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Guardians of the Galaxy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Guardians of the Galaxy
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B
Special Effects: B

I fully understand that I am in the minority in thinking Guardians of the Galaxy is a little overrated. I'm not sure it would be so well received if not just by virtue of it being better than so many other comic book adaptations -- of which there are now way too many -- of the past several years. If this were fifteen years ago, it might not seem as novel.

There's a lot of flaws this movie's fan seem to overlook. A movie like this needs a charismatic villain, and the villain here is not even memorable. The action sequences are frequently edited incomprehensibly. The story is tonally inconsistent.

What saves the movie is its cleverly written and giddily acted misfit characters. In some ways, this is the 21st-century's answer to The Fifth Element (although that movie is still better): it presents a science-fiction universe filled with oddball humor. And it has a genetically engineered raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper and a humanoid plant voiced by Vin Diesel. Although, as most people know by now, all the plant ever says is "I am Groot." Eventually Rocket (the raccoon) begins talking back to Groot as though he's said completely different things, which is actually pretty entertaining.

"Pretty entertaining" is still a good phrase for this movie. And here's the thing -- I have to be fair. If you're the kind of person who is all about comic book adaptations, who is not burnt out by the now years-long glut of superhero movies, you're going to love this movie. By all means, go see Guardians of the Galaxy; you're going to love it. Much of it really is a breath of fresh air, especially considering the levity in the script. God knows we've seen way too many superheroes who take themselves way too seriously. This is one movie, at least, that knows it's ridiculous. It actually could have used even more of that sensibility.

The opening sequence is very promising in that sense: a brooding score as an unknown masked man lands on a deserted planet. It all seems very serious, until, well, it isn't. I won't spoil it, except to say that there's a delightful but of humor that cuts right through the typically dark sensibility we thought we've been drawn into.

The plot is a little convoluted. The only time the movie is set on Earth is in the beginning, in 1988. A young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has a mother dying of cancer, and then he's abducted by an alien space craft out in the yard. It starts off oddly serious until that alien thing. Cut to 26 years later, and the adult Peter is an outlaw, obsessively listening to the walkman his mother left him while trying in vain to get people to call him "Starlord." And there's a bounty on him, which draws several other characters to him -- namely, the tree and raccoon; a genetically-enhanced warrior woman named Gamora (Zoe Saldana); and a revenge-bent buff guy with body art named Drax (Dave Bautista).

The plot gets convoluted from there. Suffice it to say that there's this guy named Ronan (Lee Pace, the unfortunately unmemorable villain) who himself has a millennia-old vendetta, and needs the orb Peter Quill has been paid to retrieve. Once this ragtag group of reluctant heroes realizes what Ronan wants to do with it (destroy an entire world, what else?), they join forces instead of fighting over who will bag Peter for the bounty. There's not much reason to care about this stuff, really, except for the often delightful set pieces. Their escape from prison is a particularly great sequence.

Guardians of the Galaxy isn't the greatest movie out there, but it's fun, and I'll happily see a sequel when it comes out -- which means it definitely exceeded my initial expectations. It's still not as good as, say, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which itself was better than it had any right to be. Guardians could easily have exceeded it but director James Gunn somewhat botches the roll-out of the complicated backstory. I still don't understand what the deal is between Peter's dad and Yondu (Michael Rooker), the guy who abducted Peter and is a villain in his own right. Maybe we'll find out in the sequel.

As always with Marvel movies, you'll want to wait until the end of the credits for a bit of an extra treat. Usually it's a teaser for a sequel or at least another Marvel movie; this one comes out of left field and is a treat. If nothing else, this movie is full of those left-field treats, and is therefore great if you're into that sort of thing.

Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel are the ragtag GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

Overall: B
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