Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster
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Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review

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Intergalactic battles. Sarcastic heroes. Gun-wielding raccoons. The incredibly entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy has it all and then some. While far from perfect, this energetic action-comedy expands the Marvel universe in a fun, ludicrous and refreshingly ambitious way.

The movie, about a ragtag team of criminals who band together to save the galaxy from destruction, has three keys strengths:

The action. Director James Gunn offers up several action scenes, and one often blends into the next. Bottom line: Guardians of the Galaxy has plenty of action, and combined with arresting visual effects, it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to excitement. The only downside: the movie lacks a true stand-out sequence, though the prison escape comes close.

Rocket and Groot. Chris Pratt is a blast and Zoe Saldana is solid, but were either of those two in question? The riskiest part of Guardians of the Galaxy was that two of the main characters are a tree and an angry raccoon (voiced by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, respectively)—elements that if done wrong could easily veer into Jar Jar Binks territory, if not worse. Thankfully, the filmmakers pull these two creatures off with apparent ease, as they play off each other well to deliver some of the film’s best moments.

The humor. By far and away the best part of Guardians of the Galaxy is the humor, which is funny, pervasive and relentless. It’s not that the movie is funny—though it is—but that Gunn superbly injects humor into every aspect of the movie, from the action to the occasional dramatic moments. Plenty of action-comedies fail due to the inability to blend everything together, but that’s not a problem here.

Guardians of the Galaxy is entertaining from beginning to end, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Here are three things that keep it from being even better:

A hurried pace. Guardians of the Galaxy is entertaining, action-packed and fast-paced, but Gunn moves too quickly at times. He dives right into each scene, whether to introduce a new environment or unleash more action, but his haste comes at the expense of set up and suspense. Sometimes it’s better to dwell on what is about to happen than to just show it out of the gate, but Gunn rarely follows this advice.

A cliché power-hungry villain. Lee Pace plays Ronan, an angry alien who wants to blow up the galaxy because he has a stick up his ass. Ronan is an impressively unimpressive villain, a guy who will be forgotten so quickly and effortlessly it’s like he already doesn’t exist. This type of character has been done before and better. Speaking of which…

The movie also suffers from a cliché universe-is-going-to-be-destroyed plot. Even unremarkable villains can succeed with a cool plot, but Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t have one. The plot serves as a framework to move the characters from one whacky situation to the next--nothing more. It’s disappointing Gunn and crew resorted to such a forgettable, overplayed story.

Despite the movie’s shortcomings, Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of fun, a more-than-adequate stopgap for the next Avengers movie or, for that matter, Star Wars: Episode VII. It’s also one of the better Marvel adaptations to date, an impressive feat given what has been produced so far.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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