Guardians of the Galaxy is this summer’s oddball record-breaking blockbuster from Marvel, featuring a talking racoon and a vocabulary-challenged tree that will make you cry.
Guardians of the Galaxy presents the movie-going audience with a new dynamic: a complete new set of characters and setting, as well as a fictional universe most have never heard of apart from the very avid comic book reader. You may very well say, “Well, Rasul, what’s so new about that? Every new universe must reach the audience for the first time!” and will probably be right. But the difference in this instance is that the movie is drawing audiences and hype for one simple reason: Marvel. Never has a production house commanded such attention from its audience and as one critic aptly pointed out: “No one says ‘let’s go see that Lionsgate film or that Paramount film!’”
Which is why, to introduce the general premise of the movie for a critic such as myself becomes a daunting task. How much do you really need to know? First things first: characters. In 1988, after his mother’s death, Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) played by Chris Pratt, is abducted by an alien ship. Twenty-six years later, Quill steals an orb found in an abandoned planet. He is attacked by Ronan’s (Lee Pace) henchmen and he barely escapes, hinting at the orb’s various mysterious powers and the fact that many in the galaxy are after it. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is in the process of betraying Ronan, is sent by him to obtain the orb from Quill, while at the same time, bounty hunters, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a talking racoon, and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), a humanoid tree, see a bounty on Quill’s head and go after him.
This results in Nova Corps, the intergalactic police agency, interfering and apprehending them (which results in them meeting the metaphor-oblivious Drax The Destroyer played by wrestler Dave Bautista), thus bringing together the unlikely band of heroes who are later deemed to be the “guardians of the galaxy”, pitting together to fight the forces of Ronan.
That short synopsis doesn’t cover even half of it. With the introduction of such a novel universe, the scriptwriters were faced with the difficult task of not only presenting as much of it as possible, but to also provide typical story elements into the narrative, such as “bad guys and action and stuff”. To the writers’ credit, they do this mostly with finesse. As you would expect from a major blockbuster on this scale, certain tropes repeat themselves: an unlikely group of “people” who hate each other but eventually bond under a common enemy, an obviously evil entity that is hell bent on destruction and death without much cause, the sheer Hollywood optimism against forces stronger than you.
I am Groot!
This is the only criticism of the movie I have to offer, which is saying a lot because Guardians provides a huge amount of fun and entertainment for its audience, exactly what it was made for! Chris Pratt as Star-Lord is one of the best casting decisions this year, his style of humour fitting in perfectly with both the humorous tone of the movie and his character. Rocket and Groot are the next big stars of the show, their interactions offering the audience a mixture of slapstick comedy and a relationship that is altogether humane.
For your kids, this is a must-watch. There is no way that they will not enjoy this version of the galaxy, full of colourful characters, a villainous arch nemesis and very likeable heroes who have excellent on-screen chemistry. Plus, with Quill’s character being abducted in the middle of the eighties, Guardians is packed with eighties references and tunes that parents will enjoy picking out too. The rating of 12A seems appropriate, since the violence is minimal and romance is pretty much absent from the film (except for a Jackson Pollock joke that the parents might secretly find amusing).
All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy aims to be and succeeds in being the perfect summer blockbuster. Remember: this is just the beginning, so if you find yourself struggling a bit, have some patience with the plot; they are, after all, planning for a host of sequels not to mention a tie-in with the Avengers in Avengers 3 which will feature Thanos (who makes sporadic appearances in this one as Ronan’s overlord) and is bound to be epic. This film is not just fun, but tremendously funny and will provide entertainment for the entire family.