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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 31.58%
Average: 12.28%
Pretty Bad: 10.53%
Total Crap: 5.26%

6 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Guardians of the Galaxy
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by Jay Seaver

"Crazy confident."
4 stars

I wouldn't dream of spoiling the post-credit stinger of "Guardians of the Galaxy", but I love what it and the movie itself represents: A willingness to own and use every part of a Marvel Universe that has expanded in every possible direction over the last fifty to seventy-five years, no matter how obscure, weird, convoluted, silly, or downright embarrassing (for one reason or another) it might be. Get the right people involved, and any of it can be a complete blast.

James Gunn turns out to be one of right people, a guy who will take a cast of characters that includes a talking raccoon and a walking tree and on the one hand take them seriously enough to build a story around them that matters even without a villain who threatens the entire galaxy, and on the other have them be very funny people. One of the things that has made Marvel's movies interesting is that while conventional wisdom has always said that superhero movies are only as good as their villains, ten movies have only produced one really memorable bad guy (though they have leaned hard on him thus far). Guardians doesn't change this; rebel Kree general Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) means business but will not be missed once the movie is over like Loki or Heath Ledger's Joker; he's there to inspire and focus how five misfits come together.

Those five are a great group, too. Chris Pratt plays Peter Jason "Star-Lord" Quill as the anti-Batman, a goof who has run and hidden from his tragic past to an impossible extent but is still with a decent heart underneath and a childishness that comes through in ways both silly and noble. Zoe Saldana is the more serious-minded pairing with him as green-skinned assassin Gamora, and the pair have great chemistry even as potential romance is pushed toward the back. Dave Bautista's Drax the Destroyer is a dry bruiser carrying the sadness of his family's murder, seeming to genuinely enjoy a scrap. The two animated members of the crew, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, are full of personality whether bantering with each other or the rest of the cast, with Rocket an especially terrific creation - it's no small thing to take Sean Gunn's on-set/motion capture performance (the one that the rest of the cast played off), hand it off to a brace of visual effects artists, and then put that together with Bradley Cooper's voice work to get something you can put in the center of a movie.

The story is a bit basic - Quill, Ronan, and Gamora all scrambling for an ancient artifact on behalf of other people until they fully realize just how powerful it is - but, again, it's mostly a way to pull the title characters together and watch them play off each other. Some moments are a bit too jokey and characters make some odd jumps, but other bits of it will be catnip for long-time Marvel Comics fans. James Gunn handles that stuff well - his movie is the first time anybody gets to say "Infinity Gems", and he makes it not just a name-check, but a signal to the audience that Marvel is (and has been) building to something bigger. Another character's brief appearance is straight out of a Jim Starlin comic, but it's an effective shot as well as a clever reference.

The movie zips along at a great pace, from the pulpy opening to a set of pretty great space battles. There's more great action in between - the fight and chase that throws Quill, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot together is actually top-notch, physically well-executed and bouncing between events in a gleeful manner. Gunn and company create a colorful world decorated with nifty design and populated by an extraordinarily fine cast (Pace may not be a great villain, but he has a wonderful subordinate in Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker and Djimon Hounsou are hanging around, which almost makes sticking John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio Del Toro into the cast gluttonous, not to mention the folks who don't make the credits).

It leads up to an good ending and, as mentioned, a hilarious bit after that. When advertising the movie, Marvel and Disney extracted lines that winked at what a long shot this movie was and how nobody had heard of these characters, and while some of that attitude still comes through in context, the actual movie is as much a statement of confidence as a spirited adventure.

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originally posted: 08/11/14 09:56:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell fun sweet exciting a intergalactic gem 5 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Groot killing loads of baddies in one go then smiling. worth it alone. 4 stars
5/12/15 Christian Paulson An intergalactic delight! 5 stars
1/10/15 the rock pure garbage film 1 stars
12/28/14 Jenny Fantastic 5 stars
10/01/14 Dillon Gonzales Much better than I anticipated. 4 stars
9/05/14 mr.mike Corny but non stop sci-fi action. Saldana is a plus. 4 stars
8/20/14 christine sarkauskas Was an amazing movie! Loved it. 5 stars
8/07/14 Koitus I liked it. Unrealistic unprotected space-walk scene, though. 4 stars
8/06/14 Toni Peluso Fun Fun Fun Fun Fun AND Funny!!! 5 stars
8/06/14 Jay Extremely entertaining. A must see! 5 stars
8/05/14 Mishyana Was surprised by Peter's ranking, then noticed he liked Lee's Hulk. No longer surprised. 5 stars
8/04/14 KingNeutron Very pretty women, but I hope the next one is better- might be the next Firefly 3 stars
8/04/14 The rock terrible 1 stars
8/03/14 Charles Tatum Big fun. 4 stars
8/03/14 Oliver The modern Star Wars. What a refreshing joy to watch. 5 stars
8/02/14 Ruth Goaz Pauline Hickey aged 17 in 1985...WOW ! ! !. 5 stars
8/02/14 Darkstar Insanely awesome and funny! My new favorite Marvel movie. 5 stars
8/02/14 The king beyond awful 1 stars
8/01/14 Bob Dog Finally - - comedy returns to comic book movies! 5 stars
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  01-Aug-2014 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Dec-2014


  DVD: 09-Dec-2014

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