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Zoe Saldana
Chris Pratt
Lee Pace
Dave Bautista
Bradley Cooper
Vin Diesel
Michael Rooker
Karen Gillan.
James Gunn.
James Gunn.
Running Time
121 minutes

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Guardians Of The Galaxy
Banter fodder

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Kree terrorist Ronan The Accuser (Pace) wants ‘the orb’ so he can trade it with Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) for destroying planet Xandar. But Ravager Peter Quill (Pratt) finds it first, prompting his mentor (Rooker) to put a bounty on his head. Meanwhile Quill, Ronan’s stooge Gamora (Saldana), bounty hunters Rocket (Cooper) and Groot (Diesel), and convict Drax (Bautista) join forces to sell the orb and defy Ronan.

Guardians Of The Galaxy
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If you’re old enough to remember watching John-Boy from The Waltons fly a spaceship that looked like a massive pair of breasts on VHS, then there is plenty in Guardians Of The Galaxy for you. And if you’re young enough to accept without scoffing the sight of a talking raccoon wielding a heavy calibre weapon, then you’re in the right quadrant, too. No doubt keenly aware that this movie lacks even a smidgen of the brand awareness of its previous output, Marvel has savvily located its latest megabudget entertainment firmly in the Venn diagram overlap between Modern Innocence and ’80s Irony.

Battle Beyond The Stars, Flight Of The Navigator, Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon, Back To The Future (2), Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Total Recall and a certain other space-based saga all donate their DNA, and Guardians isn’t about to apologise for replicating it. It’s proud of its heritage, dammit, right down its 1988-on-Earth prologue, “Awesome Mix” tape-cassette soundtrack, and scoundrel hero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) describing the film’s spherical MacGuffin as having an “Ark Of The Covenant, Maltese Falcon vibe”.

Writer/director James Gunn (Slither, Super), true to his roots, even injects some fluoro-gungy Troma flavour making it all feel like Star Trek from a punked-up parallel reality where Gene Roddenberry was actually Lloyd Kaufman.

A good portion of the film is solid, set-based and (relatively speaking) grounded, avoiding the wispy daylight glow of pure-pixel backdrops. Gunn’s strengths are most evident during the central team-gathering sequence, where Quill, wiseacre raccoon-thing Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), sentient tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), green assassin Gamora (Saldana) and vengeful big baldie Drax (former pro-wrestler Dave Bautista) discover their synergistic power during a hugely enjoyable prison break, which somehow involves the removal of a prosthetic leg and its subsequent use as a weapon.

Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman keep things breezy and snappy (it’s the Marvel way now: snark over dark), importing the Avengers’ banter-bickering into the self-aware B-sci-fi setting; which, given the Joss Whedon connection, means this is also reminiscent of Firefly/Serenity. And Gunn’s cast appropriately, from reforming Parks And Recreation’s Andy as a buff galactic lothario to having the voice of Face come from the face of a raccoon — while the pair enjoyably vie for the position of this film’s Han Solo. You’ll hear much about how either Groot or Rocket steal it — the bark-and-bite pairing certainly have their moments — but the big surprise is Bautista’s Drax. Cursed with a genetic inability to understand metaphors, the movie’s apparent muscleman actually has many of the film’s wittiest lines. (“Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.”)

The antagonistic contingent, however, is less successful. Lee Pace’s Ronan, Djimon Hounsou’s Korath and Karen Gillan’s Nebula feel barely written, although the one-time Who companion looks fantastic with blue skin and shark eyes and exhibits a tight-focused anti-charisma in a thinly sketched part. And ‘phantom menace’ Thanos (Josh Brolin) is an embarrassment: a lantern-jawed CG ’toon blessedly only given a minute or so of screentime.

As much as Guardians largely thrives through its lovably scuzzy style, it cannot avoid the immense tractor-beam pull of The Big Marvel Studios Final Act. Only a few months ago, reviewing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Empire exhibited frustration at yet another climax which involved a frantic sky battle, culminating in a giant object crashing to the ground. Well here we have yet another. There is even a replay of Thor: The Dark World’s CG-drenched Infinity Stone struggle, although now it’s purple swirly stuff rather than red. For all the digital artistry on display, these Marvel final set-pieces are becoming suggestive of a climax-by-committee default mode.

Still, Gunn thankfully pulls the film back onto its own turf once the big fight’s over. And Guardians Of The Galaxy does expand the breadth and diversity of the Marvel Universe; we go beyond superheroes and threats to Earth. It also proves how even a kid raised by Troma in the filmmaking badlands can succeed in Blockbuster City.

Colourful, tongue-in-cheek fun, purpose-built for grown-up lovers of kitsch ’80s science-fiction. But the Marvel formula is starting to feel, well, a little too formulaic.

Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Guardians Of The Galaxy
Empire Star Rating

RE: 5* Entertainment

Thanks to s Gunn, the movie promises chuck loads of his signature humour and chockful of action. Amidst all the ruckus you'd almost forget the fact the antagonist is the least bit intimidating, oh yea that's flaw you are likely to look past. I had not thought once, when I'd seen Chris Pratt getting his teeth bashed out by James McAvoy in Wanted, that he'd end up as a main lead in a major studios' production. ... More

Posted by Abrtalar at 11:16, 19 February 2015 | Report This Post

RE: 5* Entertainment

I'm a 48 year old guy and had a thoroughly great time watching this, all bases covered, bravo. ... More

Posted by JohnChard at 05:34, 24 January 2015 | Report This Post

RE: Guardians Of The Galaxy

I loved this movie, my kids loved it and keeps wanting to watch it, I first rented it on Demand, but after paying for it twice I just had to go buy the DVD. Great movie! Highly recommend. s! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ashlie H at 03:55, 22 January 2015 | Report This Post

RE: Oh Dear!

I thought it was flipping marvellous. Really enjoyable space opera shenanigans covered with a splattering of fun, which kind of makes it not really your typical "Marvel" movie but something more akin to The Last Starfighter or The Ice Pirates (but obviously with a budget). So, a modern movie masquerading as an eighties movie. No bad thing really, except it kind of highlights I'm a bit of an old git. More like this please... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clownfoot at 23:34, 03 January 2015 | Report This Post

RE: Oh Dear!

Slight retraction. On second viewing, minus weight of expectation caused by overly positive reviews, this is in fact not bad. My kids love it so maybe I'm getting on a bit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 16:18, 03 January 2015 | Report This Post

RE: Oh Dear!

Relieved that I am not alone. Flabbergasted at how well this film has been received. I just don't get it (why it's liked so much - I get the "plot") L: Azzurro06 I can't think of a better way to sum up how I felt about this movie than to say I truly and utterly hated every second of it. Lame, predictable, boring, plot-less, dull and worst of all, it contained humour that even a kid of 8 would shrug at. Please God Marvel, don't go further down this route, it stinks! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 05:58, 25 December 2014 | Report This Post

Easily Marvel's best film. Regardless of people saying this is 'formulaic' and 'copying' certain other plots, for me: this is extremely original, extremely fun, and extremely exciting. Beautifully shot with 80s feel cinematography juxtaposed with futuristic vision, this is as good as it gets. One of the best films of 2014. WE ARE GROOT ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 22:10, 06 December 2014 | Report This Post

RE: same plot as Thor 2...

Saw this in the cinema on release and found it a bit overwhelming on the big screen Got given a HD copy today from a friend working in the industry, watched it at home and really enjoyed / appreciated the film on the smaller screen. Very clever piece of film making. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hampstead bandit at 20:02, 17 November 2014 | Report This Post

same plot as Thor 2...

... almost exactly, which I thought was a bit crap. But what more than made up for it was the script e acting which was universally excellent - Peter Serafinowiz, action hero!!! Even Bautista, who I anticipated being nothing more than walking muscles, was thoroughly entertaining. I had a good laugh and really enjoyed it, but please can we have a new plot? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DanTDavies at 12:09, 18 October 2014 | Report This Post

5* Entertainment

Probably the most thrilling film of the year date, despite the slow sci-fi by numbers opening half hour. Anything but formulaic or predictable, laugh out loud funny and genuinely moving in parts I found it to be a complete surprise. Excellent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack Ryan at 23:51, 04 September 2014 | Report This Post

Male character overkill, but genius galactic old-school fun.

This latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes us on a voyage across the stars on a quest to save the galaxy. Although this may sound like a run-of-the-mill storyline, this is far a run-of-the-mill package. Five vigilantes must unite to save the galaxy from the threat of an all-powerful villain, threatening to either destroy or conquer. While the main story arc may be reminiscent of Star Wars and the like, there are enough sub-plots, humour and 70s tunes to make it stand out o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Benoit03 at 13:41, 24 August 2014 | Report This Post

tp://]Guardia ns Of The Galaxyn forehand these were, for me, some of the most unknown of Marvel`s superheroes. Luckily the film succeeds to change that and right away put it at the top my list of favorites. What makes this film so fun to watch is the fact that it doesn`t take itself too serious. Because of a wave of succesfull humour it`s pretty light in tone without making too much lame jokes. The story might be predictable and not filled with surpr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 20:52, 23 August 2014 | Report This Post

A standout film in a very popular genre.

One of the best Marvel films to date. Check out my full review on ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TroyPutland at 21:33, 21 August 2014 | Report This Post

Effortlessly entertaining....

Nothing original to see here if you’re already a fan of Farscape (and there are many) – but still – it’s such a pleasure to see a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a film which goes all out to entertain from the very start but still goes that extra mile at the end and leaves you walking out of the cinema with a smile on your face. Marvel have got a formula and it works so don’t expect any future instalments to deviate too far off the well beaten (an... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BRAINDRAIN at 17:29, 19 August 2014 | Report This Post

Good enough for me!

Seen it. Would see it again. Good fun! Yes, I agree it's a bit of a mess, but the characters are likeable and charming and there are some great laughs. I don't know the comics so they did a good job to introduce newbies into that universe because I was not totally lost. Still, a lot of information to process at the beginning but even if you didn't understand it, it didn't really matter. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pandora at 09:56, 18 August 2014 | Report This Post

Same Old, Same Old

The plot, as Empire alludes, is nothing new, every scene reminds you of something you have seen before and I mean every scene, There is not one original notion, even if it involves talking Racoons and trees and any film that replicates Flight of the Navigator deserves a kicking. Every cliche that you have ever seen in any sci-fi movie is replicated, Its unoriginal, formulaic and turgid. Even my wife who has loved every, and I mean every, Star Trek film thought it unoriginal. If people s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevee at 00:12, 18 August 2014 | Report This Post


A film which is great fun to watch. It doesn't offer much new but it is definitely entertaining. I was concerned from the trailer that Bradley Cooper was the wrong voice for Rocket Racoon but it works very well in the actual film. The Nova Corp is very different from the comic versions (no powers for them just funky ships) and Ronin was a tad underwhelming as was Nebula which just seemed to be a character of make up and a petulant look and nothing else. Drax the Destroyer whilst entertainin... More

Posted by sanchia at 11:41, 17 August 2014 | Report This Post


It’s a roller coaster - a cosmic, intergalactic, cinematic sugar rush of a movie and pure comic book geek nirvana with knobs on.The likeable performances and the cool villains are nicely counter balanced by a breakneck pace, excellent SFX, a witty script and some saucily played black humour. Granted, the plot itself is a bit perfunctory and it gets a bit confusing trying to work out whose side everyone is on – but don’t forget - these particular Guardians weren’t even in... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 17:45, 15 August 2014 | Report This Post

Most Entertaining Film of the Year

That's just my opinion. Sure, there are problems with it but given the fact that this film showcased 5 main characters where, unlike Avengers Assemble, none of which had a standalone film (or two) beforehand, I think Gunn and Perlman did a great job in introducing their main characters which makes up for the lack of back-story to Nebula, Thanos, Ronan, Yondu and Korath. Furthermore, with the sequel already confirmed, there's still so much more room to maneuver in which to make these villians mor... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CollateralDamage at 15:45, 15 August 2014 | Report This Post

Too many stirring/rousing moments...

far too many. They really need to start finding more original ways to communicate ideas and plot points. In the cinema I was straining to think of any such (ridiculously) heavy-handed emotive music with speechifying combos that occur in Star Wars. Aside from that it was tons of fun. For me though, 4 stars means 3.5. Also, Dave Batista is still a pro-wrestler. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by partybee at 10:52, 14 August 2014 | Report This Post

Too many stirring/rousing moments...

far too many. They really need to start finding more original ways to communicate ideas and plot points. In the cinema I was straining to think of any such (ridiculously) heavy-handed emotive music with speechifying combos that occur in Star Wars. Aside from that it was tons of fun. For me though, 4 stars means 3.5. Also, Dave Batista is still a pro-wrestler. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by partybee at 10:52, 14 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Great fun if a bit of a mess

This film was so awesome. I was so surprised how well all the actors played their respective roles and interacted together and Josh Brolin as Thanos my god! Check out my review for Guardians on my blog! -of-the-galaxy/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by prontron07 at 17:43, 13 August 2014 | Report This Post

Chris Pratt Kills

I loved this movie! It is by far my favorite film in the Marvel franchise. Check out my review on my blog. ardians-of-the-galaxy/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by prontron07 at 17:10, 13 August 2014 | Report This Post

Excellent. I'm giving it 5 stars to negate the 1 star reviews on here.. seriously? 1 star? I'm a cynical person but you guys need some fun back in your lives ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 12:30, 13 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Guardians Of The Galaxy

A bit of a mess... since it's funny, being a bit of a mess is appropriate. ... More

Posted by Imperion at 17:01, 12 August 2014 | Report This Post

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