GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Wyatt Oleff, Gregg Henry, Laura Haddock, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Serafinowicz, Brendan Fehr, Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Stan Lee and the voices of Rob Zombie, Josh Brolin, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.
Screenplay by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman.
Directed by James Gunn.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 121 minutes. Rated PG-13.
It’s getting to the point that the question has to be asked. Quite simply, is Marvel Comics running out of superhero characters to anchor films?
I’m not going to lie, I’ve never heard of any of the five superhero characters who are the core of this film, which is obviously planned to become a new superhero franchise. I’m sure people that are more into the comic world will find them familiar, but still you have to wonder if the series is going to have to rely on hardcore fans, how much success can they expect?
More to the point, are there even any of these characters who could anchor their own film? In my opinion, there is only one I would like to see more of: Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a foul-mouthed violent raccoon with a bit of a Napoleon complex. Rocket functions as the comic relief here, but he’s also the only one of the characters with fire, passion and who has an interesting personality.
The lead character of Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt) is the only other one who even comes close. Still, though he has a funny slacker charm early on, eventually his character was neutered to become a typical troubled “good guy.” That said, his obsession with mix tapes of 70s pop hits that make up the soundtrack rocks. It is by far one of the most enjoyable things about the film.
The other heroes… meh. There is the green female assassin Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana as the more violent cousin of her character in Avatar) and Drax (played by professional wrestler Dave Bautista) a pumped-up warrior who does not have the skills he thinks he has. Oh, and Groot, a fighting tree voiced by Vin Diesel (he only has one repeated line throughout the film, “I am Groot,” though at one point he does the variation “We are Groot.”)
The boring characters might be okay if the world they inhabited was interesting. But, no, this is a pretty typical dystopian mash-up of intergalactic clichés.
Therefore the fact that the script for Guardians of the Galaxy is often cleverly pithy and surprisingly funny, in the long run the time spent in this galaxy feels like a chore.
And then, to continue the cinematic yard sale on comic characters, in the inevitable Marvel post-end-credits Easter egg sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy they have a cameo in which they pull yet another long-forgotten comic character out of mothballs. I won’t say who it is in case it comes as a spoiler to some hardcore fan boys, but I will point out that this same exact character was used once before on film, and his movie was considered both a historic critical and popular bomb. So if they are going to bring him back for the next Guardians of the Galaxy film (and the end credits already state definitively that these guys will be back), that’s just another reason not to hold your breath waiting for more of this series.
Jay S. Jacobs