If there was one Marvel movie everyone expected to be a flop, that was Guardians Of The Galaxy.
Based on a less obvious comic-book with no traditional superheroes, made for a hefty sci-fi budget and starring the likes of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper as a talking tree and a talking raccoon respectively, this looked set to be another Lone Ranger-style disaster and an overly jokey trailer certainly didn't help.
And yet here we are, with fanboys and girls everywhere saying (and tweeting) "I Am Groot!" like they really are Groot, rocking out to old pop tracks your weird uncle probably sings at weddings and Marvel once again making millions somehow.
It's a mad, mad world.
If you don't already know, the film sees an Earth dude-turned "Starlord" (and his trusty Walkman) setting out to steal some powerful sphere only to then meet with a bunch of galactic misfits who help him escape from a space prison. They team up to take down some bad guy who also wants the sphere, yada yada yada, whatever. Truth is, Guardians' plot is only really there to fill in the blanks, it's pretty much all about the characters and their action-packed, wacky adventures, whatever they may be. Chris Pratt's Starlord sets the tone early on by dancing his way through the credits using a lizard as a microphone and it's pretty clear from then on that you're watching a live-action cartoon. Which isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, the film's humour and general randomness is a lot of fun so add to that some cool-looking space battles and you've got yourself the perfect Summer flick.
Pratt's Starlord is an enjoyably cocky fellow with his quips, his flirtatious nature, his jetpacks boots, his intimidating disappearing helmet, his mommy issues and his dated taste in music, while Bradley Cooper steals the show as the voice of that smart yet moody raccoon. Meanwhile, Diesel's Groot is probably the easiest money the actor's made since The Iron Giant playing essentially the same character, Zoe Saldana looks greener and sexier than ever doing her best with an underwritten character and Dave Bautista is a nice surprise as Drax The Destroyer, the one member of the gang I expected to be bland but who turned out to be completely worthy. Villain-wise, with Benicio Del Toro's part having been reduced to like 5 minutes of screen time, mostly just in one heavily expositional scene, we're left with a Thanos (CGI Josh Brolin) cameo and Lee Pace's Ronan The Executioner, an over-the-top power-hungry blue guy with no sense of humour and very little imagination or unique characteristic. But luckily, what Guardians Of The Galaxy lacks in terms of plot and good villains, it makes up for in charm and gusto.
Oh sure it would have been cool to see a more convincingly "80's" Starlord, running around with a bad haircut spouting out expressions no-one even says on Earth anymore, a main female character with a personality and an ending not quite as muddled and anti-climactic. Not to mention more Lloyd Kaufman (he has a cameo here) and a less hit-and-miss ratio of jokes and genuinely strong scenes. Guardians is an admittedly amusing, charming film and it has a lot going for it but not much more than John Carter, frankly. A film sadly seen as a joke to most because it was a box office catastrophe.
While it didn't quite live up to its fullest potential and is a far more uneven film than people are ready to admit, Guardians Of The Galaxy is still worth a look as it promises a good time and delivers just that. You'll likely forget what the film was about seconds after seeing it but you'll leave the cinema entertained, happy to have spent some time with these wacky characters and sitting through a bunch of fab space fights and karaoke tracks.
An Avengers/Guardians crossover should be... interesting.
Especially if that duck shows up.
(stay after the credits, nuff said)