Guardians of the Galaxy
In 1988 a young boy named Peter Quill is taken from Earth by an alien spaceship never to be seen by his family again. Next time we meet him he’s a gun-slinging, alien outlaw known as Star-Lord (or so he keeps telling everyone), and with one spectacular opening sequence Marvel has made its bold leap into outer space. Now an adult Quill is making a living like any respectable outlaw; stealing things and selling them on. It’s during one of these ‘jobs’ that he gets his hands on a mysterious orb as well as a boatload trouble, including a bounty on his head, an assassin after his prize and a homicidal maniac looking to destroy the world.
The known-but-usually-a-supporting-role-actor Chris Pratt has stepped up from films such as The Five-Year Engagement and Bride Wars, to bring Peter Quill to the big screen, and surprisingly… or perhaps not so surprisingly, he’s fantastic. Effortlessly bringing the wisecracking, danger junkie to life, he nails the perfect balance of handsome adventurer and awkward geek.
Standing alongside him is the beautiful assassin Gamora who wants to keep the orb away from her adoptive father/captor Thanos – you saw a sneak peek of him at the end of The Avengers, remember? Zoe Saldana definitely brings the kick ass that’s needed to the role and although the character’s back-story is a little simplistic, her strong-willed feistiness shines through.
Making up the rest of the Guardians is Vin Diesel’s Groot, wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista’s Drax and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket. With both Groot - a violent but ultimately kind humanoid tree - and Drax - a grief-stricken family man out for revenge - there’s not much for the actors to sink their teeth into, but you’ll still find yourself appreciating their performances.
As for Rocket, if you think there’s no way you can take a talking raccoon seriously (even if he does have Bradley Cooper voice), you'll soon change your mind. With his quick wit and stinging sarcasm, Rocket is one of the best things about this film and you’ll enjoy seeing both his arrogant and vulnerable sides.
With the five mismatched criminals thrown into prison together, it’s not long before they team up to sell the orb/keep it away from Thanos/save the universe. Even though we know that ultimately our heroes are just that, heroes. It’s still fun to watch their different motivations clash. Admittedly the plot is a little thin on the ground, but for an origins movie it's more than enough for the first film.
Opposing the Guardians is Ronan (played by The Hobbit’s Lee Pace) who has promised to deliver the orb to Thanos in return for him destroying a planet. Sadly Ronan is pretty one-dimensional considering he’s supposed to be the main villain of the movie, and his motivation for wanting so much destruction is never really explained – he’s just plain evil. Thankfully, this is more than made up for by Karen Gillan, who throws herself into the disturbing role of Nebula with such ferocity, her performance will permanently wipe any remaining associates of Amy Pond from your head. Finally, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro round up this truly amazing cast with small but superb supporting roles.
Guardians Of The Galaxy feels surprisingly fresh for a film, which not only has strong ties to the rest of the Marvel universe but owes its making to the success of previous comic book movie. Undoubtedly it has its cheesy moments (in fact there’s quite a lot of them) but just when you think you’re going to cringe back into your seat, it gets flipped around and you end up laughing instead.
The great thing about this film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is essential for it’s success. Whether it’s Peter Quill starting a dance off to distract the bad guys, or Groot comically gasping at Rocket’s latest insult, there’s so much that wouldn’t have worked if it had been with any other actors, a different director, in a different movie.
The 3D doesn’t really add a massive amount to the movie but it’s a good example of how it’s now becoming an integral part of every day filmmaking. What can’t be missed however, is the truly awesome 60s, 70s and 80s soundtrack, courtesy of Peter Quill’s Mum. Creating the perfect juxtaposition between star ships and retro Earth, it’s not the only piece of pop culture that’s made its way into this movie.
Thankfully devoid of any ‘fuck yeah, America!’ moments, James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy has gotten the balance between cheesy comedy and badass fighting just right. A bunch of anti-heroes who almost accidently save the universe, they couldn’t be further from The Avengers, but that’s what makes it exciting and different, and why a sequel cannot come too soon.