Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie bursting at the seems with kinetic energy and rock n’ roll galactic cool, taking audiences from the universe they know and into a whole new one.
A thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac: five degenerates who are the last people you’d ever expect to be heroes. When space outlaw Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), steals a mysterious orb he’s in for more trouble than he could have ever thought. Inciting both the rage of his boss, the space pirate Yondu (Michael Rooker), and the radical Kree warlord, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), Quill finds himself with a bounty on his head, and is soon locked up with bounty hunters and best buds Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), the deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the marauding Drax (Dave Bautista). Forced to work together, this crew of rebels make their escape, and discover that Quill’s orb is something far more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. With nowhere to go, and half of the galaxy hunting them, these ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ decide to make one last desperate stand against Ronan and his evil forces in order to save the galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy is simply phenomenal. No mere comic book movie, this is a compelling space opera with some of the most outlandish and cool characters you’ll ever see on film. Director James Gunn was given trust over these outcasts and he delivered. Gunn crafts a story about a rag tag group of loser outcasts, people that nobody in the galaxy cares about, all of whom have faced unbelievable loss and horror, but through extraordinary circumstances come together to not only form a team, but a family, and who for the first time in their lives get the chance to do something greater than themselves. Whereas the Avengers are heroes in and of themselves, the Guardians only work together, separately their nothing more than criminals and outlaws, but together they can be heroes. Gunn’s passion for these characters and their incredible universe is felt in every frame of film, which the audience absorbs through some kind of visual osmosis. If you don’t know who the Guardians are when you enter the cinema, you will by the time you leave, and you’ll be guaranteed to want more.
Leading this group of rebel outlaws is Peter Quill, the self-styled StarLord played with complete awesomeness by Chris Pratt. Quill is an old fashioned swashbuckler, a rebel with no fear of danger, a swinging ladies man, and the all around coolest cat in the galaxy. Quill, who was abducted from Earth by space pirates The Ravagers when he was a child hasn’t had the easiest life. Through grit and determination he has survived in the universe, and is now trying to steal a piece of it for himself. Pratt pulls off Quill’s mercenary swagger with ease, he’s a modern day Jesse James, complete with laser guns, duster jacket, and a very cool helmet, but while Quill’s a guy who can look after himself in a brawl, it’s usually his quick wit and ability to run with the situation that get’s him out of trouble. It’s Pratt who set’s the tone for Guardians of the Galaxy in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s clearly having a ball with this character and it’s awesome to watch.
Then there’s Zoe Saldana as Gamora, a deadly assassin and the adopted daughter of the mad titan Thanos. Like all the Guardians she’s got issues, and is the initial consciousness that leads them on the path to becoming heroes. Let’s make this clear Gamora is no damsel in distress, she’s one kick ass chick who can rough it up with the boys, while kicking their asses in the process. Saldana has serious poise and grace and brings this to Gamora, and there’s a deadly elegance to how she swings her blades. Saldana is great to watch on screen, and she definitely digs Gamora.
Dave Bautista is Drax. There is no way to dispute this. A hulking marauder feared by all for his ferocity and strength, Drax also carries a tremendous pain that fuels his need for vengeance. Stumbling in with the Guardians, he’s ultimately the one who unites them, as he’ll have no one hurting his friends. Bautista, like Pratt and Saldana was again a wild card entry, and went through an exhaustive audition process to obtain this coveted role, but like all those involved it was his clear passion for the character of Drax, and the desire to make him his own that won him the role. With passion comes power, and Bautista knows a lot about this. Anyone who take’s on Drax will invariably get crushed, and he’s one mean fighting machine. Dave Bautista is Drax, and there’s no other way we’d want it.
And finally we come to Groot and Rocket, all around best buds, and the dual heart of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Firstly there’s Groot, the last of his kind, and who has one very memorable catchphrase, which goes something like “I Am Groot”. It’s Vin Diesel who brings this incredible and unique character to life, and he does a terrific job, again you feel his passion for this character onscreen. But you can’t have Groot without his out of control best friend Rocket, a feral, and very angry genetically enhanced raccoon, who while rough around the edges is actually a hero in waiting, and get’s all the best lines and screen time thanks to Bradley Cooper. It’s also these two who create the most heart felt and tear jerking moments of the film, which will have audiences welling up.
Guardians of the Galaxy also has a compelling supportive cast. Firstly there’s Lee Pace as big bad Ronan the Accuser, a fanatical Kree warlord, who swings his mighty hammer with psychotic enjoyment and who has no value for anyone he considers lesser than himself. Pace really lets loose with how terrifying Ronan is and his presence clarifies just how needed the Guardians are. Karen Gillan is pretty frightening as the morbidly jealous Nebula, and Djimon Hounsou is one ferocious hunter as Korath.
One particular standout is Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, the blue skinned bandit leader of the Ravagers. Rooker is the only person who I could see as Yondu, and he really delivers as this cantankerous old space pirate, and Quill’s semi adoptive father and role model. Yondu has a particular love/hate relationship with Quill, and his weapon of choice: a whistle-controlled arrow creates a menacing silence whenever he levels it at anyone. He’s one badass character. There’s also Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan, also known as the Collector, who has an amazing, yet creepy alien zoo, and who with a thoroughly crazed appearance and slightly morbid intentions is one to watch out for. And finally in a very cool cameo appearance, which will define the Marvel Universe, Josh Brolin makes his entrance as Thanos. Nuff said.
Guardians of the Galaxy is an emotionally dramatic, action-packed, extremely funny full on film, complete with its own kick ass soundtrack. It’s so much fun, and while some might see it as a mere Marvel superhero movie, it’s actually something more, something bigger than it was originally intended to be, just like its five main characters. If you want a good time out then head to the movies, strap yourself in, and prepare for one awesome trip across the galaxy.
Image source: Walt Disney Pictures.