REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

One of the big differences between movies adapted from Marvel superheroes (Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc.) and movies adapted from DC superheroes (Batman, Superman, etc.) is that Marvel movies generally are more enjoyable. DC movies tend to be more dark and brooding, while Marvel’s entries seem to care most about just taking audiences on a fun ride. Of all the already entertaining Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy may be the most playful and the most amusing.

Since launching the Marvel Studios universe in 2008 with Iron Man, every movie starring one of the ultimate Avengers has been tied to Earth. Even the Thor movies, which treat Earth as one of a mere nine realms in the same dimension, still focus largely on the third rock from our sun. Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s biggest leap of faith yet, spending no more than the opening scene on Earth (or Terra, as it’s known to the rest of the galaxy).

Guardians of the Galaxy centers on a makeshift band of five rebellious outlaws: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), an expert thief who was abducted from Earth as a child; Gamora (Zoë Saldana), an agile, green-skinned assassin; Drax (Dave Bautista), an unstoppable brute; Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a raccoon-like genetic experiment with a quick temper and a smart mouth; and Groot (Vin Diesel), an animate, tree-like monster who can only speak the phrase “I am Groot.”

The plot revolves around another of the six Infinity Stones of the new Marvel universe. (The two we’ve seen thus far were the Tesseract in The Avengers and the Aether in Thor: The Dark World.) The villainous Ronan (Lee Pace) is trying to collect the world-destroying substance and the titular band of ragtag rebels decide to step up to the plate and protect it – all the while each having their own ulterior motives.

More than any earlier entry in the series, Guardians has an uphill battle getting audiences to suspend their disbeliefs, but it does it with aplomb. Well aware of how ridiculous it is, the movie doesn’t waste time trying to make itself believable and instead just delivers a wild ride packed with giddy action and hilarious comedy. If you resist, you won’t enjoy yourself, but then, if the movie doesn’t eventually win you over, you’re probably a grump of the highest order.

As funny as the Iron Man movies are (not to mention the inherent comedy of Thor), they’ve got nothing on the hilarity presented by watching the mismatched Guardians bicker, bungle plans, fall on their faces, and accidentally succeed despite themselves. Pratt and Cooper are both hysterical in their roles; quite honestly, Cooper’s Rocket may just be the most amusing character Marvel has brought to the screen — with all apologies to Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark.

With a fantastic soundtrack of ’70s rock and a visual feel akin to space operas like Star Wars and Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy marches to its own beat and makes no apologies. There will be some who just can’t get on board with the movie, and who’ll simply refuse to accept a talking raccoon or a walking tree or Glenn Close’s ridiculous hairdo. They will be missing out on one of the funniest action movies of the year and, arguably, the most fun Marvel Studios film yet.

4 stars / 5

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