Re:View – ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’
I misread the title of this film before I saw it and thought it was ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’. I figured I was in for two hours of watching a superhero explaining about transgender rights in local government. Instead I found myself watching a talking raccoon with a ray-gun.
For every successful comic Marvel produced, there was an also-ran. One thinks of Howard the Duck and Not Brand Ecch, and these guys, a bunch of idiots taking on evil overlords in the playground of the universe. In fact not even these guys, as ‘Guardians’ freely chucks in characters from other minor comics, and in doing so, director James Gunn and his co-writers have pulled off a bit of a coup. Realising that the result could have been horribly formulaic – the plot is, painfully so – they concentrated on characters instead and came up with a film that’s very funny and very nearly fresh.
Marshalling a team of hapless heroes is the formerly porky, now buff Chris Pratt, intergalactic overlord in his own mind, armed only with his mixtape cassette of old disco hits. Then there’s hulking warrior Drax, who takes every metaphor literally, a grumpy green-skinned Zoe Saldana (who has nothing to do ‘cos she’s a girl and it’s SF), Rocket the raccoon, who could get quite annoying in subsequent outings, and Groot the gentle talking (well, three words) tree, voiced (in what must be the first proper voiceover joke) by Vin Diesel. Backed by heavier names in small but telling roles (Glenn Close, Phillip C Reilly) our heroes take off into a candy-coloured galaxy that repeatedly looks like seventies SF book jackets.
The plot should bother no-one, something about one of seven orbs that can change the universe (someone should produce a book purely about McGuffins) because what follows is a loose-limbed dance through the writers’ own obsessions, matched to some gloriously pretty set pieces (the golden net over the alien ship is especially attractive).
Oh, and plenty of not-very-SF but very amusing jokes, ranging from a smart Kevin Bacon gag to an incredibly smutty one-liner that Pratt slips past the censors because it requires artistic knowledge. See kids? Brains can get you through anything. It’s what Marvel do so well, because they’re just a bit slutty and not carrying the ghastly burden of DC’s own self-importance. DC could have done this with, say, Challengers of the Unknown or the Metal Men, but they can’t even get Superman right. And as Marvel are doing Ant-Man there’ll be no chance for DC now with the Atom.
Will there be a sequel to Guardians? Does Groot eat his own daisies? I almost wish they’d do the unexpected and make it a nice one-off, but the bottom line has already dictated a green light for a sequel. Stay for the end – there’s a nice post-credits joke that comics fans will enjoy.