by Keith Hill
Rated M. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista. Directed by James Gunn.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I think Guardians of the Galaxy is the best addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet.
Sure, its source material is a comic that has nowhere near the profile of, say, Iron Man. It doesn’t have the high profile director like Joss Whedon.
None of that matters. In fact, it’s probably an advantage.
Director and co-writer James Gunn has managed to craft a movie with the near-perfect balance of action and comedy. It does take a few minutes to set up the storyline, but once you get your bearings Guardians is never weighed down by the feeling that it’s just a setup for the next movie in the franchise – something that’s unfortunately characteristic of many of the other Marvel films.
The film centres around Peter Quill (Pratt), or Star-Lord as he prefers to be called. Abducted by aliens as a kid, he becomes an intergalactic outlaw who sleeps his way around the galaxy. When he comes into possession of a mysterious orb with the ability to destroy any organic matter it touches, Quill bands together with the green-skinned Gamora (Saldana), heavily scarified Drax the Destroyer (WWE wrestler Bautista), genetically engineered, psychopathic raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a human-like tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), whose vocabulary consists of only three words – “I am Groot”. Together they attempt to keep the orb out of the hands of the genocidal Ronan, and the bandit-for-hire Yondu.
Guardians doesn’t take itself anywhere near as seriously as the other Marvel movies. Every moment of profound and inspiring dialogue is interrupted by a side-splitting one liner, but the gags are never cheap. 80s pop-culture references are scattered liberally through the movie, reflecting the time when Quill was abducted from earth, and the mix-tape he had in his Walkman (remember those?) provides the soundtrack to the movie. Visually the film references some great 80s flicks. The opening scene is a funky version of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Quill is in on the joke. Even the cameos provide a veritable who’s-who of sci-fi flick stars in addition to the standard Stan Lee appearance (think along the lines of Firefly, Star Trek and Doctor Who), but blink and you may miss them.
‘We’re just like Kevin Bacon!’
The growing friendship between the Guardians is the real heart of the movie. We see them go from a bunch of anti-social, psychopathic loners, to friends who are willing to lay down their lives for each other and the galaxy. But at the same time, they’re motivated by revenge. Both Gamora and Drax have lost family to Ronan, and they want vengeance. We feel the pain of their loss, and naturally we want vengeance for them too. Vengeance is right.
God is a God who deserves vengeance too. The Bible tells us that he lovingly created us to live under him. He gave us a good world to live in, and blessed us. But we’ve spurned him and rejected the way that he wants us to live – a sin that the Bible says deserves death. We’ve made God our enemy, and he deserves vengeance.
But even though that’s what he deserves, that’s not what he wants. See what the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome in Romans 5:7-8:
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Even though we were God’s enemies, cut off from him by our sin and deserving of nothing but punishment and condemnation, he showed mercy. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, not to die seeking vengeance, but to die to forgive us and bring us back to him. That’s good news indeed!
I hope the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise continues. There’s enough leads in the plot that it definitely has some room to grow, and it’s a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Get along and see it in 3D if you can, to make the most of the spectacular special effects. I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.
Guardians of the Galaxy will be released in the UK on July 31st, in the US on August 1st, and in Australia on August 7th.