playful, surreal and entertaining
-“ Why would you want to save the galaxy?”
-“ Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!”
Marvel is sure on a roll with the booming box office success of its superhero sequels. The latest kitschy, experimental, StarWars-meets-Avengers styled blockbuster is no exception.
Set almost entirely in the vast and dazzling reaches of outer space, the movie follows the exploits of Ravager, Peter Quill( seemingly, a vagabond intergalactic rag-picker) and his dubious comrades: green skinned assassin Gamora(similar to the Avengers’ Black Widow),a genetically engineered racoon called Rocket, a sentient tree whose vocabulary is exclusively limited to “I am Groot” and a vengeful paladin-type warrior aptly named Drax the Destroyer. The interval roughly divides the film to two parts, with one half dealing with the above mentioned protagonists trying to get rid of a mystical orb and the latter half has the guardians on a roller-coaster intergalactic mission to retrieve the same orb (now revealed to be a powerful Infinity Stone) back again and save the planet from destruction, devastation, etc.
Though it sounds rather simple and clichéd, James Gunn’s space opera is one of the most ingeniously crafted and surprisingly refreshing Marvel film in ages, and although it borrows heavily from other sci-fi sources, it triumphs on account of a hilarious, self-parodying screenplay, innovative characterisation and playful but immaculate direction.
If Avengers will be remembered for its death defying action sequences and sassy one-liners, Guardians Of The Galaxy is altogether on a league of its own with its thoroughly entertaining and immensely funny dialogue. Given that the characters are different not only biologically but literally, “galactically”, their constant bickering and misunderstandings provide an ample source of humour. Adopted daughter of evil titan Thanos, Gamora(a brazen and endearing Zoe Saldana) is unable to understand several references to Earth’s culture while formidable muscle-man Drax who takes everything literally, comments at one point of time “Nothing goes over my head.My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it”. Peter Quill (played by a delightful Chris Pratt) too has a knack of making the tensest moment seem ridiculous, namely by dancing. In short the entertainment in the film is built on bathos and melodrama, but never for one moment begins to cloy.
The soundtrack to this film is an eclectic mix of retro numbers from the 1970s and 1980s ( Aint No Mountain High Enough, Hooked on a Feeling and the like) –all amazingly timed for maximum comic effect. However the music also has a subtle role of strengthening Peter’s ties with Earth and as Gunn says “The music and the Earth stuff is one of those touchstones that we have to remind us that, yeah, [Quill] is a real person from planet Earth who’s just like you and me. Except that he’s in this big outer space adventure.
Despite the theatrics and mischief the film displays a marked character development and although each of the protagonists have their own back stories, the script does not feel cluttered or chaotic, with all the elements falling into place perfectly. Moreover the cameos by Marvel’s most mysterios of characters such as Thanos and the Collector are a sure delight for diehard Marvel aficionados.
Stunning 3D CGI-drenched visuals render the film almost like a mismatched vintage pop art-ish painting be it the Collector’s multifarious exhibits or the shimmering criminal outpost Knowhere where the space travellers meet.
Perhaps the only drawback of the film is the climax, which for the average superhero movie buff might seem a little formulaic. Nevertheless with all the pomp, glamour and hilarity, Guardians Of The Galaxy is an interstellar adventure that is hugely enjoyable and promises the viewers a bit more than their money’s worth. Easily one of the most commercially entertaining movies of the year.
Guardians Of The Galaxy( 2014)
Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Cast: Chris Pratt,Zoe Saldana,Dave Bautista,Vin Diesel,Bradley Cooper,Lee Pace
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(Previously published in Voices, The Statesman)