I’ll admit that I was more than a bit skeptical when I first heard James Gunn was going to turn Marvel’s cosmic Guardians of the Galaxy series into a live-action movie.
It wasn’t that I doubted the abilities of Gunn or those of his talented cast. No, it was mainly because I struggled to wrap my head around how a talking raccoon and a sentient tree would fit into the wider marvel universe: a universe that had been expanding into the cosmos, for sure, but a universe that was still, by and large, grounded firmly on Earth.
So, you’ll be able to imagine my surprise when, after seeing the first Guardians trailer, that doubt turned into quiet optimism, and like the rest of the planet I suddenly acquired a taste for a certain song called Hooked on a Feeling. You might’ve heard of it.
Months passed. I poured over the lyrics to Blue Suede’s classic. Then, right on cue, the second trailer came along and did things no trailer has any right to do.
It changed me, it educated me, and suddenly, I got it. From that moment on I understood implicitly what Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be, and as I watched Gunn’s electric galaxy unfold in the warm 70s glow of Norman Greenbaum’s Spirt in the Sky I became certain it was going to be impossibly special.
Guardians of the groove
Thankfully, I was right, and from the instant I laid eyes on the very first scene to the millisecond before the credits began to roll, Guardians of the Galaxy blew me away.
I am literally in love with every faucet, every fun-inducing drop of the movie, and I don’t mean that in an overly-excited-definitely-taking-bribes journalistic kind of way either. I mean that I would literally make sweet, sweet love to Guardians if it was within the realms of physical possibility.
“Why the outpouring of affection? This is a soundtrack review, not a movie fan club!” I hear you cry. Well, you inquisitive rascal, allow me to elaborate.
Guardians of the Galaxy is pure entertainment, and in case you couldn’t already tell it’s one of my favourite movies of 2014. It has heart, identity, and originality in abundance, while the movie’s comedic prowess makes it one of the most quotable flicks in recent years.
Each component in Guardians, be it the acting, the editing, the writing, or the special effects, melts together to create something that’s truly special. The soundtrack is no exception.
Handpicked by Gunn himself, Guardians‘ retro offering, better known as Awesome Mix Vol. 1, acts as an important bridge, reminding the audience that Earth, and the salaciously groovy tones of the Jackson 5, still exist in the chaotic, dangerous, and downright beautiful cosmic space our Guardians call home.
It serves to humanise some aesthetically inhuman characters, and as you watch Star-Lord dance through an ancient temple on Morag miming Redbone’s Come And Get Your Love, or gawp as the entire team arrive on Knowhere to the satisfyingly bizarre fanfare of David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream, you’ll find it impossible not to fall in love with the universe that Gunn and his team have worked so hard to create.
On its own the soundtrack is a nostalgic trip to a bygone era, but within the context of Guardians it becomes so much more.
It encapsulates everything the movie strives to be, and ultimately is. 10cc’s I’m Not In Love and The Five Stairsteps’ O-o-h Child, which harken back to the death of Star-Lord’s mother, are emotional sucker-punches, while the likes of Cherry Bomb, Go All The Way, and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough serve up a veritable feast of funk, rock, and soul.
Now, you might agree with every word I’ve written here so far, or you might currently be searching for my home address because you firmly believe my insolence needs rewarding with a punch in the teeth.
When all is said and done though, the fact that I’m still dancing around my room to the Guardians soundtrack on a daily basis says more than my words ever could. It’s an attention grabbing, show-stealing, space-age masterpiece.