Guardians of the Galaxy [IMAX/3D]
Marvel and James Gunn have on their hands a new space-movie franchise. This was a fun, enjoyable ride that would definitely appeal to the majority of the public as evident by my audience's response. The two best elements were the awesome 70/80s mixtape playlist peppered throughout and the incredible creature (and floral) design and directing of Groot. However, it does not really stand out amongst past Marvel movies and Gunn's voice can be best described as the poor man's Joss Whedon.
Gunn gave us an incredible introduction that quickly set the tone for the rest of the movie. However, other than the aforementioned playlist choices and Groot, nothing else really stood out in the remaining 100-odd minutes. What was lacking throughout was a strong emotional core to anchor the movie with the audience. Things just happen and get resolved. Our heroes do not really suffer any significant, damaging, personal, soul-crushing, emotionally tense setbacks. There were definitely enough action sequences and they surely will keep the action-fans happy. However, the sequences were nothing spectacular and the action choreography basic.
Gunn's script, co-written with Nicole Perlman, had its moments especially when the movie referenced 80s pop culture. However, the humour was on the broad side. Also, there were too many moments where Gunn and Perlman tried to capture that elusive Whedon-esque banter, and it just fell flat. Perhaps it was likely because the group was actually only two actors, 2 CGI creations and Dave Bautista. The banter here just did not work. And solely relying on Chris Pratt to deliver the humour will need him to be a stronger actor/comedian - and that is where Robert Downey Jr. succeeded brilliantly.
Then we have the characterisation of the core group. The First Act tried to establish that. Like above, it did not succeed very well. There was basic motivation but nothing deeper was explored to establish these bunch of renegades as true friends.
Pratt is a good comedic actor. On the small screen. Where he had a great array of comedic talents to work opposite with. Here, he was the sole (lead) comedian, and that responsibility was too much for his very-much buffed shoulders to carry. He lacked that self-depreciating vulnerability that would have made his character more human.
Zoe Saldana was a pretty face, even in green, and she did give her best shot to try to emote. But it felt like she playing the same character as she did in the 2 Star Trek movies. Heck, even the setting felt like a copy cat of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Groot was the surprising scene-stealer. Not Rocket. I will admit that I might partially be biased against Bradley Cooper, but objectively, Groot's simplicity and emotive eyes were crowd pleasers. Kudos to the creature designs for both Groot and Rocket, and also definitely applause to the floral designer for that penultimate climatic scene.
Poor Lee Pace and Karen Gillan were barely recognisable under all that makeup. They were definitely hamming it up as the villains.
Lots of big names too throughout: Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, John C. Riley, Djimon Hounsou and Josh Brolin but they are really just there to add credence to Marvel.
The score by Tyler Bates was unimpressive. Generic super-hero movie score. Marvel really needs to up its game on this aspect. Cinematography by Ben Davis had moments of cosmic, intergalatic beauty, but generally the lensing was also generic and run of the mill.
IMAX was definitely fun and the IMAX moments really popped. The 3D here was also more subtle and submissive but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Overall, a fun enjoyable movie for the masses, that brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe closer together and pulls slightly on the threads to make Avengers 2 and 3 an awesome reality.