Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Release: 31/07/2014
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista
If you haven’t heard of Guardians of the Galaxy by now, you must have been living under a rock for the last year or so. Marvel’s latest big-screen blockbuster, it puts Chris Pratt firmly in the driving seat as Peter Jason Quill – aka Star Lord.
Abducted by aliens as a young boy, Star Lord was forced to con, cheat and plunder his way across the universe… that is, until Lee Pace appears as the absurdly over-the-top Ronan the Accuser, threatening to wipe out the entire galaxy with his evil antics. Tisk tisk.
Teaming up with a talking tree, gun-toting raccoon and a burly henchman who takes everything literally, it looks as though the fate of the entire galaxy rests with poor old Star Lord. But at least he’s got some kick ass tunes on his trusty Walkman.
It’s a setup that will no doubt leave most sane human beings wondering how the hell that can possibly make a good movie. And if I’m honest, I was one of those people. Back when I first heard about Guardians of the Galaxy, I really wasn’t sure what Marvel was playing at. But as the box office can now testify, Marvel was (once again) spot on.
Kicking off with a relic-hunter scene that reminded me of Indiana Jones in space, Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to cherry pick the very best of all our favourite childhood movie. Look close enough and you’ll find references to Star Wars, Close Encounters and even a nod to the Maltese Falcon.
And if you love ‘80s pop culture, Star Lord’s assortment of junk (including a rather ‘cute’ troll doll) will keep you reminiscing for hours. And don’t get me started on Awesome Mix Vol. 1… it might just be the movie soundtrack of the year.
Of course, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t just about its references and in-jokes (of which there are plenty). It might be your traditional good vs. evil story, but with a rag tag band of reluctant heroes, there are some genuinely unique moments. The fact that our heroes first team up in a high-security prison sets the tone early on… and while the story of their inevitable redemption is a little formulaic, it’s no less entertaining.
Obviously, this is underpinned with a real sense of character… especially when it comes to certain members of the team.
Star Lord is a memorable mixture of Han Solo and Marty McFly – a quick-witted, silver-tongued conman who can talk his way out of (almost) any situation. And when he can’t? Well, he just has to turn to his trust blasters or perhaps the household plant/muscle – Groot.
One of the weirder characters of the Marvel pantheon, Groot is a sentient tree creature who travels with Rocket – the aforementioned gun-toting raccoon. And while he only knows three words of English (‘I am Groot’), Vin Diesel’s performance is mesmerising. Conveying a real sense of emotion in his continued delivery of the same line over and over,
Now, don’t get me wrong, this Guardians of the Galaxy is not without its flaws. For one thing, the second act gets a little self-righteous… and with the linking together of space ships in order to save the Xandarian’s home planet, it all comes across as a bit ‘Team USA’.
Still, it’s an entertaining romp through a previously unexplored corner of the Marvel universe. And after such a phenomenal success, I wouldn’t mind betting we’ll get to see a lot more of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the coming years.