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I’ve been saying for months now that this is the Summer of Good Sci-Fi (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) but the one that needed to be good in order to make this theory of mine hold the proper amount of water was the biggest wild card, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the tenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but in many ways a huge risk, considering that it takes place somewhere other than Earth and uses characters only the staunchest of comic book fans will have heard of. All it had to do was be good. Not great, not perfect, just good. Luckily it was great and almost perfect so I shouldn’t have worried at all. I don’t think I’ve seen a more enjoyable, exciting, and FUNNY sci-fi movie, maybe ever.

Marvel’s first full foray into their Cosmic titles, Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t feel much like the movies the company has made in the past, and that’s a good thing. There isn’t a “superhero” to latch onto or anything close to the kind of troubles we’ve seen in any of the other films. Even the massive planet-in-danger finale felt like a completely different take on the the idea; certainly it’s nowhere like what happened in The Avengers or Thor: The Dark World which are the closest in terms of scope and spaceyness. With a healthy amount of references to Star Wars, allusions to things like The Wild Bunch and The Dirty Dozen, and way more jokes, heart, and character development than anyone could have imagined, Guardians is a hell of a fun two hours.

The story’s main Guardian is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), an Earth kid who is abducted by aliens on possibly the worst and most painful day of his young life. 20 years later, Quill, calling himself “Star-Lord,” is a thief working for blue space pirate Yondu (Michael Rooker). Quill enters a temple and steals an orb that he doesn’t know why it’s important, he just knows it’s worth a lot. Unfortunately, someone else is looking for the orb. Guards working for the Kree zealot Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) are aiming to give the orb to him so that the nasty blue fellow can fulfill his desire for vengeance against the seemingly peaceful world of Xandar.

After managing to get away from the guards, and double-crosses Yondu, Quill attempts to sell the orb himself. Unfortunately, now lots of people want to get him. Ronan sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin and adopted daughter of the evil Thanos, to retrieve the orb, much to the chagrin of Thanos’ actual daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan). And also, Yondu has placed a bounty on Quill’s head and genetically engineered Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his monosyllabic humanoid tree friend Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) want to collect. After a big scuffle, which is but one of the film’s highlights, all four end up at a massive intergalactic prison wherein they meet Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a maniac who wants revenge on Ronan for the death of his family. Turns out, Gamora doesn’t like Ronan any more than the rest of them and they decide to team up to break out of prison and put the orb into safe hands, or at least well-paying hands. But nothing’s ever that simple, is it?


There is a LOT of plot going on at all times and I think one of the best things Gunn and his co-writer Nicole Perlman were able to do was give us all this plot in a way that didn’t feel like just a huge info-dump. This has to be one of the tightest and freshest scripts of any big-budget action movie of the past 20-some years. Every joke lands, every action is motivated by character, and the plot unfolds in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel forced or convenient. In fact, nothing is convenient for the Guardians and that’s why they’re so great; they actually have to work for what they’re getting.

Visually, this is simply a stunning movie. The colors and textures of everything pop off the screen, and not only because of the stereoscopy. The costumes and set design feel “real” and very space-age all at once, and the ships (which I was particularly excited to see) are cool looking. There are space battles and fistfights, chases and sight-gags, and even a touching moment (or seven), and Gunn shoots them all just about perfectly. I also applaud the use of makeup for a lot of the humanoid aliens and only CGI being used for Rocket and Groot, and our pal Thanos, of course. It gives the movie a tactile, throwback feel to space operas of the post-Star Wars ilk, when all we had were made-up people.

One of the best and most prevalent touches in the film, besides the dialogue, is the use of music. It’s built into the movie that Peter Quill’s mother gave him a mix tape when he was kid in 1988 and that it’s the only thing he has to remember her after he’s abducted. Songs from this tape, all pop, soul, and rock songs from the 1970s, play throughout the movie and are indicative of the tone the movie strikes. Quill is very much a human in the midst of all these weird aliens and the music really drives that point home. He doesn’t lament being taken away from his family, but he needs this music to feel like a person. And it’s all great music, by the way.

The characters are all fantastic and humorous and sympathetic in their own way. They’re all a bit batty and that’s why we love them. All five of our main characters are fabulously played, but Rocket steals the show in a lot of ways, because his attitude is just so Joe-Pesci-Livewire. If there’s a downside at all it’s that I wish Ronan the Accuser and Nebula had gotten more to do. Pace gives a great performance, and he’s pretty damn terrifying, but he doesn’t ever get to be much more than a snarling, murderous despot. Minor beef, but it’s there.

In summation, friends, Guardians of the Galaxy is first-class, Grade-A space adventure comedy. It’s easily one of my top 3 Marvel movies, and close to the top of my list of movies I’ve seen in 2014. It’s fun, it’s great, it’s got badassery galore; go see it!

4.5 out of 5 Burritos
4.5 burritos

Images: Disney/Marvel Studios

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  1. Julie Becky says:

    That’s really amazing movie …. Specially Starlord looking astonishing in his costumes like Jacket and Coat and this time I decide to buy a Guardians of the Galaxy Coat from “Slimfit Jackets” online store. Really inspiring by Peter Quill

  2. Jake says:

    Why the hell do reviewers feel the need to summarize the plot points? No good reviews do this.

  3. @T_MAGUS666 says:

    I just saw Guardians, and it was very good but NOT “The Best Film Ever!!!” as some people have stated. The sequel has potential as we find out more about Star Lord’s father….but the film would be in the EPIC category if they had introduced Adam Warlock and his soul gem….now THAT would be AWESOME!!! 

  4. I felt the exact same way about Ronin and Nebula. I wanted to see more! Lee Pace is amazing, though, and I doubt that’s the last we’ll see of Nebula (Or at least I hope not because Karen Gillan did such a wonderful job!)

  5. Dwayne says:

    Saw it last night.  Fantastic!

  6. Jesus Fing Christ with the spoilers on the review! I know the movie is going to be awesome but do you need to tell the plot of the entire movie? Holy shit balls, I had to stop reading.

  7. Brandi says:

    This movie was amazing, and not just because of all the sci-fi action and awesome spaceships. The cast worked really well together, and you can tell they’re enjoying themselves. Chris Pratt is perfect as Star-Lord. I haven’t been this satisfied with a movie in a while.

  8. m wood says:

    brilliant film an so funny, seen in imax 3d even better

  9. Douglas says:

    Check out Krystle Starr’s Rocket Raccoon cosplay, it’s amazing!!!

  10. Steady says:

    Really wondering why this isn’t the top of your 2014 list. The only other movie that stands a chance is Capt America 2. This movie was perfect. I’d be temped to give it 5 stars but no less than 4.8.

  11. Vanessa says:

    I caught an early screening of the film in Cineworld a few days ago with my cousin. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I wasn’t exactly blown away with it either. I get why it would be entertaining, but something about this kind of sci-fi flick concept didn’t click with me.

    • Sharon says:

      What didn’t you like about the movie? It hasn’t been released in the Middle East yet, so I haven’t been able to view it. I’m very excited to view it though. I’ve heard great things about the acting and soundtrack.

      • Kevin says:

        It’s amazing. It’s tied for my favorite movie of all time next to Gran Torino. 

  12. Doug says:

    Yay! First review I’ve read about it, and I am happy…

  13. Teddy says:

    Can’t wait to see the movie this weekend. There’s some cool Guardians cosplay at

  14. Jeff Stiefer says:

    as if i wasn’t already excited for this movie…thanks for the great review! Ill be seeing it this weekend for sure. I think Marvel might have a massive opening weekend on their hands.