John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy

Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: August 1st, 2014

The new Marvel feature Guardians of the Galaxy is different than many of the Marvel films that preceded it. It doesn’t offer up a thrillingly  charismatic main character like the Iron Man films do. Nor does it offer up engaging ideas, visit web like the ones that were explored in the thoughtful Captain America sequel earlier this year. For much of its running time, abortion this new production simply exists as a superficially fun ride that doesn’t offer up anything fresh and pales in comparison to its Marvel predecessors.

Like many of the other Marvel features though, this script is packed with witty one-liners and a few characters that do stand out. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the leader of the ragtag gang formed here, is one of them. His charming character— who is more discerning than originally presented– is a loner and outlaw in the style of Han Solo in the Star Wars films.

Early on, this lover of music from the 70s and walkmans– whose painful past is noted at the beginning– is thrust into an adventure when he discovers a mysterious orb on an abandoned planet. Unbeknownst to him, the orb— which he attempts to sell— is capable of great destruction and the monstrous one-note villain Ronan (Lee Pace) wants to use it for nefarious purposes. When Quill begins to realize that Ronan– along with many other individuals–  want to obtain it, he realizes its power and knows that something must be done to keep it safe.

He eventually seeks to preserve it with an oddball team of quirky characters who become The Guardians of the Galaxy. When that team originally comes together, it’s through a chase scene that goes on for far too long. The orb, this supposedly unstoppable and powerful tool that everybody wants, is passed in this scene from character to character. First, Quill has it. Then, the manipulative Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has it. Then, the odd couple team of a talking raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a verbally-challenged tree named Groot (Vin Diesel) has it. Eventually though, after the team is imprisoned together, they join up with a vengeance-driven character named Drax (Dave Bautista), and form their oddball team of misfits and loners that is tasked with saving the universe.

It’s hard to fault some of the comedic one-liners here but the forgettable story as a whole doesn’t work as anything more than as the backdrop for this set of characters. With more of a focus on effects than on establishing the location of the action or the villain’s personality, the film bounces around without a real sense of location or drive. Additionally, the familiarity of many of the plot twists undermine one of this story’s greatest assets– the fresh-faced and quirky team at its center.

The movie clumsily even begins to repeat some story beats especially when some of the characters are in danger. How many times do we need to see the members of this crew get injured and be on the verge of death before being rescued– what are the odds?– at the very last minute? How many times in movies like this do we need to have a scene where all of the characters question their allegiances and then come together with one character begrudgingly accepting his responsibilities at the very last moment?

Throughout the film, the cocky Quill (who wants to be known as Starlord) and the unfiltered Rocket steal many of the scenes they’re in with their funny quips and amusing outbursts but overall, the Marvel feature seemed to be missing something that would give it the sense of unadulterated joy that’s such an integral part of the Marvel universe. Many fans will likely enjoy the story’s carefree pace but leaving the theater, I was left with a painful sense of disappointment knowing that this movie could’ve been a lot better than it turned out to be.

Review by: John Hanlon