Come and get your love.
This classic song is Gunn’s way of telling the audience what to expect from Guardians Of The Galaxy: a swiveling monster-ball of an entertainer that gyrates with its own Richter-scale awesomeness. You see Pratt’s character walking the decrepit terrain of a planet in a galaxy far, far away; his loose dance steps wreaking fun throughout the dark setting. As the title announces its name with pride, co-writer/director James Gunn readies his blast of canon power and sets the Marvel formula on fire. You are lost in his world, rolling in your seat with laughter and being atomized into pieces when it reaches a resounding emotional high. Guardians Of The Galaxy is our Star Wars, and James Gunn is a generation’s hero.
“Hooked on a feeling, Blue Swede! That song belongs to me!”, shouts Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) to a prison guard who’s listening to a cassette mix that is valuable to Quill. You can see why, because you know his dying mother gave it to him. It has an intensely personal resonance for a film that has a sentient tree and a talking raccoon as two of its protagonists. Gunn makes the characters emotionally available, like an open chest of heartrending memories to draw from. The movie sidetracks a lot of other Marvel Studios films, without losing out on all the elements that make a comic book movie.
So even if Vin Diesel gets only three words to choose from (four actually) as Groot, we do not complain. He will ask for your tears in one scene, and probably end up getting them. On the opposite side of this scale, the staggeringly well-written Rocket garners the laughs, shooting disapproving looks and brilliant one-liners with panache. Bradley Cooper bestows this beloved character with brimming heart and razor-sharp smarts: all explained by a single, tragic line of a back story. Davis Bautista is Drax the Destroyer, the muscle of the pack, who subtly hints at Good Burger (1997) when he takes everything literally. Sci-fi’s own darling Zoe Saldana kicks plenty of ass in her green skin as Thanos’ daughter (oops), an assassin called Gamora. But when they are together they make The Avengers look like a bunch of sissies.
The action set pieces mount on piles of breathtaking visual effects and CGI, but Gunn makes sure that his gem of a film does not follow the pack of other CG-heavy blockbusters. Someone wants to take over some planet. Someone has to save the day. Lucky for us, the matter of such cosmic importance is put into able hands. Guardians Of The Galaxy has the ambitious vision of being a groundbreaking chapter in the line of other comic book movies and it grabs that chance by the throat. The colors of battle burst forth, the characters shoot, fly and spout their hilarious lines – it works.
The biggest strength of the film is the soundtrack. Gunn juxtaposes the dramatic impact with his mix tape, setting morose proceedings to lively rhythms. Classic rock and pop songs exist in the soundtrack as a perpetual reminder that we may have lost the true form of music in this decade. It is more of a gift to the audience than a narrative recipe. Guardians Of The Galaxy is, in spite of being a big studio popcorn tub, an affecting comic brought to life that carries passionate storytelling, a bucketful of fun and meaningful sensitivity together like no one’s business.
It is a total blast from start to end. That was a metaphor. Drax would get it.