It’s taken me a week to find the strength to write this. I feel a bit like I’ve had my first-born child; after months of nervous excitement I sat down at Everyman Cinema with a large bottle of Peroni, and watched Guardians of the Galaxy – a film that couldn’t possibly live up to my insane expectations. But it did. Oh boy it did.
The simplest praise I can give this movie is that is is exactly what the trailer promised. It’s beautiful, it’s quirky, it’s psychedelic, adorable, badass – continue inserting bombastic adjectives at will. For me it’s the perfect example of how to adapt a comic book for the silver screen, and it way well be my favourite movie of all time. Yes. All time.
One of the reasons why the original Star Wars was so great was that it eased itself into a bubble of warm, comfortable mysticism. It didn’t explain what the force really was, or why Jedis would bother with weird laser-swords in a world with guns. It crafted itself a unique noble mythology that none of us had felt in a movie before. Until now.
Guardians may be an origin film, but it carefully avoids wading through too many origins. Sure, we get to see how the main Character, Peter Quill, ended up in the cosmos, but that’s only to aid you – the viewer- in following him out into space on his adventures. From there, everything is treat with an air of immediacy. Here – we’re on a space prison with blue alien prison guards. Where? Who cares. Who is everyone? Doesn’t matter. The ethos of the Cantina scene resonates through the tone of this film with a fascinating timbre.
With this slight exception of Gamora, you will care about and love every member of the Guardians team. Saying Groot is Chewbacca is a lazy comparison; Groot is a far more emotionally engaging and relatable character, with an entirely different charm than his hairy counterpart. Ok, maybe his comeraderie with Rocket is reminiscent of Han and Chewie, but I guarantee it’s in no derivative way.
Then there’s Drax. We all expected a wooden performance from an ex-wrestler whose acting career is in its infancy. We were all dead wrong. Batista injects subtle emotion and humour into his character with surgical precision. “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it” will become an overused quote before the month is out.
Now we delve into the plot. Obviously major spoilers are coming, so if you don’t want to see them then fuck off now.
I was excited that Ronan would be the villain in this movie, and was hopeful that we’d get to see the Kree homeworld, Hala. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, but we got to see plenty of other interesting locations instead. First of which is the planet in the opening scene from which Quill steals the orb (the infinity stone we all knew the movie was about).
As a thief, Quill decides to try and sell the orb himself, drawing the attention of bounty hunters Groot and Rocket. Gamora is sent after Quill by Thanos, and the whole lot of them end up causing ruckus on Xandar before being thrown into prison together on the Kyln. So far – very Marvel.
I want to take a moment to praise the films depiction of Xandar: that planet was fucking beautiful. The city-scape and grassy stretches seemed more real than any fictional planet I have ever seen.
After meeting Drax in the Kyln, the gang hatch a plan and escape, seeking to sell the orb together and split the profit. Naturally they are informed of the orb’s true nature, and following a rousing speech from Quill they agree to get the orb back to safety on Xandar. Cue a major battle and climax of the film – and the Guardians saving the day. Phew.
There’s nothing drastically unique about the story, but much like Star Wars it’s a combination of impossibly charismatic characters and delicious visuals that elevate it to an elite movie status. Put it this way – you’ll want to watch it more than once.
My only disappointments with Guardians are not necessarily criticisms. I was disappointed that, while he made a camea, Cosmo the spacedog was just (by all appearances) a normal dog. No telepathic Russian accent. It’s no criticism – it’s just that as a massive fan of the comics Cosmo is one of my favourite characters, and I’d have loved to see him depicted more faithfully.
On a similar note, the Collector has an unfortunately minor presence in the movie, appearing basically once in the middle section. Again, this isn’t a criticism; the story works fine as it is, and you can’t give major screen time to everyone. Yondu the Ravager has more attention on him than the Collector, but he uses that attention well.
I’m going to stop writing now. Go see the movie. If you’ve seen it, watch it again.