As somebody who enjoys comics but still has a vast landscape to explore (for better or worse), I didn’t hear about the name Guardians Of The Galaxy until shortly after Iron Man 3, when I asked myself “What’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe going to do next?”. So I had a look at the phases of production that they were listing; at that time I had Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier to look forward to, as well as this other film called Guardians Of The Galaxy. So I did a little bit of research, and made sure I bought at least 1 comic on the group. To say the least, the concept of a trigger-happy Space Racoon in cinema was very attractive. Then I saw the trailer. Not only did it look like a fun film directed by James Gunn (who also made Super, Slither and wrote the wonderfully bizarre story of the video game Lollipop Chainsaw), but also reminded me how much I love the song “Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede.
Our film begins in the year 1988, where 1 of our heroes, Peter “Starlord” Quill (played by a 60lb lighter Chris Pratt when it grows up), experiences easily the most life-changing day of his entire life. Not only does his mother pass away in a haunting fashion, but he gets abducted by aliens as well. Fast-forward 26 years later, the 30-something Quill is now a very skilled and active “Junker”, somebody who collects things and then sells them to dealers who are willing to buy them. In an almost Guy Ritchie/Lock Stock/Snatch fashion, an item he finds and then tries to sell, just so happens to be something that a powerful being, Ronan The Accuser (Played by Lee Pace, Legolas’ Dad in The Hobbit), is looking for. Ronan sends the adopted daughter of Thanos (that purple guy in the post-credits ending of The Avengers), Gamora (Played by Zoe Saldana in her green phase, after doing a blue phase 5 years ago), to get this item off Quill and take it to Ronan. At the exact same time, 2 bounty hunters named Rocket Racoon (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) notice Peter Quill has an enormous bounty on his head, and try to capture him in a giant bag. What is the end result of this massive fight between a Junker, a green Assassin that Captain Kirk would adore, a space Ent and a Lab Racoon? They all go to jail, where they end up meeting an inmate named Drax The Destroyer (Played by former WWE Heavyweight Champion Dave Bautista), and from here our story can truly begin.
If you were to compare Guardians Of The Galaxy to the other major group-related Marvel movie, The Avengers, it could easily be pointed out that this film was already at a disadvantage with its audience before it even began. Lets put this into context; when the Avengers came out, we already knew who these characters were from previous films. Those who saw Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and…Ed Norton’s Incredible Hulk, knew who these characters were and therefore we enjoyed the on-screen chemistry to a much greater extent. With Guardians Of The Galaxy however, the previous knowledge of these characters was narrowed down to those who really know their comic books and those who watch the Avengers Assemble cartoon on the Disney Channel, where they appear in a handful of episodes…plenty of exposure. So despite this, how does the film hold up?
To put it nicely, this film was an insane amount of fun. The type of fun you would expect from Michael Bay films after seeing the trailer, but don’t receive when Michael Bay soaks your £5 note in toilet water. The type of fun Family Guy was between seasons 3 and 6. The type of fun that Persona 3 & 4 are after each new playthrough. The type of fun that would involve eating dinner with Robert Downey Jr, Marlon Brando and Lawrence Olivier. Does this movie have low points? Indeed it does, if it didn’t there wouldn’t be any change, growth and challenge, and each character has their own tragedy. The humour is also fantastic with each character possessing a different role; Peter Quill is very much a Hans Solo character, adventurous, rebellious, a bit of a womaniser, an outcast and a clown, who likes listening to music from the ’60s and ’70s, even in situations that would probably require caution. Gamora is the most serious member of the group, the “straight-woman” so to speak. Drax is hilarious because he’s oblivious to humour. Groot is the nicest member, who may not say much outside of introducing himself, but his body language and actions suggest a gentle giant with some pretty awesome powers. And Rocket Racoon is definitely “The Crazy 1”, making him the exact opposite of Gamora.
The soundtrack is really good, as James Gunn once again features Cherry Bomb by The Runaways (after featuring it in Lollipop Chainsaw) along with other tracks by the likes of 10CC, David Bowie, Redbone, Raspberries, and of course, Blue Swede, among others. The CGI is phenomenal and beautiful – to the point that I might look at getting the art book sometime soon. The acting was excellent, and that includes Dave Bautista. His transition from wrestler to actor actually surprised me, considering I’ve seen The Man With The Iron Fists, and his return to the WWE this year was a case of “wrong place, wrong time”, leading to a classic simpsons joke being the inspiration to the now memorable chant “Bootista”. Also, for those who heard that Nathan Fillion is in this film in some fashion…I’ll let you look for him.
The story itself is fast but well paced, well developed, and leaves a lot of room for a sequel. There wasn’t a dull moment and it’s full of surprises. And considering The Avengers had the advantage of having prequels for most of their members, I thought they did an excellent job with the main characters, and they’re likeable enough for us to want more, while at the same time being strong enough in this film alone. Well worth my money and I look forward to future appearances from this group.
Overall Rating: ***** out of 5