Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

This is undoubtedly the biggest risk in Marvel’s arsenal so far. Amid their seemingly unstoppable run in the cinematic universe and now just one stop away from the big one, Age of Ultron, we have found this Star Wars-like action superhero film. We were sceptical at first, did we really need to introduce another set of heroes this close to the climax of the last three years’ worth of films, it just felt like an unnecessary blip on the radar. However, as snippets began to come through we appreciated the colour and other-worldly feel that was present there, it would obviously further expand the Marvel universe and Bradley Cooper as a talking racoon, it doesn’t matter how many times you say that, it never loses effect, Bradley Cooper as a racoon.
So what is it then, this mad, visual, heartfelt and action packed blockbuster. It’s about as far as you can get from anything that will be appearing in cinemas this summer. It’s packed full of strange stuff but Marvel is in perfect territory there, but this film perfectly embraces the absurdity and uses it to their own advantage. It’s nice to finally have a fun-loving blockbuster again, what they used to be before they became dark and Nolan-like, it’s no use to try and take a concept like this and try to make it super serious. Instead they have fun with it, and good for them.
The story relies very heavily on the characters, people who the film itself describes as ‘a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac’. They are all drawn together to track down a mysterious and powerful orb before it falls into the wrong hands. The chemistry between them is some of the best I have seen in recent film history. We see the Avengers having small tiffs but getting over it, these five however… even the character that can only say one line somehow gets involved in arguments. Imagine if you took Han Solo and split the scoundrel’s personality into five different aspects, and put them in a room together. Watch the sparks fly, that’s all I can say to describe it.
But looking at the acting individually is an entirely different matter. Starting with Chris Pratt I can say that the star of the Lego Movie has moved to physical acting in flying colours, all of the charismatic voice talent that we saw earlier is still there but he has the screen presence to match. Sorry to bring up everyone’s favourite smuggler again but he resonates the spirit of Han Solo more than any other character in the film, and I love it. Cooper seems to have found new life (not implying his other one has ended) as a voice actor. In the same way that Pratt gains screen presence from physical acting, Cooper loses none in voice for this role. Vin Diesel is immensely enjoyable as Groot, and strong performances from the other Guardians only help to cement this team’s appeal individually ind as a group.
Perhaps it risks being too overstuffed with action and excitement at times. But the tone is kept fairly light and that works heavily to its advantage to remember that not everything in the film needs to be taken too seriously. It certainly doesn't feel forgettable in any way. The characters and imagination more than make up for any hyperactivity by carrying this film into the stars. Perhaps they'll need more serious stuff for any possible sequels, but for now everything works brilliantly.
Visually this is the biggest film Marvel has made, even bigger than the Avengers, for one simple reason. However hard you try the Avengers is still mostly rooted on Earth, but here we ae shown the cosmos and beyond. It disbands the usual superhero genre which allows the makers to just throw us into the mad world they’ve created. It’s much easier to look at this as full on science fiction rather than superhero, but it has the attitude and richness combined with the humorous and slick style that we have come to expect from all of their films. As ever of course, the effects are all up to the standard that both enthrals us in the story but avoids overshadowing it.
This film has succeeded in expanding the entire Marvel universe in ways which Thor and Avengers have only been able to offer us a glimpse of. Far from our original beliefs it has proved to not be an obstacle in the way of Age of Ultron, instead they have perfectly set up a much larger set of stakes for our existing heroes and a new set of characters to intertwine with them. Marvel continues to stun and captivate with this Star Wars-like take on the superhero.
Result: 8/10

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