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Guardians Of The Galaxy - Balls in Space

In One Word



Adventure / Comedy / Fantasy / Science Fiction

Released By / Year

Marvel Studios / 2014

Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy is not a superhero movie. It is rather a movie that exists in its own alternate universe. A Marvel comic book universe where a cheeky, gun toting raccoon and a walking tree with healing powers don't feel inexplicable or surreal but are simply accepted as being, well there, because that is a cool thing to conjure up and they add to the entertainment level.

Director James Gunn does an excellent job of world building and brings this universe to life. The movie feels jam packed with details, sly references and winks and it will probably take a few more viewings comprehend everything. This review is based on my first impression. Anyway, back to Rocky Raccoon and the tree.... They surprisingly end up as the heart of the movie.

Combine these two with a giant brutish nitwit with no comprehension for metaphors, a green female assassin with a conscience and a rogue adventurer abducted from earth at the age of 9, whose most prized possession is a cassette tape labeled "Awesome Mix #1" and you have the ragtag team of main characters inhabiting this far out space fantasy comedy.

The whole movie is imbued with a genuine sense of fun and I lost count of the laugh out loud moments after a while. It is a movie where a likable bunch of misfits with some serious personality issues clash, bond and wreck havoc in their own unique way.

The movie starts out on a serious note but soon leaves its earthy confinements and goes pretty much ballistic from then on out. Opening 26 years after an alien abduction, Peter Quill, or "Star Lord" as he has nicknamed himself to the awkward amusement of everyone he meets, is on a quest for an unexpectedly powerful artifact and decides to go lone ranger on the crew of mercenaries that have raised him.

He tries his utmost to channel Indiana Jones and Han Solo coolness but haphazardly and unintentionally ends up as a comedic fusion of epic proportions, including bits and pieces of Lone Starr from Spaceballs and Alex (Owen Wilson) from I Spy. Chris Pratt plays the role of Peter "Star Lord" Quill brilliantly and carries the movie. He ends up in jail along with the above mentioned characters and that is all I am saying about the plot.

I had read as little as possible about the movie beforehand and was floored by the most excellent sense of humor I've experienced in a long time. Guardians feels like an Ode to the eighties in the sense that it captures a specific atmosphere and runs with it throughout. It may be the superb soundtrack, where songs are used to give great irony to several scenes, the wit and self awareness of the dialogue or the amount of heart that the movie captures. It has a definite retro feel, which somehow feels original. To me there is a great pleasure in the feeling that this movie has the guts to go all out on the comedy rail and send up itself among many other things. It somehow just works, and that tells me that here is a movie with soul.

Everything is spot on except for one joke in the middle which felt out of character to me. It is rare for the filmmakers to walk a line this fine and balance it for an entire movie but they do it here to perfection. One near stumble is easily forgiven when the jokes come as fast as they do there and hit the mark as often as they do.

The overly serious scenes both with the Nova Corps distressing over the fragile peace agreement and the main bad guy Ronan, scheming in his lair, feel heavy handed and stand in stark contrast to the silly comedic genius of pretty much every other scene. I have a theory this was done on purpose to send up the entire Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, where movies often go overboard to explain and bump up the danger factor with some extremely serious exposition. This contrast of moods plays up to itself and is one of the things I look forward to experience again on repeated viewings.

The pace is fast throughout and action scenes are convincing with well-choreographed fight scenes and excellent visual effects.

Director James Gunn has a clear vision and feel for what works. I enjoyed his debut, Slither, because of its sense of humor and inventiveness. Guardians is off the scale in those areas. I am off to find his previous movie, Super, as soon as possible.

Guardians Of The Galaxy is both bold and audacious. It captures a sense of humor and a heart that has not been seen since the likes of Indiana Jones, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey, Spaceballs, Star Wars and several other classic movies from a time long gone by. Do check it out if you enjoy a good laugh. It's bonkers.

Blu-ray Update:

The movie is finally out on Blu-ray and DVD. It holds up on the small screen and is still hugely enjoyable. This is one of those movies that benefits from multiple viewings. The Blu-ray bonus features include a succinct but funny gag reel, a handful of deleted or extended scenes with commentary by James Gunn, three featurettes: one on the movie, another on the special effects and finally one great but very short one on the upcoming Avengers sequel. Last but not least is an enjoyable movie commentary by James Gunn.

A special mention goes to the movie featurette, which has been lovingly designed and features a brilliant retro feel in the form of snippets from an imagined Guardians of the Galaxy 8-bit game, advanced enough to have parallax scrolling. Nice! The sense of humor from the movie pervades this little gem.

I clearly hoped for much more comprehensive extras and judging by what is mentioned in the commentary other deleted scenes exist.

Overall the extras are enjoyable but way too meagre.

Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, August 3, 2014
Updated: Sunday, December 3, 2014 - Added the Blu-ray update