Guardians of the Galaxy came out in cinemas across the UK today.
It’s been a long time coming; at least it feels that way. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for most of the year.
We’ll start with the opening. This is spoiler free so I won’t go into detail.
We get a beautifully shot and heartbreaking prologue, introducing us to Star-Lord’s origin. Unlike most of the Marvel movies, this happens before the logo even appears on screen, separating it from the rest of the movie nicely.
After the familiar and excitement inducing logo appears is when the fun really begins.
I should mention that despite my usual misgivings I went to see this movie in 3D. Usually I prefer to forgo this sort of faff, but if you’re going to the IMAX, 3D is not optional. It’s also the best possible way someone could watch this film, especially the main opening. You really must see this film in 3D to get a full understanding of how incredible a director James Gunn really is.
The proper intro hadn’t been going for more than perhaps 3 minutes before I and half the audience, were laughing out loud. Not laughing from it being bad, and there wasn’t exactly a joke, although those come thick and fast in this movie, but from sheer joy. The intro makes you grin so wide your face hurts. It does have a few laughs in there, mostly sight gags and they roll along perfectly into the first action sequence.
This film does not waste time; it hits the ground running and not just with action and funny moments. It’s brilliant at establishing characters, and their relationships with the world around them, almost instantly. After the first sequence was over you find yourself thinking, “Wow! Chris Pratt IS Peter Quill.” He inhabits this character in a way we haven’t seen since Robert Downer Jr. brought Tony Stark to life in Iron Man.
The rest of the characters are similarly well handled. Groot and Rocket are as adorable as they are terrifying. Rocket’s vulnerability, in particular, is one aspect not shown in the trailers which is unequivocally nailed throughout this film. He’s funny, smarter than everyone else and gun crazy to be sure, but his humanity and sincerity are genuinely moving at some points.
Groot is equally fun to watch, this movie manages to bring CGI characters to life and make you forget that they aren’t real. I expected all of Groot’s funniest moments to come from his lumbering, sweet, cluelessness. Don’t get me wrong they mine that well for all its worth, but the most fun they have with Groot is when his talent for violence shocks you. It reminds you all too well of that moment in The Avengers where the Hulk shows the extent of his distaste for Loki. We all knew they had this character right when they cast Vin Diesel though, who better than the Iron Giant to bring him to life?
Gamora is beautifully executed, she makes clear from the off that she’s not simply a love interest for our hero, no matter how much he’d wish she was. Her journey in the film is possibly the most interesting. Already experiencing a crisis point in her life and housing a past filled with unimaginable torment, Zoe Saldana shows an old, wounded soul in every close up and every line.
Drax is, well Drax is for the most part hilarious. With a past like his, it’d be easy for this character to be confusing but they keep everything perfectly balanced. Dave Batista, who many thought might be the weak link, really shines throughout this film. Especially loving the choice to make him a completely literal character, unable to grasp metaphor. It allows for some brilliant humour, without sacrificing his intelligence.
I could spend forever going into each of the smaller characters and the villains here, they’re all just impeccable. I don’t think I really have the time to explain what an incredible achievement this film is, in creating so many characters that are so well fleshed out and portrayed.
Obviously I can’t go into plot and scene details but suffice to say that the story rolls along at a steady pace, keeping you from getting bored for even a single second. You also never feel overwhelmed with information. This last point is a big deal because this film does something that so often leads to information overload. It builds a world.
The universe it creates is rich and textured and populated by countless races, political conflicts and landscapes. There is never a point where you feel lost or confused and it’s only really after the movie that you realise what an incredible feat that is.
This movie can’t be properly reviewed without a shout out to the music. The soundtrack is actually better, if that’s possible, when combined with the stuff that’s happening on screen. Especially the last two. The last two musical moments make this film end with that same jaw hurting grin that you started it with. Really, you have no idea until you see it.
This is quite possibly the best Marvel movie yet. I know that’s something people have been saying about every movie they’ve released over the past year and a half, but this is something different. We have no doubt that Avengers: Age of Ultron will be exceptional and will be hailed in a similar way. Still, Guardians of the Galaxy is, I feel, special.
We knew it was going to be, the trailers made us that promise and the feature delivered with incredible style and an irritatingly smug awareness of its own brilliance. Which, of course only added to its charm. Yep this movie knows it’s great, just like Star Lord knows he’s a legendary outlaw.
You might say “But Star Lord isn’t!” and I’d reply “Watch the movie, he absolutely is.”