“None of this would've happened if you hadn't tried to take on a frickin' army!”
– Rocket Racoon
Given the disproportionate amount of my lifespan that I devote to Marvel & DC Comics and the films that spring out of them, it’s rare that a comic book based movie is released that I have no background on the characters and I’m going in to the film blind. The last time this happened with a superhero film was Spawn – and that was back in 1997.
But, such was the case with Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve never read the title, never seen any of the characters. In fact, when the film was announced, it was literally a reaction of “the who of the what”? Since then, my curiosity has been piqued, but as Marvel haven’t published an “Essentials” volume for Guardians (trade paperback collections of the early issues – I’m hooked on them, it’s how I’ve painstakingly rebuilt and reacquired every superhero comic book I owned as a kid) I haven’t bothered reading any of the later graphic novels currently available – I don’t know where to start.
I had a notion, based on no research whatsoever, that the Guardians might be Marvel’s answer to DC’s Legion of Superheroes but naaaaaaaaaah, that was wrong. When I saw the trailer, I assumed that it was closer to perhaps The Last Starfighter and Battle Beyond the Stars, and actually, that was closer to it. So, for the time being, any disparity between the source material and the film aren’t covered here – the film is canon for now.
To give a perspective of how great a movie this is, let’s throw this out there: it’s the first time I have ever been to the cinema twice in just over a week to see the same movie, both times in 3D. Not that the 3D is particularly excellent – it’s still little more than a gimmick to me, but I figured I have the rest of my life to watch it in 2D when it’s released on DVD. Also, when I emerged, blinking from the first screening, I said that Guardians was the most sheer, unbridled fun I’d had watching a sci-fi movie since Star Wars. The second viewing reaffirmed that.
Yeah, those are big words indeed.
So, how does the Marvel Universe get all spacebound? What’s it all about? Does this tie in with the movies we’ve seen before? In other words, Who, what, when, where and why?
I guess that the best way to explain it is basically in that order.
Who? Well, the Guardians are a bunch of misfit petty criminals from various planets and backgrounds. Their leader is Peter Quill ( Chris Pratt) a petty thief, a human who was abducted by a bunch of space criminals at the age of around eight. He gives himself the grandiose name of Star Lord. Gamora (Zoe Salnada) is a green skinned warrior, adopted daughter of Thanos (the alien we saw briefly at the end of Avengers Assemble). Groot (Vin Diesel) is a bipedal walking tree, Drax (Dave Bautista) is the muscle of the group leaving last, but by no means least Rocket Racoon, a cynical and sarcastic talking racoon, as the weapons expert.
What? They become embroiled in a plot to keep a mysterious orb from an alien genocidal warlord named Ronan the Accuser. Meanwhile the manhunt is further complicated by Quill’s employer Yondu (Michael Rooker) also wanting the orb, seeing that he had engaged Quill to steal it from him in the first place.
When? Present day, I guess. When in the Marvel movie universe? Just after Thor: The Dark World I’d say, because the sting at the end of that movie introduced us to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) who plays a pivotal part here.
Where? Outer space, and various planets therein.
Why? Um…why not? Okay – I guess this should be “why watch it?” It certainly plays into the future Marvel universe movies. Thanos is pretty much acknowledged as being the main threat of the third Avengers film and seems to be following the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, collecting the Infinity Stones, which, when gathered together will give him ultimate power. It’s possible that as all these characters inhabit the same universe that the Guardians will ultimately cross paths with the Avengers somewhere down the line. Probably in that last film.
Things to watch out for – look at The Collector’s domain very carefully. You can see one of Thor: The Dark World’s Dark Elves in one of the display cases, as well as a Chitauri warrior (from Avengers Assemble) Marvel character Howard the Duck, a slug creature from director James Gunn’s earlier film Slither and I’m told (but haven’t yet confirmed) Beta Ray Bill – a horse faced alien from Marvel.
As I was waiting for the final sting (there are two, so be aware) I saw a credit for “Alf materials, courtesy of Alien Productions”. Whether Alf, the beloved alien from the TV series of the mid to late eighties is in the Collector’s domain or whether some items of memorabilia are briefly seen, I can’t say – but I’ll be watching out for it on the DVD.
Performances are strong, particularly from ex Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan as Nebula, a blue skinned assassin, the other daughter of Thanos. The dialogue just sparkles with comedy one liners, the effects are awesome, especially the battle sequences. In short – the whole film delivers far more than could reasonably be expected. Move over Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America – the Marvel universe just got bigger, and improbably – even better.
The sequel can’t quite come along quickly enough.
Copyright © 2010 - 2014 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.