As aforementioned, I do love a good comic book/superhero movie. Like most of the audience, I knew virtually nothing about Guardians of the Galaxy going into the cinema and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who then came out of the cinema totally besotted with them all.
Guardians of the Galaxy starts with an unusually emotive opening gambit: our central character Peter Quill is still just a boy, and whose mother is dying. As he runs from the hospital, grief-stricken, he is quite literally beamed up into a space ship hovering above him. The next time we meet him, he has grown up to become an acclimatised spaceman and a criminal. He lands on an abandoned planet to steal a strange orb and judging by the crew that comes to stop him and take it for themselves (led by the criminally undervalued Djimon Hounsou); this is one super important orb.
We learn that scary, deep voiced badass no. one, Ronan (a truly terrifying Lee Pace), a dictator who wants to wipe out several other races of people, is working with scary deep-voiced badass no. two: Thanos (Josh Brolin). Thanos and Ronan have a deal to help each other destroy all their enemies and need that orb to help them accomplish all the blowing up and massacring they’re so keen to get on with. As a gesture of good will, Thanos sends his ‘daughters’ to help Ronan: the robotic Nebula (an extremely cool looking Karen Gillam) and super-assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana, who still manages to be luminously beautiful even when painted pea green). Gamora intercepts Quill (the lovely, awesomesauce Chris Pratt), who is selling the orb for his own gain, but her attempt to kill him is foiled by a sociopathic weapons genius who also happens to be a genetically modified raccoon, Rocket (Bradley Cooper, voice) and humanoid tree and ‘the muscle’, Groot (Vin Diesel, voice). Rocket and Groot turn out to be bounty hunters after Quill and all four end up in the Kyln, a floating space prison, owned by Nova Corps, some sort of nice space people/police.
To cut a long and convoluted plot short, Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot, along with hard headed, revenge seeking Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) band together to break out of prison, sell the orb, get some money and hopefully escape whatever appalling plan Ronan has in store. Naturally, things don’t go to plan…at all.
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy twice at the cinema. The first time, I totally ignored the plot and who a lot of secondary characters were because there was too much else going on. This is perfectly acceptable. The plot is needed, sure. But the real charm of the film lies in its visuals and its wonderful chemistry and interplay amongst the principal cast. (I paid far more attention to the plot and what everything was the second time I watched and it all seemed to click that time). Guardians of the Galaxy is a film about FUN, and boy does it have this in spades.
The cast is led by the impossible-to-dislike-classic-everyman Chris Pratt, who brings great charisma and joy to this – his biggest film role to date – and proves over and over again why he was such a good choice for this role. His character anchors everyone else, allowing the other actors the space to be a little screwier with their parts. I also find it impossible to dislike Zoe Saldana and she proves her ability to hold her own in a massive action film (again), runs rings around everyone else in agility and grace (again) and gives us a kickass and political heroine to root for. I loved Bautista’s wonderfully deadpan delivery and Bradley Cooper’s vocal delivery (along with the animators) gave Rocket real personality. The animation/CGI work done on both Rocket and Groot was extraordinary, with Groot providing the story’s true heart, always cutting through everyone else’s nonsense and showing great kindness to all, all while saying nothing but ‘I am Groot’.
Add to all this a killer soundtrack, great cameos from a range of brilliant character actors (Glenn Close! John C. Reilly! Michael Rooker! Sean Gunn! Peter Serafinowicz!) who breathe life and energy into each weird and singular role they’re given, and a suitably big and emotional payoff, and you have a practically perfect summer blockbuster. Go see it and have fun – this is what comic book movies should always be doing.