The fact that Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that exists is still mind blowing. Marvel’s cosmic universe has always been a very interesting place over in the comics. While Spider-Man was taking down muggers, out there in the stars epic stories were taking place on a galactic stage with rival empires clashing together. It’s a very bold move by Marvel Studios to try bring this level of cosmic scale to their movie universe. They opened the door a little with The Avengers but invading aliens is a lot different from setting an entire movie in space. Thankfully that risk they took has paid off spectacularly.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a team movie, but unlike Avengers audiences are meeting these characters for the fist time. Nobody here was in a previous movie. If you’re a comic reader you’ve obviously met the colourful cast before but I’d wager the majority of people stepping into the cinema have never heard of Groot and company. Peter Quill (or Star Lord as he prefers to be known) is the central character and is portrayed stunningly well by Chris Pratt, but the rest of the team are just as fun in their own ways. Smartly the movie introduces you to the cast in chunks, letting you get glimpses of each character rather than just throwing them all together at once. There are no overdrawn introductions either; the cast get to know one another at the same time as you. Everyone gets their moment to shine as things progress and I never felt like any of the heroes were wasting space.
The tone of the movie is definitely worth mentioning. Rocket Racoon in particular was always going to be a hard sell to the wider public, Marvel took the obvious route and gave the movie a light and funny tone. Even when things get tense the movie always takes the time to throw in something fun. If you’re looking for an earlier movie to compare it to then this is much more of an Iron Man 3 than anything else we’ve seen previously. It’s probably Marvel’s funniest movie yet.
Visually the movie is gorgeous. This is a sci-fi universe that’s grimy and greasy in places and colourfully cleans in others. It feels lived in and amazingly diverse. All at once it makes the Marvel cinematic universe feel absolutely giant. You’d be forgiven for expecting a level of disconnect but you can believe that this is the same place inhabited by the Avengers, it’s just a few star systems away that’s all.
This is a spoiler-free review so I’m not going to say much about the plot other than the fact that it’s decent but maybe a little simple. Although the story isn’t massively complicated, and you’ll have seen its kind before, it serves as a good excuse to watch the characters flail around. That’s the key reason Guardians of the Galaxy is so good, every character is incredibly entertaining and together they have a real dynamic. The effects and the plot are great and all but it’s the characters that everyone is going to remember, that’s the real reason to go see it. I’m reminded of Avengers in terms of structure, at its core that’s a very simple movie too but the characters knock it into something special. That’s the same deal here.
Before we wrap up I want to talk to the comic readers for a moment. Some of the characters are a little off from what you may be expecting. Nobody is too radically different but there are some small changes. It’s all for the better though, unlike an earlier Marvel movie I don’t think there’ll be a single person that gets considerably upset about any changes here. There’s nothing major, but if you’re expecting 1:1 conversions of comic book personalities then you’ll be left a little disappointed. To make it work some things have been shifted, which is entirely forgivable as it works perfectly. Trust me, the results are worth it.
Altogether there’s just not really much to pick out about Guardians of the Galaxy that I can jot down as a real negative. It’s just a really fun movie that makes it itself so likeable that any shortcomings just don’t seem to matter. The only thing I have to mention is that the plot is straightforward but you won’t care how familiar the story is because you’ll be having too much of a good time to notice.