It’s been a long-time in the making and this possibly questionable entry to the Marvel roster has finally debuted. While compared to the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as well-known too a part of the more cosmic elements of the Marvel universe.
With no real precursors to this entry, the difficulty arose of doing what Avengers Assemble and the preluding Marvel films did by assembling a variety of superheroes in one succinct film. Not just this but Guardians of the Galaxy had the necessity of having to uniquely define itself from the films that came before.
The premise of the film is relatively straight forward. Ronan the Accuser, a rebel of the alien race the Kree, is attempting to bring down the Nova Corps home world of Xandar. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) stumbles upon a seemingly normal artifact called The Orb, an artifact Ronan craves in order to gain Thanos’ (last seen in the Avengers post-credits scene) favour, and the ball gets rolling form there.
While this does sound quite basic and tacit in it’s presentation, the film falls into its own through the application of its hilarious charm and retro style. Many of its stylistic features take a lot from the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek while adding modern twists like the nostalgic soundtrack and excellent balance of CGI and realistic sets.
Wisecracks come aplenty from the likes of Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), while Drax the Destroyer’s (Dave Bautista) extended and stereotypically uncharacteristic vocabulary leads to some surprisingly funny outbursts. Even the stern and serious Gamora (Zoe Saldana) manages some laughs in subverting Quill’s rogueish charms with her insults and berating her dire situation when facing certain death ‘surrounded by idiots’. And shoutout to the comic timing of Vin Diesel’s only line, ‘I am Groot’, spouted out by the kind-hearted and rather simple-minded alien plant, Groot.
Humour is added through the strange situations, comedic exchanges amongst characters, and even through the cameos provided by the likes of Glenn Close (the live-action Cruella Deville), John C. Reilly, Peter Serafinowicz, Benicio Del Toro, and Michael Rooker. Musical timing makes for a great few moments as it purposely conflicts tone or fits in to the point of cliché. The likes of 10cc’s ‘I’m Not in Love’ and Rubert Holmes’s ‘Escape (The Piña Colada Song)’ chime in to change dire situations into lighter moments and romance moments into mockeries of the supposed need for such scenes.
Don’t doubt that the emotional tones and summer-blockbusting action is overwhelmed by this however. Both emotional and thoughtful moments are present and well distributed while not overwhelming the plot, the characters distinct personalities making sure of that. The action is awesome. Well presented, seamless blending of CGI and live-action with impressive space dogfights and brawl choreography. These brawls are particularly well executed by Dave Bautista but also by Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan who plays Nebula, the near-nemesis figure for Gamora.
All in all, its a well-balanced and surprising entry into the Marvel cinematic universe. It could have been risky moving away from Earth but with some small, clever links to those storylines whilst being belligerent in carving it’s own role in the universe it ensures one of the best entries in Phase 2 of the Marvel saga with its humour, charm, and literally interstellar presence. This may very well be this generation’s Star Wars; all we can hope for is that Kevin Feige and James Gunn keep it consistent and separate from the tempting territory of Marvel’s Earth storylines.