Film Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy

I can still remember clearly in my mind the first time I saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy. Everything about it just screamed stay away to me. Firstly it wasn’t a comic book I was aware of, and so felt more like an invention to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an extension created purely as a cash cow, rather than a story rooted in history. And secondly, I just didn’t find the apparent immaturity and sense of spoof, basic humour the trailer seemed to hint at appealing. Convinced primary by the sight of a grown man unwinding his middle finger in silly defiance.

So I ignored it at the cinema, even when the reviews started to claim it was good. I ignored it when other trailers appeared showing that it had a greater depth than visual gags and one line retorts and I ignored it even when all the film magazines started falling over themselves to suggest it was a must own DVD. But then of course, it’s Christmas and if you’ve managed 12 months without upsetting Santa, why not ask for it and see if the big man will be so kind?

All I can say having now watched it, is I’m sorry. I completely misjudged it. I’ve never really been into comic books, I’ve never felt a draw to Batman, Spider Man or Superman and I even struggle with Dennis the Menace (although I have a soft spot for Banana Man), and so I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy Guardians Of The Galaxy. I was expecting a big, over the top, cheesy, franchise film, where the money gets blown on everything but the script, the characters, or the depth that engrosses you and raises a good film into a great one.

But I was wrong.

Guardians Of The Galaxy - Comic Appearance

I think the fact that the Guardians are an unknown quantity meant that they were able to live within a freedom that the bigger name ‘heroes cannot. There is no preconceived expectations. And that freedom results in a cracking film. Every worry I had coming into this, every idea of immaturity, ever potential toilet humour joke never materialised. Yes the ingredients are there to create that risk, and yes from time to time they combine together and run a little close to the wind but it’s always done with the right amount of balance, or the perfect touch and timing to mean that rather than hinder the film it enhances it. The quality of the jokes are just right so that their tone never destroys.

Linked to the above, and impressive for an CGI action feast of a movie, the biggest surprise to me was the quality of the writing and the way that writing then engaged you to the characters. Writers’s Nicole Perlman and James Gunn deserve a huge amount of credit for the script because what they have done is create characters that feel real, that feel right. The actual focal cast may not be very big, but they complement each other in such a way that you not only feel each of them brings their own individuality and personality to the screen, but also work together to combine into the perfect form. Each an integral part of the whole, all necessary, but all able to stand on their own and keep you interested.

Sadly though, while the main cast are interesting, entertaining and fun, the supporting cast are fair more hit and miss. It pains me to say it, but Karen Gillan just doesn’t feel right. I just found her a little bit to screechy, a little bit too much like a lady throwing a tantrum about to shout “it’s not fair” rather than a strong, angry commander. Glenn Close also falls slightly flat, but this time, it’s purely a problem of my mind. I cannot see her now as anybody other than Cruella de Vil, with that evil glint of madness in the corner of her eye, and so when you’re asked to see her on the side of good, I struggle.

Guardians Of The Galaxy - Mix Tape Music

The other point that I kept coming back to in my mind was the film’s use of music. It plays a fundamental role in the layering of the film and is used time and again with comedic hope, but for me more-often-than-not it just fell a little flat. Short of the intended target for one simple reason. I don’t think the track choices were as strong as they could be. The opening few bars would roll, my brain would make that predictive connection to the big hit song about to play and then I’d be shocked into realisation that I was listening to something I didn’t expect and more often than not didn’t know. And the few times that didn’t happen, the few times it lead with the bigger hitter, it just clarified how much more I wanted from the soundtrack.

Rounding out though, I actively shied away from Guardians of the Galaxy because I was a fool. This is by far the best superhero comic book movie I’ve seen in recent years, and if you don’t come away having fallen in love with the simplicity and loyalty of Groot or the teasing, sarcastic sense of humour of Rocket then there is something wrong with you! I came into this film with my eyes closed and have left with them firmly open, only upset that I’ve got to wait two years for the story to continue.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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