With the Israeli–Palestinian conflict flaring up again, it's nice to be able to escape into a film instead about a broken peace treaty and a centuries long war between two peoples.
Peter Quill/Star-Lord dances to Redbone's “Come And Get Your Love” shortly after the opening and right there is a brilliant mood and tone setting for the rest of the escapade. Chris Pratt's Quill makes for a charming, likeable hero face as he carries baggage only a small child knows to harbour from their whisked-away existence. He's not moping, but you can see where it hits when it hits.
Guardians of the Galaxy pivots much of itself on the notion of dealing with loss and coming to terms with that sense of void and dispossession. Picking up, losing ground and finding out how to get back up on your feet as the shelling continues. It's a team effort here, the comfort and camaraderie between the Guardians gelling into a gloop of love, respect and comic timing. Family matters, no matter how you find it or how they find you.
Loss being one thing, adding a familiar soundtrack from the 70s and 80s sews it back up, putting your mind into that safe zone when the world was endless pillow and blanket forts, where nothing would hurt you or leave you abandoned, all alone in the world.
Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is rather one note, though extremely thirsty, storming through with his vengeance for blood and putting his enemies into the ground under a strip of debris, if they even warrant that much of attention. Karen Gillan's Nebula is terse and dejected, simmering a desire for just wanting to be noticed by her adoptive father, Thanos (Josh Brolin). From the display she hints at being more conniving and resourceful than the wanton Ronan who doesn't fare that well in the nuance of things.
Only a few jokes, of the thick walls lined with them, require you to really hold onto their establishment, tracking them in mind. Case in point being with the Gamora (Zoe Saldana) “green whore” deference from Drax (Dave Bautista) a bit back in dialogue that its literal reference seems out of place due to the lag between setup and punchline. On their own, Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) are cool, but together they manage one tight bond that later on squeezes a tear or two in the end game. Diesel able to emote with just a hold of three words. Cooper one ups and the anger, anguish and despair layers his voice.
In terms of levelling a city, or even a whole swathe of nameless and faceless citizens, it's an achievement in hope compared to the horrors of Man of Steel. Guardians of the Galaxy shows that felling buildings left and right doesn't always have to be doom, gloom and screaming bodies reaching out as they writhe in pain with their legs and lungs pierced by rebar or chunks of shattered glass come slicing torsos in twain.
The pieces are all familiar, a band of misfits form a tight cohesive unit and chase a MacGuffin to save a city/world/planet from being destroyed. It's then tweaked on another colour palette with a mix that comes out the meat grinder a fluid fresh feeling fun romp. An exciting and entertaining way to introduce yourself into the cosmic plane of the Marvel Universe. A joy that releases the inner human shield in us all.
Reviewed on Sunday, 10 August 2014