Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
This may not be an instantly recognisable brand to some people but it is based on a Marvel Comic series of the same name about a mismatched group of heroes who make it their mission to protect the galaxy.
Central to the group is Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, who was abducted from earth as a child in the eighties. He is played here by Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt, who is a million miles from his usual cute cuddly character. To say that he has seriously buffed up for the role is an understatement, and there is one shirtless scene that will have people swooning in the aisles.
We first meet Quill as an outlaw stealing an orb, which he plans to sell to the highest bidder. Unbeknownst to him though it is no ordinary orb, and actually contains an infinity stone which has the power to destroy universes. Finding himself pursued by Gamora (Saldana), Rocket (voiced by Cooper) and his sidekick Groot (the voice of Diesel) who all have their own agendas, the four destroy a town as they altercate, and are thrown in jail. There they encounter Drax (Bautista) whose family have been killed by a power hungry despot called Ronan (Pace) who is also after the orb. The five unlikely allies escape the prison in order to sell the stone, but when they learn of its power, they vow to ensure that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Unfortunately for them, some of the most despicable beings in the universe are in pursuit of it.
No prior knowledge of the comic book series is necessary, as this is an origins story. All the characters are well developed and fleshed out, including Groot whose only dialogue consists of the words “I am Groot”. Pratt is in his element as Quill/Star Lord, and injects a huge dose of humour into an already hilarious script. Saldana kicks ass as Gamora and Bautista is suitably wry as Drax. However, Cooper’s Rocket nearly steals the show. The combination of cuteness and wisecracks is a winning one, and you very quickly forget that you are watching a CGI creation.
This kicks off at a high octane pace and never lets up. In a genre that has a tendency to overcomplicate things, the plot is surprisingly easy to follow, and every single cast member really throws themselves into the story. There are some brilliant cameos and even the tiniest role feels well rounded. The effects are magnificent, and completely enhanced by 3D, and the soundtrack is, quite simply cheesetastic (you’ll have to watch it to see what I mean).
The trailers for this definitely don’t do it justice. It may be a popcorn movie but it is extremely entertaining, and wears its tongue firmly in its cheek. Movie stalwarts Del Toro and Close are somewhat underused but you only notice that as an afterthought. It looks stunning, and is a marvellous marriage of sound and vision. Pratt will surely be elevated to A-List status after his performance here, and the whole package is a joy to behold. Far from the kids film it may appear to some, this is a superhero saga with real heart. With plenty of laughs for young and old, this will leave you with a big grin on your face.