If Star Trek and Star Wars sorted out their differences, had a baby, and then left this baby on Marvel’s doorstep, the resulting teenage rebellion would look something like Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie is technically Marvel, but it’s a complete re-write of the Marvel stamp we’ve come to recognize. There’s no red, white, and blue, no flashy tech and fancy cars, and no Samuel L. Jackson. It’s based on a comic book series, yes, but Guardians of the Galaxy takes the platform of sci-fi, magnetizes it, and then blasts it at you through a foghorn.
Meet Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), also known as Star Lord and occasionally called “Will” by a talking raccoon who can’t be bothered to enunciate. Quill steals things for a living. His latest treasure is a metal orb with unknown capabilities and extraordinary value. Now meet Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of a terrorist (Thanos) who leant her to another terrorist (Ronan) as a sign of good faith. Ronan (Lee Pace) orders Gamora to find the metal orb Quill has just stolen because it contains an Infinity Stone (ultimate power, devastating destruction, all-consuming energy, yada yada). Next we meet Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot the plant (Vin Diesel), bounty hunters looking for Quill and the price on his head. When these four meet, all after different but interconnect goals, things get snarky, violent, and publicly disruptive. The final addition to the Guardians team is Drax (Dave Bautista), whom the other four meet in prison after their initial rendezvous attracts police attention. These five travel the galaxy (after dealing with the prison delay) trying to sell the orb, dispose of the orb, and finally get the orb back after Ronan snatches it up and swears doom upon the universe.
All this is set to a backdrop that looks like the inside of a George Lucas theme park. Remember how colourful the Capital in The Hunger Games was? Well Guardians of the Galaxy looks like the designer and set-decorator from those movies threw up all over it. Racism is a thing of the past as skin tones of blue, green, peach, brown, yellow, and pink all mingle together. It’s a rainbow utopia – save for the thievery, thugs, and daily doses of rapid gunfire in public spaces. The prison staff may want to have a meeting on whether the message, “Return to your rooms,” should be issued before or after gunfire erupts in the cafeteria.
As for the characters, they are almost as colourful as the visuals. Even though Groot only knows three words, he is an endearing, sympathetic character who saves their asses more times than they deserve. Christ Pratt, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista are hilarious but in completely different ways: one being obnoxiously sarcastic, one with an extensive vocabulary and sawdust for brains, and one who is clinging to the 80’s like nobody’s business. Which reminds me – this movie has an excellent soundtrack. As for Zoe Saldana, she’s a good actor and wears leather like a boss, but I didn’t quite get her. She had wonderful potential to play the badass assassin with a traumatic childhood, but her character seems to lose sight of herself; one minute she’s the ruthless killer, the next she’s pleading for mercy. Unlike Peter Quill, Gamora isn’t quite as well defined. It may be a trait that runs in the family, though, as her sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan) is also a bit of an anomaly, acting obedient and calm in one scene, and then a total spoiled brat in the next.
Guardians of the Galaxy is like a beautiful ice cream sundae: creative, dramatic, sweet, and smile-inducing. The characters aren’t afraid to step back, look at what they’re doing, and mock the scene before carrying on as usual. They aren’t heroes (there are no Thors or Captain Americas here), they’re oddball loners. The movie plays with a nice balance between sarcasm, blowing stuff up, and the unabashed power of hand-holding. Guardians of the Galaxy deserves at least a 7.5/10 and at least two sequels.
Check out the trailer here