“I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” – Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
It’s only fair that I review the first Guardians of the Galaxy film as well, isn’t it? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was fantastic, I thought it was genuinely brilliant. One of the very few superhero films that I could actually bear to watch. Much is the same for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pretty good. There’s something about these two films that I enjoy and I can’t put my finger on why. Because it’s a break from the Marvel norm is my best guess. So, Guardians of the Galaxy then. As good as the sequel? Well read on and find out.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is Star Lord, an adventurer which finds himself slapped into the middle of galactic conflict. He eventually meets up with Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista). Together the five of them must stop the evil Ronan (Lee Pace) from doing something evil. That bit isn’t really made that clear to me, not the point though. A supporting cast includes John C. Reilly, Peter Serafinowicz, Michael Rooker, Benicio del Toro and Karen Gillan.
I’m not going to lie, it took me an entire weekend to summarise the plot. I don’t really think there’s anything you can say about it that really makes sense, is there? A film about a CGI raccoon and a giant tree that explore the galaxy and stop it being blown up. That’s basically what this film is. For me the film felt more like it was just the overall Marvel cliche. Basically it’s like The Avengers (2012) in space and with better music. As I mentioned very briefly before, there’s a definite lack of plot. The motive of the villain sort of washed over me and I really just didn’t have a clue what he was doing.
Actually, it’s not that I didn’t get what was happening, it was simply that I didn’t enjoy it. Something about Ronan was just really weak and there was nothing that could be done about that. He was basically just a henchman of Thanos. Compare that with the villain in the second film and you have a much better mix. Ironically this Marvel franchise works best when it’s not coupled with other Marvel franchises. When it has it’s own soundtrack and plot points, that’s when it becomes really good. But when it’s stuck with the traditional plot and sounds of the other films it becomes less unique.
The plot was pretty much not important in every sense of the word though. When it came down to it the only part of the film that mattered really was the acting. If the acting was good then the film would be passable at best. For the most part the acting is pretty good. Chris Pratt shifts into the role of a lead superhero extremely well and suits the part. He brings a zany charm to the role that is absent from a lot of his other performances. By other films I obviously mean the The Five Year Engagement (2012) which was a big pile of shit. Still, Pratt manages to give a truly brilliant performance in this film. It’s probably where most of the charm comes from.
As for the rest of the cast they are pretty much just as good. Given that this isn’t my first time watching this film, I suppose I’m suited to all of the characters. Except for Rocket if I’m honest, I found him a bit grating. No there’s nothing wrong with Bradley Cooper’s performance, there was just something about it this time round. His high pitched noises were a tad annoying and there were some scenes that were just pretty poor in comparison. On reflection there’s a lot less substance to the film.
There’s something about sci-fi and superhero films that mean they’re going to impress you with their visuals. It’s no exception here and to be honest I don’t think films will look any better than this. Having your main characters be made of CGI and nothing else is a very bold move. It was a pretty good idea too because honestly they do look absolutely fantastic. Groot looks phenomenally well and Rocket’s impressive motion capture is unbelievably well done. Not to mention the countless explosions and space battles that are littered throughout. All of this over the top CGI is coupled well with the soundtrack, which is pretty good to say the least.
Honestly the best part of this film is of course the soundtrack. I mean, I have it on CD, that’s how good it is. The only other soundtrack I have on CD is Reservoir Dogs (1992). Some of the songs in this film are truly spectacular in every sense of the word. Pretty much the entire soundtrack is fantastic. One of the parts of this film that’s better than the sequel is in fact the songs themselves. The use of the songs isn’t as good as the second film, but as a solely musical soundtrack, the first is a bit better. Actually I regret saying that, they’re about as good as each other.
As far as Marvel films go this is definitely one of the films I can get behind. There’s something about it that just breaks the traditional formula that had been initially set out. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films that’s just a lot of fun from start to finish. Presumably the comedic flourish on certain aspects of the film helps and that’s probably one of the best parts of the film. Hell it’s not even that funny it’s just funnier than most of the other marvel products available. Don’t think I’m knocking this film because quite honestly it is truly fantastic. A great spectacle for the eyes and ears with a bit of a messy plot is more than enough for a film.
But to be fair, I’m going to say it once and once only. I do think Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is better. For me it has a much clearer plot and a soundtrack that is on par with the original. It has more weight behind it. The first Guardians of the Galaxy film is more like testing the waters before diving head first into it.