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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Zoe Saldana
Chris Pratt
Lee Pace
Dave Bautista
Bradley Cooper
Vin Diesel
Michael Rooker
Karen Gillan.
Directors
James Gunn.
Screenwriters
James Gunn.
Running Time
121 minutes

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Guardians Of The Galaxy
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Plot
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.


Review
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.


Verdict
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


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


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


RE: CONTAINS SPOILERS.....

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


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! http://booksdragonsanddietcoke.com/2014/08/08/guardians -of-the-galaxy/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by prontron07 at 17:43, 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


RE: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Surprisingly fun for one of these kids films. I think I prefer marvel / comic book films when they realise they are not to be taken seriously. ... More

Posted by spamandham at 13:14, 12 August 2014 | Report This Post


Best of Marvel

As a father of two I've had to sit through a number of these Marvel adaptations in recent years and I found this to be the best by far. I loved the fast pacing of the movie, it reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Arc with the exposition done on the move rather than long boring worthy conversations about frankly ludicrous concepts. Too many of these adaptations take themselves far too seriously and I thought Guardians struck a perfect balance between action and humour, a balancing act which hasn'... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Uncle_Ethan at 19:31, 10 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Guardians of the Galaxy

L: paulyboy One thing I have to mention though is the Groot end credits sequence, genuinely inspired, made me grin like a complete idiot for the entire drive home. t was worth the ticket price just for that :D ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GrizBe at 22:25, 05 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: an absolute joy

Enjoyed this quite a bit, but wouldn't say it was anything special. In fact, I find the general love for this and hating on, say,Transformers baffling. I don't think I'm stupid and have a reasonable idea of what makes a good film. Guardians maybe had better characters but most of the humour fell flat for me. No sense of peril and the usual shit Marvel villain. Once again we also have the usual Marvel MacGuffin and the same climax. Good design work, perfect casting and mostly strong action, but ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 13:01, 05 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Guardians of the Galaxy

Thoroughly enjoyable, not sure I'd put it with Marvel's best just yet, Captain America 2 will take some beating, but I really enjoyed it none the less. One thing I have to mention though is the Groot end credits sequence, genuinely inspired, made me grin like a complete idiot for the entire drive home. 4/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 12:03, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: overated

Found this an entertaining & different type of super-hero movie to your usual fair more humor than most, (shame Sony couldn't have used Gunn on their Spider-Man films). It's also good that they brought in some more of Marvels Intrergalactic fair into play though was a bit dissapointed with the Nova Core maybe they're saving that for a later date & somehow managed to keep it at around 2 hours. Nice to see that it has been taken to kindly by mostly all critics Jason Soloman apart standing in fo... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 11:16, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Good time feeling!

I enjoyed it, just pure entertainment - it doesn't ask too many questions, and it doesn't take itself too seriously (which given the content, is a good thing).   I think it would have been better if I had known less about the film before watching it - although I'm probably partly to blame given that I've been following the progress of the film through Empire nk there were some parts that would have worked better had I not seen them in the trailers / previews. (Again though, I should ha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Schimchs at 17:53, 03 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Great fun if a bit of a mess

I loved GOTG from start to finish, it's not only very funny and wildly entertaining, it's also just great fun, period. In a time when so many superhero / comic book films are going OTT in stressing 'darkness' and gritty realism, it's refreshing to have a film that succeeds as pure entertainment and with an unusually unconditional 'happy ending'. Inevitably, no film is perfect though, but these would be the only gripes I think worth mentioning: - The songs on the soundtrack are spectacular,... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 12:54, 03 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Great fun if a bit of a mess

L: Old_Pyrate the "lets all hold hands to control the power of the infinity stone" ending was a bit dumb. o be fair on that, it was explained that only the most powerful of people could hold it without burning out and that a previous group attempt had failed. So yes, while it may be a bit cheesy, it's meant to point out that together as a team they're strong enough to overcome anything. L: wlucas I do agree that Marvel should probably come up with a storyline that doesn't involve 'po... More

Posted by GrizBe at 10:42, 03 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel Incorporated - The End

L: Jonny24 Marvel's movie quality run was the first Iron Man, first Thor, first Captain America, and ended 2/3 of the way though The Avengers. Superhero comics went to shit after the mid-80s so it's reasonable to expect movie quality to have a much lower shelf life. I went to see this today, and it sucks donkey balls. Yet another massive object crashing into a city as the big CGI set piece. Badly underdeveloped characters, even considering the comic background. t.-rated straightjacket ... More

Posted by musht at 03:43, 03 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel Incorporated - The End

L: Jonny24 Marvel's movie quality run was the first Iron Man, first Thor, first Captain America, and ended 2/3 of the way though The Avengers. Superhero comics went to shit after the mid-80s so it's reasonable to expect movie quality to have a much lower shelf life. I went to see this today, and it sucks donkey balls. Yet another massive object crashing into a city as the big CGI set piece. Badly underdeveloped characters, even considering the comic background. Zero wit. The 12-rated s... More

Posted by UTB at 21:45, 02 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Guardians Of The Galaxy

When it was announced that Marvel Studios was going to do The Avengers, it was back then the studio’s riskiest film in as much as it was a superhero team-up movie that assembles characters (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc.) who each had their own solo feature. However, with TV extraordinaire Joss Whedon at the helm, it was an instant success with its ensemble writing and epic super-heroic action and became the third highest-grossing film of all time. What The Avengers also did, was to open... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 02:20, 02 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Great fun if a bit of a mess

Very enjoyable movie...joe pesci,,,hans solo,,,muscle,,tree,,and green girl from star wars,, make this a night out to remember..4/5.... ... More

Posted by No Diggity at 13:45, 01 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Empire, mmm.

They have been wrong, yes. ... More

Posted by jace007 at 12:40, 01 August 2014 | Report This Post


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