Marvel, ugh. Here we go again. Apparently each movie is different to the last, and it has no real genre defining attributes. Does it arse. It’s superheroes and villains all pantomiming one another to the point of performance. Guardians of the Galaxy is no different, but then, I guess that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – to a point.
Chris Pratt is having a good year, though, is he not? He’s Quill in this movie, the Indiana Jones-type of hero plagued visions of his late mother and carries around a mix tape of the eighties greatest hits. He flies around in a spaceship; a big boy’s bedroom uncleaned and without a woman’s touch – it’s enough to remind you of Bill Pullman’s character in Spaceballs. In fact, the whole vibe of Guardians has a Mel Brooks tint to it. Quill meets a green-skinned alien thing named Gamora – and when you see her and her name garbled by the mumbling dialogue, you’ll swear it’s Gomorrah. And then you’ll make the connection yourself and the whole thing will come full circle.
There’s a bevvy of light-hearted, overjoyed characters here – far too many to mention. The most famous of the bunch is a duo named Rocket and Groot, CGI’d to the hilt, and voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively. The addition of these two slaps a feint childishness to the whole affair – but then again, it works well for what it is.
So, what makes Guardians different to the rest of the Marvel outings? We’ve already seen carefully constructed witticisms in Iron Man, and shoehorning familiar soundtracks that seem antithetical to these types of movies does put an unusual stamp on the proceedings, but it has been done before. It surely, then, can’t be the final act where good versus evil blasts bolts of light from its palms and causes untold destruction of cities and innocent civilians. In other words, this is superhero stuff through and through – and brings precious little in the way of new agenda to the game.
Co-writer and director (and Troma alumni) James Gunn writes and directs admirably, and with a steely confidence that suggests he’s now in the big time after ropey fair such as Slither and Super. He’s donned the big boy cap now, and it seems entirely suited to him; keeping the proceedings just boisterous and loud enough to keep him in $100m+ budgets – and certainly within this widened franchise – for at least a couple more movies. Sitting through Guardians, though, one suspects he wishes he’d have been granted an R rating. The main change of game Gunn brings is to somewhat ridicule typical conventions of the superhero / gang tooling up for what seems like certain death; in a scene we have endured time and again, one by one, the guardians stand up and throw their hat into the bucket of certain doom. Rocket, the gangly little raccoon, is the last to stand up and remarks on how stupid they look. It’s one rung up the ladder from Austin Powers International Man of Mystery’s diabolical scheming plan from Dr. Evil, and the awkward silence that befalls the team after they’ve stopped their maniacal laughter.
Is this a comedy? Yes, first and foremost. On a sci-fi level it’s perfectly adequate nonsense. As comedy, it is less successful unless you’re, say, 12 years old. We’ve seen witty remarks done far better, here – and the end credits threaten us with another movie in the not too distant future. But credit where it’s due, it’s done well here.
After around forty five minutes, it did drag on… but then, I guess, any scene featuring a grown tree javelin one of its branches through a bunch of extras playing bad guys, and bashing them from one side of a gangway over and over again till they’re dead can’t be all bad.
Author: Andrew Mackay