I’d imagine that there must have been plenty of Sci-Fi fans in the past hoping that Joss Whedon would have a crack at making a Star Wars movie. He had everything going right in his sadly short lived series Firefly. And now thanks to James Gunn, we have exactly that with Guardians of the Galaxy, the most Star Wars movie you’re ever going to see from Marvel. And its a cracker.
The movie initially starts in a gut wrenching fashion as the young Peter Quill has to try and say goodbye to his dying mother. But before you know it, he is whisked away into space and we fast forward twenty plus years to see a grown up Quill (played by Chris Pratt) calling himself “Star Lord” and cheekily dancing his way though some Sci-Fi tomb raiding. From that moment on you know that this movie is going to be just a little different from George Lucas’ own saga.
That introduction quickly sets up the basic plot in that Quill has stolen a dangerous artifact that has attracted the interest of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) a Kree fanatic who desires the artifact for his own destructive plans. To retrieve it, he sends the assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) after Quill.
During the dust up that follows, Quill and Gamora end up being marched off to prison with bounty hunters Rocket (deadliest Raccoon ever, voice of Bradley Cooper) and his tree-like partner Groot (voice of Vin Diesel). From there an encounter with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) sets up the team and a pretty epic prison break too.
What’s pretty remarkable in the film is how the whole ensemble works together so well and each becomes likeable over the course of the movie.
Quill is a modern Han Solo. Gamora continues to show why Zoe Saldana is such a great physical actress as she kicks alien backside. Rocket and Groot might be entirely CGI but they have plenty of moments to shine and the voice work is spot on. Considering Vin Diesel has only three words to his vocabulary for most of the movie he shows here that The Iron Giant was no fluke. And Dave Bautista really knocks it out of the park as Drax. He doesn’t say much but delivers it perfectly; his reaction to Quill after the prison escape is priceless.
The overarching story is laid out in a familiar fashion with the team coming together at the start followed by a moment of crisis in the middle then closing with a big old battle where the newly minted good guys come out on top. Much like a popular saying, it’s not about the destination but the journey and in this movie it is one hell of a ride.
Unlike other recent Marvel movies, its intergalactic setting and self contained story allow it to better stand on its own merits. Though there are plenty of callouts to other films in the universe, you could happily walk away with it being the only Guardians of the Galaxy film ever to be made. However, a sequel as been announced already (and in the credits) so you might walk away even happier now.
The Blu-Ray does not come packed with a lot of extras; I’d say it might even be almost barebones compared to similar Marvel movies but the strength of the movie means it makes little difference. The 3D works well with the varied environments but the 2D version is still the most rewarding and really gives you a chance to appreciate the colour and variety in the visuals. It really is a spectacular looking film that takes advantage of the source material.
Seeing Marvel use a lesser known property from their stable and execute it so brilliantly is a great sign that the company is willing to take a chance and make it work. And having James Gunn continuing his work with the sequel is only going to make us even more enthusiastic to see what’s in store for Star Lord and his friends next time around.