Guardians of the Galaxy
My movie reviews usually take me a while to write as I like to get my thoughts together and work through structure. My efforts this time are being hampered by the fact that I’m listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and I’m either bent double with laughter or, more frequently as it turns out, dancing round the room doing my own version of the Star Lord strut. I’m still buzzing, and I’m ready to go see it again. This film is incredible.
At its heart Guardians of the Galaxy is a caper movie, albeit a gloriously extravagant one, that takes you on a journey through stellar vistas and panoramas that will take your breath away. It has a simple plot that revolves around the theft of a silver orb by Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, an orb that is of great interest to a number of different parties, most notably the Kree Supremacist, Ronan the Accuser, and the Mad Titan Thanos (last seen in the end credits for Avengers Assemble). Their pursuit of Quill, and his growing band of misfits, across the galaxy in search of the orb, lead from set piece to set piece without a moment to pause for breath.
The simplicity of the plot means that character exposition and development for each of our five heroes is done in a way that doesn’t detract from the overall narrative. There are no pauses for explanation, and the way the characters are brought together and developed is Whedon-esque in its execution. There is more below the surface of each character than you would expect from seeing the trailers, and by the end of the movie you will have shared exactly the same journey as Drax, who finds friendship in this group of strangers in much the same way that you will have just discovered your new favourite Marvel characters.
In amongst the breathtaking visuals, stunning action set pieces and sterling performances from the cast, Guardians also manages to pack in a number of laugh out loud moments. Groot and Rocket do steal the show on occasion, but Drax’s literal approach to conversation and Quill’s roguish swagger (30% Solo, 10% Stark, 60% Reynolds...by my reckoning) do ensure they don’t runaway with the comedy beats entirely.
It’s not all laughs though and James Gunn once again masterfully balances triumph and tragedy with immense skill. Particularly during the finale as the Nova Corps (F**k Yeah! Nova Corps!) form up to try and stop Ronan.
Gunn’s direction and pacing are fantastic, and my first reaction was that Disney should get him on board for one of the Star Wars sequels now that they have him on their books. In hindsight though, I’d rather he just make more Guardians of the Galaxy movies. He has created a film that reminded me exactly how freaking good science fiction could be when done right, and that you can have epic space adventures without having Star Wars or Star Trek in the title.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a moment defining film. It is an 80’s movie with a modern budget. It is a throwback to the halcyon days of science fiction and space opera. It is “The Last Starfighter” for the Millennials. It is simply not to be missed.