Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice), Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker
Plot: A group of misfits team up to retrieve an orb containing immense power and keep it from falling into wrong hands.
Review: You have to hand it to Marvel Studios for having the guts to take a chance on adapting a comic book that isn't as popular as their core titles, as well as handing the reins to someone who hasn't directed any of their films before.
On the surface, Guardians Of The Galaxy may look like Avengers in space, but it's not that, since these guys aren't exactly heroic, not when we first meet them anyway. As for me, it was a pleasant surprise. I expected this to look like Serenity but it's more like Star Wars actually (not that I hated Serenity, I liked it, I just enjoy Star Wars as well).
We begin with the introduction of Peter Quill, who as a kid, gets abducted by space pirates after watching his mum die of cancer. Cut to 26 years later, and Quill is now a thief, whose latest acquisition is a mysterious orb, wanted badly by Ronan The Accuser, who plans to use it to destroy the planet Xandar, home of the Nova Corps who are his sworn enemies. He runs into a group of criminals: Rocket, a talking raccoon, Groot, a walking tree, Drax, a brute man who has a beef with Ronan, and Gamora, a female assassin who used to work for Ronan and is now betraying him by stealing the orb for herself.
Director James Gunn, who also co-wrote the script, does an incredible job of keeping GOTG action packed and light hearted at the same time, with just enough drama to keep things real as the story moves along. The Guardians themselves are a fascinating bunch, not the most likable at first, but they will grow on you as they fight, bicker and bond with each other. Their interactions with one another is the film's strongest point. The other strong point is the action sequences, which are simply well done. The first scrap between the Guardians when they first meet is a nice appetizer for what's to come. Another plus point is the music, which is made up of Quill's mix tape of 70's and 80's songs, so you'd probably dig it if you were from that era. I know I did.
Chris Pratt makes a solid hero as Peter Quill or Star-Lord (as he keeps insisting on being called), who is a lot like Han Solo, but just falling a little short on the charm level. Pratt is funny enough and easy to like here as the leading man. Dave Bautista does all right as Drax, the role certainly suits him well, even if his acting isn't top notch yet. Zoe Saldana once again does what she does best: play an ass-kicking alien/assassin. Gamora isn't that different from her previous roles, so it's not a stretch for her. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel deserve credit for their voice work as Rocket and Groot respectively, even if Diesel only says the same three words. Lee Pace is okay as Ronan, he does come off a bit caricature-ish at times, with Karen Gillan faring slightly better as his lieutenant Nebula, but she should have had more to do.
I was disappointed though at the fact that talented actors like Djimon Hounsou and Benicio Del Toro had such minor appearances here. Hounsou in particular should have gotten a bigger role with the talent he has. I would have also preferred Gamora and Nebula to be a bit more badass than they were here. It would have made things more interesting.
I can say for sure that GOTG is one of my favorites for the year, and as far as comic book films go, only second to the Captain America sequel for this year. Recommended. (4/5)
P.S.: As usual, stay for the end credits.