While the Marvel comicbook Guardians Of The Galaxy was a memorable combination of space opera and superhero action, James Gunn’s movie rejects the original comic’s ‘cosmic Avengers’ - a team of genetically adapted 31st century humans, in favour of a newer but dumber generation, in a line-up of supposedly media-friendly stereotypes. Although it’s good to see a blockbuster ‘space movie’ that is not just another pointless addition to the Star Trek franchise, or an undesirable continuance of the overworked Star Wars universe, it’s a shame that Disney fare has been crudely shoehorned into a Marvel venture, and I suspect that many fans of previous space operas, Farscape and Firefly (TV shows that were frightfully over-rated), might enjoy this GOTG movie far more than I did.
Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon are primary influences on this lone-Earthman-lost-in-space adventure, that’s hampered by its affectation for 1980s references (Kevin Bacon was a cultural hero in Footloose?) with a mix-tape batch of tiredly unimpressive (but, probably, easy to acquire the copyright clearances for?) pop songs that can hardly be considered ‘classic rock’ exemplars. They add no dramatic spirit or sense, or even faddish value, to the interstellar warfare scenario that desperately needed some social concern or political relevance in accessible, if metaphorical, terms.
As green Gamora, a weaponised slave ‘daughter’ of death deity Thanos (introduced in Avengers Assemble), Zoe Saldana can do nothing more than overact and strike blank-faced action poses. As blue Nebula, former Doctor Who starlet Karen Gillan so easily out-classes Saldana, especially in their scenes together, that it’s embarrassing to note the misjudged hierarchy of casting choices. Champion wrestler Dave Bautista makes a fist of vengeful Drax the Destroyer, but never manages to grant his intentionally stilted dialogue the right measure of tongue-in-cheek appeal. Glenn Close plays Nova Prime (leader of the star cops) as if she’s got bills to pay and is having a bad hair daze. Michael Rooker makes noble savage Yondu into a blue-skinned variant of The Walking Dead’s redneck Merle.
Apart from the welcome presence of Benicio del Toro, as the creepy Collector, there is very little here that is appropriately uncanny with eerie alien improbability. Cheap TV show Lexx boasted rather more genuinely imaginative and witty use of its sci-fi weird aspects, and even the Riddick movies had a greater dosage of astronomical and inter-planetary strangeness. Now if only they could hurry up and remake Blake’s 7 on such a widescreen scale as this, that might offer us a lot more chills, and real fun!