“Guardians of the Galaxy” directed by James Gunn, is a slightly disappointing yet visually stunning superhero sci-fi feature. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the recklessness and affinity for humor, but the jokes feel self-aware and perfunctory. Being the first Marvel film to be set in space and to feature hero’s most are unfamiliar to. Bizarre aspects are welcome, but it feels too willing to please and restricted by a script that thinly explores character. Boasting a nearly insignificant plot, it’s carried along at a snappy pace that feels light and fun for the summer season.
When we first meet Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), he is a child standing beside his mother passing away from cancer. This scene may be the only real thing about the film, and its a shame that it never figures satisfyingly back into the plot . Abducted by a group of space aliens, Quill gradually becomes a pirate and later attempts to steal a powerful orb to sell it. What does the orb do? It’s able to destroy the world, and everyone including the all-powerful owner Thanos are after it.
Arrested for theft, he meets a strange but memorable group of outcasts. There’s the green faced beauty Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the family revenging Drax (Dave Bautista), a scruffy loud talking Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and a talking tree named Groot (Vin Diesel) who can only say the words “I am Groot.” Teaming together to take on Ronan (Lee Pace), a minion sent to retrieve the orb, they gradually learn the power of friendship. With the 1970’s soundtrack sounding like its coming out of a jukebox, it feels like a crime film with characters talking big and loud every chance they get.
Overall the plot is only slightly involving, and though the characters are fleshed it only scratches the surface. I enjoyed the bizarre aspects like the Raccoon; a fantastic CGI creation that is perhaps the most emotionally realized character. Praise for Chris Pratt may be a little high; he certainly looks the part and plays the part with heart and charisma. As with most superhero films this one supplements emotional development for action and spectacle, but the visuals are memorable. Wish the film tried to be more realistic, as sometimes it felt like an overly loud cartoon.
Its spontaneity and edginess are welcome, but the film tries too hard when a subtler approach would have worked better. It’s a shame the material was approached with such irreverence. This is visually inspired stuff from “Star Wars” to “Blade Runner”, yet the CGI sometimes makes it look like a videogame. Wish it had been more intent on providing an involving story along with the visuals. Though this tries to take the Marvel universe to more edgy territory, it fall shorts by being more interested in spectacle than story.
(2 ½ out of 4 stars)
(Released: August 1, 2014)