Could Guardians of the Galaxy be the best Marvel film so far? Science-fiction geeks will love the Star Wars-Mass Effect-Serenity blend of space opera, strange characters and exotic locations. Is this feature worthy of the Marvel mantle? Read on and find out.
One of the objectives of this fun-fest is to formally introduce the cosmic cast of heroes and villains in the Marvel universe to help establish The Avengers franchise and pave the way for the impending sequels—specifically the big blue bad, Thanos, we saw in the post-credits scene of the The Avengers (2012).
Thanos floats on his space throne all villain-like; he has nasty friends like Ronan of the Kree who bears some resemblance to the evil entity in The Keep and his sexy subordinate Nebula (Karen Gillian).
It's a shame that Gillian's fifty-shades-of-cybernetic-blue didn't get much screen time because she was far more intriguing compared to her immediate superior. We wanted to learn more about her condition and backstory. Nebula even has a moment that is reminiscent of Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers.
Buff and aesthetically pleasing, Chris Pratt plays the protagonist Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (who?). A human abducted from Earth as a boy by space pirates that are led by that guy you may recognise from The Walking Dead (Michael Rooker). Years later and Peter has developed a penchant for snatching expensive loot with the assistance of fancy gadgets.
Rather than explain how the gadgetry works the film just dazzles you with colours and explosions. You are expected to just roll with the visuals and laugh at the absurdity. To deviate from this rationale will lead to disappointment so don't overthink things and just enjoy the ride.
Naturally, a simple heist on the Nova Corps world Xandar attracts the attention of other key players and to say more at this point would spoil the surprises and the jokes. Mass Effect gamers may notice some similarities to the architecture of Xandar and that of the Citadel. We learn early on that Xandar is a hub of activity populated by mostly good people.
Due to convenient circumstances we meet the only green-skinned assassin in the universe, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a wise-cracking psychotic racoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his Ent-like friend Groot (Vin Diesel) as well as WWE superstar Dave Bautista in his acting debut as the brawler Drax.
At times the heroic ensemble felt too crowded as though there were too many people to care about on-screen. Clever writing, however, ensured the pace was never bogged down and that there was always a fine balance of drama and comedy.
Guardians of the Galaxy toyed with each character's trouble aspect to garner hilarious results and interesting plot twists. Peter Quill is motivated by his music for example whereas Drax reacts to situations due to his own pain and loss.
Overall, the story tied together fairly well by drawing all of the established elements into an epic and satisfying battle. When you have an ensemble cast of good guys you often witness a line-up of average villains to level out the playing field. Except for one particular scene, the film was never truly tense because the tone was mostly happy-happy-joy-joy. And you knew the day would be saved.
The risk of running too many people in a story means compromising necessary characterisation. By underdeveloping Nebula and Ronan they embodied lazy stereotypes that shaped the story in predictable ways.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely worthy of the Marvel mantle although it does fall short of the contemporary classics but it is still an exciting and satisfying film. The end titles teases a sequel and the post-credits scene can be very confusing for those not in the nerdy-know.