How do Marvel Studios keep on doing it? This is the tenth film in the marvel cinematic universe and we have had no reboots, remakes or ret cons and this franchise is still going strong! What’s more remarkable is that GotG is Marvels biggest gamble yet and, I think, it's a winner.
One could argue that Iron Man was a pretty big gamble back at the genesis of the MCU, being only a b-list character at the time, but at least I, the comic readers and most of the general public knew who Iron Man was. When Guardians of the Galaxy was announced even I, an avid Marvel fan, did not have a clue who they were and how they would fit into the MCU. For the most part they don't fit in though, they are a group of completely new characters in a setting that is completely alien (literally) to what we are used to seeing in the MCU. The great thing is though, it actually works! There is just enough of that marvel magic and continuity in this film to make it feel like it is connected to the MCU in some way. For someone who has, inexplicably, missed the previous nine films this is also a great standalone film and maybe a good place to jump into this epic story that is slowly unraveling.
Something has to be said for the writer/director James Gunn, whose previous directorial experience includes one of my favourite films, "Super". With Guardians, Gunn has managed to take the best aspects of Star Trek and Star Wars and mashed them together to create a perfect nerdvana. James Gunn has the ability to mix deep heartfelt horrible tragedy with comedy, the constant contrast of the two helps you stay devoted to the film while you get to know the characters and become invested in them.
The majority of the cast is PERFECT I really could not be happier! Ever since I heard that Chris Pratt was being cast as the lead in this film, I started watching the fantastic Parks and Recreation on demand and knew almost instantly that he would be fantastic as a lead, his performance in the Lego movie only further cemented that opinion and guess what? Despite very little experience on the big screen, Chris Pratt carries this film expertly. Vin Diesel as Groot is another standout performance, doing admirable voice work with a very limited vocabulary, but of course, due to his work on the fantastic “Iron Giant”, we all knew his booming gravely voice was up to the job. One casting I was unsure of, was Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, I just couldn’t see his voice working with the character, but Cooper completely disappeared into the role, was fantastic and if it wasn't for the credits at the end I would not have known it was Bradley Cooper at all. If I had one little niggle with one of the performances, it would have to be Michael Rooker as Yondu, perfectly good actor but a deep south American accent just doesn't quite sit right with me, not from a blue alien guy anyway.
Just as expected, the stars of the show were Rocket Raccoon and Groot, but to give credit solely to Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper would be unfair as these characters were a great collaborative effort, they were actually motion captured, just not by the actors that voiced them but some stand-ins, so, whoever they were I want to give credit where credit is due because the mannerisms of these characters really sell them, especially with groot, whose limited dialogue leaves only actions and facial expressions to convey a lot of what is going on in that wooden head of his. That said though, the actors shouldn't get all the credit either as the CGI artists are the ones that really complete the picture of these characters as the strange miracles of nature (and intense scientific experimentation, in Rockets case) that they are.
The soundtrack is legendary, and is practically another character in this movie, making it light hearted when it needs to be and dramatic also, when the mood calls for it. Its awesome tunes from the 70's and 80's have a story of their own and are actually very important to the lead character, Starlord. When I was watching this I did find myself tapping my toes and bopping my head every time a classic tune came on. Even if you haven’t seen this film I am sure you have heard about the soundtrack it is almost as if the soundtrack of GotG has transcended the movie itself.
The one problem I had with GotG before watching it is something that I have never experienced with a marvel film before, I didn’t really know any of the characters, I can imagine that this is going to happen more and more in the future as the MCU expands, and that’s fine, I guess I just have to read more comics. But unlike Avengers we hadn't got to know the characters in their own individual movies, and as a result the character development and story in this film just felt ever so slightly crammed in and a little rushed. That’s not to say that Avengers didn’t suffer from that problem a little, but because we had never ever met any of these characters not even in a small cameo, Hawkeye style, I felt that the movie was essentially saying “right then here’s Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket… Now on with the movie!” I just wished I knew the characters a bit more, but the argument against that point would be that the pacing of the movie would suffer, which is an extremely valid point. I would liken the experience of watching the Guardians movie is a little bit like watching Serenity with out watching the TV series Firefly, you will still have a good time, but you just won't know the characters as well as wish you could have and as a result you might not get so affected as much when “stuff” happens, but I digress, this is a review of Guardians of the Galaxy and not of Serenity! You have to be fair, even though Marvel and Disney are raking it in, they are not actually made out of money, although it seems like that a lot of the time, making films for each of the Guardians would be very expensive indeed, and frighteningly risky. Not to mention doing that would stagger the progress of MCU dramatically, probably making everybody wait an extra five years getting to know the Guardians while we could be watching the Avengers beat Thanos' ass.
This film is a great time to be had and even though it is a huge departure from the norm of the MCU, you have to admire Marvel Studios for taking a risk and not just pumping out carbon copy after carbon copy, like the majority of Hollywood does these days. Guardians has it all; awesome cast, director and concept and is, dare I say it!? Almost as good as The Avengers. Almost.
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