Some of you would believe that Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky venture for Marvel Studios. Based on relatively unknown characters and ushering in the Cosmic era, it has a lot to contend with and the next phase of Marvel films riding on it. Well this was one risk that paid off… immensely. Guardians is right up there with the Avengers – bold, brash, fast-paced and action-packed.
The film revolves around Peter Quill, an Earth man who was abducted as a child and raised amongst the stars. Quill grows up to become something of a self-styled outlaw – calling himself Star-Lord, no less – he spends his days raiding tombs and hawking valuable trinkets around the galaxy, almost like an Indiana Jones in space combined with Han Solo attitude. After an almost tear jerking opening showing Quill's abduction, the film opens with Quill retrieving one such treasure – a small silver orb. And of course now that he has it suddenly everyone wants it. He meets Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot while trying to sell the orb. The characters fit in with Quill's style as they are a bunch of intergalactic waifs and strays, thrown together by circumstance and misfortune. The misfits of the galaxy reluctantly join forces against darker forces who want the orb for more sinister reasons than simply making a quick buck.
Guardians feels at once both epic and intimate. Once you look past the intense action sequences and dogfight,s as well as Raccoon fights, you find a story that makes the special effects and action seem more of a backdrop, in front of which the universe’s unlikeliest heroes meet, fight, and ultimately forge bonds of real friendship. It’s not that the action ad SFX aren't amazing it is just that you get wrapped up into everyone's story and how the relationships all play out.
Each hero, or anti-hero if you wish, enjoys their moment in the spotlight, but more importantly (and impressively) director James Gunn somehow finds the time to create emotional moments and strong bonds between the characters.. So when they inevitably come together as a team it makes total sense and feels right. These characters would fight for each other. It was impressive in The Avengers, but they all had films on their own to give you backstory on the heroes. When The Avengers began.... you knew everyone involved. Director James Gunn managed to do all that in two hours.
We can give some of that credit to some amazing performances.
STAR LORD AKA Peter Quill
Chris Pratt makes the perfect Star-Lord. Both cocky and heroic , he can smoothly deliver a hero’s speech and dish out one-liners. He’s anti-establishment with a softer side he just can't ignore, a womanizer and a romantic. This role that has the potential to become iconic thanks to his breakout performance.
Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is a great foil, meanwhile – steely and determined, she reliably cuts through Quill’s bravado and kicks ass in her own right. She is amazing in her tough action scenes, but when she lets her guard down you're ready to fall in love with her. You completely forget her Avatar role and easily embrace her in this hard as nails daughter of.... oops not giving that away...
ROCKET and GROOT
It’s impossible not to fall a little bit in love Rocket and Groot. You almost forget that it is Bradley Cooper bringing this genetically altered Raccoon to life. Cooper taps into a bottomless reservoir of sarcasm for Rocket, and while Groot might not be the most demanding role Vin Diesel has ever played but with just three words of endlessly repeated dialogue and some great CGI, the simple and sentient tree brings some much needed warmth and even tolerance to this would be team of misfit heroes.
The wow performance, the secret weapon, is Dave Bautista’s Drax. Barely glimpsed in the trailers, he has some of the film’s funniest lines, which Bautista delivers with deadpan wit and great timing. You forget the wrestler and see him as a true believable character, Before this he had a small part in an Episode of Smallville, he really turned some heads here in this performance.
On the other side of the fence, John C. Reilly and Glenn Close, wait WHAT! Glenn Close is in this film? Yes she is an she and Reilly make the most of their supporting roles, even with a small amount of screen time you don't lose anything with these name actors in these great roles. It does not ever become a Glenn Close film it is an ensemble, from small roles to large roles everyone puts in great performances (no phoning it in here)!
RONAN & NEBULA
Now to the villains in our epic. They bring the evil with great vengeance and furious anger (how many of you read that as Samuel L Jackson). Ronan the Accuser, and Nebula, daughter of..... oh no almost slipped again (No Spoilers) make great antagonists. Lee Pace is sinister, Karen Gillen ruthless. Although the film doesn't really focus on the relationship between hero and villain it does not take away from the story arc at all. I mean the film is mostly about the Guardians themselves, and for a first outing, it’s the right call.
This film just brings it in every way. It has something for absolutely everyone. Once again proving that Marvel has been taking all the right steps in creating a film franchise that is not slowing down at all.