Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

A motley crew comes together to stop a fanatic bent on using an artifact of great power to commit genocide.

I remember first seeing the poster for this in a theater and thinking, "Wow. A movie with Rocket Raccoon? Marvel can make just about anything now. What's next, a Squirrel Girl movie?" Really, the fact that they can do a movie like this and be successful shows just how powerful the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. One of the themes you'll pick up from my reviews is that I'm prone to hype backlash and can be really irrational about it, though sometimes I'm clear-eyed enough to see how irrational I'm being. When this came out, I heard nothing but good things about it, but I refused to see it in theaters. Even admitting to myself that I'd probably like it, I was still stubborn as all get out. However, over the Christmas break, I visited a cousin who had it on DVD and I made a point to watch it and actually judge it on its merits. Well, guess what. I really did like it as much as I thought I would and really felt dumb for digging in my heels as much as I did. (Contrast this with Avatar, in which my objections to the movie were fully justified and I just felt dumb for having sat through it.)

The thing about this movie is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It has fun with story and characters but it isn't an embarrassing clown show. It can be serious when it needs to be, but for the most part, it's all lighthearted fun, which makes for an enjoyable and highly entertaining ride. The cast all work great together. Chris Pratt makes for a good leading man (and by virtue of his showing in this film and The Lego Movie, I'll be seeing Jurassic World, which I would've otherwise skipped), Zoe Saldana continues to have her action girl chops polished to a mirror sheen, Dave Bautista makes a good showing as the comedically literal-minded Drax, Bradley Cooper gives a lot of attitude to Rocket Raccoon, and Vin Diesel really makes the most of one line of dialog. I could spend a lot of time pointing out cameos and smaller roles, but I'll cut it short and single out Michael Rooker for special attention in his performance as Yondu.

On the technical level, everything is quite impressive, so the $170M budget was being put to good use. Plenty of sizzle and not a bad bit of steak to go with it. If you like comic book movies and want a fun ride, this is the one for you.

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