"strikes the perfect balance between humour and action"
There is no denying that Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel's biggest gamble to date, with their Cinematic Universe largely focusing on the terrestrial, G.O.T.G takes us out of our Solar System to a weird and wonderful Galaxy. At the very least it was a risk to have a walking tree like being, and a genetically altered talking raccoon who wields a gun as two of its lead characters, but James Gunn and his creative team have not only managed to pull off the gamble, but exceed expectations.
So the film opens on Earth in 1988 to find a young Peter Quill dealing with a personal tragedy, before he is abducted and we fast forward twenty six years where we meet the adult bounty hunter Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).
Pratt fits the bill as the leading man, from his introduction he is clearly not the typical hero that we have come accustomed to - dancing along to classic hits from Earth, whilst seeking out a mythical orb. Unfortunately for him his antics draw the attention of the menacing Korath the Persuer (Djimon Hounsou) of the Kree.
Following an amusing exchange with the Kree hunter, G.O.T.G unloads with one of its many spectacular action set pieces for us to feast our eyes on as Quill makes a daring escape.
On his journey Quill encounters the beautiful, green skinned bad-ass assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) and yet another escape is required this time mixed with humour as Quill and his three cohorts are forced to escape the Nova Corp with the help of Drax (Dave Bautista), after which they find themselves drawn into a conflict between the villainous Ronan (Lee Pace) and the Nova Corp that is led by Nova Prime (Glenn Close), who doesn't have a great deal of screen time, yet maximises every second of her onscreen presence.
G.O.T.G strikes the perfect balance between humour and action, and whilst the film is littered with large scale action heavy set pieces it never relies on the stunning visuals and sumptuous 3D to tell the story, instead Gunn ensures the film is above all else a character driven interstellar adventure, which infers his acknowledgment that in order for the film to succeed the camaraderie of the gang of five (Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot) is essential. That’s not to say it’s all a bed of roses, this ensemble cast kick the crap out of one another, but as the film unfolds so too does their friendship and we have a front row seat to see this grow into camaraderie of deep affection.
Meanwhile the interplay between the multi-layered cast of antagonists, none of which are without motive is equal to the interplay between the Guardians. Special mention should be made of Karen Gillan’s cybernetic enhanced Nebula, the adoptive daughter of Thanos and sister to Gamora, which adds to the tension between her and Gamora.
Other highlights include the vengeance seeking Drax who is a walking thesaurus and whilst limited to only three words, Groot is a character with heart and a sense of vulnerability mixed with sheer brute strength. That said the scene stealer of the film is the loud and at times obnoxious Rocket. Rocket is also hilarious and is capable of pulling on your heart strings, one almost becomes oblivious to the fact that you are watching a CGI/ Motion Captured character, and a special mention must go to Sean Gunn who was the on set Rocket, he is fantastic!
Tyler Bates’ score gives G.O.T.G an atmospheric air – a soundtrack that fits the world of the movie. His musical choices are effectively offset against grounded classic hits such as Hooked on a Feeling and Cherry Bomb. Visually and musically G.O.T.G soars.
It's hard to fault G.O.T.G. Gunn has crafted a fun and humorous film, with spectacular action set pieces and a stunning visual aesthetic that allows a suspension of belief to convince yourself that you are in fact on this interstellar journey. Whilst Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock), Thanos (Josh Brolin) and James Gunn regular Gregg Henry who plays Quill's Grandpa had little screen time, the only request one would make to Gunn is more of these characters next time please.
James Gunn has to be commended for ushering the Guardians of the Galaxy into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if this film is just a taste of things to come, there is no telling what the limits are with the MCU, and with the inevitable success of G.O.T.G, it's looking ever so likely that the Inhumans adaptation will see the light of day.