Why Guardians of the Galaxy is Freakin' Awesome

This generations' Star Wars? It might just be!

Over the years Marvel Studios has been going from strength to strength, and this is most evident by their latest offering – the final solo film in Phase 2 no less – of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a team that failed to keep it's own comic title twice, a team that features infrequently in anything Marvel has done in their comics (at least, up until it was decided a film was going to be made and they wanted to bring the team to the fore once more) and a team that even many comic fans know little about, so the fact that Marvel are confident enough to fund a big budget blockbuster from all that is telling.

Personally, when it was first announced, I was a bit underwhelmed. There were so many other IPs that I thought were more deserving of a film – especially if the intention was to expand into cosmic level outer space stuff. What about the Nova Corps? Adam Warlock? The Shiar (I'm not actually 100% on whether Marvel have the rights to them, given their close association with the X-Men)? It goes on. Instead, we were getting something that, to me, screamed cheap marketing ploy to get a Guardians comic title going again. When the first trailer hit, I was still a little underwhelmed. I figured it'd probably be at least a decent film – this is Marvel, after all – but I just couldn't get too excited for it.

 

Zoe Saldana can do no wrong

Then we were hit with more trailers, and with each one I found my enthusiasm growing, to the point where the final trailer had me well and truly ready for what promised to be a truly epic film – seriously, I've been like a giddy child these past few days, practically bouncing with anticipation. So it was with high hopes that I attended the first showing of the day today – 11am in 2D – hoping that it would be as good as I thought it was going to be.

Boy, was I vindicated!

Guardians is a heart-warming, thrilling, epic, laugh out loud space opera that hits all the right notes and ticks all the right boxes. It has immediately found itself a place amongst my Top 3 Marvel films, alongside Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers – I've yet to decide how they rank between themselves, as I like to let the films settle in first. It may well even knock TDK out of my Top 3 Superhero films of all time (making that mirror my Top 3 Marvel), and that's a damn impressive achievement.

Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel both do miraculous work in bringing Rocket and Groot to life

Now, I don't want to get too plotty, because it would give too much away that I think is worth experiencing first hand. Suffice it to say, our band of rogues come together to save the day by taking down Lee Pace's impressive Ronan the Accuser, who is trying to destroy Xandar, home of the Nova Corps. Throw in a generous helping of belly laugh humour and wit, fantastic action sequences, likeable and enjoyable characters, and a boatload of nods and references to the rest of the MCU – both past and future – and what you have is a hugely entertaining experience.

The acting is definitely praiseworthy here, from Lee Pace's already-stated impressive and intimidating Ronan, to Zoe Saldana's lethal but vulnerable assassin, Gamora, to the brilliant voice and animation work that brings both Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) literally to life. Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan put in memorable supporting performances as the space pirate and sort-of-father-figure-to-Star-Lord Yondu, and the adopted sister and fellow neurotic assassin of Gamora, Nebula, respectively, along with Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz representing the Nova Corps. Hell, even one-shot performances from the likes of Djimon Hounsou as Ronan's lackey, Korath the Pursuer and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector (the guy from the bonus scene at the end of Thor: The Dark World) were memorable. One of the cherrys on top, acting-wise, is that Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer) actually puts in a great performance with – take a breath – actual nuance! I mean, sure, it's not as nuanced as some of the other main characters, but it's there, and he does it! Who'd have thought?

Don't make him accuse you. You won't like it if he accuses you.

Thing is, though, I've got to give huge credit to Chris Pratt here; way to prove your naysayers wrong! Pratt has morphed from the likeable, overweight idiot type we've come to know him as into this generations Harrison Ford. Yup, I said it. Chris Pratt is now Harrison Ford, and Peter Quill is his Han Solo. *mic drop*

In all seriousness, though, he genuinely slips into the role of goofball rogue that's hella handy in a fight like he's been doing it all his life; he looks the part, he acts the part, he talks the part and he fights the part – and best of all? He carries the lead like it's no burden at all. Marvel, yet again, prove that their casting decisions – no matter how risky – always hit the mark.

I've got to dedicate a paragraph to the visual effects in this film – it is absolutely gorgeous. Marvel have created a vibrant, varied and astounding space opera setting and I, for one, am eager to see more of it (including cross-overs with the Avengers and other Earth-based heroes!). This film has style, and it knows it.

Chris Pratt is this generations Harrison Ford, and Peter Quill is his Han Solo

Finally, in terms of how it fits into the MCU – I mentioned that there are a boatload of nods and references to the MCU both past and future, and I was not exaggerating. Keep a particular close eye on The Collector's...well...collection about halfway through the film; it rarely focuses fully on one object but instead sticks a plethora of references for both the MCU and comic fans around the periphery. The big connection, of course, is Thanos. “And that's all I'll say on that one,” he says with a sly wink.

Final Score: 10/10

This has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update.

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