You should absolutely believe the hype about Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. It's funny; it has some great characters, great special effects and a great little self-contained story. On the eve of it's release in Australia I recommend you all see it. More than once.
Follow me under the cut for a little more.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn't this years most progressive film, but it doesn't promise to be. In a swirl of comic announcements that have Thor becoming a woman and Captain America a non-white male, Guardians is fairly plain and straightforward. It doesn't pass the Bechtel test and it could very well do with more women being represented in this alien and foreign galaxy, but that doesn't seem to be what the MCU is interested in at the moment. We'll get there in time I hope.
What Guardians does have is a sentient tree and a genetically modified racoon, both of whom exhibit loads of heart and spunk and are in many ways the core of Guardians' humour and success. Couple that with a tight plot and one of the best soundtracks in the history of ever and you are bound to have a movie most people can get behind.
Taking a break for Earth and the problems our galaxy currently faces, we follow Chris Pratt's Peter Quill (AKA Star-Lord). Abducted as a child from his native Earth (there's the tie in and the cause of all of the great music) by Ravagers, Peter travels this galaxy stealing artefacts for those who can pay. Upon stumbling on a particular orb, it becomes clear that his existence of listening to his favourite and only mix tape "Awesome Mix #1", sleeping with endless women and stealing things for a living is about to get pretty complicated.
Thrown into a prison, Peter meets his fellow future companions that round out the Guardians of the Galaxy in their quest for a pay date and maybe even getting rid of an evil overload called Ronan on the way.
The story takes us to many great places with many great characters, all along the way tracing the journey with some of the best music of the 80's, which sounds alien itself in such an alien surrounding.
Chris Pratt's Star-Lord is adorable, quirky and is not the kind of leader we're used to seeing outside of the Firefly universe. Would have been nice for him to have a little more substance but hopefully this will come with time.
Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is a skilled fighter with a scathing, quick tongue. As the adoptive daughter of Thanos I would have loved to see her get more character development beyond the stock standard alien-girl-meets-hero-tries-to-kill-him-and-then-makes-gooey-eyes-with-him plot line. Her relationship with her adoptive sister Nebula (played wonderfully by Karen Gillan) threatened to go somewhere interesting and just never really made it there. Hopefully it’s something that we can look forward to in the future.
Wrestler Dave Bautista’s performance as Drax the Destroyer is both menacing and hilarious while Lee Pace's Ronan, although equally menacing and fantastic, could have done with a little more character development as well.
The stand out's by far though were the Bradley Cooper voiced Rocket and Vin Diesel's Groot. I defy anyone to see this movie and not want to keep both of them. Their relationship had tangible history and substance, which was startling given that that were a tree who’s verbal repertoire consists of three words and a gun-touting racoon. Rocket’s dry wit and balls were fantastic, as was his more tender and self-reflective moments. Groot was full of vulnerability and kindness, whilst still being a ferocious fighter. Great performances and great CG work!
In summary though, there are two things that make this space romp truly stand out:
1. Best soundtrack ever. Beyond everything else in this film, the music worked so fantastically well and was so well placed that it brought humour, emotion and connection between the alien landscapes and characters and Earth to life. Everyone I know left the cinema and immediately looked the track listing up and has found some way to play it non-stop since then. It's available on iTunes and Spotify.
2. James Gunn can finally be forgiven for the atrocity what was Super. Here he proves that he can adapt a fun Marvel series into a more adult film that never loses any of its humour, its darkness or its sass.
Many Stars! Make sure you check it out!