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MOVIES: Guardians of the Galaxy – A Marvel movie unlike any other – Review

While not the best movie to be put out thus far from the Marvel Studios behemoth – that title belongs to Iron Man 3Guardians of the Galaxy is light years ahead of its Marvelverse brethren in terms of visually stunning spectacle and grand moviemaking. The most obscure Marvel comic book to be adapted to date, Guardians is a film for hardcore comic geeks and sci-fi aficionados. More Indiana Jones than The Avengers, it’s also a throwback to a more simple (though not simplistic) style of Hollywood storytelling.

Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy? More importantly, what are they? Existing in the farthest reaches of the universe – perhaps in a galaxy far, far away – they are thrown together via a series of less-than-ethical decisions by each member. The most unlikely group of compatriots since The Breakfast Club, the Guardians are led by Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord (Chris Pratt) who becomes their de facto leader when a mysterious orb he stole becomes the most sought after object in the universe. Why is it so highly coveted? Within in it sits an Infinity Stone, an object which can give its possessor powers beyond our imagination.

Most eager to possess the stone is Ronan (Lee Pace), one of the most evil mass murderers in the universe who wants the power to destroy all life on the planet he feels betrayed his people. Quill, ever the ethicist, feels like that would be a bad thing, so he enlists his new found friends to help him prevent Ronan from ever retrieving the stone. He is joined by Ronan’s former assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana); a pair of bounty hunters/thieves, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel); and a madman named Drax the Destoryer (Dave Bautista) who wishes only to see Ronan dead.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an epic space adventure on par with Star Wars and, surprisingly, 2001: A Space Odyssey. We are journeying to the most hidden parts of a universe whose secrets will likely only be experienced by one human: Peter Quill, a man who was abducted from Earth as a young boy and who still longs for that simpler life. Director James Gunn, who co-wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, creates an awe-inspiring landscape with a vision so gloriously rich that one can’t help compare his world to the world of Avatar. Everything from the weapons the characters wield to the spaceships they use to journey across the heavens is unique in its design which greatly enriches the other-worldliness of Gunn’s film.

Choosing Chris Pratt to play Peter Quill may be the best casting choice Marvel Studios has made since Robert Downey, Jr. stepped into the role of Iron Man. Pratt is the everyman hero we haven’t seen in some time. He is Indiana Jones running from a giant boulder; he is John McClane squeezing through a cramped air-conditioning vent; he is Steve McQueen fleeing the Nazis on a motorcycle. Handsome and able to deliver the script’s insanely clever dialogue, Pratt is a throwback leading man that fits perfectly into Gunn’s retro action comedy.

Surrounding Pratt is a cast so well-suited to their roles it’s hard to imagine the film succeeding with the loss of any one of them. Bradley Cooper stands out the most mainly because his voice is so unrecognizable. As Rocket, a raccoon-like creature with a wicked knack for machines, Cooper is loud, abrasive and arrogant, but also likable. We never see his face, but he is still able to win us over with his charm. Rocket’s best friend and partner-in-crime is Groot, who delivers only one line (“I am Groot.) but the message behind that singular string of words is made clear through Diesel’s creative styles of delivery.

The theatrical experience of Guardians of the Galaxy will surpass any other massive Hollywood movie this year. James Gunn has crafted a grand adventure that is funny and intelligent, but most importantly is a heck of a good time at the time at the movies.

Grade: A