Guardians of the Galaxy proves that not all heroes have supernatural origins … or do they?

Hey, anybody here need a guardian?
Hey, anybody here need a guardian?

Guardians of the Galaxy ushers in a new era for Marvel. But are they superheroes? Or are they just a bunch of aliens?

What does it matter? It's an interesting story, with fun characters and fantastical set pieces. Very fun stuff.

Not perfect, but great stuff nonetheless.

So, uh, Drax ... are your man boobs, like, allergic to shirts or something? Because, uh, forget it.
So, uh, Drax ... are your man boobs, like, allergic to shirts or something? Because, uh, forget it.

But first, the story...

We start the movie in one of the most amazing and fun ways possible: watching a young kid try to avoid facing the fact that his mother is dying of cancer. Ha ha ha, what fun. Anyway, young Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) runs out of the hospital crying and is abducted by aliens.

Then nothing at all happens for about twenty five years when we see the now self-named Star Lord (Chris Pratt) is a thief and mercenary. He's on a mission to get, as is typical in these movies, “the orb.” He doesn't even know what it is. He knows that someone will pay a lot for “the orb.” Apparently “the orb”s are basically like the currency of space. Everyone wants them. But this “the orb” isn't just any old “the orb.”

Apparently.

He runs into trouble, then he runs into Gamora (Zoe Saldana)—basically a warrior chick who looks like the love child of Uhura and her hot green Orion roommate. Then he runs into a giant bag wielded by Treebeard's baby brother, Groot (voice of Vin “I can be in something good that isn't related to Riddick” Diesel), and Rocket (Bradley Cooper)—an extremely intelligent “don't call me a raccoon” raccoon.

Then he runs into trouble with the law and he and his new frenemies run into prison where they pick up their final guardian—Drax (Dave Bautista)—and they say, “Hey, this galaxy needs some 'guardian'-ing. What do you say we get out of this here prison and do something with that 'the orb' that we were fiddling with before?”

It's actually better done and more intelligent than I'm making it sound here, but what am I to do? It's not like I can go back and erase what I've already written.

Our hammer technology is eons beyond yours, pitiful Earth man.
Our hammer technology is eons beyond yours, pitiful Earth man.

Turns out Gamora was sent to get the orb by a being called Ronan (Lee Pace) who wields a giant space hammer—from hammer space maybe?—appears to be in league with a particular being who was teased at the end of The Avengers, and he is intent on cleansing entire planets of his enemies.

Will our heroes ever get around to that guardian thing they're supposed to be doing? Will we ever find out what the dealie-o is with that mysterious “the orb” thingy? Why hasn't Peter “Will Somebody Please Call Me Star Lord” Quill ever gone home on that spaceship of his?

For answers to some or all or none of these questions, tune in and see for yourself. Or don't, if you prefer.

But you really should.

The eternal feud ... between green and blue.
The eternal feud ... between green and blue.

Dot dot dot

As I understand it, this movie is basically the first in the second phase of the Marvel film universe. And I have to say it makes me excited about some of the possibilities. Granted, these kinds of stories tend to have more weight behind them when the fate of Earth is in the balance, and after the first scene, Earth doesn't even make a cameo here.

But that's okay.

Because there are elements here that you might recognize from other movies. Three characters who have made brief appearances in earlier movies. There's a quick shot of a certain “the cube” when our heroes are learning about “the orb”. And if you stay to the end of the credits, there's a quick scene that actually makes reference to a certain movie from 1986 based on a very bizarre comic series in the Marvel Universe. I don't know if they have any plans to go further with it, but it was a hilarious surprise when my brother and I saw it.

The characters are fun, though not all are completely developed. They're not paper thin, but many of them lean on some pretty well-established stereotypes, but not distractingly so. What really makes it work is the casting.

Chris Pratt is excellent as Star Lord, with plenty of leash to have fun. Zoe Saldana is great, though isn't given as much freedom in her portrayal. And David Bautista is perfectly cast as a purely physical man who has no concept of metaphor.


Guardians of the Galaxy - Trailer

I am Groot. Groot I am. I am Groot I am, I am.
I am Groot. Groot I am. I am Groot I am, I am.

But it's the computer generated characters that I thought made it really fun: Rocket and Groot. It's very much a Han-and-Chewy relationship. Throughout the movie, Vin Diesel's Groot literally only says “I am Groot.” It's his Chewy roar. One phrase for all circumstances. But his face is oddly so expressive.

And Bradley Cooper's Rocky may just steal the show for many. As great as Chris Pratt is at times, Rocky is just eminently watchable. He has some of the funniest moments. And he and Groot are very well done, and very visually distinctive.

I really can't think of any real missteps the filmmakers made, aside from the typical loose adherence to basic science and space travel. But unless you have some particular aversion to oddly colored people, I can't think of anything that would ruin the movie for anyone.

That isn't to say it's perfect. Many elements of the story are standard, “let's find the MacGuffin and stop the bad guy” story elements. And, as I said before, the characters could use some more development. But overall, it's excellently made, the action is compelling, there's real humor and plenty of entertainment.

But what do you think of the movie?

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Guardians of the Galaxy

I bounce between a strong 7 and a weak 8. I'm going to give it the benefit of the fan-boy moment and say this one gets a weak 8 / 10.

Guardians of the Galaxy is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action violence, and some scattered profanity.

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