Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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After being abducted from Earth as a child, space outlaw Peter Quill falls in with a group of criminals and together they uncover a plot to wipe out an entire civilisation.

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James Gunn, 2014

After the fridging death of his mother, young Peter Quill is taken by an alien ship to the far reaches of space. We rejoin him as an adult junker, a scavenger who finds valuable artefacts and sells them. When he finds a mysterious, very valuable orb, he becomes the target of the NovaCorps space police, an assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and a couple of bounty hunters, a raccoon called Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and a tree named Groot (Vin Diesel). Gamora reveals that her boss Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a zealot obsessed with revenge for the Kree race, plans to wipe out the entire planet of Xandar. The four criminal team up with superbuff Drax (Dave Bautista) in order to keep the orb from falling into Ronan’s hands.

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Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of fun. It’s a high-energy space adventure, filled with aliens of various hues, jokes, and fun characters. Every one of the Guardians gets their own storyline, their own journey. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Dave Bautista’s Drax; in the lead-up I thought he’d be the most boring character, but his very literal muscle man was very funny. The cast performed well together, and Chris Pratt did a fine job in his first action hero role. He was funny and likeable, despite the character being a womanising ass. His specialised gear for scavenging is pretty neat, very nicely designed. Groot was delightful, adorable and tough, like an attack puppy in tree form, and Bradley Cooper voiced the bitter, snarky Rocket well. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora was similar to a lot of her other characters, but that’s really kind of awesome. There are a lot of fine actors in supporting roles as well, and it seemed like everyone was having a ball with this space adventure, including the director.

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The Guardians doing their best badass poses.

The movie looks and sounds great; its 70s rock soundtrack might be its best features. When the music and visuals come together, that’s when the movie’s at its strongest. Peter’s love of music really unites the film as a whole, and it’s a clever device that anchors us in this unfamiliar universe. The action sequences are fine, particularly the prison break, which is snappy and exciting. I think ultimately, though, the movie didn’t grab me the way other Marvel movies have. There wasn’t a moment that made me really sit up and say wow, or an emotional journey that moved me. A few scenes seem to take a little too long, or end on a strange note that doesn’t quite hit. I don’t know where this problem lies; the jokes are funny, the dialogue is quick and quippy, so I’m not sure how much is script (though there are occasional expository dialogue scenes that made me roll my eyes). It’s sleek and shiny, but it lacks that spark of something magical to take it over the edge.

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDb

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