Guardians of the Galaxy (Far Far Away)

Star Wars was a massive part of my childhood being born in the 1980s. The Original Trilogy was the definitive big screen sci-fi space opera. It had it all, spaceships, explosions, fun characters, and odd looking monsters.

My original VHS releases, of which I still own, were just about worn out. I loved those movies so much. I had all the toys, a fleet of X-Wing Starfighters, and the crappy 80s version of the expendable light sabre which was essentially a torch with a bit of coloured plastic attached.

Then we fast forward to 1999. Episode I was about to be released. Waiting in the queue for the midnight screening, aged just 16, I was hoping to enjoy new adventures in that Galaxy Far Far Away on the big screen. Two years earlier I’d seen the Special Editions at the cinema and loved every second as that was my first chance to see Star Wars on the silver screen.

Then we watched The Phantom Menace and the magic was over. Sure we went through the motions in 2002 and 2005 with Episode’s II and III but the magic was lost. Even The Original Trilogy just didn’t shine as bright knowing what, in the Star Wars Universe at least, came before.

A world with Han Solo and Chewbacca just felt dirty now we knew that 30 far far away years we had earlier Battle Droids. Sir Alec Guinness’s wise old Obi Wan Kenobi just didn’t feel the same knowing he was once the dodgy accented Ewan McGregor. And how could Darth Vader have been an annoying kid who couldn’t act to save his life? And don’t EVER get me started on Jar Jar Bloody Binks.

Other sci-fi films have come and gone over the years but none of them have had that power t transport me back to being a wide eyed little kid again. I’ve reserved hopes for JJ Abraham’s Episode VII but that’s still a distant prospect.

But all this brings us to the latest movie from Marvel Studios: Guardians of the Galaxy. I’d had hopes since it was first announced, and those epic trailers, but I was still not expecting much. Trailers can be deceptive things. Even Episode I had a great trailer that made it seem like it was going to be the best film of all time.

So, after getting tickets to a preview screening, I sat down to yet another film I was sure wouldn’t have that magic Star Wars had as a child. But within a few minutes of a shockingly powerful opening scene I was once again a little kid. That long forgotten feeling came running back as my eyes widened to the spectacle. There were truly alien monsters, some epic spaceships, humour in abundance, a talking tree, along with many many more sights. It was a truly visual feast for the eyes.

But what Guardians had, what Episode I and so many other sci-fi films lack, was heart. With Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (played to perfection by Chris Pratt) we’ve a leading character who’s part Luke Skywalker and part Han Solo. We’ve got the monster character quota filled in Rocket (a talking Raccoon obsessed with guns) and Groot (a talking tree) plus a strong female character, sadly still a rarity in this genre, in Gamora daughter of Thanos.

It’s a film where all the sci-fi tropes we’ve come to expect are all present and accounted for but they’re all done to perfection. Basically, to paraphrase a popular advert, Marvel didn’t make Star Wars but if they did… You’d get Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s very rare that a new movie can have that retro factor that instantly has you wearing rosetints along with your IMAX 3D glasses but this is one such beast.

Another aspect that has to be mentioned here is the soundtrack. It’s fantastic! A basic premise of the film is that our hero is transported as a child into space with only his Sony Walkman and a mixtape with him. It’s his link to his origins here on earth and is used to great effect throughout the film. It’s a clever plot device that just wouldn’t work in any other medium than film.

What Marvel have done with Guardians is take a third rate property and turn it in to what is quite possibly their best film to date. If they can do that with the Guardians of the Galaxy they can do it to anything.

Perhaps that big budget reboot of Howard The Duck is no longer that far fetched a possibility after all…

All I know is, cinematically at least, MAKE MINE MARVEL!