Guardians of the Galaxy is the summer blockbuster I’ve been waiting for for longer than I can remember.
The usual adjectives of effusive praise are appropriate: funny, clever, touching, and, of course, fun. While Marvel Studios has certainly found the formula for successful films, they’ve been progressively more and more serious and, worse, self-important. Guardians has the good sense to mock itself and its concept, which is likely due in large part to its star, Parks & Recreation‘s Chris Pratt, and writer/director James Gunn (Slither), and perhaps almost as large a part being that it’s relatively free of the Marvel Universe around which every other film it’s made snugly revolves. I doubt we’d see even Tony Stark using a space-rat as a make-believe microphone, especially in the first two minutes.
So Gunn and Pratt bring a delightfully refreshing sense of self deprecation to their film, Pratt playing the somewhat well-known Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, intergalactic swashbuckler. The promotional writeups describe him as a mix of Han Solo and Marty McFly, but I think Indiana Jones may be more appropriate, since they’re both adept at getting into and out of particularly sticky situations.
This time Star-Lord has snatched an orb of potentially unimaginable power, which puts him in the sights of nearly everyone across the galaxy, from assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to planetary ravager Ronan (Lee Pace) to Yondu (Michael Rooker), Star-Lord’s kind-of adopted father, to genetically modified raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his Ent-ian-ish pal Groot (Vin Diesel). After a three-way battle on the universal capital planet, the four are imprisoned and…blah, blah, blah. They team up, everyone tries to kill them, and so on.
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