Guardians of the Galaxy is easily the biggest gamble Marvel Studios have ever taken. A venture into the unknown and a plan to introduce a whole new galaxy of characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is something that could have backfired.

Audiences are familiar with MCU characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk however, many people, including myself know next to nothing about the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy. The biggest worry was whether people were going to take to them.

Anybody that is still worrying about this film, there is no need. Guardians of the Galaxy triumphantly does what it set out to do and has a hell of a lot of fun in doing it. Just about everything you could wish for in a comic-book movie is in Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy unites a band of misfits including; thief Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), maniac Drax (Dave Bautista) and the two thugs Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) in their fight against Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).

Ronan is after the orb that Quill stole and will destroy anything that gets in his way. The five misfits take the fight to Ronan and in doing so take up the mantle as the Guardians of the Galaxy.

There are a number of things that make Guardians of the Galaxy so good and without a doubt the best of these is the cast and the justice they do the characters. With a comic-book movie, the characters are just about the most important part and what the fans are normally the most nervous for.

In Chris Pratt, Marvel have once again hit the nail on the head with their casting, just like they have done previously with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth respectively. Pratt has always had the lesser parts in comedies and has found himself playing second fiddle to the likes of Vince Vaughn and Jason Segel but Guardians of the Galaxy is his time to take the lead.

You might be sitting there thinking that this isn't a comedy but wait until you see it and try to argue then. This movie is extremely funny, Marvel's funniest yet, and Pratt has a ball as Star-Lord, channeling two of Harrison Ford's most iconic characters, Han Solo and Indiana Jones. His comic timing is of the highest order and right from the very off you will know what sort of character you are about to spend two hours with. 

There are a couple of scenes where Pratt had the audience laughing out loud but I will not spoil them for you as; A) it will be better if you see it for yourself and B) you wouldn't believe these things would happen in a Marvel comic-book movie, seriously.

Along for the ride with Star-Lord is Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana. She is fierce and more than capable of handling herself in a fight, much like her character in Avatar, Neytiri. Many people have been moaning about a lack of strong female characters in comic-book movies but Saldana as Gamora should put a stop to that argument. Black Widow finally has some company.

The biggest surprise for me was Dave Bautista as Drax. Bautista who spent many years, including some more recent, with the WWE as Batista is a revelation as the tormented Drax, whose family was murdered by Ronan. Bautista was expected by many, including myself, to be the weak link and not give a good performance at all but he more than proves everybody wrong with a strong performance that certainly makes you think Drax is more than just a warrior with brute strength. He too has a knack for delivering the comedy when necessary.

All three of these are good fun to watch but there are two who completely steal the show. That is of course the duo of Rocket Raccoon, a genetically engineered raccoon, and Groot, a tree-like humanoid. Both are created using top of the range CGI and they provide a large amount of the movie's heart and soul.

Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel, who only utters the words "I am Groot" throughout will become a favourite for fans of the MCU. Diesel brings a surprising amount of depth to Groot with those three words, each time expressing different emotions. Not an easy feat at all.

And then there is Rocket who, voiced by Bradley Cooper is the latest jewel in the crown for Marvel. Rocket brings the funny just as much as Star-Lord, only just with a bit more edginess. Cooper's vocal performance is just fantastic as well. Voicing a character is not as easy as it seems but Cooper excels, getting right into the character and at times you wouldn't even know it was Cooper.

As I have mentioned before, Guardians of the Galaxy was meant to introduce a whole new set of characters into the MCU. With these five alone they have given audiences a welcome break from the usual MCU heroes which could not have come at a better time with some people starting to get tired of the same characters over and over.

As with many of the MCU movies so far, Guardians of the Galaxy finds itself lacking in the villain department. Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser gets off to a promising start but ultimately fades into the background as the movie runs on. Karen Gillan as Nebula is just as fierce as Gamora but again feels a bit underused when things looked pretty promising. Both of their scenes just felt rushed compared to the heroes of the movie.

The big bad of the MCU, Thanos, also makes a very brief appearance and I have to say he looked a bit disappointing. Josh Brolin was voicing Thanos but I wasn't too sure if Brolin was using motion-capture technology to appear as Thanos. If so, it looked very ropey indeed. Expect to see Thanos pop up again soon in the MCU however if he does, I do hope he looks better.

James Gunn was the man chosen to bring Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen and the end result more than justifies that call. Gunn is also on writing duties with Nicole Perlman and the pair have worked wonders to give their cast a sharp and witty screenplay that, along with the barnstorming action set-pieces, hark back to the classic sci-fi movies of the 80s, most notably Star Wars.

With strange new worlds to explore there was an opportunity to be as creative as possible with the designs and they are brought to life with some stunning cinematography by Ben Davis. Whether the gritty prison or the bizarre planet Knowhere, the whole movie just looks astounding, especially in IMAX 3D. 

Nothing sets Guardians of the Galaxy further apart from the rest of the MCU than its soundtrack. Iron Man had the AC/DC every now and then but here things are taken to a whole new level, and it just adds to the quirkiness of the movie.

With an impressive score from Tyler Bates the movie made a brave choice in also using a variety of songs from the 60s and 70s, all of which Quill's mum gave to him on a mix-tape, where suitable in the movie. You've all heard Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede in the trailers for the film and that fits really well but there are also inventive uses of Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes and Cherry Bomb by The Runaways.

Guardians of the Galaxy is another success story for Marvel Studios waiting to happen and with this new set of heroes sharing the same universe as The Avengers, I for one cannot wait to see Star-Lord clash with Tony Stark or Captain America questioning the methods of Rocket and Groot.

The MCU has been well and truly blown wide open and if you listen out closely you can almost hear the Guardians of the Galaxy saying "You're welcome".

Verdict: 4.5/5


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