Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


Director:James Gunn

Cast:Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel

Running Time:122 Minutes


Guardians of the Galaxy is the blockbuster I've been waiting all summer for and, in a way, all my life for. Here it is, finally: a B-movie with a huge budget and a whip-smart sense of humor. The grim tone that far too many franchises have taken as of late is almost completely absent in this giddy cinematic thrill ride.

Chris Pratt simply could not be any better as Peter Quill, a human thief who treks across planets looking for valuable artifacts to plunder. Like Andy, the character he plays on NBC's Parks and Recreation, Quill has more confidence than talent at all he does, and he's skated by on that for years.

But his latest conquest has caught the attention of all sorts of interested parties, including the boss he double-crossed, the intergalactic police and several people connected to Ronan, a bloodthirsty alien. Despite being committed to the role, Lee Pace is all wrong for this part. He's much more suited to play a smartass like Quill. Still, he provides enough menace to make the danger believable.

Through a comical series of misunderstandings, Quill winds up in prison with Gamora (a mysterious warrior played by Zoe Saldana), Rocket (a gun-toting raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (Rocket's tree-like enforcer, voiced by Vin Diesel), and Drax (a lug-head with vengeance on his mind played by wrestler Dave Bautista). What makes this band of misfits so great to watch is that they've all been given a personality. Some of those traits are one-note, but the actors all give them more shading than we've seen with any other superhero team thus far.

And more than any of Marvel's output, Guardians maintains an irreverent tone throughout. Rocket and Drax, previously enemies, bond over a shared love of booze. Quill diffuses one showdown with a bad guy by challenging him to a dance-off. And the soundtrack, instead of being filled with overly dramatic strings or trendy indie-rock bands, opts for '70s soft rock.

Even though it's a raucous good time, the movie is not without its flaws. The third act is essentially a retread of The Avengers, complete with alien warships resembling a swarm of insects and the biggest member of the group going toe-to-toe with the big bad. Plus, it commits the heinous cinematic crime of wasting six-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close. She plays the thankless role of Nova Prime, the intergalactic police captain.

Still, this is a gleeful anti-establishment blockbuster, one that can and should shake up the status quo. There's a sequel already planned for 2017 with the core group intact. I'm willing to follow them to the other end of the galaxy. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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