[REVIEW] Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – ManlyMovie

[REVIEW] Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

 122 Mins
Rated: PG-13
What To Expect: A wholesome, fun sci-fi fantasy adventure

It’s undeniable that 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy represents Marvel Studio’s most left-field production to date. Adapted from a mostly obscure Marvel series that has existed in various incarnations since the 1970s, this is not so much a superhero movie but rather a science fiction space opera closer to Star Wars than Iron Man. In truth, nobody expected much from Guardians of the Galaxy, and yet it’s easily one of the best pictures in the Marvel canon, a riotously irreverent action-comedy set in a richly-textured, fully-realised world teeming with memorable characters and witty, humorous dialogue – the type of playful, jubilant and emotionally satisfying ride that once defined summer blockbusters before punishing grimness and bloated runtimes became so prevalent. Furthermore, it will be easy for non-Marvel fans and even non-comic book fans to engage in this quirky gem.

Abducted from Earth as an child right after the death of his beloved mother, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) now roams the galaxy as a self-styled outlaw calling himself Star-Lord. Working for the Ravagers, led by the brutal Yondu (Michael Rooker), Quill happens upon an orb that’s worth a mint and contains a source of devastating power. Also determined to retrieve the orb is green alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) who’s in league with the incredibly dangerous Ronan (Lee Pace), another party interested in the orb. Meanwhile, goofy bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) – a genetically-engineered raccoon – and Groot (Vin Diesel) – a tree-like humanoid with a limited vocabulary – are out to score big by capturing Quill. Amid the chaos, Quill forms an unlikely alliance with Gamora, Rocket and Groot, who are soon joined by the brute Drax (Dave Bautista). With so many evil forces out to use the orb to rule the galaxy, the reluctant team take it upon themselves to see that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Guardians of the Galaxy was in good hands with writer-director James Gunn (who retooled the original script by Nicole Perlman), an underrated indie helmer from the Troma school of filmmaking. Most indie or foreign directors relinquish artistic integrity in their move to Hollywood, but Gunn’s quirky fingerprints are all over Guardians, with shrewd humour and delightfully oddball characters within a cleverly-designed narrative which finds time for world-building and character development without ever becoming drab. It all expectedly builds to a trademark Big Noisy Climax that doesn’t feel entirely essential to this story, but Gunn never lets the picture out of his control; although the digital effects are often obvious, it’s easy to get invested in the battle due to the hugely charismatic cast that we ultimately grow to care about, and because of how intense this final showdown truly is.

There’s plenty of information floating around the margins that fans will recognise as having been set up before or set to pay off later, but it’s possible to actually care about it all in this context. While Guardians of the Galaxy is highly amusing, the movie at no point devolves into an utter joke, as there are genuine stakes here. Threats are real, drama feels genuine, and there is emotional depth to the crew – Rocket is distressed about being perceived as an animal, Gamora is desperate to escape the shadows of Ronan and Thanos, Drax is haunted by the death of his family at the hands of Ronan, and Quill will risk his life for his beloved Walkman, which represents his last connection to his time on Earth. There’s vivid realism at play here, and Gunn never gives into excess; he maintains a furious pace, and infuses the production with plenty of awe and excitement. It’s an ideal way to kick off a fantasy franchise, and it puts the horrendous Star Wars prequels to shame.

Backed by a customarily generous budget, Guardians of the Galaxy looks and sounds superb, with top-flight digital effects and equally extraordinary make-up work and sets which give this fantasy wonderland a semi-realistic look. Gamora was originally intended to be pulled off with motion capture, but Saldana was instead given an elaborate make-up job. Likewise, Bautista was covered in practical make-up effects to portray Drax. It’s a great move in the long run, bestowing the characters with a tangible quality that CGI simply cannot achieve. And while Rocket and Groot were digital, they are miracles of motion capture and voice work; it’s simply amazing how much dramatic range Gunn manages to get out of them. And as the cherry on top, the picture is scored with a tastefully-selected buffet of songs from the ’70s and ’80s, amplifying the production’s unique and quirky flavour. Guardians of the Galaxy has achieved something rare by providing a hugely effective soundtrack of old tunes, bringing them back into the limelight for a new generation accustomed to autotuning and dubstep. It further underscores the production’s old-school sensibility, and it helps that each song is so perfectly integrated into the proceedings. Tyler Bates’ original compositions aren’t nearly as memorable, but they are effective.

Emotion eventually sneaks into the proceedings, but it’s not distracting or contrived. Rather, it flows organically from this story. Therefore, even the most ostensibly clichéd story beats do not come off as cliché in the slightest; they work. And ultimately, that’s what matters in a motion picture of this ilk. You can be forgiven for shedding a few tears as the movie approaches its finish line; personally, I left the cinema with a smile on my face and damp eyes. Who the hell can complain about that?

The actors are the real high point of the entire enterprise, with absolutely no weak spots in the ensemble to speak of. Chris Pratt is an ideal Star-Lord, mixing equal parts Sterling Archer and Philip J. Fry to play this outlaw. It’s amusing to watch Pratt as Quill, who tries so comically hard after his capture to embody a grade-schooler’s idea of a badass space hero even when he’s hopelessly out of his depth. Saldana is just as good, and Gunn manages to pull a remarkable performance out of wrestler Bautista, who’s a comedic instrument of blunt force to be reckoned with. Diesel is about as good as can be expected for a character who says the same few words over and over again, while Cooper gives real spark and spunk to Rocket.

Ronan has been branded as an unmemorable villain by some, but he’s easily one of the more successful bad guys we’ve seen in the Marvel canon (certainly better than Jeff Bridges in Iron Man or the notoriously vanilla antagonists in Thor: The Dark World). As Ronan, Lee Pace is authoritative and menacing. We are also given our first glimpse of Josh Brolin as Thanos, and it is awesome. Filling out the supporting cast, there’s the underrated Michael Rooker who’s an absolute riot as Yondu, while John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, and even Glenn Close make appearances.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not only hugely entertaining viewing – it’s also incredibly rewarding. Its combination of well-judged classic tunes, a perfect cast and unforced emotion just comes together amazingly well, and its replay value is through the roof. In fact, if anything, the flick improves with repeat viewings. It’s a fun, hearty afternoon at the movies for all ages, and it is highly recommended.




  1. Mucho Macho

    April 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    *Marvel movies need better villains. Too many bland villains. They have done well in the hero department but the Batman movies for example have better villains.
    lookin foward to what David Ayer is gonna do with “Suicide Squad”
    *i have heard nothin but great things about the Daredevil Netflix series. From the kick ass action to how good Vincent D’Onofrio is as the villain Kingpin. So i got to check it out asap.
    * Glad Dave Bautista is doin so well.

    • Cal

      April 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I binged through Daredevil one weekend. It was my uncle and I’s entire weekend. I actually started on the morning I got home from Melbourne after the Dolph thing. I’d been awake for 30 hours and was like…daredevil… So I watched 8 episodes then went to bed, lol. It is amazing. It is something else. It’s a realistic superhero adventure that does realism well. None of this dour pseudo-smarts like Nolan – it’s very sharp, very smart, and has great characters, not to mention amazing fights, one of which almost rivals The Raid. It’s ace!

      You seen Guardians mate?

      PS. Looks like Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins might be coming to Australia as well….

      • Mucho Macho

        April 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        Yes i have seen Guardians.
        got to watch it again cause when i saw it at the cinema i was sick & didnt enjoy it i guess like so many people have. I just got the blu-ray like 2 weeks ago. Maybe this weeken i’ll give it a go.
        Theres so much shit i need to watch. Like right busy pretending to be “busy” at work..but i just wanna go home & watch
        I love “House of Cards” havent watched season 3 yet..need to watch Daredevil, Guardians & just Netflix & DVD the fuck out of my eyes!!
        ☆ u know i like Nolan. He saved Batman. I really love the Dark Knight. Although didnt understan wtf was interstellar about… least favorite of his..i like the rest of his movies. Imsomnia is underrated i think.
        However is the Nolan effect that i hate
        sometimes. Look at the new Fantastic 4 movie..they “Nolan” it ..its all dark. Its the fantastic 4. & Fuckin Godzilla! At least the 98 movie was fun..last years godzilla…the monster was barely in it.
        btw..Adkins sooo needs to be in 1 of these movies
        .iron fist would be good for him. I love the ninja movies. Adkins rule.
        lookin foward to deadpool as well.

  2. Mucho Macho

    April 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm happened to “123”?
    he hasn’t posted in quite sometime..this is right up his alley

    • The Night Rider

      April 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Months of whining, bitching… then before his banishment, flaming, threats to destroy the site and posting personal information (his own). We put up with it for long enough.

      • Mucho Macho

        April 23, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        Good Lord!! Shit!
        I had no idea..i knew he bitched about
        ur reviews & i will tell him that so what if u didn’t like “Raid2” ..not everyone agrees on everythin..but he seemed obssesed with that particular review. He hated statham movies i loved & i will be “so what?! See no problem.
        u don’t like “Skyfall” but i did..but who gives a shit?!
        not everyone likes every single thing alike.
        some people just don’t get that. If u want any friends in life & a fuckin girlfriend as well..u have to get that. Some mofos go crazy when some people dont agree with them on everything.
        I’m not the biggest lefty in the world but i got plenty of friends that are..i roll my eyes & they get annoyin to me sometimes lol but we still hang out & talk sports & shit.
        *sorry to bring it up dude..i did not know.
        don’t ban Mucho Macho..i got to look “busy” at work like i am doin now…hahaha
        my boss thinks i’m hard at work ..meanwhile i’m bitchin about the Point Break

        • Jacob Phillips

          April 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm

          Macho, reading your comments is increasingly becoming one of my favourite things about this site, after the spot on reviews, sweet editiorials and other tid bits of course. For the record, I’m liable to disagree with people’s views on certain films and film makers but I had to agree with the Night Rider’s reveiw of The Raid 2, as much as I didn’t want to accept what a crushing dissapointment it was, this isn’t any place for no deluded fan boys, there was simply no excuse for Evan’s fucking up that movie. But I’m still looking forward to the next one and hoping it’ll be better.

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

            Deluded Raid2 fanboy here.To be honest I enjoy a good row Honest hostility beats feigned camaraderie everytime.. Bit shocked to hear about the Arnie fanboys trying to damage the site.Smacks of corporate stooges with the heavy hand.Despite my fondness for The Austrian Oak he’s just the kind of fucker who might try and stamp out dissent. You think he might be reading this?
            HEY ARNIE!!.Do another mean thriller like Sabotage and this time don”t fuck it up.!

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

            Studio plants probably .
            Arnold didn’t fuck up “Sabotage”…
            the studio did.
            should’ve kept original ending

          • Jacob Phillips

            April 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

            I watched the trailer for The Raid 2 probably hundreds of times, the film itself just didn’t work for me, I found the story dreary, but of course some of the actions sequences were brilliant. Anyway I’ve not seen Sabotage yet, but I liked Escape Plan. I think Sabotage is finally getting a release here in China, I saw a poster for it in the metro the other day, so I will more than likely check it out, even though I haven’t enoyed David Ayer’s other efforts.

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm

            Escape Plan is underrated!
            Loved it!
            Arnold was great in it

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

            I like Sabotage but there are many things wrong with it. The studio plainly cut it but a lot of the problems stem from the casting Some of the supporting cast are just awful.A lot of time is wasted on filler scenes with the cops.These scenes seem to be present just to provide positive roles for a female and a black male.And the dialogue is sometimes awful. I enjoy profane poetry as much as the next man but Sabotage is frequently crude and stupid. That said, I wound up liking the movie for two reasons.
            1)Arnie.He is simply magnificent in this.Mean and tough as hell with none of the heavy irony or cartoon Nietzsche which has characterized his career. It’s his best performance since Predator.He is in the BronsonMarvin class. I don’t say this lightly. He even looks like Marvin with a buzz saw haircut from hell
            2)The other reason this works is because of director David Ayer. I rate Street Kings as one of the manlier flics from the last twenty years.Admittedly the competion is not too great. He has a tough minded unfussy competence to his action scenes and seems to get the best out of limited players. Keanu Reeves is a type I have no time for but he is very effective in Street Kings. In another time Ayer would have made all his films with BronsonMarvinMitchumPalance & co. He deserves them. A Liam NeesonDavid Ayer collaboration free from studio interference would be my suggestion to any studio interested in resisting the rising tide of harpies,twinks and shirtlifters who seem determined to geld western civilization.Or what’s left of it.

          • The Night Rider

            April 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

            Arnold’s reps pay for the running costs of thearnoldfans. Something I heard a few years a back.

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

            Bloody hell!!.Is the guy that much of a control freak?He must be feeling vulnerable.Respect plummeting through the floorboards as I type this.What a wanker.!.Can’t see Bronson lowering himself like that.

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 4:17 pm

            Here in the States they are called “studio plants”
            Guys hired by the marketin team to go on message boards & write how great a film is, etc. The star is not directly responsible is mostly a studio thing.
            btw..i am a Sensei Seagal plant💪

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 4:39 pm

            I suspected as much. I would like to be a sensei plant if only he would make an effort. Still think he could have been one of the great ones.

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 4:51 pm

            My friend..savin the world takes away from his focus on movies…& the buffet too😲

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

            *My boss just walked by..he said ” keep up the good work” that the smelly whale is gone..let me go back to doin shit i like..😈
            *thank u sir for the compliment. I appreciated
            i actually love Raid 1 ..liked Raid 2 but the fights were good in 2. I have seen part 1 many 2 only once..maybe it was worst then i remember.
            Its okay to disagree on some things bro..that was the point. Some guys go crazzzyyyy. There are only a few films i dont like people bashin…like for example..Die Hard is 1 of
            no bad mouthin big macs masterpiece please.

        • CyrusTheVirus85

          April 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

          The main actors have saddo fanboys. But Schwarzenegger’s appear to be the worst. TheArnoldFans admin was spotted telling people to unsubscribe from ManlyMovie Twitter. The admin of a forum they used to have threatened to get the FBI involved if coverage of Arnold’s future projects were as negative as Expendables 3 coverage by us. That’s not even a joke. The other day I noticed a ScottAdkins fanboy basically spreading lies about this site on a major forum because the review for Wolf Warrior was negative… and he hadn’t even seen the movie yet!

          That’s probably not even the half of it. Haters don’t like their jerking sessions being interrupted with impartial coverage, which is what adults and grown men digest.

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm

            I hear u bud.What u have to understand Cyrus is that a lot of these mother fuckers are “keyboard toughguys”. The Net has provided them with an opportunity to be “soo tough”.
            they are mostly bark & no bite.
            I a while back ago on another site i said that “Bryan Singer should avoid problems & just date guys over 18. Bein gay aint illegal ..datin minors is. Michael Jackson would have had 0 problems if he stuck to legal age men” My friend i went away & when i checked my acc. again hours later, i had about 187 replies all wishin me death & callin me every name in the book. I was like “wow..some really angry wackjobs up in here” lol & the other day i said on a news site that “Mel Gibson deserved a second chance” thats it btw..& this crazy cunt of a guy left me 50 replies tellin me what an asshole religious nut i was.
            *The Net is the ring where no one has to throw a punch..thats why u got so many “tough guys” dont worry about them. They aint shit.
            I have actually seen a few facebook profiles of guys who write shit 2 me & i just laughed. The guy who insulted me for 2 days for likin mel gibson was some 90 pound fruit cake from Canada. I wrote him if he wanted to be tough that he should take himself out of the profile pic. He scared no 1 in real life
            * u guys keep doin what u doin..u aint doin nothin wrong or illegal. Let them bring the FBI..we”ll shit on ISIS for
            Just bitin..everybody got balls on the net.
            If anything we promotin their movies even more. This site has been super pro Adkins. They talkin shit. U guys are risin in popularity, they feel threaten so thats y they invent shit so u guys lose subscribers.
            fuck ’em! Just jealous bitches.
            Bronson dont back down & neither do we.
            they just barkin
            .thats all

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 3:24 pm

            Exactly my friend.You said the most important words:

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm

            Since u reminded me of Mandom jim i keep jokin about it with friends.
            like “come on dude! Spray some mandom”
            ☆ We need to sell like a Bronson kit..
            “The Bronson manly care package”..includes guns, knifes,condoms & mandom…

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 3:36 pm

            Fantastic idea.I think a massive revival of the Bronson cult is on the way. A kit like that might be a goldmine.As the world gets more poofy those hardmen of the past seem more important than ever. .He really hoses himself down with the Mandom doesn’t he ?.Probably made from the ball sacks of wild elk. Potent stuff.

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm

            U really brought back a gem of a video..i had all but forgotten about it. I remember my pops actually talkin about it when i was very little.
            i showed it to him when i saw him & he was like ” yeah..i think i bought that shit once”
   Bronson..fuckin awesome!!
            ☆Some of it was probably pepper or mace spray but since it was charles fuckin bronson he used it as deodorant👍

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

            LOL!!.It was probably diesel or paint stripper but when mixed with the manly musky essence of Bronson it became irresistible to the female of the species.. I never knew Mandom was sold in the west.I assumed it was just a Japanese thing.Like their whiskey.I’ll bet you had to slaughter a whole school of sperm whales just to make one single can of Mandom.Too much macho in a pressurised container can be highly unstable.Your dad must’ve been pretty macho himself to use Mandom.I’ll bet that stuff melts twinks.Dangerous ..There was probably a warning on the container:

          • Mucho Macho

            April 23, 2015 at 4:38 pm

            My pops used to travel a lot . Maybe he got it on one of his travels. He was indeed station in japan..he always bragged how much tail he got mom was not amused by his stories. My dad was such a dick..will brag in front of my mom how much pussy he got here &…but true..i got to ask him.He actually let me watched Bronson films when i was wayyy too young.
            he loved bronson.
            i never saw the bottle..
            i just temember him tellin me Bronson had a cologne or some shit

          • jim

            April 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm

            Now that’s what I call macho.

  3. Barney Ross

    April 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    MAD MAX (The Videogame) 5 MIN. GAMEPLAY Trailer PS4/XBOXONE/PC

  4. ChrisWhite

    April 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    9 out of 10 . Way to High!
    I Would Give It a 7 out of 10. To much CGI and the story is a bit childish. This movie also lacks in environment and locations.