Long time XXIV readers may recall that some time ago I wrote an article about how Marvel Studios may well be bringing about their own demise, owing in no small part to their decision to invest millions in a film adaptation of a then little known team called the Guardians of the Galaxy. Well, dear reader, I am very glad to reveal that I could not have been more wrong! Marvel have done themselves absolutely no damage. Quite the opposite in fact. This movie rules. It rules harder than anyone was expecting and you should stop reading now and just go see it. Seriously. I’m only like 50% kidding about that. For those of you who against their better judgement have chosen to waste valuable GOTG watching time and read on please allow me to explain to you why this movie is everything, whilst doing my best not to simply gush like the fanboy I am. As you can probably already tell: the struggle is real.
Guardians of the Galaxy begins with our hero Peter Quill a.k.a Star Lord played to comedic perfection by Chris Pratt. Quill, having been abducted from earth as a young boy 26 years ago, is living out the Space-Pirate fantasy that anyone kidnapped while Star Wars and Han Solo were still the coolest things in existence would. Working to recover an ancient artifact our hero discovers that he is not the only person after it and lands himself in a whole mess of trouble. First of all Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is sent by Ronan The Accuser (a terrifyingly unrecognisable Lee Pace) to retrieve this artifact from Quill, unaware that he’s currently also being tailed by bounty hunters Rocket (a talking Raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (essentially a walking tree, voiced by Vin Diesel). Long story short they all end up brawling on the home planet of the galactic police force the Nova Corps and are swiftly imprisoned whereupon they meet Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista) a fellow prisoner looking for vengeance against Gamora’s employer. Realising the value of the artifact that kick started all of this the five decide to team up to try and take home a big score and voila: the Guardians of the Galaxy are formed.
Now I realise that judging by the amount of info up there, and even just the length of that paragraph, it may seem I’ve just recounted the majority of the film. But that up there? That’s just the first 20 minutes. Seriously, this film is nuts. Unlike your average first installment in a superhero franchise director/co-writer James Gunn has done away with giving us recounted origin stories for our heroes and instead leads us through our characters pasts as they each learn about their team mates. The result is a narrative that is constantly thrusting us forward, but that also doesn’t seem rushed at all. We get all the information without having to slow down and back track. Such is the success of GOTG: you feel that you understand each of these characters without being explicitly told what their deal is. This is of course helped tremendously by stellar performances from all involved, and sensational visual effects.
Given all of the above one could accept that this would be a fairly entertaining film, but it’s not what makes it a good film. Guardians of the Galaxy is perhaps the only true Sc-Fi Adventure film to come out in a long long time. Excluding a brief prologue this film does not take place on Earth at all and dozens of alien life forms aren’t paid special attention as new or exotic, they simply are. For the first time in ages we’ve a fully realised universe filled with unique fleshed out characters, weapons that are unlike any you’ve seen on film before, and all manner of intriguing new technologies.
But that’s not all! A sweet sci-fi action blockbuster with a good cast and interesting characters is awesome if you a) Love sci-fi action blockbusters or b) love the comics on which this one is based, but why is everyone else all up in this films business at the moment? Because to pull it all together and ground it in something familiar, this film has a classic 70′s rock soundtrack and a whole bunch of pop culture references peppered throughout it. That may sound a little ridiculous for a film that I’ve already said doesn’t feature earth at all, but it all makes sense. You see Quill was ripped way from his life and family before he was even a teenager, all he has of that life is his memories, and a walkman with a mix tape his mother made him – BAM! Pop culture references and a sweet soundtrack – both of which are executed perfectly. Of course a well written script helps that work too, but the premise alone is just so tasty.
Basically this is a total surprise hit and is easily one of Marvel’s very best. It’s also the funniest Marvel film that doesn’t feature Robert Downey Jr. and I’m not sure he could have even made it any better – it’s that good.
Guardians of the Galaxy is out now!