2014: The Top 20. Number 4

Guardians of the Galaxy

When the trailer came out, I was unimpressed. I’m not a big lover of trailers. They give away too much or give an unequal impression of the film. This seemed stilted and obvious in the way it presented the characters that nobody knows. The editing was poor and off somehow. And the characters came across as annoying. My expectations were duly lowered. But, it being Marvel, I knew I would be seeing it anyway.

Something changed. The tone worked, the editing as it should be in the film; the quotations taken out of context in the trailer worked where they were in the film. It was another blow for me ever bothering to watch trailers, but a joyous victory for the film itself.

Because Guardians of the Galaxy is just joy on film. It’s a self-indulgent memory trip for anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s, but it’s also just a derring do rip-roaring tear through space with a crew of misfits just trying to stay alive and save the universe. It’s the Star Wars film we never had. It revels in its weirdness — a talking raccoon and a tree — while giving secondary characters enough screen time to steal the whole film. I’m talking of Drax who, for me, is the character of the film. Literally, but not of course figuratively.

Chris Pratt, a revelation in Parks and Recreation, here tones up his appealing podge and turns himself into a megastar. Wit and magnetism, he’s the natural successor to Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. The loveable rogue; the antihero with a heart of gold. This is his film, and he and it are inspiring enough that my nine year old daughter wants a Star Lord costume all of her own. She may well get one, too.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a throwback to the future; it’s got an old world charm in a new world skin. On the one hand it’s a classic story, with a McGuffin, a bad guy, a big bad guy, and a team who don’t get on who have to learn to get over their differences to work together to overcome that evil. But on the other hand, it’s a film that if original and inventive ideas were blood, if you cast a blacklight on the film, it would light up like a Jackson Pollock painting. What other film has the bad guy challenged to a dance off at the film’s climax?

If you haven’t seen any other Marvel film, you have nothing to lose in watching Guardians. It’s a sci-fi adventure and I, for one, am a converted fan of Star Lord and his merry band.