Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014 – Marvel)

Guardians of the Galaxy movie still full group

Marvel goes sci-fi with crude humour but not without heart in this adaptation of a less popular comic title

Standout performance by Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket the racoon

Finally, Marvel brings audience away from the typical alien invasion premise to the outer space for some science fiction action. Not only that, the heroes are a hilarious bunch of criminals. For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a much needed vacation completely away from Earth while developing the background and super villain Thanos for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax – five misfits of different species are forced to work together in order to deliver an orb to a high-paying buyer but they begin to question themselves after discovering the menacing power of orb and that a feared powerful villain named Ronan intends to use it to destroy Xandar, a civilised planet filled with millions of innocent living beings.

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Bradley Cooper’s (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) voice acting for Rocket the racoon is impressive, it’s energetic, funny and it doesn’t like the usual him at all. The character certainly appears cute just because it’s small animal with big guns, but he’s no cartoon character for kids due it’s foul mouth and crude personality. The most adorable one in group is actually Groot the innocent humanoid tree, also computer-generated but with the voice and motion capture of Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious, Riddick). All he says in the whole movie is “I am Groot” but Diesel managed to inject emotions when delivering that same line. Groot’s strange plant abilities save the team in battle in numerous occasions in the film. Zoe Saldana is all green here instead of blue like in Avatar (2009) but she actually looks pretty hot despite that. She plays Gamora, one of Thanos’ “daughters” who initially joins the bunch to betray Thanos and Ronan. The character is the more sensible and naturally righteous one among the five, which makes her very boring as well, and she doesn’t seem to specialise in anything like the others which actually makes her quite a useless member besides the forced romance with Star-Lord.

Former (or current?) WWE superstar Dave Bautista (or simply known as Batista) plays the big and strong but simple-minded Drax the Destroyer, who seeks to kill Ronan to avenge his murdered family. Batista certainly suits the role very well, he’s huge, scary but also delivers comic relief. The human member Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt (The Lego Movie, Her, Zero Dark Thirty), is the main guy and the leader (just because he’s human I guess?) with a sad past haunted by the death of his mother back on Earth when he was 9 years old. He was then abducted by The Ravagers, a group of thieves and smugglers who intended to eat him alive but later decided to raise him as their own instead. His full costume with the helmet reminds me of The Rocketeer (1991). Although Pratt delivers performance that’s both humourous and emotional, his role is outshone by the likes of Rocket and Groot.

Chris Pratt topless as Star-Lord Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy movie still meme

Lee Pace plays the villain Ronan but fans might be disappointed to find the lack of development for the character, how cliched the acting is, and how short and simple final fight scene is (it’s like a Dragon Ball Z movie fight but skipped to the last 5 minutes). Actually, besides for Star-Lord, all the characters are not very well developed. Their backgrounds are only briefly mentioned in dialogues. Unless you’re a hardcore Marvel fan, you’d likely have to spend time on Wikipedia if you’re curious like me. Despite not including the other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the comics, the film is still a bit overstuffed. I seriously wonder how Avengers 2: Age of Ultron is going to put all these heroes and villains together in like 2 hours. Fans should be pleased with the few appearances of Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) here as Ronan’s boss and he looks totally bad ass. Can’t wait to see him battling the Avengers.

It does seem like that I was introducing the characters more than actually reviewing the movie, but the key source of entertainment do come from these brilliantly diverse main characters along with the incredible visual effects, makeup, sufficient sci-fi space action, clean naughty humour and retro pop music from Star-Lord’s awesome mixtape cassette (aw yea, David Bowie’s Moonage Daydreamer is one of the tracks). While all that happens in space and all, parts of the movie are surprisingly effectively moving as well. Who would’ve thought James Gunn, the director of comedies like Slither (2006) and Super (2010), could handle such a huge production and do so well with it. A sequel was already announced for 2017 release with Gunn returning as the director and writer, and I just can’t wait for that either.

Post-credit scene: I waited through the entire closing credits but sadly, the post-credit scene was removed from earlier screenings. Thank goodness it was leaked online though. Howard the Duck makes appearance (apparently he was briefly shown earlier as well but I didn’t notice it) at The Collector’s museum but not sure if it’s even important to the coming Avengers film.

Spotting Stan Lee… He appears in the first quarter of the movie. This time, he’s a ladies’ man in Xandar.

What I would’ve named the film: “How Two CG Characters Completely Stole the Show from the Typical Pretty Boy Protagonist”

Censorship in Malaysia: Nothing seemed to be cut at all.

To watch in 3D? I didn’t watch it in 3D but the visuals look very promising for IMAX 3D viewing.

Second opinion: My girlfriend felt that it’s not the superhero film she was expecting but conceded that it’s fun to watch in overall, just that the ending’s kinda lame.

Verdict: Not the best post-Avengers instalment but highly entertaining and different from the other superhero-ish titles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rating: 4 / 5

Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster malaysiaBased on: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning’s comics “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Genre: Superhero, sci-fi action adventure
Running Time: 122 minutes
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriters: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou

Malaysia Release Date: 31 July 2014
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures Malaysia
Production: Marvel Studios

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  1. Ivan Chan

    Lee Pace actually auditioned for the role of Quill, lol. And yes, like you I was like "who??" on GOTG and amply researched via wiki. The next GOTG though might give an insight of the Inhumans, which I think is also one of the interesting installments by Marvel 🙂

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  2. Nick X

    Avengers: Age of Ultron wont be putting them together… there will be a crossover but in the distant future… Thanos wont be the villain or anything in Avengers 2.. just focusing on Ultron ~

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