I love a good film, and I love to be entertained, but it’s a rare experience to enjoy every single minute of a film. You shift in your seat during slow moments, wondering if you’ll miss something important if you nip to the loo (hint: yes, you will always miss something important if you nip to the loo, don’t do it). Once the popcorn’s digesting and you’re mulling the plot over on your drive home, some of the shine usually wears off. It was a great film, you think, but that scene with the giraffe and the trampoline was a bit naff really. And why did the octopus want to take over the world anyway, where was her motivation? Or something along those lines, it depends on what you were watching.
Anyway, there are rare occasions when I find myself blown away, swept up in a grand adventure and carried along for the ride with the characters. It used to be something that could happen frequently with films when I was younger, but as you get older it gets harder to suspend your disbelief as effectively as you once could.
I remember the hype building up for Guardians of the Galaxy. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see it in the cinema – I’d never read the comics, and it seemed a step removed from the rest of the Marvel movies, all of which take place in a world that is at the very least feasibly closely adjacent to our own. I couldn’t really see how they’d fit it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and, to their credit, their barely tried. With the exception of the Infinity Stone macguffin, there wasn’t anything really to tie it to the others, and this worked in the film’s favour because it is so very … very … very … silly.
And I loved every minute of it. I thought it would be difficult to connect to, but they very cleverly used the soundtrack to their advantage – they could have gone for epic orchestral tunes, and there was enough of that, but all the stuff that was meant to grab you came from pop songs of the late 70s, giving the audience a nice stable anchor to cling to when the alien shit hits the interstellar fan.
I won’t need to go into details of the plot, as it’s a recent Marvel movie – you’ve seen it. If you’ve not seen it then A) I am most surprised and B) you’re missing out on an incredibly fun space adventure. That’s the main appeal of the film – it’s just so much fun. I sat through the whole film with a great big smile on my face, thoroughly loving it. The characters, especially Rocket and Groot, were just so great follow. And when the lovable band of misfits weren’t onscreen, there was Karen Gillan villaining it up in a role that I wish they’d given more screentime to. And the first proper appearance of Thanos, the Marvel Big Bad who’s trying to get his hands on the space magic macguffins.
The film isn’t without flaws, but you just don’t care. From the moment Chris Pratt grabs an alien rodent and sings into it like a microphone, you know exactly what sort of film you’re in for. And Pratt is a large part of the film’s appeal. Unlike in his other recent big action movie Jurassic World (a film which has been getting steadily worse the more I think about it), his character actually has a personality. Sure, that personality is an immature manchild – but it fits. He was taken from his family (and his entire species) at a young age; that’s the sort of thing that’s going to affect your personal development. So while he eventually takes to the business of saving the universe (because, as he so convincingly puts it, he’s “one of the idiots who lives in it”), he doesn’t do it with stoic grunting and a single gritty manly tear. He does it in an endearingly human way, which is off-set all the more by the bizarre aliens around him.
And Groot. Oh my god, Groot. A perfectly convincing CGI character, there was no doubt in my mind that Groot was right there the whole time. Same with Rocket. I could believe, for the duration of the whole movie, that a machine gun toting raccoon and a tree with a limited vocabulary were the best of friends right up there on screen with the flesh and blood actors. And while I’m talking about Groot, I would very much like Vin Diesel to stop punching me in the feels with animated characters who utter heartbreaking 3-syllable-lines, thank you. If you’ve seen The Iron Giant, you know what I mean.
So, yes. Guardians of the Galaxy. They’re a bunch of a-holes, but they’re not complete dicks.