Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - superheroes, super fun!

movie review

Guardians of the Galaxy has more wit than wisdom

It’s hard to knock Hollywood for the recent deluge of superhero movies, considering how commercially successful and financially rewarding the genre has been. It’s even harder to criticize the quality of the material generated by this trend, seeing how the output has generally been very entertaining. In light of the positive reception of the genre, it becomes all too obvious why Marvel would be inspired to create yet another superhero franchise, unleashing a team of its lesser known superheroes onto the big screen in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy. The move might make it seem like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but the final product easily quashes any doubts that we may have had about the project’s legitimacy.

The movie’s (unlikely) hero is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a human who was abducted from Earth as a child, moments after his mother’s death. Two and a half decades later, Quill has fashioned himself into Star-Lord, an intergalactic rogue who merrily romps through space. But after he swipes a mysterious orb, he finds himself being targeted by the many beings who are desperate to wield its power. While dodging his chasers, Quill ends up forming an uneasy partnership with some of his pursuers. The members of the reluctant alliance include the green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who was initially sent by power-hungry villain Ronan (Lee Pace) to fetch the orb; wisecracking raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and kindly sentient tree Groot (Vin Diesel), the bounty hunters who were seeking a reward for Quill’s capture; and the vengeful Drax (Dave Bautista), whose family was killed by Ronan. Together, this team of extraterrestrial misfits must risk everything to keep the orb from nefarious hands and save the universe from havoc.

A lively adventure powered by terrific special effects (Rocket and Groot have been brought to life with some fantastic CGI), Guardians of the Galaxy is a hearty frolic that aims to entertain its audience from start to finish. Unlike many of the superhero flicks currently on offer, the movie isn’t concerned with being dark and moody; instead it is content with just being thoroughly enjoyable, employing witty banter alongside poignant touches to fuel its two hour journey. Its retro soundtrack (courtesy of an “awesome mix” cassette that Quill holds dear) is programmed to generate nostalgia, and the random pop culture references keep the viewers engaged. Chris Pratt is surprisingly suitable for the lead role; Bradley Cooper voices the smart-mouth raccoon Rocket with verve; and while Groot may only have a three word vocabulary, Vin Diesel makes good use of intonation to help make the talking tree one of the most endearing characters of the movie.

Yes, the villain is stereotypical, the action is predictable, and the customary final battle doesn’t hold much weight (probably because we aren’t as invested in the fate of the galaxy as we should be), but the movie is well aware of its own absurdities, and never fails to have a sense of humour about itself.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventure that has heart and that revels in wit; think Star Wars meets Serenity with a dash of Red Dwarf. While the movie might not have been necessary, it has found a very valid reason to exist: entertaining us. Those who want something deep, dark, and profound have many other choices. This one’s for those of us who just want to have some fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

- Sameen Amer

Sunday Magazine, The Express Tribune - 31st August, 2014 *

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