Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice)
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a Marvel B-side project to please the kids? No, no, HELL NO! There are of course, inescapable comparisons between ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ and its big brother team over at The Avengers HQ. The epic ‘Avengers Assemble’ of 2012 eclipses ‘Guardians’ in the financial world, grossing $1.5 billion compared to the $700 million ‘Guardians’ accumulated. But if you take a look at IMDB’s reputable list of the top 250 movies of all time, it seems the little brother may have outgrown its senior sibling. Could ‘Guardians’ really be better than ‘Avengers Assemble’? I couldn’t imagine it, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, as they say.
We begin our story on Earth in 1988, where we meet a young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) tragically saying farewell to his dying mother. Moments later he is abducted from Earth by a mysterious alien spaceship. Skip forward to 2014, and Peter is now (kind of) famous as the outlaw named Star Lord. When Star Lord steals a valuable orb, he becomes the subject of an intergalactic manhunt which leads him to the planet Xandar, where he meets the beautiful huntress Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his wooden side-kick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). The quartet are arrested after a street-brawl and sent to a high-security prison where they join forces with the fearsome Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to plot an escape and make a profit on their prized orb. Unfortunately for the team of outcasts, the evil Ronan the Accuser is desperate to get his hands on the orb, which contains an all-powerful infinity stone. Ronan hopes to deliver the stone to the mighty Thanos, with a view to ruling the entire universe and destroying planets at will, and only the newly assembled team of unlikely heroes stand in their way.
Apparently, director James Gunn wasn’t interested in seeing Chris Pratt audition for the part of Peter Quill and had to be persuaded by his assistant to let him through. Thankfully he did, and Pratt won the role on the spot and delivers an excellent performance as the loveable, Han Solo inspired rogue. Being such a charming, entertaining and cool character, I can absolutely imagine Chris Pratt winning over James Gunn there and then. He is a man very much on the rise, with the upcoming summer blockbuster ‘Jurassic World’ and rumours of an ‘Indiana Jones’ reboot in the pipeline. Zoe Saldana offers lots of attitude as the feisty Gamora, as well as fantastic chemistry with Pratt’s Star Lord. Saldana certainly stands out as the main support role in the cast, not least due to her green skin. I think Dave Bautista deserves special mention too. It would be easy for someone of his physique to be typecast as the big, tough guy, and don’t get me wrong he does pack quite a punch. But Bautista also offers moments of comedy and emotion to make Drax the Destroyer much more than just a battering ram.
With very little human presence in the film, you may think it will be hard to form any real empathy or attachment to the characters or narrative, but it grows on you, I promise. ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ is a story which is very literally out-of-this-world, closer to ‘Star Wars’ than your average superhero movie, with no threat to Earth or humanity as such. Nevertheless, there are plenty of hints as to the film’s effect on the Marvel cinematic universe, with reference to Thanos and the infinity stones, which are set to be the basis of the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ movies in 2018/19. In addition, the Awesome Mix which Peter Quill treasures so dearly, is a very impressive soundtrack indeed, with the likes of David Bowie, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson 5 bringing an Earthly feel to proceedings.
As far as light-hearted superhero movies go, I think ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ achieved just about everything it set out to achieve. From start to finish the film was action-packed, entertaining and funny, with a happy ending to boot. There is none of the gritty or dark elements you find in DC movies, make no mistake this film is very theatrical and Marvel in essence; just a lot of fun to watch. Despite a couple of instances of strong language, ‘Guardians’ is definitely suitable for families and young children, and whether you’re a hardened fan or completely new to the superhero world, you will love this film. The credits begin with the message “the Guardians of the Galaxy will return” and I am personally delighted at this promise of a sequel, roll on 2017.