Taken from earth as a child, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), AKA Star-Lord, has adapted to life in the far reaches of space. When he comes into possession of a mysterious orb, however, Quill finds himself at the centre of a galaxy wide manhunt, which leads him to form an uneasy truce with bounty hunters Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), as well as Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) in order to survive, and to save the galaxy.
I don’t know about you, but I have been excited about Guardians of the Galaxy for some time now. The good news is, the film does not disappoint. Chris Pratt is the perfect choice of Peter Quill/Star-Lord; he makes the character funny and a bit of a jerk, who is caught up in his own myth. The truth is, however, that Quill actually is a bit of a legend, and it is obvious that Pratt had a ton of fun with the character, and the film.
Zoe Saldana plays another warrior princess type, and kicks some serious ass and Dave Bautista brings funny to the fight as Drax, a creature who takes everything completely literally. Bradley Cooper’s voice work as Rocket is incredibly strong, and he makes the character an insecure one, who covers up his vulnerability with caustic wit. After all, there has to be a reason that he teamed up with Groot. Vin Diesel makes Groot sensitive and gentle, with childlike innocence and desire to protect those he loves. It is rare to say that Diesel plays an adorable character, but Groot is one of the sweetest, warmest and endearing characters seen on screen this year, and his relationship with Rocket – and the world around him – is a joy to watch.
Lee Pace makes Ronan the Accuser a shouty villain, but not really the villain of the piece, he is often left to the side and his subplot feels a little surplus to requirements. The same goes for Karen Gillan as Nebula – who looks like a bald, robot Corpse Bride. Gillan has some great one-liners and a lot of stompy shouty scenes, but like Pace as Ronan, she doesn’t appear on screen for large chunks of the film, and is not necessarily missed.
The story, due to its very nature, is hugely complicated. Characters come and go, and more seem to be introduced every minute. Guardians of the Galaxy is creating a whole new franchise from just one film, so unlike The Avengers – which had several ‘origins’ movies – all of this has to be achieved in one cinematic outing. This, of course, leads to questions about who Glenn Close, Pete Serafinowicz and John C. Reilly’s characters are, and their importance in the universe. The script, however, is a careful balance between comedy, insults, emotion and explosive set pieces. It could be said that the film uses the deus ex machina effort from all Marvel films – a huge set piece to save the day – but these are so much fun to watch that it is hard to criticise the film for doing what Marvel does best. Fans of the comic books may have issue with the new origins story for Peter Quill/Star-Lord, but this is so tightly and carefully woven into the story as a whole that it works for the film.
As director, James Gunn has created a world filled with conflicts and double-crosses. The chemistry – be it through admiration or suspicion – between the characters leads to some great comedic moments, and each actor gives an engaging and funny performance. The balance between drama and comedy is carefully struck, which echoes real life in a way; no event is truly funny or truly sad, comedy and tragedy work their way into all facets of life, and the same goes for Guardians of the Galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy is just as funny, action filled and touching as you hoped it would be. A Star-Lord is born in Chris Pratt – but fans of Parks and Recreation knew that anyway – and Vin Diesel is the most adorable plant ever to be seen on screen. There are issues in the film – too much exposition, who the heck is that guy? where is Nathan Fillion? – but on the whole, Guardians of the Galaxy is a film with huge heart, tons of comedy and is rollicking good fun. The issues do not detract from the film, on the contrary, they leave us wanting more…