It’s important that directors get to bring their visions to life; it’s not fair to give someone a project and strip them of their ideas and originality. It can happen a lot in Hollywood – Somewhere, Josh Trank is sitting at a bar with a bottle of whiskey, rambling off about Fant4stic while the regulars laugh at him – and while it’s understandable that it is a business, and studios need to do what they know works, but a little faith can go a long way. Marvel’s decision to let James Gunn do his thing was one of their smartest decisions to date, and Guardians of the Galaxy is one of their best films.
Now it’s not a totally original piece – At the end of the day, you can boil it down to the same standard Marvel plot – but it’s less the content and more the execution that sets Guardians aside from the rest. It has a certain vibrancy that is completely unmatched by any other film in the franchises; that doesn’t make the rest of them bad, but it’s something new in comparison. It was a fairly risky choice to adapt Guardians of the Galaxy, given at the time they were among the more obscure Marvel teams, but I suppose it makes sense to entrust a less traditional approach to a less popular brand. Had it gone wrong, it would’ve been fairly easy to leave it behind and move forward. The MCU films have a certain feel to them, certain themes that band them together and ultimately lead to the criticisms they receive (Don’t forget guys, cinema is dying), but Guardians of the Galaxy for being the most vibrant and exploratory of the films at the point.
The film took us to new and exciting worlds, something that only the Thor had done, and not nearly as well. A handful of planets other than Earth with their creatures, landscapes, and inhabitants, all beautifully designed for an immersive experience. On top of that, it was by far the most consistently funny MCU film at the time too; it was the only one that could easily be classified as a comedy (Until the likes of Ant-Man), where humour was an integral and constant factor to the film, and it was done perfectly. All the Marvel films have humour, this is the only one that was truly hilarious. And of course, how could we not mention the soundtrack? It utilizes classic hits from the 80s, in a way that we’re never going to forget. The image of Peter Quill strutting his stuff to Come And Get Your Love is one that we’re blessed to have, amongst the many other genius decisions made with this music. Nothing about the soundtrack feels generic, soulless or tacked on, it all works perfectly.
But above all else, the most impressive thing about Guardians of the Galaxy is it’s total lack of set up; The Avengers is amazing, no doubt, but we got films for each character, to introduce and flesh them so by the time The Avengers came, we could get straight to the point. Guardians introduces characters that were nowhere near as popular as The Avengers, with no films whatsoever to back them up, and completely nails it. We meet each character, get their story, and buy into the chemistry without the need for build up. It’s done in a way that avoids exposition but still gives you the important information, and doesn’t waste time on unnecessary scenes. We know exactly who each character is, and the way they come together is fantastic. We saw just recently how horribly wrong this formula can go – What are we, some kind of…Suicide Squad? – which just makes this example all the more amazing. Of course, the film isn’t perfect; much like 90% of Marvel films, it suffers from a very weak villain in Ronan the Accuser, perhaps the only character introduced for the first time that isn’t interesting. We do have Nebula and Thanos to make up for that though. And as I said before, you can apply the basic Marvel structure to this film, but the execution is good enough to distract you from that.
Guardians of the Galaxy is just a film that delivers on almost every level; It’s funny, it’s action packed, exciting, amazing special effects, kick-ass soundtrack, a great cast who give great performances, and truly bring this team to life. Above all else, it has heart, and that goes a long way in a genre like this.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is out now!
Read our review!