I had planned to see Guardians of the Galaxy in the cinema when first released earlier this year, so in order to avoid spoilers I didn’t read anything about it, and had only a very hazy idea of the plot. I was actually rather surprised to find out that it wasn’t animated, which suggests that I may have taken staying spoiler-free too far. Note: beyond this point, I discuss plot points, so you may wish to avoid reading further if you haven’t seen the film yet. Consider the film poster as a break to stop you seeing anything accidentally!
The opening scene – o my. The heartstrings, they be pulled. Between the song, 10CC’s I’m not in love, and the little boy with the huge eyes, it’s a painful beginning. The fact that when he was in danger he still cried for his mother, despite having just watched her die, was devastating.
I was intrigued upon seeing Djimon Hounsou’s and Glenn Close’s names appear in the opening credits – they are two excellent actors. This was one of the perks of remaining spoiler-free; I knew so little about the plot that I could not begin to imagine what part they would play.
The use of Quill’s Sony Walkman – an item of archaic technology in the future in which he ends up – to provide the soundtrack is a great idea, and demonstrates the impact of the music upon, and its importance to, the story, and in particular to Quill himself as the main character.. As demonstrated by the opening dance sequence, with the alien microphones, the music, here Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, can develop such comedy as successfully as it can enhance the devastation of the earlier scene.
Quill’s identifying himself as the Star Lord creates a mythology around his character which, coupled with his costume (leather clothes, and a black mask with glowing red eyes), suggests he may have superpowers of some kind. It was obvious that he was the child at the start of the film, but otherwise he was an unknown quantity, and there was much to learn about him. The majority of characters were equally interesting, and had their own stories waiting to be told, instead of being mere adjuncts to or opponents of Quill. The relationships between the Guardians – Quill, Drax, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket – are really well done, both in terms of being true to the characters themselves and in terms of creating an entertaining dynamic. The scene in which they attempt to make plans following their rescue by the ravagers is just brilliant. Rocket seems to be a metavoice, commenting on the action as we would while watching the film. Sample quotes: “That’s barely even a concept”, on one of the plans suggested, and (my personal favourite) “We’re all standing up now. Bunch of jackasses”. The former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista was a surprise, and he was great as Drax – his evolution as a character and towards an understanding (sort of…) of imagery, is quite brilliant. Groot, finally, is wonderful; he’s a little bit “Hodor”, in terms of his ability to express himself, until the very end – instead of “I am Groot”, he says “We are Groot”, and yes, I shed a wee tear at that, and his corresponding actions of growing his branches to form a leafy nest to protect his friends. It was a real fairytale moment, like the growing of the hedge around Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
The ending was a fine conclusion to the film in itself, framing the story with Quill’s relationship with his mother, whose music has made her a strong part of the film, but did of course, through the cementing of the equally crucial relationship between the surviving Guardians, create a space in which to make a sequel. I’m perfectly happy with this – more than happy, almost certainly, depending on what they come up with for the next film – as it is in no way forced, and as there remain several questions to answer. I am particularly keen for the sequel to pay more attention to Karen Gillan’s character Nebula, on whom most of my questions focus. Gillan herself is an excellent actress, and I’m hoping that she’ll get more opportunity to show her talent in the sequel. She says that Thanos, her father, and the main villain of the piece, turned her into what she is now, which makes me wonder what she used to be. She seemed like a mix of the Terminator as played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Her story remains to be told.
I’ll end with the quite brilliant cartoon below, courtesy of Geekfill: