Guardians Of The Galaxy

The ul­ti­mate mix of alien mis­fits

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Penny dreadful - Dave Golder

mis­fit crew of the Mi­lano hits DVD and Blu- ray at con­sid­er­able speed.

Re­lease Date: 24 Novem­ber

2014 | 12 | Blu- ray 3D/ Blu- ray/ DVD Di­rec­tor: James Gunn Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Sal­dana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gil­lan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Ev­ery­one knew that Mar­vel’s movie about a rag- tag team of in­ter­ga­lac­tic mis­fits – their first space opera – was go­ing to have a break- out star. What no one an­tic­i­pated was that ev­ery­one would be ar­gu­ing over whether that break- out star is Groot or Drax.

That’s not to den­i­grate Rocket Rac­coon. He’s great too, but he was clearly lined up by the film’s mar­ke­teers as the character that we would all love. Well, we do. The wise­crack­ing cy­borg ro­dent ( okay, okay – we know he’s not re­ally a ro­dent) is all kinds of fun. But be­cause no one ex­pected a tree with one line of di­a­logue voiced by Vin Diesel or a blue- skinned brute played by a wrestler ( rarely a good sign) to be the scene steal­ers, they stealth­ily damn near steal the en­tire show.

That’s even more amaz­ing given that th­ese three al­ready had a fight on their hands to grab at­ten­tion away

It’s witty and clever and smart, and equally ap­peal­ing to SF fans and non- fans alike

from the most ass- kick­ing, charis­matic, ver­bally- spar­ring, lip- lock­ing big screen hero/ hero­ine combo since Han and Leia in The Em­pire Strikes Back: the rogu­ish Peter Quill ( Chris Pratt) and the no- non­sense Gamora ( Zoe Sal­dana).

That’s the se­cret of Guardians Of The Galaxy’s suc­cess. Sure, there are some amaz­ing spe­cial ef­fects. Sure, it fea­tures some of the best on- screen comic- book scraps in ages ( what’s more, you can ac­tu­ally see what’s go­ing on in the fights!). Sure, the pro­duc­tion de­sign is awe­some ( although the planet Xan­dar does look sus­pi­ciously like its en­tire aes­thetic has been in­flu­enced by London’s Mil­len­nium Bridge… which hap­pens to be where they filmed part of it). And sure, there are teas­ing links to the rest of the Mar­vel uni­verse.

But all that would count for noth­ing if the core team of mis­fits hadn’t been so exquisitely crafted and cast. For a long time now, Mar­vel movie bosses have ar­gued that the key to their films’ suc­cess has been char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. Never has this been more the case than in Guardians.

Be­cause the story ain’t up to much: a chase around space for a MacGuf­fin of galaxy- threat­en­ing power with which to cre­ate the req­ui­site big ac­tion fi­nale. Even the vil­lains aren’t par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing. Karen Gil­lan does lit­tle other than glower and kick things as the sadis­tic Neb­ula, while Lee Pace – so good in The Des­o­la­tion Of Smaug – is pretty much an au­to­mated threat dis­penser here as the fa­nat­i­cal Ro­nan.

The hu­mour and ca­ma­raderie be­tween the good guys ( or, more ac­cu­rately, the not- bad guys) is the key here, along with some strong, quirky cameo per­for­mances from the likes of Beni­cio Del Toro as the Col­lec­tor and Michael Rooker as Yondu ( a won­der­ful re- imag­in­ing from the comics).

Put sim­ply, Guardians Of The Galaxy is very funny. Not camp funny. Not self- aware funny. Not in- joke funny. It’s witty and clever and smart, and equally ap­peal­ing to SF fans and non- fans alike. It’s also warm and hu­man, in an un­sen­ti­men­tal way. That’s part of Drax’s suc­cess; the hulk­ing war­rior seems to be a two- di­men­sional character, but half­way through you sud­denly can’t help loving the big lug as lit­tle chinks in the ar­mour start to show.

All the he­roes have their heart- on- sleeve mo­ments, and none of them are cheesy. Well, maybe one of them is… but that’s right at the end when some Hol­ly­wood cheese is just what’s re­quired at that point. Be­sides, the mo­ment is im­me­di­ately un­der­cut with ba­thetic bril­liance.

Work­ing from his own ex­u­ber­ant script, James Gunn’s di­rec­tion is pitch per­fect. From his cast­ing choices to his tonal choices to his edit­ing choices, he gets it all spot on. The In­fin­ity Gaunt­let has been well

and truly thrown down, Joss Whe­don.

Ex­tras: Frus­trat­ingly, not only were the ex­tras un­able for view­ing at the time we went to press, but full de­tails were un­avail­able as well. So here’s what we do know...

The ma­jor news is that for a sec­ond Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse re­lease in a row ( after The Win­ter Sol­dier) we have no One- Shot short. Blimey, was ev­ery­one so bowled over by how un­top­pable Drew Pearce’s “All Hail The King” was that they’ve given up mak­ing them al­to­gether? The of­fi­cial line is still, “a tem­po­rary halt un­til we come up with a good enough idea” – plus, ac­cord­ing to a tweet by James Gunn, the discs are so full of ex­tra

Guardians good­ness that there was sim­ply no room for a One- Shot any­way. You can’t help sus­pect­ing that the One- Shots are be­ing qui­etly laid to rest sim­ply be­cause they’re an un­nec­es­sary ex­pense, though. Be hon­est: will the ab­sence of one stop you buy­ing Guardians on shiny disc?

So what is bulk­ing out that Blu- ray re­lease, then? Audio com­men­tary; mak­ing- of fea­turettes; a gag reel; an ex­clu­sive look at

Avengers: Age Of Ul­tron; and deleted scenes. From what James Gunn has been say­ing we know that among those will be a se­quence where a prison guard walks through the prison lis­ten­ing to “Magic” by Pi­lot on Quill’s Walk­man ( and play­ing with his Play- Doh), and a touch­ing mo­ment where Drax ex­plains the mean­ing of his tat­toos ( which the di­rec­tor as­sures us is sim­ply “heart­break­ing ”). It’ll all be quirk­ily won­der­ful, no doubt.

Buy the DVD and you’ll only get the Age Of Ul­tron pre­view and one deleted scene. Be­cause DVD buy­ers are sec­ond- class cit­i­zens who smell of wee, ob­vi­ously.

Vin Diesel claims that he recorded the line, “I am Groot!” over a thou­sand times. We’re not sure what this says about Vin.

Drax re­ally should have gone be­fore they set off.

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