Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

“I am Groot.”

James Gunn’s new Marvel movie has come storming its way into the Marvel consciousness, standing out from the crowd as a real break from the norm. More importantly, with its colourful and comic characters, it is a reminder that the most watchable super-hero movies have been those that don’t take themselves too seriously. Ultimately, the level of satisfaction you feel as you sit there at the end, only half reading the credits waiting for the next Marvel teaser, will depend on what you expect from what is essentially a comic, and I mean comic, science-fiction film.

Its entrance into Marvel movie lore is impeccably timed, as even the most hardened fan feels a little bit detached after the gloomy, borderline depressing recent Marvel sequels such as Thor: The Dark World and Winter Soldier. Not that either were bad, I for one just missed the magical, light and comical edge that the first decade of the 21st Century gave us. Guardians of the Galaxy fortunately, enters the fray with an array of gags and guns that will satisfy the teenager in us, as we all empathise and relate to the childhood-lost main character.

Christ Pratt plays Peter Quill, an immature but honourable rouge whom steals an orb in an ancient ruin, only to be caught up thereafter in a complicated plot involving everyone from a ‘hard on the outside – soft on the inside’ genetically engineered Racoon, to Thanos, the most powerful being in the universe. In fact, the movie handles the story really well, weaving interconnected characters with their own agendas, whilst leaving plenty of room for well timed jokes and light hearted nods to eighties cartoon memories.

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Joined by the endearing and lovely Zoe Soldana as Gomora, Groot the talking tree, and the “not as bad as you thought he was going to be” Dave Bautista, Quill and this bunch of anti-heroes battle to prevent the orb, which turns out to be more than that, falling into the wrong hands. Aside from the jokes, the action does not move any mountains in terms of thought, and many of the ideas are strewn together through decades of love for space bandits and alien galaxies. This is especially prevalent when the set pieces become wider in scope, and I couldn’t help but feel the movie’s far reaching plot brought it out of its comfort zone on several occasions.

You really need to take the movie with a massive pinch of galactic salt, or you will be missing out on a barrel of laughs. Personally, I can only credit the film so far, as I long for game changers, the real landmarks that seem to be rarer and rarer with every year that passes, as we cover similar ground in mainstream cinema. But with Guardians, director James Gunn has made sure there is still plenty of scope for using the newest talents and tech, to relive the sort of comic book science-fiction that has defined a generation.

Shapstik Verdict: A completely different, but intimately related Marvel instalment that has an infantile ambition at its heart. Standing on the precipice of overly cheesy, but never quite falling over the edge, Guardians of the Galaxy is a genuine gem in a fairly forgettable year so far in cinema. But if you are in the mood for something a little more solid, you may find the painfully predictable heroes and monologuing villains a little too much to swallow. 7/10

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