Guardians of the Galaxy review: Marvel’s latest chapter is not quite out of this world

Guardians of the Galaxy sees pilot/dudebro Peter Quill become the object of a manhunt when he steals an orb belonging to the feared Ronan the Accuser. When he finds out the orb has the potential to destroy millions of innocent lives, he teams up with a gang of outcasts to bring Ronan down.

After the deserved success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I was expecting big things from this, and it delivered on some fronts but not on others.

Quill and the gang are not well known, so there’s a strong sense of freedom to Gunn’s directing. He has been allowed to tell the kind of story he wants to tell without having to worry too much about pandying to the stalwart fans of the comics. He gets rid of the angst that we’ve come to expect from superhero movies lately, and the result is a fun and frothy space opera packed with wit (a throwaway semen joke is especially lol-worthy), but unfortunately that means moments we’re supposed to take seriously, like Drax’s pretty heartbreaking back story, tend to lose their edge.

Visually, it’s a treat.  Director James Gunn immerses you in his incredibly beautiful, bright and bonkers universe which you sort of wish actually existed. Like all good sci-fi movies, this has a water-tight, well established world with it’s own rules, peoples…and alcohol, realised in great detail. Plus, the CGI is seamless and it’s never not cool to see hundreds of one-person spaceships get fried.

Quill’s a player, but Chris Pratt is loveable enough to stop him from being a complete douchecanoe. Gamora is a brilliant female character, which we know Zoe Saldana excels at; but Rocket and Groot (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively) steal the show as the trigger-happy, oddball double act. Most-surprising performance goes to former wrestler Dave Batista. WWE stars can be cringe on the big screen, but if The Animal is serious about a film career, it could take off.

Marvel need to put in work on their villains, though.  WHERE IS THE THREAT? Lee Pace and Karen Gillan are solid actors who were wasted in this movie. Nebula is badass, but only briefly; and while Pace gets a delightfully grim murder scene early on, his potentially defining moment gets invalidated in seconds, albeit in a funny way.

Guardians of the Galaxy is n bombastic popcorn movie with an 80s vibe that people old enough to remember Spaceballs first coming out will appreciate. Those who don’t might feel like they’ve missed something – and I include myself in that. I grew up with Discmans and The Backstreet Boys. Maybe it’s a generational thing? Or maybe my post-Cap 2 expectations were too high…

THREE OUT OF FIVE*

*Yeah, that score is kinda subject to change. At the screening we were denied the after-credits sequence, so I’m planning on watching GotG again so I can see it.

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