Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest in a series of comic book movies from Marvel’s back catalogue to hit the big screen. It has to be one of the funniest (if not strangest) ones yet, thanks to a perfect blend of action, humour, eccentric and heart-warming moments and pop culture references from start to finish. Writer/director James Gunn, of Slither and Super fame, took one of Marvel’s lesser know story-arcs, with an array of leading characters that could have gone so wrong so quickly; but he makes it work so well (take note DC/Warner Bros!), without having to resort to a full cast of A-listers to pull in the audience.
The film’s story is a pretty age-old story of characters with different and conflicting agendas brought together by a common goal to save the galaxy. But it’s done with heart, and humour, which makes all the difference. It is primarily Gunn’s own story and doesn’t follow any of the comic book story arcs per se but it does borrow elements from them. These are especially evident in references and throwbacks, and use of characters such as Yondu (Michael Rooker – Gunn likes reusing actors, what director doesn’t these days?) who, in the 1969 comic, was one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. In Gunn’s version, however, he is the mentor, the captain and, in some ways, the father figure.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are comprised of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aka Star Lord, which he has to keep reminding people of; Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), a genetically-engineered raccoon that doesn’t know who or what he is; Groot (Vin Diesel), a living tree alien whose vocabulary consists solely of different intonations of I, AM and GROOT predominantly in that order, but not always; Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a warrior whose family was slain by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) trying to escape her surrogate father Thanos.
The visuals are breathtakingly beautiful. However, as usual, the 3D is a totally unnecessary gimmick that takes away from the overall experience and, in the end, just dulls the colours. The visuals are complemented by the excellent soundtrack, with tracks such as “Cherry Bomb”, “Spirit in the Sky” and the infamous “Hooked on a Feeling”, familiar to anyone who has watched the trailers. That soundtrack is, hilariously, Star Lord’s own “Awesome Mix Vol.1”, from a tape in the Walkman he has with him when he leaves Earth.
The only real gripe I have with it overall, apart from the 3D, was the character of Nebula (Karen Gillian), who seems totally under developed and mostly just shouts and broods. I’m already eagerly awaiting its launch so I can rewatch it. Between this and Avengers, it’s looking like Marvel has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to assembling epic superhero teams.
If there’s one movie that gets you into a cinema on a beautiful summers day, make sure it’s this one.