About as analogous to Marvel’s other comic book movies as Elizabeth Olsen’s acting choices are to her older sisters, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is its own thing right out of the cockpit. From its classic pop song soundtrack to its hilariously droll pop culture loci, it actually doesn’t even bring to mind most science-fiction movies, let alone superhero fare. But with former Troma (the home of ‘The Toxic Avenger’ – and other low-budget, C-grade gems) wunderkind James Gunn at the helm, and a cast of characters with an ISP address located in another galaxy altogether (though the ISP company likely still outsources to India) from Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, there’s just no way in Asgard nobody’s gonna mistake this one for ‘whatever that other superhero flick that came out last year was called’.
Seemingly given free rein to do with the source material as he chooses (which is actually quite funny and eye-rollingly ironic considering the reasons behind Edgar Wright’s departure from “Ant-Man”), Gunn doesn’t even try to buddy “Guardians” up with the other Marvel films (no Iron Man cameo, sorry kids), in fact he seems more intent on making a “Star Wars” and “Galaxy Quest” hybrid than anything else.
And the result? Erect lightsabers. Bloody refreshing, darn entertaining, and full of moments that make you not only smile and stomp your feet in fervour, but god dang go Footloose (and yes, even Footloose is referenced in the film)., “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a sweet spoonful of cinematic Nurofen after the throbbing consistency of Marvel’s earlier, endless output.
You’ll never be so glad to not see Nick Fury, I tell ya.
Kicking off with one of the most entertaining openers in recent times (let’s just see it involves our lead character boogying… on a strange planet), “Galaxy” then moves into its core yarn pretty nippily: five dissimilar ‘losers’ – human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), deadly alien beauty Gamora (Zoe Saldana), revenge-driven muscle man Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), wisecracking Rocket the Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a talking tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)- form an unlikely crew and eventually, tight bond as they fight space’s nastiest chaps for a magical orb. Quill eventually discovers the true power of the orb he’s in possession of (most of the time), and with his ragtag group of voluntary/involuntary helpers, tries to keep it from getting into the wrong hands – in particular, the hands of a nasty rogue named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).
A couple of hours of laughs, space-set dog fights, laugh-out-loud banter, amazing visuals, and likeable but flawed characters? Yes, that’s worth the overpriced cinema Diet Coke.
Though the film’s unique structure and pacey, fun storyline are the driving force here, the film wouldn’t work quite as good without the diverse talented ensemble Gunn has cast here. Best are TV staple Chris Pratt (“Parks & Recreation”), who gets a much-deserved break as the film’s main protagonist, a Han Solo-esque space cowboy with as much charm as he does dance moves; Hulky Dave Bautista as the articulate muscle Drax; and – despite the fact that they don’t even appear in the film – Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, who voice Rocket and Groot respectively. Diesel, despite only having the one line in the movie (albeit one that he repeats over and over), does a lot with the little – giving it his ‘booming’ best – ultimately near stealing the show.
The support cast is rather immense, a mixture of dependable thesps (John C.Reilly, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker. Karen Gillian, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio Del Toro) and fun cameos (Gregg Henry, Lloyd Kaufman, Nathan Fillion, and Josh Brolin – who, like Cooper and Diesel, is only heard in the pic, not seen).
Gunn’s made the best “Star Wars” movie since “Empire Strikes Back” here – a thrilling, unique, dazzling-looking jaunt that’s got an unsuspecting surprise around every corner. Oh, and it’s got Joan Jett playing over the action. ‘Nuf said.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a happy meal with a FREE upsize.
DVD : (Review copy unavailable)