Grief-stricken young boy, Peter Quill, is abducted by a band of space pirates known as Ravagers. Twenty six years later, Peter betrays the Ravagers when he steals a sphere-artefact that he promised to bring to them. When he is intercepted by a pair of bounty hunters, Rocket and Groot, and a mysterious woman, Gamora, who also wants the sphere, the four become captured and imprisoned. Striking an unlikely and uneasy friendship with convict, Drax, the group escape and try to retrieve the sphere which they discover has the ability to destroy worlds. Now in the hands of the evil Ronan, and with the odds stacked against them, this team of misfits must do everything they can to stop him, even if it means that they will die in the fight.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Director: James Gunn
Running Length: 121 mins
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comedy
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is the tenth instalment of the ‘Marvel Universe’ movies and is based on the Marvel comics’ superhero team of the same name. Initially trailed as a purely comical farce – which made it appear to be a sub-standard part of the franchise – it was pleasantly surprising that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ has turned out to be just as good as all the others. While it is clear early on that comedy is more front and centre here than previous Marvel movies, this doesn’t detract from the excellent plot, acting and depth of character that director, James Gunn, has clearly been eager to include.
An ensemble cast can often be difficult to handle; giving ample and equal screen time to several characters, all of whom have varying back-stories, is no mean feat. However, Gunn, adeptly ensures that each person on-screen is enjoyed for their demeanour as well as sympathised with for the difficult pasts that they have endured. Some comedy movies struggle to be anything other than light-hearted, making any forays into serious and intense scenes with evil characters feel out of place. Thankfully, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ gets the balance just right. It creates a warm approachability that will ensure that audiences of all ages will be wowed by its charms.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ has all the right ingredients for a great superhero movie: action, well-rounded characters, a plot that doesn’t seek to tangle itself up for the sake of it, and a deft poignancy to create a wonderfully entertaining movie that will be an arguable favourite with many a movie lover.
IS ‘GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The opening scene shows Peter Quill as a young boy, sitting in a hospital. He is brought into a room by his grandfather and he sees his mother on a bed, surrounded by people (presumably members of her family). She has a bald head, implying that she is ill with cancer and it is clear that these will be her final moments. After a brief exchange, she passes away and Peter is distraught, crying and screaming in anguish. This could be very distressing for some children, especially for anyone who can personally relate to this type of situation.
A man visits a planet and walks towards some ruins. When he gets there, he puts some music on and starts dancing as he makes his way through the building, the camera pans to some rat-like creatures that the man is moving towards and, in time to the music, the man kicks several of these creatures high into the air making them squeak. He also picks one of the creatures up, holds it tightly around its middle and holds it like a microphone, swinging it around as he pretends to sing into it. Although this is a comedy scene, this callous and unnecessary act of animal cruelty could be quite upsetting for children.
When the evil character of Ronan is introduced, he is talking to a prisoner who has a large, heavy collar around his neck; he is very afraid but defiant. Ronan picks up a huge hammer like weapon and uses it to smash in the prisoner’s head. The camera cuts in time so that no graphic detail is shown, however blood is seen pouring down the grooves of the collar.
There are a lot of fist fights in the movie and while powerful blows are exchanged, the people involved rarely get badly hurt. Most of the stronger violence comes from electric shocks. There are many weapons that cause the shocks, similar to Tasers and cattle prods. Some are done in a more comedic fashion but others are meant to show suffering. One character is electrocuted over and over, he is forced to the ground, shuddering and crying out with every shock. There are also quite a few deaths, particularly incidental fighters during big battle scenes but deaths and subsequent corpses shown on-screen are not graphic. However, they are present and so we advise caution depending on your child’s temperament.
One character has an arrow which he controls by whistling. It removes itself from a sheath on the character’s hip and hovers in the air in front of the faces of people he wishes to intimidate. In one scene, this character uses it to kill several people very quickly; the arrow goes through each person’s body, leaving holes in their chests.
During the final battle, one character grabs part of another’s head, and after a struggle, they rip it off. The wound exposes electrical wires which spark and fizzle and the injured character convulses while their eyes roll upwards, it is then clear that they are dead. Another character chops off their hand on-screen but the wound is not gory and again, their anatomy seems to be more robotic than flesh and blood.
The character of Groot is a huge tree-like creature who fights aggressively when required but is otherwise extremely innocent. While his dialogue is limited to ‘I am Groot’, he is always friendly, non judgemental and is an anchor of sanity when the other members of the group argue and threaten to break apart from the team. During the movie, the team visit a bar where they and other patrons sit around a table where several creatures are used for gambling purposes. Most of the creatures are small and rat-like, when a larger creature is released, it begins to eat the smaller ones. While everyone else around the table cheers and enjoys the spectacle, Groot becomes very distressed by what he is seeing. Also, during a fight scene, one character uses a blade to cut Groot, taking both of his arms off, he whimpers and yelps while this is happening but no permanent damage is done and his arms have grown back when we see him next.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is delightfully entertaining fare for anyone who enjoys action-packed, funny and well written sci-fi/fantasy that’s completely and unashamedly over the top. We feel that this movie should be appropriate for most kids aged 8 and over.
- Violence: 3/5 (lots of fight scenes mostly involving fist fights and electric shocks, some moderate violence but the majority isn’t too graphic. There are a few deaths, including some established characters but these are few and far between)
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (most of the main characters have a difficult story to tell about their pasts. Peter’s is the only one that is actually seen with his mother dying. Also, an established character dies after sacrificing himself. Knowing that this will happen, a friend pleads with him to stop; afterwards, while other characters are upset, one in particular is very upset and sobs)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (the character of Ronan is likely to be frightening for kids as he is unrelenting and ruthless, killing enemies and innocents indiscriminately. The sphere that is being fought over contains a powerful element that can destroy worlds. If anyone touches it, their skin begins to burn and peel off, while this is shown directly to camera, the faces are bathed in an intense purple light and only a little blood is seen)
- Sexual Content: 2/5 (towards the beginning of the movie, Peter is seen piloting his ship when a young alien woman appears behind him. It is made clear to the adult members of the audience that she and Peter have been casually intimate as Peter can’t remember her name and says that he forgot she was on the ship, however she is fully clothed and there is nothing in the dialogue to suggest that anything sexual has happened between them so it is unlikely that children will pick up on this. One character is called a whore by a friend who is unaware that it is an offensive word, she then makes it clear that this is an unacceptable word to use to describer her)
- Bad Language: 3/5 (relatively frequent mild and moderate cursing and blasphemy. While it isn’t over the top, it is difficult to avoid)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (one character says that Ronan is ‘slaughtering children, families’. Another character tells how they were ‘torn apart’ again and again and turned into a monster)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of teamwork, friendship, strategy, trust, moving on from a difficult past and fighting a stronger foe when it seems likely that you will fail.
- There is an additional scene before the end credits start and another at the very end. The second does not add anything to the plot or seem to be an indication of what might happen in any future movies, therefore whether you stay to the very end may depend on how much of a fan you are and whether your bladder can take it!
Words by Laura Record