Film Review: Superhero space tale helps end summer film season on high note

Film Review: Superhero space tale helps end summer film season on high note
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy from left: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). Photo by Film Frame

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is an undoubtedly funny and exhilarating superhero space tale, and just what we need to finish this year’s summer.

Deep within the farthest corners of outer space, a thief named Peter Quill/Star-Lord is targeted by the sinister Ronan after stealing a mysterious orb the latter covets.

To evade Ronan and his followers, Quill forms an uneasy alliance with the assassin Gamora, a raccoon thug called Rocket, his tree-like accomplice Groot, and a vengeful warrior named Drax.

But once they realize the threat the orb poses to the rest of the galaxy, this band of wanted criminals must make a final attempt to stop their enemy from unleashing destruction upon innocent lives.

Now that Earth is crowded these days with so many superheroes, it’s only natural that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) leaves our solar system to set up shop elsewhere.

With “Guardians of the Galaxy” poised to open the door to so many future opportunities – and stick around for who knows how long — I think MCU just found what it needs to expand its heroism.

Director James Gunn takes the audience on a rousing intergalactic odyssey capable of distancing itself from what MCU has already achieved.

He certainly isn’t lacking in imagination in terms of the otherworldly environments encountered throughout the film, such as the desolate Morag, the Kyln space prison, the populated Xandar, etc. It’s difficult not to admire Gunn’s ability to immerse us in worlds unlike what we’ve seen in previous MCU installments.

A major highlight is the soundtrack consisting of various ‘70s and ‘60s songs, thereby helping to convey the film’s quirky, offbeat personality.

“Come and Get Your Love,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Cherry Bomb,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” and many more exude this immediate connectivity that clicks with the viewer and stays that way until the very end.

It’s a clever and amusing means of establishing a sense of cultural nostalgia, and a satisfying treat for those who enjoy music from either time period.

Somehow, director Gunn managed to assemble this motley crew of cast members devoid of star power to make them heroes… and succeeds without compromising the heart hidden beneath their misfit exteriors.

Chris Pratt brings a relatable sensibility to Peter Quill that meshes well with his character’s cocky, quip-prone self.

Zoe Saldana has never failed to impress viewers with her expressive athleticism, and she continues to uphold that reputation with her Gamora.

Dave Bautista proves to be competent in matching his unstoppable momentum with the painful rage swelling within Drax.

Vin Diesel is simply impeccable whenever he utters (or bellows) “I am Groot!” and Bradley Cooper emerges triumphant as a crowd-pleasing scene-stealer when conveying Rocket’s fast-talking speech patterns and inner loneliness.

As the Kree warlord Ronan, actor Lee Pace does a good job of radiating a fanatical ferocity through his monstrous actions.

Karen Gillan is as deadly with her blades as she is ruthless with her pitch-black eyes as the baldheaded blue assassin Nebula.

What’s interesting is how the story blasts off from the start and doesn’t lose its concentration — before, when, and after the Guardians unite.

To make things better, the conflict these outlaws and misfits face when contending with Ronan’s agenda matches the enormity of the film’s interstellar surroundings.

I mean, if you want your space adventure to go places, every aspect of its action-packed narrative should be as big as the world it lives in.

All the digital effects are, expectedly, of the highest quality; Rocket and Groot win first prize for splendid photorealism. Same applies to the makeup, the obvious examples being Gamora’s green skin, the crimson scars crisscrossing Drax’s body, and the various shades of blue in Ronan and Nebula.

As clichéd as this sounds, I believe this film is worthy of the description “visually satisfying” for the right reasons.

The intergalactic blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy” features a good balance of euphoric humor, dazzling action, reverent drama, and majestic visuals, and should please Marvel fans looking for something to conclude the summer on a high note.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

Run time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Playing: In general release


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