Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 31 July 2014


A gleefully playful and entertaining comic-book space adventure, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY jolts to life as one of the must-see summer blockbusters of 2014.

Prior to the movie release of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, I've never heard of the comic-book series before, which was originally created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan back in January 1969 when they first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes. And same goes to the 2008 incarnation of the series created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, which later became the major source of inspiration for director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman. No doubt a big budget comic-book movie like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which features largely unknown characters is a huge gamble for Marvel Studios. But rest assured that Marvel Studios as well as the people who involved in this production manages to achieve the impossible feat by turning GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY into a fun summer blockbuster after all.

Young Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) is just a 9-year-old boy when he ends up being abducted from Earth by a spacecraft. Twenty six years later, Quill (Chris Pratt) is now an adult who goes under the nickname of "Star-Lord", and becomes a space bandit working for the blue-skinned leader of the Ravagers named Yondu (Michael Rooker). Quill is assigned on a mission to steal a mysterious silver orb hidden on the abandoned planet of Morag. Soon he finds himself in deep trouble when he faces against the intergalactic hunter Korath (Djimon Hounsou), who works for Kree leader Ronan (Lee Pace) as well as Ronan's green-skinned female assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Complicating the matters are wisecracking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and gigantic walking tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), two bounty hunters who are both hunting Quill as well. The four main characters (Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot) eventually ends up in a high-security space prison and get acquaintance with an angry convict named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who is particularly looking for Ronan to avenge his murdered family. Despite their differences, they force to team up as they work together to escape from the space prison and make a deal to split their share once they manage to sell off the orb at a higher price. However, once they discover the content of the orb actually poses a deadly threat against the galaxy.
Despite working on a huge studio production for the first time, director James Gunn (SLITHER, SUPER) successfully combines his B-movie sensibility with geeky knowledge for classics like THE DIRTY DOZEN, STAR WARS and BACK TO THE FUTURE and manages to deliver a fun-filled entertainment that hardly let up throughout its efficient two-hour running time. Gunn and Nicole Perlman's simple but effective screenplay, in the meantime, is nicely balanced between cheeky humour and dramatic urgency.

With a large budget (reportedly cost at US$170 million) to play with, the special effects in this movie are both seamless and spectacular while the CGI characters of Rocket and Groot are just as impeccable. Kudos also goes to Ben Davis' vibrant cinematography and Charles Wood's elaborate production design that made the movie such a striking visual experience. Tyler Bates' music is both rousing and heartfelt, while the soundtrack is pitch perfect. From the poignant song of 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" appeared in the opening scene to the uplifting numbers of Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling", Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" during some of the playful moments, this is an overall the best feel-good soundtrack I've ever heard so far for this year.

Most of the casts here are spot-on: Chris Pratt delivers an engaging presence as Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, who is very good with comic timing (as proven with his winning voice performance in THE LEGO MOVIE shown earlier this year) and also convincing enough as a charismatic, yet likable action hero. Zoe Saldana, who is no stranger to sci-fi genre especially after appearing in AVATAR and two STAR TREK movies, is excellent as the kick-ass Gamora. Dave Bautista's muscular role as the vengeful Drax the Destroyer provides more than just a brawn with his surprisingly subtle performance of a violent character who actually has a heart of gold, and he's especially delightful to watch for whenever he has trouble trying to understand the meaning of figurative language. But the scene-stealers here are the marvellous chemistry between Rocket and Groot. Bradley Cooper is funny and sarcastic as Rocket. Vin Diesel amazes me the most with his sweet and sympathetic but lethal performance as Groot, while he can be as memorable as repeating three limited words of "I am Groot" with his trademark deep baritone voice. Michael Rooker is perfectly wicked in his limited role as the blue-skinned Yondu. Other supporting actors such as Benicio Del Toro (reprising his role for the second time as The Collector after last year's THOR: THE DARK WORLD), Glenn Close and John C. Reilly who both play as high-ranking officials from Xandar's law enforcement of the Nova Corps, are equally competent as well.

The brief but emotionally heartfelt prologue that begins with young Quill sitting on the chair in the hospital while listening to 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" on his Walkman; the scene where Quill dancing and singing to the catchy tune of Redbone's "Come And Get Your Love"; the amusing first encounter between Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot in the city of Xandar; the elaborate air attack against Ronan's Dark Aster warship in a broad daylight; the cool Mexican standoff-like scene where Yondu single-handedly defeats a small army of Ronan's soldiers by whistling his mystical arrow that able to change direction; and the funny moment where Quill dancing and singing The Five Stairsteps' "O-o-h Child" in front of a clueless Ronan for the sake of distracting his attention.

Rocket: Bunch of jackass standing in the circle.

The movie would have been a perfect summer blockbuster if there's a great villain worth praising for. Unfortunately, Lee Pace, who plays as the main villain Ronan the Accuser, fails to make a lasting impression here because his character is sadly underdeveloped. If that's not disappointing enough, his would-be great battle scene against the Guardians of the Galaxy team in the finale falls short of epic and even spectacular quality.


Despite the minor shortcoming, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is a great summer movie not to be missed. And personally, I can't wait what James Gunn and his company will deliver next when the sequel hits in 2017.

* This review is written courtesy from Nuffnang Malaysia premiere screening *

And also thanks to Nuffnang Malaysia for the awesome merchandises including a toy model, a yo-yo and a cap below:


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