It’s the 1980s and a little boy called Peter Quill, whose mother has just died, finds himself being beamed aboard a spaceship.
Fast forward two decades and what you find is an unlikely hero whose passion for space bounty hunting can only be matched by his love of the ladies and a deep-rooted emotional attachment to the same Walkman he was wearing when he was kidnapped all those years ago.
Be warned, this is no ordinary Marvel movie.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) does not have good hair, the strength of ten men or a razor-sharp brain. But his clumsy, boyish persona combined with a ‘to hell with it’ attitude and cobbled-together space costume (complete with self-styled superhero name ‘Starlord’) has unbounding appeal.
Combine this with a fast-talking, super-witty raccoon - voice by Bradley Cooper - a lovable walking tree (Vin Diesel) and a high-kicking, edgy green lady with an axe to grind (Zoe Saldana) and you have a higgledy piggledy winner of a bad-ass avenging space crew - complete with fast paced jokes and action to match.
“This,” said my viewing partner and Star Wars/Marvel geek, “Is what Phantom Menace should have been like.”
And he’s right. It’s witty, fun and fast-paced. You love the good guys, hate the bad guys and when the action happens it sucks you right in.
Particularly so if you are watching on an IMAX screen, as we were, where the movie’s stupendous special effects slam you in the face and box your ears to boot.
From the opening ‘two decades on’ scene - which sees Peter bounding across worn-out abandoned space terrain, dodging gullies spewing water and serpent-like creatures and using a space-lizard as a microphone to sing along to his Walkman - the 3D effects are brilliant and engaging.
The plot is basic - there’s a bad guy called Ronan (Lee Pace) who is terrorising space and all who live in it, there are the good guys and then there is a mysterious orb which both parties want for themselves. There’s some great banter, some brilliant humour and a retro twist which gives a nod to other space-movie greats and makes Guardians feel like an old friend as soon as it starts.
This, combined with the hero’s addiction to all things ‘80s and his cassette tape of seriously good tunes - think Hooked on a Feeling and Ain’t no Mountain High Enough - gives this fast-paced fun movie a nostalgic twist which will be enjoyed by any adults taking the kids to see this film over the summer.
The final battle to end all battles (until the sequel comes out at least) is rip-roaring and leaves the audience gasping for more.
As the credits rolled (to a round of applause) the vast majority of the audience stayed in their seats in anticipation of the usual Marvel short at the end. But none came. When it transpired the preview we’d attended didn’t include the short (which will be included at the end of the film on its release tomorrow) the good-humoured groans of disappointment rang through the room - a sure fire sign of success.
It’s more expensive to watch on IMAX (£14.80 at Castleford) but for the extra bang for your buck it’s worth it.