In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.
The latest from Marvel studios is possibly their biggest risk to date, a space opera with a collection of unknown heroes (for the general movie going public at least), but it looks to be paying off with a massive opening in the US and widespread critical acclaim. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, but I wasn’t fully taken with it, and it suffered from many of the same problems other blockbuster comic book releases have over the past few years.
Most of the problems stem from the heavy reliance on CGI and explosions in the action scenes, which seemed to be all too frequent, and the villains were poorly developed. Taking the action scenes for starters, I’m growing to accept that most blockbusters are going to have their fair share of explosions, and given the scope of ‘Guardians’ and it’s space setting, it’s to be expected that you’d have a fair few of these scattered throughout, but part of the problem is how these big exploding fight scenes were used to compensate for meaningful interactions between our heroes and the villains. The main villain is Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace (who is wasted), and he never becomes more than a cypher. Even his underlings (Djimon Hounsou and Karen Gillen), are barely given anything to do other than scowl in his presence, and the less said of the reveal of Thanos the better. I thought these were pretty major problems and they affected my enjoyment of the film immensely – I get that the main characters are highly unlikely to die in these types of films, but a really strong film will at least make you fear for their safety, and the best way to do this is through a villain that is menacing, dangerous and unpredictable. Guardians failed completely in this regard.
The strengths of the film come with the main ensemble though, and they really are great. Led by Chris Pratt’s ‘Star-Lord’, the band of misfits contain a talking tree (Vin Diesel), a green skinned alien (Zoe Saldana), a talking raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a muscular criminal (Dave Bautista), and in the wrong hands they could have been a disaster. However, this is where director James Gunn and the writers excel – the characters are extremely well cast, and they immediately start to blend together to create a team that the audience can root for. The humour is well placed throughout, and I really enjoyed Michael Rooker’s scenery chewing role as some kind of bounty hunter. These characters saved the film for me, and it was fortunate we spent a great amount of time in their presence. Now that they’ve been introduced, the ensemble can only go from strength to strength in future instalments.
Overall, I liked the film. It was a lot of fun, and the guardians themselves were all excellent, but there was a lot that frustrated me about the film and I didn’t think there was anything overly special about it.
Directed By: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Karen Gillen, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and Benicio Del Toro