Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro
Marvel has over the years consistently built its franchise by putting out one summer blockbuster after another. With Guardians of the Galaxy, it has managed to successfully create a space opera on the lines of Star Wars and Star Trek with a pantheon of unknown characters. Contrary to Marvel’s earlier outings like Avengers, Captain America and whole host of solo superhero-led films, Guardians is not driven by one famous character. This gamble in fact has reaped Marvel more benefits than the likes of say Transformers where one hero continues across sequels with only some additional inputs by others.
The characters, most of who are not even familiar names with the most ardent of Marvel fans, are given a carte blanche to create their own connections and back stories without the baggage of a successful comic or TV series.
Peter Quill/Star Lord (essayed by Chris Pratt) heads an unlikely group of misfits who have a bounty on their heads for stealing a mysterious orb. The alliance comprises crazy God Thanos’ daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldahna), foul-mouthed raccoon Rocket (voice by Bradley Cooper), tree alien Groot (voice by Vin Diesel) and the seething Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). The group is chased across the galaxy thanks to the orb in their possession and the film follows the usual sci-fi route of people and creatures falling prey to the limitless power that that orb yields. How it is protected while being severely hunted forms the crux of the story and there’s nothing unusual in the storyline as the film reaches a predictable conclusion.
The film works because the main performances are spectacularly aided by great cinematography and subliminal music. Pratt completely owns his role and does a marvellously convincing job. Zoe puts together a fine performance though one wishes she’d have brought more toughness and strength to the role of the assassin. The star of the show has to be Rocket because really, how cool is it that there’s a potty-mouthed talking raccoon! The special effects that have been employed to create Rocket are stylised and at no point are they patchy or an anachronism. The character of Rocket pretty much defines the movie — unusual, well-used technology, brilliant lines and a superb voiceover.
Credit must be given to Gunn whose approach to the film has been much like the approach of the Guardians — understated against a massive backdrop. At no point in time does the audience feel like they’re alien to this universe. In fact, the opening sequence that pays tribute to the likes of Indiana Jones welcomes the viewer into an unlikely world of half humans and full creatures, and engages him in an intergalactic battle that while new is also familiar. If you couldn’t care for this genre of filmmaking then you’ll be put off if not for disinterested. There are too many characters and subplots, some of which connect with The Avengers series and in fact put them in perspective.
For someone who has grown up on Star Wars and Star Trek, this 2014 space odyssey is like a new, updated space opera replete with unknown characters and unfamiliar plotlines. It’s definitely worth a watch if space operas are your thing. Don’t judge it against epics but give it a fair chance to woo you. You will not be disappointed.