, Rocket threatening to shoot Drax in the face immediately followed by his lament at his own existence, being an experimented upon animal. It’s rough stuff for a PG-13 superhero movie, but brings us a real understanding to the characters.
The action is pretty standard for the type of film it is, without breaking any new ground, however, there are some absolutely stunning shots. During the opening sequence, as Quill jumps to get into ship and away from the mercenaries out to get him, he becomes almost 3D, charging towards the camera. It’s lighter, literally, than previous movies such as Iron Man2 and Thor: The Dark World (although that’s not too difficult to manage).
Of course, the massive flaw in the movie is the villain. Marvel has almost never failed at never failing to give us an incredibly generic bad guy, and Pace’s Ronan is no exception. This isn’t down to Pace himself, but rather his duller than dull motivations to, you guessed, destroy stuff. If it weren’t for the captivating leads, Ronan could sink the entire movie.
It’s difficult to name another superhero franchise with as much heart as this. From its soundtrack to its perfectly timed comedic moments, no wonder the world went gaga for the Guardians.