Awesomely spectacular in sci-fi visuals, battle-tastic sequences and high class comedy. The tenth installment in the Marvel cinematic universe and 100% one of the best. James Gunn the director and co-writer of this penultimate Phase Two feature has mastered a wise cracking, zippy futuristic barnstormer to once again keep the threat of stale superhero movies well away.
‘GOTG’ kicks things off with a simple enough back story into Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) past of 1988 and from there he’s whisked away into the land of space and the unknown. This movie revolves around him 26 years later as his space pirating ways lead him to grab a much sought after orb. Having this item however is more dangerous than expected and in the process of keeping it he stumbles upon a motley crew of bandits who become friends. (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper) They all must try and stop the orb falling into the wrong hands, i.e the paws of one mighty villain named Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).
*very mild spoilers may follow in this write up*
This is such a damn good movie, the movie keeps shuffling along at a speedy pace but never in a way that you feel it’s over before anything has begun. The story is suitably told even if it is predominantly a item for sale kind of shtick. It might be basic but it never feels dull with interesting character interactions to keep the story amusing and fresh. The book-ended Earthy quality to reflect Quill’s background help add that grounded touch to bring us back to more level standings after flying high in the future. The mum, present and Star-Lord aspects all get their time and help make the arrogant, witty dude in charge more three dimensional, which I believe was needed, even if skidding across an empty cave and singing into weird creatures is epic cool. The main likable story focus is centering on them as a gang, a unit, friends and possible a family because of them working together, all their rapports are scripted brilliantly with comedic one liners, miscommunications and personality divides all adding to the hilarity of this odd bunch coming as one. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman have done a top notch thing in writing this film, mixing funny with feels, whizz with calm.
The science fiction is like something wholly and delightfully different to the Marvel films to come so far. Each planet and scene is detailed with futuristic eyes for design and wonder that it’s a treat to see each place appear on the big screen, especially when captured on an IMAX screen. They all work with the unraveling plot and suit the impending darkness of Ronan’s influence. Though Xandar always seems clean, white and like some new Colgate commercial or a Jetson’s city. The sci-fi gizmos are fun and Star-Lord, you know….Star-Lord, oh forget it, he has a Batman like utility belt of gadgetry to deploy; from a handy helmet to some jet-packed boots. It’s all stamped with an assured extreme modern look that gives this film the fun identity you hoped it would have.
‘GOTG’ has a soundtrack of insanely great proportions that relate nicely to Quill as a human with his travelling mixtape, appropriately titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1 that gifts us the sounds of the 70’s and each song ties in with the action it’s played over. Of course there’s the great ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede but other gems come from David Bowie, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, The Jackson 5 and The Runaways who have one of the best song-to-scene moments with ‘Cherry Bomb’. It’s a very musically felt film even when a song isn’t blasting through the cinema speakers like some phat boombox-esque disco tune. Peter Quill utilises on the moods of ‘Footloose’, he twinkle toes…quite a fair bit and even uses this knack for such a great way to deal with the enemy, very Han Solo tapping on a Stormtrooper to distract jobby.
Chris Pratt is a great leading man and shines as Star-Lord, seriously no idea? Okay, nevermind, the cockiness is just right, never leaning into proper douchebag territory, he has a great sense of comedic timing clearly picked up from his time in ‘Parks and Recreation’, but there’s a sensibility lurking under the leather and helmet of Quill and Pratt showcases this human emotional side when needed to settle the soaring visuals with hearty story, maybe not huge hearty story mind but hearty enough. Zoe Saldana is a great kick-ass assassin and plays green Gamora with the hit-girl precision, she also keeps Quill in check and turns a corner for him without even meaning to. Bradley Cooper is never seen but is utterly fantastic as the voice of the violent Rocket Raccoon, the furball is cute and somewhat softened by the end but he comes out with insults and lines to crack you up constantly, the funniest thing in the film by far. Stan Lee has a cameo, as per. Karen Gillan has black eyes and blue skin in her most evil role yet and she carries that baddie role well giving long stares into shots to convince you she can do harm, underused as a character and I was saddened that after hype of a great female fight between Saldana and her it feels cut short and not that impressive when it comes down to it. Lee Pace is bulky and very bad as Ronan and booms as the central villain, it’s a great play but this film does side more with the journey of the Guardians leaving the villains with less time to breathe.
The best thing about this film is you can tell the makers had a blast getting this made and so you have a blast watching it. It’s zany and piled to the stars with silly and smart comedy, shining special effects and grand fun. A Jackson Pollack comment says it all for some of the greatly scripted one-liners and the dazzling lights and kindness of Groot’s heart tell you how sweet and sad the film can sometimes be. It succeeds it making you care about the good guys an awful lot and each one gets enough screentime to warrant you liking them all, they’re the new Avengers in a way, more weird but just as easily to get attached to. Heck this film even bangs out a final act more impressive and neatly wrapped up than ‘The Avengers’ managed to achieve.
Mad fun, great sounds and sights can be found in this action filled space adventure. An exhilarating ride that makes you want to go round again and again.