At the Movies
Before seeing this film I was only vaguely aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy since I never regularly followed any space based comics so I had very few preconceptions about this film. This lack of familiarity has been taken into account and Marvel has given us a big colourful space adventure that assumes no previous knowledge and only marginally connects to the other Marvel films. The basic story is that a team of criminals are forced together by circumstances to combat the plans of a genocidal fanatic who threatens all life in the galaxy.
Right from the first appearance of Star Lord (Chris Pratt) this film sets its tone as he dances his way through the ruins of building to steal the Orb. We get a real sense of what sort of idiot this guy is when he picks up a rat creature to use as a mic as he sings along to Come and Get your Love on his battered ancient Sony Walkman. Star Lord’s real name is Peter Quill and he was born on Earth but got kidnapped by space pirates when he was about eight which is where all his dated references and taste in music come from.
Next we meet green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who worked for the villain Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) but has had enough of working for a fanatic and wants to steal the Orb for herself. She was adopted by the Mad Titan Thanos who has manipulated and modified her into a weapon then lent her out to Ronan to assist in his plans for genocide and destruction. She has had enough crap and doesn’t take any more from Star Lord.
The next two come as a pair Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Rocket is a smartarse bounty hunter, thief and whatever else it takes to make a living when he’s a creature created in a lab and is only two foot high that looks like a raccoon. Groot is an intelligent tree and very necessary muscle for Rocket’s schemes and he is very strong and able to recover from serious damage. Amazing work has been done to bring these two CGI characters to life in a way that makes it believable that they are there interacting with the live actors it no surprise they are the breakout characters of this film since they manage to not only deliver plenty of laughs they manage to bring some the more emotional moments too
The last member of the five man band they meet in prison and he’s a huge lump of angry muscle called Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has been jailed for going on a campaign of vengeance across the galaxy after his family were killed and now he really wants to kill Ronan. No-one gets most of Star Lord’s jokes but Drax’s culture apparently doesn’t understand metaphor so we get a nice running joke of Drax taking figures of speech literally.
Star Lord convinces them that they can all get what they want if they work together. They can escape prison, sell the Orb and split the money then when Ronan comes after Gamora Drax will get his chance to kill him.
The villain side does not get much focus since the film spends the majority of time with the Guardians. Ronan the Accuser is the chief enforcer of the Kree interplanetary empire and he cannot accept the peace treaty that has been forced on the empire by their enemy the Xandarians. He needs the Orb as the price of gaining the help he needs to take vengeance on Xandar. He is a fanatic so is devoid of humour and I thought he made the perfect foil for the irreverent humour of the Guardians .
Assisting Ronan are Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Never really learned much about Korath but Nebula is another one of Thanos’s weaponised adopted daughters and when she fights Gamora there’s a sense of long familiar antagonism. I have mentioned Thanos a few times and though his fingers are all over this story I’ll just say he is firmly in the background and leave it there.
There is no skimping on the supporting cast. The Nova Corps are an interplanetary military style police force based on Xandar led by Nova Prime (Glenn Close). They are the ones who put the Guardians in prison and include actors such as John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz and they really become important in the film’s climax.
Another important group of characters are the space pirates called Ravagers led by Yondu Odontu (Michael Rooker) and these are the ones who snatched Peter Quill from Earth as a boy. Yondu really doesn’t liked being cut out his share of money for the Orb and with his whistle-controlled arrow and gang of cyborg enhanced pirates he’s on Star Lord’s trail.
The set designs in this film are stunning, from the squeaky clean streets of planet Xandar to the prison asteroid called the Kyln, but the most stunning is Knowhere, a lawless trading post set up in the moon-sized head of an ancient being called a Celestial. This is where the Guardians meet The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and just a glimpse of his collection will make many comic fans happy.
Watching this film is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year. The story has a great sense of humour from a team of likeable characters which is a great way of introducing the scale of the greater Marvel universe with its battling empires and maniacal warlords. Every member of the cast do an amazing job bringing these strange characters to life but that’s helped by the familiarity of Star Lord character with his time capsule memories of 1988 pop culture and tapes of music that helps give us Terrans something to connect with.
There is a great deal of buzz about his film and I think that comes from just how refreshing it is to watch a film that just revels in sheer joy of the world it creates. It is such a rich world that I look forward to revisiting it and catching just how many things I missed in my first viewing.