Film: Guardians of the Galaxy
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel
Director: James Gunn
Think of Marvel as a giant conglomerate that mints superheroes by the minute. They gave us one team of world saviours, Avengers, who did the deed once and will again be saving us from doom early next year.
But ask yourself; is one set of world saviours ever enough? Absolutely not. So, Marvel increased the ambit of its operations and has now given us Guardians of the Galaxy. They are just like Avengers, only funnier. And yes, there is no Robert Downey Jr.
What we do have is Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), a ravager who dances to '80s hits as he steals from godforsaken planets and sleeps his way around the galaxy. Pratt sets the tone of the film in the opening sequence itself - we are in for rollicking good time with his wisecracks and zaniness. Things just get better from there.
He meets green-hued Gamora (Zoe Saldana) -- not so much fun but really nifty with punches, and a Jai-Veeru-like pair of Rocket and Groot. Now, Rocket is Hollywood's yummiest (Bradley Copper) and Groot's the brawniest (Vin Diesel) but before you get your hopes high, Rocket is a raccoon who is equally handy with bombs and smart answers, and Groot is a strong-and-silent sentient tree. The Hollywood actors only voice them.
However, between both of them, they provide the maximum number of laughs in the film. Vin Diesel has only one line in the film 'I am Groot' and he makes you guffaw every time he says it. Rocket, meanwhile, has all the swagger and the good retorts.
Along with Drax (David Bautista), they form an unlikely quintet. which originally starts out to make some money by peddling a powerful orb that can destroy planets, end up saving the galaxy. The villain here is Ronan who dresses a lot like Darth Vader but is not half as terrifying.
The story in its nub is regular Marvel fare but what makes the film special is its irreverence and complete subversion of the superhero formula. For instance, when Quill saves Gamora's life, he says, "I couldn't let you die. I found something inside myself incredibly heroic-not to brag."
When the time comes to save a peaceful planet, Quill says he has a plan. When questioned about how much of a plan, he says, "About 12%". Full marks to director James Gunn for taking a superhero flick and handling it so not-so-seriously.
The other standout of the film is the way it uses retro tracks. Quill has a treasured walkman and a tape of mixed singles to which he dances in all kinds of situation - when stealing, when waiting to meet a prospective buyer of the said goodies, when facing a villain who is about to destroy a planet. And the songs are Hooked on a Feeling, Ain't no Mountain High Enough, Come and Get my Love among many others. The way the songs have been weaved in with the story make them extra special.
The special effects are as impeccable as any you will see in a Marvel movie. Big guns, bigger blasts and every other trick in the book makes this a treat for action fans.
Probably the most light-hearted Marvel movie, this one pulls you in with its wacky narrative turns and keeps you engaged in a world far, far away where anything can happen. If a popcorn cruncher is what you are out for, grab the tickets for this one. You will not be unhappy when at the end of the film, they tell you that they have just turned this one into yet another franchise. Bring them on, we say.