It’s been over 2 years; waiting, anticipating, waiting maybe even yearning, but the wait has been worth it. What started out as a complete unknown has become a shining star, Guardians of the Galaxy has really surprised everyone. With generally favourable reviews and some which seem like they’re trying to scrape the barrel for criticisms, this film was a real crowd pleaser. For me there are numerous reasons; first and foremost was the choice by the director to keep it light-hearted. In a film whose main adversary is a genocidal maniac, its protagonists a group of self-described losers that have lost almost everything, it was an interesting choice not to go all Nolan and make it dark. Guardians wasn’t as deep as some superhero pictures, though I feel they will flesh things out in the next movie, but it had heart, it was a labour of love and you know what, like its comic counterpart, it was incredibly fun.
FROM HERE ONWARDS I WARN YOU – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
Casting was absolutely perfect. Looking back when this project was first announced it would almost be laughable to say that this film would draw an ensemble cast, especially with Glenn Close in it (Glenn was incredibly commanding and intimidating). For our five leads everything was spot on. Yes they changed some parts of the backgrounds for all the characters, but it really helped with the flow so I’m not going to complain about it.
We might as well start with the beginning the leader of the pack. Star-Lord aka Peter Quill, played by the brilliant Chris Pratt. If you’re like me you will remember Chris from Parks and Recreation as the loveable Andy and Emmet in The Lego Movie, he brought something loveable to both those roles. That same characteristic that made Andy and Emmet so awesome (Lego Movie joke) is the same quality that made his performance as Star-Lord so perfect. Whether he be kicking ass or showing off his dance moves in an attempt at an intergalactic dance-off he personified everything I loved about the character and more.
Zoe Saldana, again, could anyone else play the role of Gamora as well as she? It’s a role that is incredibly physical, to me it has to be, I mean not just ass kicking but also in the body language. Gamora is primal and vicious, the way she moves is pure confidence and Saldana is an actress who can really pull the look off. Granted she isn’t the most recent in sci-fi roles of hot green chick, her roommate in Star Trek ironically filled that role, but Saldana has blown them all away by not only having that almost animalistic appeal but mixing in dry wit and a certain subtle tenderness.
Next we have Drax, played by the walking muscle that is Dave Bautista. Though he is, like me, a fellow Dave, I was worried about him being in this picture. I was worried because he wasn’t an actor like the rest. In the end, Bautista’s performance was one of my highlights, he took a very serious character and, yes, he played Drax as the badass he really is, but he also gave him some great comedic moments. These moments were equal parts dialogue and delivery. So, Bautista thank you for proving me wrong.
Now, for the big guns. One of the best comedy duos since Jay and Silent Bob and one of best comic duos since Batman and Robin; Rocket and Groot. One is like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, the other is a sweet hearted giant (think Iron Giant that is a tree; that’s a really witty reference if anyone gets it). Rocket really lives up to role as team strategist and adds some great comedy into the film. He is fluffy, adorable and deadly, I want one. Cooper had a real challenge bringing Rocket to life but it worked, he was perfect for the role. Groot was the perfect counter to Rocket; he just loveable and sweet. Vin Diesel’s work on saying the infamous (and only) line, ‘I am Groot’ is splendid. In theory, the line would be very limited but Vin showed a lot of diversity in his limited dialogue.
Lee Pace was a real surprise in this film. I have always been a fan of Ronan the Accuser; he is big, bad and stubborn. We are all aware of Pace from The Hobbit where he plays the elegant King of the Elves but in Guardians he is brute force incarnate. He looks like he could crush you with a mere flick of the wrist. Adding to the villainous forces was of course the lovely Karen Gillan, who even shed her hair for the role; she seems like a proud red head so this shows some dedication. Gillan took Nebula and made her the twisted foil for Gamora in every way, she was nihilistic, dangerous, petty and sexual all at once. Pulling off the bald look isn’t easy but she made it work. Djimon Hounsou was a nice touch for the villians, playing the role of Korath, a trusted lieutenant in Ronan’s military. He really gave the faceless minions some much needed character.
Tthe cast continues with Michael Rooker oozing intimidation and over-confidence, but then that’s always going to be him, whether it be portrait of a serial killer (Mississippi Burning or The Walking Dead). Rooker comes off as someone you don’t want to mess with. He really seems like he has a lot of fun playing Yondu, his performance is intense but quirky and he pulls off a red mohawk like no one else. It’s no secret that I am a fan of John C Reilly, he is hilarious and has excellent comedy timing. Walk Hard and Wreck it Ralph are two of my favourite films. He isn’t known for his serious acting, but he is not new to it and I am glad to see him in this film.
Our interview with Michael Rooker during San Diego International Comic Con 2014, will be uploaded soon.
Last but not least, we have Benicio Del Toro as Taneleer Tivan aka The Collector. If you have even see his original look this character could have come off as campy and silly, here yes he looks a little campy, I think this helps define him, but he is defiantly obsessive and dangerous. Del Toro is perfect in the role and I’m glad he has it.
The universe Gunn created was vibrant and beautiful. From the utopian to the dystopian it just felt real. It brought me back to the cantina in Star Wars: A New Hope, where you had so many different species all just mingling and getting on with their lives. The fact that he used practical effects is what really got me hooked, I love great practical effects and they are being used less and less. I am so happy to see someone out there remembering the classic ways to create great looking aliens. With some fantastic sets that added as much to the story as the actors and plot it really helped make this feel so real.
As soundtracks go this has to be one of best movie sound tracks in a long time. Just check out this list-
- “Hooked on a Feeling” – Blue Swede
- “Go All the Way” – Raspberries
- “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
- “Moonage Daydream” – David Bowie
- “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – Elvin Bishop
- “I’m Not in Love” – 10cc
- “I Want You Back” – The Jackson 5
- “Come and Get Your Love” – Redbone
- “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways
- “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” – Rupert Holmes
- “O-o-h Child” – Five Stairsteps
- “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
The music is Quill’s way of staying connected to everything he has lost, particularly his mother, and not only that it’s just great to listen to. Though these tunes would resonate with the audience there was also a great score created by Tyler Bates (300, Watchmen and Sucker-Punch). Gunn chose to score some of the music first so he could film to it later. This unusual choice really paid off.
The soundtrack is available on Amazon.
Though they changed a lot, it was needed. These films are a part of a greater story and for it all to fit together sacrifices need to be made. What’s important is that we keep the core of characters and the story that they are in.
To further draw the hardcore fans in was The Collector’s menagerie containing, and not limited to, a Dark Elf, Cosmo the Space Dog, Howard the Duck and so much more. Not forgetting Thanos, the mad Titan, we see a little bit more of this power house and he still has not disappointed us.
All round, this film was brilliant (any film that reminds us of how fantastic Kevin Bacon is brilliant) and I have to say with my most enthusiastic and delighted tone of voice – “I AM GROOT!”