Guardians of The Galaxy (Marvel Studios, 2014)

Inspired by the trailer for GOTG Vol 2, here’s my look back at the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy:written and dircted By James Gunn.

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan And Bradley Cooper.

Back in Summer 2014, I sat down in the Liverpool Odeon Imax screen to watch the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was more excited, truth be told, at the prospect of a new James Gunn movie. I expected superhero space warfare, or a Star Wars-esque  pulp space opera, albeit one with Gunn’s unique touch.

I’ve been a comic book reader my whole life, but Guardians wasn’t something I’d really bothered with. I picked up the newest Bendis stuff before the movie arrived, but never the 2008 era comics that inspired the movie. It was exciting not knowing too much going into this film, plus, it looked different to all the other superhero paint by numbers movies we get these days

As the film started, with a little boy looking upset, in a hospital waiting room listening to “Not in Love” by 10CC,  I knew something was really different. His grandfather appears and takes him into a room where his mum is, thin, sallow, bald and obviously dying of cancer.

My stomach dropped. I had not expected this. My own Mum died in December 2003 when I was 18. She had cancer, but died of a heart attack, the week before Christmas. The last time I saw her, she was bald and lying on a hospital bed. It was uncannily similar.  I didn’t know how to deal with it at the time

I’ve never really talked about it since.

If  I would have been able to run away into a space craft,  I probably would have too.

I couldn’t hold back the tears, I was sobbing hard, until a strange thing happened. Something took this movie from heartbreaking to sheer joy

A mysterious, masked figure walks across a desolate wasteland. It’s all very serious until he takes off the mask, switches on a cassette player and begins dancing.

Suddenly I was laughing and smiling. This is a moment of pure joy.

You’re thinking by now , this guy has turned this review into his life story, but that’s sort of my point here.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a very emotional and personal movie, it means a lot to so many people for the same reasons it means a lot to me. Which, for a big budget studio tentpole movie,  is practically unheard of. We’ve all been through harsh times. We’ve all lost people. Every one of the main entourage cast has a reason for being lost or alone, and it’s why they’re drawn together.

Rocket Raccoon is a twisted experiment, born into pain. Drax has seen his family murdered. Gamora, stolen from her home and forced to kill. Even Groot, gives off a feeling of needing to be part of a family,  We Are Groot after all. The whole cast dynamic is so perfect and they all mesh so well together. It’s so convincing, you forget two of them are CG creations.

The overall story is your standard Marvel plot, someone has stolen something and wants to use it to destroy the world. Yet this movie manages to make you care so deeply, you don’t mind that it’s one big McGuffin chase. The quirky characters and action spectacles more than make up for it. Plus,  this is a film with a lot of heart.

The  pumping 70’s soundtrack gives you a sense of wonder that you just don’t see in this type of film, lifting it beyond the usual summer blockbuster fare.

The acting and cast are first rate, the comedy timing of pro wrestler Dave Bautista, especially, shocking the world with his note perfect deadpan delivery. Chris Pratt feels like he’s channelling Jack Burton as Star Lord and Zoe Saldana is the consummate bad ass as Gamora.

Since seeing the film, I bought the entire run of graphic novels by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and I highly recommend them if you enjoyed the film, they’re less pop-culture filled but still just as essential. The team uniform is much cooler too, but the logos are the same. I really want to see Pratt rocking the comic book look at one point. Maybe in Avengers Infinity War, what with that film seeming to be the big tie up of Thanos’s story.

By now, of course, you’ve probably already seen GOTG, and with Volume 2 just 6 months away, the Christmas holidays are the right time to rewatch the original.

5/5

For Fans Of:

The Goonies

Ghostbusters (1984)

Iron Man

Big Trouble In Little China

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