DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have limited knowledge of the comic Guardians of the Galaxy, but as a huge fan of the Silver Surfer I am more than familiar with the universe they reside in. So I have no fanboy attachment to this film or its characters whatsoever.
So having said that, fucking hell this was fun.
Gunn's film is overflowing with an anarchic energy that suited me to a T. Like I said, I can't really comment on how faithful his film is to the comic, but what I do know is that he clearly had a blast writing and directing it. It doesn't happen often that ten minutes into a film you know you'll definitely have a great time. A sequence in which our protagonist walks across a ruined city on an alien planet, listening to a song on his walkman and disposing of aliens while doing a dance routine? Yeah, that'll do nicely.
And it doesn't let off. At a brisk pace it takes us through the Star Wars template plotting, going from one exotic set piece to the next, from one exciting action sequence to the next. It didn't bother me one second that a lot of the plotting went as expected. It is that very energy, that humour and that wonderful pace that kept me so very entertained. I am very aware of the fact that connecting to this film's tone and myriad of pop culture references is a personal thing, it just worked so well for me. Yes, I laughed ever so loudly at the John Stamos joke. Yes, I was the only one.
The cast is fine, with Pratt doing a nice job with just enough charm to pull it off. Saldana is surprisingly not annoying, but it's Cooper, Bautista, Rooker and the people that created Rocket and Groot that steal the show. And the fact that we're talking about a talking Raccoon, a bald silvery guy with red tattoos, a blue guy and a tree says enough really. Their lines with snappy delivery, the brilliant situational and physical comedy, it all fits, adding delightful surprises to something that probably shouldn't hold any.
I tend to be pretty hard on films like this as most big budget films of the last couple of years have been rather lazy. This film, in some respects, falls into those exact pitfalls as well. It doesn't do anything new plotwise, like I said, it follows a certain template. But, like with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which I saw earlier this week, this film is dedicated wholeheartedly to its vision. And Gunn just wants one thing and that is to entertain his audiences. I've seen people say that films like Guardians are the death of cinema, luring in the masses with mindless entertainment, that these are films without ambition. The villains are weak, no chances are taken, whatever.
Well, I guess my question is, why take something so seriously that doesn't even take itself seriously? Guardians of the Galaxy has a very clear sense of identity, it is a thrill ride, created to provide escapism as best as it can. It isn't intelligent, but boy is it smart. Weak villain? It's got a power hungry, insane blue guy with a big ass hammer who can destroy worlds. It is an off beat space opera, it needs a larger than life villain. No chances are taken? Green woman, pink people, blue people, talking rodent (no offense), seventies soundtrack, talking tree, dance routines, had this not been done as well as it is done, this would have failed miserably. I'd say it approaches its material with dedication and a healthy pair of balls.
And the most important F word in entertainment. Fun.
With films like this I want to be entertained, dazzled by great visuals, laugh, enjoy the ride and leave wanting more. And that is exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy delivered. In spades.