Marvel has been teasing Guardians of the Galaxy for a while now, and many have been anxiously waiting for it like moths drawn to the light. And they have every right to be a little excited since this is one of Marvel’s only non-Avenger movie to be a part of the fantastic cinematic universe the studio has built. The film proceeds to highlight Chris Pratt’s underrated skills as an actor, gives us another ass-kicking version of Zoe Saldana, and makes you wish there were talking raccoons named Rocket.

Peter Quill is a Terran (that’s alien for “human”). He’s no different from any other little boy in the 1980s, with his cassette player permanently attached to his waist. Just after Quill loses his mother to the clutches of death, he’s taken by a group of alien thieves who pick up Quill from Earth, never to return again. Twenty odd years later, Quill is one of the best thieves in the galaxy. Well, he’s a wanted man anyway, which suits Quill just fine given the fact that he’s taken to calling himself “Starlord.” You know, just because.

After stealing an orb that’s of more importance than Quill knows, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a villain who’s intent on making people suffer and enjoys power and killing, sends an assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to steal it back from Quill. Knowing that there’s a lot of money riding on catching Quill, the duo of Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), a talking, comedic raccoon, and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) an animated, kindly tree whose only words are “I am Groot,” attempt to apprehend him as well.

Some people say jail may break you or make you stronger, and in the case of the dubbed Guardians of the Galaxy, it makes them stronger… sort of. They, along with the revenge-seeking Drax (Dave Bautista), become reluctant partners in order to keep Ronan and his right-hand woman, who happens to be Gamora’s angry adopted sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), away from the orb and prevent them from destroying the galaxy.

If you’re a fan of The Avengers, then you’ll be hard-pressed not to like Guardians of the Galaxy. The film is light, even in its darker moments, fun, and is fast-paced with plenty of comedy and action. There’s plenty to like, including the reluctant partnerships of the team and their constant bickering. This movie also proves that Chris Pratt, long over-looked, can be as much of an action star as Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. And while Pratt, and his character, are obviously funny, Bradley Cooper as Rocket really steals the show from everyone and makes for the majority of the film’s comedy.

There’s plenty of action, but not so much that it hinders the film’s story. Some of the minor problems of the film come from the lack of developed backgrounds in terms of characters, most especially the sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula, whose hatred towards each other sometimes feels misplaced. There are also a lot of things going on in terms of introductions of characters and events, and you have to try and keep up if you’re not familiar with the comic and some of the recurring characters in the Marvel cinematic universe. Some of these nitpicks prevent the film from being 100% enthralling and can disengage one’s attention, though it ultimately doesn’t prevent it from delivering entertainment and excitement.

One of the best aspects of the film is that these guys are not your average superheroes. Hell, they’re not superheroes at all. Each of them is trying to get what they want, selfishly, and use their situation to their advantage. They’re constantly arguing over their plans of action, or lack thereof, individually independent and unwilling to help each other for one reason or another, and distrustful. And even when they do finally ban together after developing the same end-goal, it isn’t because they realize they’re fated to work together or anything.

What the movie lacks in terms of character development and too many events in one film aren’t things that can’t be improved upon in the sequel (yes, a sequel is already in the works. Was there ever any doubt?). The film’s shining moments come when the focus turns more to the lead cast and their partnership, insults at each other, and shenanigans in space. Most of the film’s shortcomings can be blamed on the fact that it needed to lay a lot of the groundwork for its sequel and other Marvel universe films (the infinity stones plot progresses dramatically). Regardless of these things, however, Guardians of the Galaxy is chock-full of comedy, great casting, and an entertainment value that is on par with The Avengers.

A quick exchange between Rocket and Quill pretty much sums up the kind of movie and people they are:

“Why would you want to save the galaxy?”
“Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it.”

After all, what better reason is there?

Release Date: August 1, 2014 | Director: James Gunn | Screenwriters: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman | Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker | Genre: Action, Comic | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences on sci-fi violence and action and for some language



About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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