Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aka Star Lord is hired to retrieve an orb that holds incredible power. This makes him a marked man which gets the attention of Ronan (Lee Pace) a maniacal being hell-bent on destroying the galaxy. He sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos, to retrieve the orb. Before long Quill gets tangled up with Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a genetically-modified raccoon and his bodyguard Groot (Vin Diesel), a plant-based lifeform who are looking to collect a bounty on Quill’s head. They all end up in jail and meet Drax (Dave Bautista) a man looking for revenge against Ronan for killing his family. They decide to form an unlikely alliance to bring down Ronan before he destroys everything and unwittingly become the guardians of the galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy has done the impossible and come in as a space adventure with heart, mind and spirit. Director and co-writer James Gunn has excelled at giving mass audiences a brand new franchise to fall in love with whilst doing the source material justice. This is an incredible achievement, especially since none of these characters hold any relatable history even close to the likes of Iron Man, Thor or The Hulk. Guardians of the Galaxy feels fresh and new whilst also warm and welcoming. It nails the nostalgia of films like Star Wars and gives us a matinee adventure full of comedy, excitement, breath-taking action and spectacular special effects.
The casting of Guardians of the Galaxy’s is its biggest asset with Chris Pratt leading the line superbly well. Pratt, so often the best thing in his support projects and TV work, finally gets the Hollywood break he deserves and really does brilliantly here. Peter Quill is this generation’s Han Solo… a roughish chancer with integrity and honour. Pratt oozes charisma and plays the comedy angle perfectly.
Former WWE superstar Dave Bautista steals his scenes as Drax the Destroyer and proves that he has very good comic timing to go with his imposing screen presence. We all knew how impressive he would be with the physicality of the role but Bautista really pinpoints just how unintentionally funny Drax is to his teammates – his inability to grasp sarcasm is pure comedy gold and is played out very well throughout the film. Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana plays kick-ass Gamora which suitable aplomb and shares a nice dynamic with the cast, especially Pratt.
Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel lend their vocal support to Rocket Racoon and Groot respectively. Both are excellent, especially Cooper who makes Rocket one of the standout characters in this fantastical world. Again, humour plays a big role in their success with Cooper and Diesel (despite only saying ‘I Am Groot’ in various tones) conveying the emotion and spark needed to make this ensemble work. Kudos to Sean Gunn as well – he not only co-stars as space thief Kraglin, he also portrays Rocket for physical scenes shot using performance capture on-set.
Elsewhere, the film is peppered with great supporting turns and cameos from the likes of Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, an unrecognisable Karen Gillan and Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace as the terrifying Ronan. Michael Rooker is also a joy to watch as he chews up his scenes with his trademark abrasive quirk. Being a Marvel film, there are also lots of familiar nods throughout that tie this adventure to the rest of their expanded universe. Benicio Del Toro shows up as The Collector in full flamboyant glory and we get a first proper look at the Titan Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin). His appearance is glorious and fills us with anticipation and excitement about his future encounters with The Avengers.
The effects are superb and really do the concept justice. The VFX for Groot and Rocket are flawless but it’s the general scope and vision of the film that deserves a lot of plaudits. This is an entire universe in itself and the attention to detail here is staggering. The sets are excellent too and really have that tangible quality. Most of it has to be CGI but it feels real and that’s a massive plus point for such a film. Throw in some of the most breath-taking aerial combat sequences you’ll see in a movie this year and you have a film that looks gorgeous throughout.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of fun and the perfect example of Marvel’s dedication to their brand. By creating such a successful film based on unknown characters, they have proved their doubters wrong. This showcases the longevity of their properties and, in turn, promises fans a very bright and exciting future ahead. With an involving story, wonderful characterisation and lots of spectacular effects, Guardians of the Galaxy comes in as one of the years best summer blockbusters and simply cannot be missed.